An Unexpected Bathroom Update

When doing a large renovation, such as our basement, there is often extra “add-on” work. Usually something fun like redoing some flooring or something functional like adding air conditioning. It’s the classic “Well while we have the walls open…”

We had planned things out pretty intensely and were not expecting any add-on work. But when it came time to move the plumbing drains for the upstairs bathroom we discovered the old lead drain for the sink was draining into the toilet drain arm. The drain to the sink would need to be redone to meet modern code and it could not be fully accessed from the basement below. Our options were to cut a hole in our upstairs bedroom wall to access the drain from behind, or cut into the tiled wall in the upstairs bathroom and access it from the front. I chose the later because I have always wanted to put a true vanity in the bathroom instead of the over sized pedestal sink. I figured the vanity would cover the smallish hole the plumber needed to drop the old pipe down and pass a new PVC pipe up.

So I bought my 23 5/8″ wide Lillangen vanity from Ikea put ‘er together and was well on my way to floating vanity bliss. When it came time to do the plumbing, my contractor grabbed his grinder to grind out the hole. Again I’m thinking a smallish hole. He asks the size of my new vanity I say 24″. And what did he do, he went and cut a 24″ wide, 30″ tall hole in my wall. Even he knew he messed up. As he gulped and swallowed and mumbled I knew there was no easy fix, and I really didn’t want him touching anything else above the basement ceiling again.

upstairs bath

Lots of holes in the walls and the old pedestal sink

Now that there was no wall to use some toggle bolts to secure my floating vanity I decided she needed some legs. Not being a fan of the metal base Ikea sells I decided to make my own. So I grabbed the necessary tools: Miter saw, Kreg Jig, semi-willing husband, and got to work. I designed up a simple base and we got to work.

In the end we used a single select pine 2x2x8, some scrap 2×4’s, and lots of screws. Final cost being around $15. After we assembled it, I sanded it, primed it, and painted it with some BM Advance paint in Super white I had left over from the kitchen cabinets.

custom lillangen base

Then we did some major MacGyver-ing with 2×4’s, 1×4’s and shims to have a couple attachment points for the vanity to the wall stud.

Ikea lillangen sink

The Ikea plumbing actually worked out beautifully. The faucet connections were the same as our previous Kohler faucet. And the Ikea drain system (the topic of many online horror stories) actually went together really easily with a 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ drain reducer from Ace Hardware.

Ikea lillangen sink and dalskar faucet

The cabinet and sink are only 16″ deep which makes the bathroom feel so much bigger. I really love the trough sink and having a single handle faucet.

Ikea lillangen

I’m hoping to add some pretty chrome pulls or knobs to the cabinet doors, but in the mean time I couldn’t be happier with our unexpected update.


Cabinet: Ikea Lillangen 2 door cabinet

Sink: Ikea Lillangen

Faucet: Ikea Dalskar

Basement Reno: Week 9

There was lots of progress last week. Bathroom tile was completed, doors were installed, and most of the new windows were installed.

Day 46: Contractor finishes laying floor tile. Grouts both shower and floor.



Day 47: No work.

I do some drywall patching in the bathroom. Then another coat of PVA primer, followed with two coats of eggshell finish paint in the same color as the rest of the basement (Martha Stewart Popcorn from HD).

Day 48: All the doors and windows are delivered! Doors are installed.

Day 49: The rest of the doors are installed. First window is installed.


Day 50: More windows installed. All the trim is delivered.

Things are really starting to take shape and there’s a rumor that we might get electrical installed and hooked up this week.

Basement Reno: Week 8

Tile and paint went in last week and things are really starting to come together, which is good because we’re at the two month mark!

Day 40: No work. We decide on a paint color: Popcorn by Martha Stewart. Same color we used in the laundry room. It’s basically white with a touch of gray and brown to soften it. Go to Home Depot and get 6 gallons color matched to the chip I still have since Martha’s paints are no longer available at the depot. Get all 6 gallons home and realize that the color is not even close, more like a pale khaki color.

Day 41: Contractor replaces super crappy cement board job. Takes him all day but now we have nice plumb and square walls for the shower!

cementboardwk8We go to Home Depot to try and return the paint. They agree it’s not a good color match and will refund our money. Super awesome paint guy mixes us new paint using the proper formula.

Day 42: Contractor starts putting up 3×6 subway tile on the shower surround. Pours a layer of self leveler on floor.

Day 43: Contractor finishes shower surround tile. Pours another layer of self leveler. Installs decoupling membrane for heated floor.


*Shower tile is stock Daltile subway tile from Home Depot.

membranewk8Day 44: Contractor installs heated floor (this Ditra heat system by Schluter Ditra). Starts installing floor tile.


*Floor tile is these Style Selections Leonia Silver 6×24 planks from Lowes.

Day 45: After painting every night, we finish the first coat of paint. Build Ikea Godmorgon vanity (happy to report we’re still married).

Tile should be finished and grouted this week and the vanity installed. Hopefully the contractor has enough time to squeeze door and window install in there as well!

Basement Reno: Week 7

Week 7 has been the week of drywall finishing. Everything is covered in an amazing amount of white dust. I’m not even sure where it comes from. As you can tell it’s fascinating.

Day 33: Drywall finishers come back and do a second coat of mud. It looks way worse than the first coat and I start to have a minor freak out. Another guy comes to finish installing laundry room ceiling. He hangs one sheet and then everyone leaves: ceiling still not finished.

Day 34: Drywall finishers come at 7 a.m. and tell me they will be spraying the drywall texture. Keep in mind the walls look like total crap. Cue major freak out. Call the contractor and let him know he has to get here immediately. Turns out drywall guys were not doing any texture, just sanding and doing a third coat of mud. So I look like a bit of a jackass and my contractor now fully believes I’m insane. Also get a long lecture from contractor about “trusting the process” and that everyone is really busy and life as a contractor is very hard in such a great construction boom. My heart aches for him.

Day 35: Decide the walls look really good already and that I don’t want orange peel texture sprayed. Drywall guy says it will be another $2500 for smooth walls. We find a middle ground: one more coat of mud over any imperfections and no extra charge. We take on the liability of it not looking perfect after we get paint up. Cross fingers.

Drywall in laundry was not hung because they figured we want our electrical run through the exterior wall to the box before they hang drywall over it. What a novel idea! I brought this up to the contractor last week and nothing as done about it but this week after I asked, he called the electrician. Electrician comes over first thing and spends 15 minutes running wires to the outside.

Finish guys come back and do another coat of mud. Patch guy comes and finishes hanging laundry ceiling and drywall under stairs. Patches any holes created by electrician in stairwell.

Clean up guy comes and takes any scrap as well as cleaning all the joint compound drips and puddles off the floor.

Day 36: No work.

Day 37: Contractor comes to check out drywall job. Agrees that it needs a good sanding and calls drywall guy. Drywall guy sends the project manager over with a 4 inch sanding sponge. He sands for 20 minutes and leaves. Looks as it did before he got there.

I’m so sick of dealing with these guys that I decide I’ll just sand myself. One of the poorer choices Ive made in my life. After 6 hours of sanding it looks pretty good and is ready for paint.

Day 38: We prime the hallway and ceilings with Kilz PRO-X PVA primer for new drywall. It goes on pale gray and dries chalky white. Color change =Tons-o-fun!

Day 39: Finish priming the rest of basement. Test out 3 colors: Benjamin Moore China White, Moonlight White and Glacier White. China white is too beige, and the other two are too yellow. So we are back to the drawing board or paint chip board. White paint is harddddd.

And some pics:

The hallway before primer:


And view back at the hall from the great room:


Great room with primer:


Great room after a coat of primer:


It’s really starting to look like a finished basement! Next up: deciding on a paint color and painting and the contractor is going to start on the bathroom tile.

Basement Reno: Week 6

Day 27: Monday-Contractor makes mistake scheduling insulation inspection for a second time. No work.

Day 28: Insulation inspection finally happens. Contractor plays plumber for the day and moves a pipe into the ceiling in preparation for drywall. Also installs blocking to support floating vanity in bathroom. Doesn’t turn water back on to check for leaks. I notice one leak in the newly replaced pipe.

Day 29: Drywall is installed. Installers can not finish because of another leak in the newly replaced pipe.

Day 30: Contractor comes in the afternoon to fix his “handywork” on the pipes. He replaces all the leaky joints with compression (no solder) fittings. Everyone collectively cross your fingers that they hold. Another guy comes from the drywall company. He and his kid haul off the scrap from the installers. He also installs corner bead and Hardibacker cement board for the shower (some in mosaic pieces). No one comes to finish installing drywall ceiling.

Day 31: Drywall screw inspection happens despite the drywall not fully installed. Inspector takes no note of the laundry room ceiling being 3/4 exposed and happily signs off the inspection. (Permits are a total joke and I will never permit a project again).

Day 32: Saturday- Drywall finishers show up at 7 am. Tape and mud drywall. It looks terrible and I’m hoping things get better after this first coat. I also notice that finishers tape the cement board in the shower with paper tape and joint compound. And drywall ceiling in laundry is still not up.

Drywall in bedroom/office 2:


View from bottom of stairs looking towards living room:


Living room and wide doorway to office:


Looking back at the living room from the office:

doorwk6You can really see where the soffit goes up a little to not block the doorway in this pic.

And last but not least…the wonderfully crappy cement board installation:

cementboardNote how the cement board doesn’t even continue to the shower pan (bottom right corner). Nor does it cover the lip of the shower pan like it should. Contractor promises to fix this. I feel like I’ve heard that before…

So onto week 7 we move. I think we’re in for a lot of drywall finishing which means lots-o-dust, but one step closer to a finished space!