Tearing it down to build it up

One week in, and there’s one less bathroom in our single-bathroom home. Our tiny cat-contractor started her work bright and early Monday morning, and in no time, the terrible drop ceiling came crashing down.

bathroom demolitionBut I would strongly advise against hiring a cat contractor, because they tend to lose motivation pretty quickly and take long naps in the sun. Luckily, our backup contractor, Ian, showed up soon after, and he’s as reliable as they come. The initial demo revealed some of the hidden layers behind the walls. I snapped a few quick phone photos when I got the chance.

bathroom demolitionbathroom renovationbathroom renovationOne of my favorite finds was the geometric silver metallic wallpaper a couple layers under the walls. Less charming was the florescent tube light fixture living up in the ceiling.

bathroom renovationWe salvaged an old tile hiding in rubble and a square of the wall paper, and Nikki pulled a mislaid wrench out from a gap in the subfloor.

bathroom demolitionOver the course of the week, they hauled four truckfuls of debris out of that one room. Turns out that throughout the last hundred years and several renovations, floors were laid over floors, walls on top of walls and the ceiling inched lower and lower. I have slight pangs of ennui, taking apart this structural time capsule, but really not much of it was worth saving.

It also meant that some of the structural issues will be much easier to access and address. One evening earlier this week, Nikki and I stood in the empty room, examining the bared walls. I wondered out loud, as I reached up, what the cord was within the walls, thinking it was some kind of rope in a pulley system. Nik’s alarmed, “Don’t touch it!” stopped me in my tracks, and I realized, as I looked closer (safely, from a distance), that it was actually a live, cloth-covered wire, part of our knob and tube wiring system.  From my quick research, I’ve leaned that it the type of system commonly installed between the 1890s and 1930s. If I had to guess, I would say that a majority of the wiring within our building hasn’t been updated since the latter part of that range, but at least this one small section will be brought up to code.

bathroom renovation knob and tube wiring

One of the joists in the ceiling is cracked and will be getting a sister-joist to reinforce it. I know that’s a common construction term, but I just find the whole concept so utterly charming.

It’s amazing how large and open the space feels right now, and I’m hoping we’ll retain some of that airiness with the half wall and floating vanity.

bathroom renovationbathroom renovation

bathroom renovationI know it’s an utter wreck right now, and we’re living here through the rest of the renovation, which means brushing our teeth at the kitchen sink, a lot of dry shampoo and borrowing friend’s bathrooms for showers. But it’s so good to be home, and I love even this part. It’s the process of bringing an idea to life and the precipice of something new.

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