Bathroom Remodel · construction · Design Consult · Home Update · Home-Room Design · interior design · interiors · remodel

’90s Master Bathroom Update: What NOT to Do

PROLOGUE: I am so excited to have the FIRST guest writer for the BLOG! My business model is offering the whole gamut of services. Some jobs I consult, choose product, shop, purchase product, communicate with the contractors, consult during install, and style. From start to finish I am involved. There are other jobs that I simply consult on product and color combos and the client handles the rest. For this project, I had a couple of meetings with Aisling* to choose product (counter and backsplash tile) and then help her select the lighting and hardware. She found the counter company and managed them through the process which is why I asked her to write a blog on the experience! (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the MOST PLEASANT experience.)

*I have changed the name of my client to a nice little Irish name that means “dream or vision” for privacy reasons. Opinions are hard to share sometimes and I respect the fact she was willing to share her experience with us.

A “Simple” Facelift

“We are just going to get rid of all the gold fixtures and put in some new bathroom countertops. Shouldn’t take more than two weeks, it won’t take much time and then we can enjoy our updated master bathroom.” This is what I told my husband as I pleaded my case for him to agree to this project and he said “Yes!” (I have over 20 years of swaying him to agree to my projects/ideas, so this was the easy part.)

Before Photos:

SIX MONTHS LATER, we are finally enjoying our updated master bathroom! We ended up having to do a lot more than just replace gold fixtures and put in new granite countertops. The biggest mistake that we made in this process was hiring a company that we found online that claimed “we use a special process that needs little or no demolition”. They appeared to have a good rating and was drawn to the fact that they could not only install new granite countertops and tub decking “done in (as little as) a day”, but they would handle the rest of the project: install new sinks, provide plumbing services to change out all the bathroom fixtures and tile the backsplash and tub surround. I hired Melissa K Manos Designs, who came highly recommended, to help pick out the countertops and source coordinating tile, new fixtures, and lightening. Melissa not only has an incredible eye for design but was super helpful, responsive, and a pleasure to work with! (Note from Melissa: Thanks Aisling! Talk about making a girl blush!)

First Mistake by the Company

First, the company that I hired to do the countertops came to “demo” out the existing countertops and tub surround. During that process, they chipped our existing floor tile, which we were not planning to replace. With no extra floor tiles on hand of a discontinued product, we had to endure the expense and time of re-tiling the entire master bathroom as well as paint and install all new wood baseboards. Can you say cha-ching?!

Mistake #2

Next, they installed the granite countertops and drilled holes for the new widespread faucet fixtures. Not only were the widespread faucet fixtures unevenly spaced but the tub decking was glued in place, leaving a jagged, uneven gap where it met the cabinet. It was sloppy work. At this point, I was still relatively calm, mistakes do happen and after about six weeks of back and forth, they came back to redo the countertops and tub surround.

Mistake #3

They came back and re-installed the bathroom countertops and perfectly drilled the holes for the widespread faucets – at least we could use this part of the bathroom again! They also re-installed the tub surround and drilled holes for the Roman widespread faucet as well. BUT you won’t believe this…on the tub surround, they not only drilled the wrong size holes for the Roman widespread faucet, but they did not properly space them-AGAIN! I was NO longer calm and after MUCH back and forth (stalling the project months longer) they came back to re-install the tub decking for the THIRD time!

Lessons Learned

The lesson learned on this project is you can’t just hire a company based online reviews and their website; you need recommendations from others who have used them to vouch for the quality of their work. Luckily, I had excellent support from not only Melissa K Manos Designs but from a highly recommended painter, handyman, electrician, and tile setter. The master bathroom is finally updated from 1994 to 2022 and looks fantastic!

EPILOGUE: Thank you Aisling for sharing your experience with this project. It is unfortunate that a “mini facelift” turned into such a headache. I had such high hopes in finding another solution for my clients from this company that you found. In older homes, sometimes all you need to do to freshen up your dated space is to change such things as light fixtures and hardware. Those are easy fixes. But going through demo with tearing out countertops to put in the highly coveted solid solutions such as granite or quartz seems like a lot to endure. The idea of “no demo!” and “we fit the quartz right over your existing tile counters” sounds amazing! But, like your article proved, it isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

I hope this was helpful for anyone out there looking to do a quick refresh! Aisling and I both felt we didn’t need to bash a company that is probably doing great work somewhere but wanted to share that you should lead with caution if thinking about using a “no demo” solution to save time on a renovation project.

One Last Note

I can safely say that EVERY job has hick-ups. Yes, I will say that again: EVERY JOB has hick-ups. (Tile is discontinued, the hole was drilled too big, the sink we ordered was too small, the paint looked so good on the swatch but looks horrible in the space, the wood isn’t the color you expected … things happen!) It is how you handle the hick-ups and the communication along the way that makes the job a pleasant experience. Therefore, when choosing a contractor, choose someone you want to work with, someone that has a personality that jives with yours. It will be a much more pleasant experience when you have to work through the tough stuff together if you have chosen the right partner to work through the tough stuff, not just the pretty stuff.

xo, Melis

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