The indulgent smile of one well schooled in the long arc of his wife’s expensive hobby – remodeling.

Those who know me well know that there are few things that make me happier than the occasional expenditure of time, energy and resources in the pursuit of a re-beautified space. Renovating has always been a creative outlet, and one which provides me great serenity (in the end). There are a lot of ways to relax on your summer vacation. Some people go to Nevada and gamble. Yes, I recently went to Nevada and gambled away $40.00 in the ‘reverse ATM’ as our son calls it. But I didn’t enjoy it, nor do I make a habit of it.

Yes, perhaps I was spending too much time at work from the looks of this photo.
Even Martha Stewart accessories and new towels didn’t make the bathroom look better.

My vice is far more expensive. It begins with a simmering dissatisfaction, percolates through online research and virtual selection of materials way beyond my means, and ultimately concludes with a beautiful new and more or less affordable room. I have spent months creating a board on Pinterest about our 2nd bathroom, which now sports 1′ white 80s ceramic tiles, a dingy wooden cabinet with a cigarette-scarred 80’s swirled plastic sink surround, massive mirrors and a medicine cabinet that refuses to close. It swings open to reveal rusty shelves and random shaving accoutrements, and taped inside, a goofy picture of the three of us backstage at the Canon Theatre during the run of The Vagina Monologues, from late 2001. Centered over the huge mirror more suited to a dance studio than a guest bathroom for the over-50 set, is a wounded four lamp fixture, one of the lamps permanently dark due to someone’s (sheepish looking writer) overzealous winding of the light bulb. It’s shade is a beacon in the world, bleating, “Failure!” every time I use the bathroom. You can be sure that a smaller mirror features large in our renovation plans, as well as a smaller light fixture which will be centered over the new modest mirror.

The second biggest impediment to my serial remodeling fever is lack of time. Life and work get in the way. That, and the fact that with this project, we will ostensibly have finished all the necessary work in the apartment. So I was a bit nostalgic, when we went to the Cosmos Flooring store today to select the tile for our last remodeling project. We had plans to meet Melvin, our contractor there, and the store opened at 10:00AM. We arrived at 9:50 and the door was open, so we went inside, greeted enthusiastically by a white toy poodle and a mahogany colored pug, both of whom threatened to trip Jimmie. We went in and while we waited for Melvin, Tim, one of the sales people, helped us to look around.

This wood-like porcelain tile is a beachy grayish blue shot through with veins of gold.

My Pinterest board had a lot of white tile, carera tile, rustic cabinets and polished chrome fixtures. The issue with this second bathroom is that the floor butts up against the cork tiles of the entryway. I was interested in whites, grays, and blues in color, but was very aware that the gold of the cork would be challenging to match.

The first tile I saw was the one we ultimately went with. (I’m telling you, I think I have a gift). The things they do with tile these days! This is a porcelain tile, which is designed to look and almost feel like wood planking. It is fantastic. I looked a little silly removing my sandals and “walking” up the board. There was another similar sample on the floor and I padded appreciatively over that.  TMarthaStewartVanityhe blue matches the Martha Stewart “Sharkey Gray” vanity that I chose at Home Depot. Don’t judge me. She did her time.

The wooden baseboards in the current bathroom design were swollen when the last denizen of our apartment moved out and some of her friends yanked out the washing machine, hitting the overhead sprinkler and flooding the floor with 8-24 gallons per minute, leaving the baseboards misshapen in spite of subsequent paint. So we will use the 4″ by 40″ tiles above to create a tile baseboard to replace the existing one.

Next, Tim guided us to a board with  8″x 2.5″” subway tiles in glossy white, and similar tiles in ash blue, a band of which we will use in the tub/shower enclosure. I think it was about this time that I took that photo of Jimmie, sitting patiently, watching me mull over the proper grout color and spacing. By now, Melvin had joined us, and we were ready to write up the order with Tim. Best to sit down in moments like this; it is predictably shocking when you hear the numbers. IMG_4749 IMG_4748

So, we start next Wednesday with demolition phase. Don’t plan on visiting us next weekend; you would be sorely disappointed with the accommodations.

One of the main reasons for the remodel besides the previously mentioned condition of the bathroom, is the fact that the original tub is the least comfortable tub ever constructed. Sitting in the tub is a little like sitting in a coffin. It is 5′ long and is almost square where the sides meet the bottom of the tub. In the last 7 years I have taken about 10 baths total. I know that that is laudable given the current drought conditions in California, and in fact, as we began serious discussions about the renovation, we talked about whether it was environmentally greedy to include a tub. I remember saying to Jimmie,

But what about the grand babies? We have to have a tub for them.

This was, by the way, way before there was an actual grand baby in our thoughts, or even in our son’s thoughts. So, good thing that we were decided to include a deep soaking tub for me (and the grand babies).

To be continued…

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