The next time you think you want to turn your home into a spa, remind yourself you could be living like a cat.
For a good decade I’ve vowed to remodel my bathroom (the one good one) so it represented my taste and not the tenants’ who preceded me. Naturally, that meant ripping out a tub that looked like it had been used to make moonshine and a mirror that could have been the reason I had more than seven years of bad luck.
It also meant going without an upstairs bathroom for a few days, but how bad could that be?
I have a freestanding toilet in the unfinished basement and a shower head that’s near the washer. Quick and easy…my new motto.
Besides, I could always turn my kitchen counter into a makeshift vanity for a few days. Right?
Rule No. 1 of remodeling: It always takes longer than you think.
In the cold days of February, I realized the basement shower head had clogged and wasn’t able to fill in for the missing one. That meant using the kitchen sink to wash my hair and, as my dad used to say, “sponge off.”
One day? OK. But one day spread to 10 and, soon, my counter looked like a Bath and Body concept store. Shampoo snuggled next to salt and pepper. Peanut butter became a friend of conditioner. Dirty dishes didn’t appreciate the arrangement so they quickly hid out in the dishwasher. Because there’s no mirror in the kitchen, I had to dry my hair in a bedroom with a mirror. The outlet, however, wasn’t close enough, so I had to dry and dash to see how well I was doing. Thankfully, hairballs were kept to a minimum.
The toilet brought its own challenges. Since it’s at the farthest corner of the scariest basement since “Don’t Go In the Basement,” it tested my desire to visit it in the middle of the night. (How many times have you seen foolish movie people go down in the basement in the dark, only to fall into the ninth circle of hell?)
Luckily, we only went two weeks with that arrangement. The toilet was able to return to the soon-to-be-spa while other work continued.
By Week Three, we got the clogged basement shower replaced, so I could re-enact scenes from “Psycho” every morning. The drill: Shower in the basement, shave in the bedroom, brush my teeth in the kitchen, dry my hair in the other bedroom. Like a Ninja Warrior, I improved my time every morning. I could finish the obstacle course in under 10 minutes. I didn’t look all that good, but who could, given the circumstances?
What you don’t realize when you’ve got everything in one room is how easily you can misplace things. I know there’s a new tube of toothpaste in the house somewhere, but I’m not sure if it’s hiding near the cleaning supplies in the office or lounging in the bedroom near the towels. I gave up on finding jewelry cleaner and I’m pretty sure I owned a comb before all this started.
Like a prisoner who has gotten privileges for good behavior, I’ve begun to see the bathroom of my dreams take shape. One day, walls. Another, fixtures. Two weeks later, the outline of the shower, another week, a vanity and new toilet. I still don’t have the shower doors or a toilet paper holder but I figure all good things come to those who wait.
Besides, this all happened during Lent. Some people give up chocolate. I sacrificed a bathroom.