Saturday, February 18, 2012

Upgrading the Grotto

Unlike most Paris apartments, ours did not come with a fully equipped underground grotto for bathing.  So, we had to renovate the bathroom.  Here's some pics of the process.

At the start, the bathroom had a combination of two very popular trends: a bidet and flower wall paper.  On the ceiling no less.  Here are some shots from when we first looked at the apartment.

Step one was removing the  wall paper and teal tile.

Next up, some adhesion enhancer - basically grit, to make sure that the waterproofing layer would stay on the wall.  Also, looks like a really bad mould problem.

 Then, waterproofing to protect the wall.  This stuff was gross, but after a few layers, it was like the wall was made of rubber.  I won't even talk about the tiling step - let's just say, I learned a lot about how difficult tiling is, learned a bit about my capacity for frustration, but it got a lot easier by the end.

Looks a lot better after the grout and caulking.  For months before, the miniskirt of plastic sheeting at the top was what we had in place of tiles over the whole wall.

Next up, removing the sink - and a little surprise.  Going to remove the lag-bolts, I lag bolts.  The sink was held up by:
- the lead pipe underneath
- the layer of glue to the tiles (which were in turn stuck directly on to the plaster underneath)
- the power of prayer and Adam Smith's invisible hand

So pulling off the sink meant tearing off all the tiles along with it.... and out the window goes the plan of simply painting the tiles.

The napping grandchild next door gave us a moment of pause for reflection, and instead of launching into re-tiling the back splash, we wandered down to the hardware store and found some thin stainless steel sheets to attach to the wall instead.  Serendipitous - if it weren't for the tired little kiddy, we would have wound up with something we were both not crazy about in the first place. 

So in went the sink, but first a surprise : the flexible tubing wasn't long enough to reach the water supply. Not a big deal, but it was Sunday by this point, so every store in Paris was closed.  Anyways, it still looked good, even if was purely decorative at that point!


Finally, in goes the shelving unit and the washing machine, and it's almost time for a beer.

Last step - cutting the counter-top.  I don't have a circular saw, so all those years of drawing and painting have gone into cutting a straight line with a jigsaw.  And who says the arts serve no practical purpose! Of course, the walls are so far from true that a straight line would be out of place in this apartment.... Finally, the finished product.

And a before and after shot:


Even with all the challenges, I would say that was my second most successful project of the year, the most successful one being...