How to Renovate Your Bathroom With an Obscene Fuckload of Money

Disclaimer: This post contains saucy language. The giveaway is right there in the title. If you don’t like swearing I suggest you get your DIY fix at MarthaStewart.com instead of reading on and of getting your titties in a twist because there’s swearing in here.

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THE PROJECT: Our hideous three-way bathroom was screaming out for a complete renovation. Dating back to the late-70s, it featured an inspired combination of apricot wall tiles, blue mosaic floor tiles, mission brown trim, hideous beige paint and the ever-present stench of vintage urine. It was also chock full of asbestos. We are usually dirt-cheap DIY all the way here, but this time we decided to drop an obscene amount of money on the reno and outsource everything, in the interests of not fucking it up.

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Here’s how we did it…

STEP ONE: Find a builder. Or a leprechaun. Whichever is easiest.

The first thing you need to do is find a builder to oversee the project. This is harder than it sounds. Trades are in such short supply that they can basically pick and choose their jobs according to some arbitrary set of criteria that you – as a lowly non-qualified layperson – will never be privvy to. Getting someone to return your calls can be difficult, let alone getting someone to come and do an actual quote.

We had lots of tradies who never returned messages, or ones who came to quote but completely disappeared into the ether afterwards with nary a “Yeah, nah” to be heard. It’s kind of like strutting into a brothel with fistfuls of cash to burn, only to discover that nobody wants to fuck you. Hey hot stuff! NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.

On second thoughts, screw all of that. You’re better off holding out for that leprechaun, because it turns out that you’re going to need a pot of fucking gold to pay for it all.

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STEP TWO: Set a budget. Remove head from arse. Double it.

There is a very simple process for effective budget-setting when it comes to professional renovations, and I’d like to share it with you:

  1. Set a generous but realistic budget.
  1. Proceed with renovation.
  1. FUCKING HELL, IS THAT WHAT THIS IS GOING TO FUCKING COST ME!?         YOU CANNOT BE FUCKING SERIOUS.
  1. Double the budget.
  1. Pat yourself on the back when the project comes in just under budget.

We budgeted $20 000 for the complete renovation of our old three-way, thinking that we were going to get the fully blinged-out Beyonce and Jay-Z of bathrooms. We were so cute. And so stupid.

It wasn’t long before we were forced to revise our expectations once we realised that all of the builders were quoting $20K and upwards just for the labour. So we either had to downgrade to a Kim and Kanye bathroom (still not cheap) or stump up the extra for Bey and Jay (fucking mint).

(For the record, we ended up spending at least $30 000. I stopped counting after that because it made me feel icky, in the same way that eating an entire chocolate baviarian cake by myself during my period makes me feel icky. I know it’s wrong, but it’s an unstoppable force. And yes, there are feelings of actual nausea too).

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STEP THREE: Buy fittings and fixtures. Die slowly inside.

Oh, this is the FUN PART. You get to drag your husband and your two bratty children around to a hundred fucking bathroom and tile showrooms while trying to make nice and pretend to all the salespeople that none of this is going to end in carpark screaming matches, marriage counselling or divorce.

Nothing highlights the irreconcilable differences in otherwise strong relationships quite like the pressure of making important design decisions. Thankfully, I’ve spent the last 16 years whittling away every last skerrick of independent thought that my husband possesses, so this for us was mostly a painless process of him agreeing to 99% of my “recommendations”. 

And I don’t know how they manage to get everything delivered YESTERDAY on The Block, but every single time we finally, genuinely agreed on something it took all of 3.5 nanoseconds for the salesperson to swoop in and gleefully advise us that that particular item was discontinued-effective-immediately or out of stock for the next 47 weeks.

“Would you like to choose something else?”

NO. Would you like to CHOOSE my FIST in your fucking PIPE FLANGE? Because THAT’S where this conversation is headed…

It’s painful for all concerned.

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STEP FOUR: Get bathroom installed. Attempt to get zen.

The one thing we learned from our renovation experience is to expect disappointment and frustration at every turn, so as not to be disappointed or frustrated. I mean, in theory that sounds great but the reality is that your bullshit zen-facade is going to get totally fucked in the arse, and you are going to get frustrated as hell anyway.

I naively left the tradies to get on with it and follow the builders instructions (LOL soooo cute!), but if I had my time over I’d be one of those pushy asshole micromanaging homeowners who was watching like a hawk to make sure that, I dunno, the bathtub and the heated towel rail were installed in the right spot and there weren’t random light sockets and extractors plonked in places they weren’t needed or even asked for.

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The plumber in particular was existentially annoyed by me at all times. I never witnessed it directly, but I could feel the seismic shifts caused by his eye-rolling and I could hear him sniggering with the other tradies in the next room after I invariably failed to answer every single one of his many searching questions.

Do you want the diffuser back in the bathroom?

What’s a diffuser?

Do you have a shower rose?

I don’t know. Do I?

What’s the size of your heated towel rail?

How the fuck should I know?

Did you want me to use the capillary connector to run a trap through to your cockhole cover before diverting it to your essex flange? Or would you prefer me to use a thermostatic mixing valve?

*blank look*

*hyperventilates*

STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS!! I’M JUST A STUPID WOMAN!! 

I’d get so flustered that my stupidity became an embarrassing self-fulfilling prophecy, and when talking to the tradies I would blush furiously, drop about 80 IQ points and not be able to answer simple questions like “We’re going to turn the power off for a bit, is that OK?”

Errr, I don’t know. WHAT? Yes. Ok. Umm… maybe. I mean no. What do you think? What do people normally say? I DON’T KNOW. WAAAAHHHHH!

And then they’d all stand around smirking at me like I was a FUCKING MORON. Because I am.

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Minor quibbles aside, we managed the chaos and disruption as well as could be expected, and six weeks later we are still waiting for it to be completed.

Remember my earlier meditations on frustration and disappointment? That came in handy (again) when our long-awaited shower screen finally arrived. It took six men five minutes to carry it into the bathroom and two additional minutes for them to decide that it was so riddled with defects that it needed to go back. Rejoice! You now have another ten business days to wait for a new one.

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STEP FIVE : Behold your sexy new bathroom. Jizz in your pants.

I finally got my happy ending.

Damn that fucker was expensive, but worth every penny.

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101 thoughts on “How to Renovate Your Bathroom With an Obscene Fuckload of Money

  1. Looks gorgeous. Love the window. Love the words too. You funny. We’re going to build a house in the next decade or two. I’m feeling a little bit unwell…. x

  2. OH MATE. This is so fucking spot on. We renovated our kitchen, once. It wasn’t even a complete reno, it was just the benchtops and splashbacks and oh god I’m boring myself here. Anyhoo, it was a fucking nightmare, start to finish, the finish being the plumber quoting us $300 and invoicing us for $1200, cos of the time spent drinking my fucking tea and eating my fucking biscuits. Not that I’m bitter. Not at all.

    Your new bathroom looks mint but.

    • We’ll have a few drinks together one day and I’ll tell you about my disastrous IKEA kitchen renovation experience. It ended 14 weeks later with me sending an alcohol-fuelled, rage-filled email to the Australian CEO on a Friday night. That fucker emailed me back too. Was fucking hard to find his contact details, let me tell you.

  3. Hi! I haven’t commented before, but we’re about to do a similar reno to a similarly vile bathroom, so I thought I’d swing by :). Ours isn’t a 3-way bathroom – which was def something special. But it does have a sunken bath and an illegal laundry shute in the floor, which was super safe when my kids were crawlers. Good times. Anyway, loved the post, and your new bathroom is GORGEOUS. x

  4. God if i laughed any harder i’d pee myself. We’re embarking on a new house build. Wish me luck (and a shit load of wine).
    Gorgeous bathroom, fucking mint 👌🏻

  5. Wow – well done! Renovating and building are not fun at all. This is the reason we sold our block of land (after going through two builders) and bought an established house – we are HOPELESS at making decisions. Just the thought of picking a design for our house nearly drove us to insanity, let along picking out bricks and accessories and the like. Seriously, we would have both ended up in an asylum if we had’ve continued trying to build a house. So power to you for making it through to the other side (even if you did have your low IQ moments along the way!)

  6. We’re apparently 4 days from having our bathroom Reno done… Except even the builder didn’t pretend that he expects the shower screen to arrive on time 😦 I’m so tired of having showers in the backyard.

    Our colour scheme is exactly the same, right down to the fake marble tiles and silver edging. Great minds huh?!

    • OMG THAT IS SO COOL!!!! You can’t go wrong with a bit of faux-marble. And if it’s any consolation…. I did some research on the real stuff and apparently it’s a bugger to maintain. Good luck getting your shower screen. LOL. We have a shower in the ensuite, so I can’t even imagine what my rage levels would be like if I was showering in the backyard. HAHAHHAHAHHA!

  7. I saw that gorgeous bathroom photo after paragraphs of (understandable) bitching and thought ha, okay, where’s the hilarious caption about how this is the neighbour’s bathroom? But holyshit it WAS yours! So open, clean, bright, spacious, and I love the view out that window. Worth every penny! Possibly even the panic attacks.

  8. I had to poke my eyes out years ago so as not to be emotionally scarred by the ugliness of the one where we live because it’s not ours to renovate. Your finished bathroom is smokin hot x

  9. Oooooh, pretty. This is why we bought a RENOVATED weatherboard. We’ve only had to do a few things like… get the roof completely re-done, the house re-wired and the entire fence (corner block) replaced. One day a new kitchen would be nice, but I don’t think I’m emotionally ready for this yet!!

  10. Firstly I LOVE everything about your new bathroom, great choices lady and secondly I back you up on every word you wrote given that I have just lived through the same experience. I haven’t recovered enough yet to blog about it yet (we went away for a few days and things got installed in places that only would make sense to a man who doesn’t ever use a washing machine or wash himself) and while the husband left me to make all the choices without complaint (bless his cotton socks) it’s surprising you didn’t hear his meltdown all the way down the East coast when we got the quote of how much it was to dig up the cement slab to even start on the bathroom. I’m going to have to start yoga to get rid of my reno related twitching I think.

    • OMG yes – this! >> “we went away for a few days and things got installed in places that only would make sense to a man who doesn’t ever use a washing machine or wash himself”. I would never have thought it possible until I saw it happen with my own two eyes. On the other hand, I LOVE your reno posts and can’t wait to see the next installment.

  11. “STEP TWO: Set a budget. Remove head from arse. Double it.” Note to self – do not attempt to drink a hot cup of tea while reading Hugzilla’s posts – laughing and choking is too stressful for husband who thought I was about to pass out! You continually crack me up you witty beast you! Your bathroom looks amazing! Xx

  12. We just reno’d our kitchen. I too experienced the eyeroll many times. Your bathroom is gorge, well done lassie, well done!

  13. Well, it looks amazing, so it was obviously all worth it! But definitely not an easy thing to project manage. We’ve had similar problems with tradies not showing up etc to the point where we’ve fully scrapped our renovation plans and decided to move house instead. ‘Cos, you know, moving is much less stressful (cough). I think I’m more confident dealing with real estate agents than tradies though. I have no freaking idea what a diffuser is. I just googled essex flange hoping it was something ruder than it was 😉

  14. You’re back! And with a sexy new bathroom to boot! It looks totally ace. We have to renovate to transform “Brown Town” to “White City” but after reading this, I think I might put all Reno plans on hold. So tell me, have you ever considered a career in project management?!

  15. Oh gosh that bathroom is GORGEOUS. And your experience is usually spot on. The 1 week turnaround for a bathroom reno is rare. Love all your styling and that bath is definitely gorgeous! Well done on persevering.

  16. OMG, that sounds painful but it made a fucking fabulous blog post! Haha. Luckily my husband is a painter and has a million tradie friends so we had his best friend who is a joiner make and install our kitchen, his friends friend was a sparky (shit electricians are expensive compared to other trades though!) and his cousin do the floors (being done today). I would be a mess if I had to organise it myself. The end result of your bathroom is fabulous though! Love the light shades! Can you recommend some for my kitchen please, I think you have the eye for it! #TeamIBOT

  17. The architect is coming over today with the first plans for our reno. Reading this has reminded me why I’ve taken 7 years to get to stage one of a renovation. Me no likey!! But man, your bathroom is hawt!!!

  18. Love that new bathroom. Reckon we had your plumber’s brother when we built here. I would make sure the wifi worked in the bathroom, put in a little desk top (removable/ hideable) over the bath and never leave. Pizza delivery people don’t mind a little – well all right a LOT, of nudity do they? Yep I would live in the tub.

  19. The renter in me (or that is me, actually!) is jealous of your shiny bathtub but relieved I don’t have to spend thousands on such things- primarily because I don’t have thousands haha!

  20. Looks AMAZING Zilla! We want a bathroom reno – it’s just too tiny and as our little kiddies turn into teenagers it won’t be big enough for this family! Can’t decide if I’m terrified to do it, or inspired!?!?!

  21. So funny (although I won’t be laughing when we start our renovation of our back garden and deck – enclosing current deck to add to inside footprint and doing stuff outside as per hubby’s grand plan). LOVE that window omg awesome. We have neighbours where any bathroom window like that would go. No one wants to watch me get out of the bath lol

  22. Yay!! New bathrooms rock and yours looks fabulous. Is anyone else allowed to use it or just you? Do the kids need to be cleaned before they’re allowed in to use it?? Ha ha- so happy for you and your beautiful bathroom! Tradies suck- just started getting quotes TODAY for replacing our window screens- already had one not show up for a quote WTF??

    • I KNOW RIGHT WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THAT? I mean, you know that I’m the customer, right… It usually means you kind of want my business. Mmmm.. No? KTHXBAI.

    • So much better than that shitty blue shit we had before. That corner of the house was so dark and ugly, and now it’s light and open. Such a big difference. I regret nothing!

  23. Looks fantastic! I’m selling my place and so looking at potential new places and the bathroom is very important as I have no life so spend 2hrs in the bath reading every night to help get me through the 5-8pm doldrums… (and yes, I know that’s three hours…)

    Yours is amazing!

  24. I just would like to start by asking why the fuck you have hand wash in your shower? Weirdo. I love having a sneak peak into how you live. Now I know that you get into the shower with very dirty hands, and body wash alone is not good enough for what ails them. Haha.
    Secondly, I fucking LOVE your end result. I can see what $30000 gets you as opposed to what we paid for our small bathroom. WOW. You get to use that gorgeous space every day! Amazing. One of my favourite things about my new bathroom is the floor heating. I may have told you that in another bathroom related conversation though.
    Also – you captured what you went through getting it done so perfectly. You pretty much told my husband and I’s story on every reno we have done to our house. Tradies are the worst! WAH! Also, I’ve missed reading your blog. I’ll try to be less slack.

    • Oh hon don’t worry… There’s been nothing to read for weeks. I’ve been so without mojo while all of that was going on. Funnily enough, my hubby said the other day that he wishes we’d gone for the underfloor heating. Not sure what that would have added to the cost, but we’d both stopped adding it up by then. LOL.

  25. It looks fantastic, despite the pain of it! Waiting for the shower screen is the absolute worst, we had to wait ages for ours too, which was so frustrating when all you wanna do is get in there and luxuriate in your new bathroom with a long shower!

  26. That looks awesome! I was giggling at those tiles; friends of ours have similar ones in their bathroom along with a pink bath and toilet. What were people thinking when they initially designed bathrooms?!

    • Seriously, I was thinking the same thing! I mean – the ugliness aside – it was such a poor use of space. Making it three poky rooms just wasted so much of that area. Oh well. It was the 70s – the era that brought us flared pants and platform heels. Who knew what they were thinking?

  27. Love this! 😀
    We renovated our tiny bathroom/loo at our 2 bedroom apartment 10 years ago and it was a mammoth project (we didn’t even have to pay – we had been renting and it was an existing pipe problem. So when we purchased the flat, they had to do the repairs which gave us a whole new bathroom! Stress city. Throw kids in the mix…omg I need a lie down. 😉 Well done, looks fab!

  28. I had a stand up argument with an electrician about the placement of a powerpoint when we renovated our kitchen. You have to be bossy. The new bathroom looks amazing!

  29. Love those tiles and floor to ceiling is a goer. It is one of the most frustrating things when we moved into our house is there is nothing wrong with our bathrooms, they are just blah and the tiles are just to the top of the shower.
    Why is everything out of stock?!?!?! So frustrating. I actually think nothing is kept in stock.

    • Yeah, I’m actually glad that this one was SO hideous because my hubby would never have wanted to renovate it otherwise. We have a blah ensuite that was added to the house in the 90s. Not ugly enough to renovate. Not nice enough to love.

  30. Love your words. Love your new bathroom. I’m going to tell you that hubby and I renovated our last bathroom by ourselves, doing an alright job with no marble tiles and my brother for a plumber. But I lust now after this bathroom. And I will have it – sans having to tile ourselves.

  31. Ah the joys of renovating. And we do it for a living! Our current reno is going well, albeit a few hiccups… oven not fitting the hole, shower screen defects (very common), lighting issues. But stage one is nearly done. We move in next week. Eek!
    Your new bathroom is beautiful, you’ve got great style and taste. Although I am still hyperventilating at the cost!!

  32. Taking the kids along shopping for fixtures and fittings is akin to shopping at IKEA on a Saturday – just don’t do it. Even 25c ice creams don’t stop the tears! Your bathroom looks awesome – I’m glad you got your happy ending. It’s times like this that make me happy I have a Handy Hubby. He does kitchen and bathroom renos but I’ll be completely bias and say he’s one of the good guys!! Now where’s the photos after the kids have had a bath and there’s water and bath toys all over the floor?! 🙂

  33. Going to have to share this one hundred times at least so that our clients understand how fucking lucky they are!!! Can I say, that is the ducks nuts of bathrooms, as the Builder’s Wife I can see where everyone of your dollars went, and would say money well spent. Great job! Only sorry the experience wasn’t nicer xx
    P.S Just for the record, we insist on marriage counseling PRIOR to renovations!!!!!

  34. We had those blue floor tiles in the bathroom of our first house! Never did get around to updating them – we only lived there for 3 years before we sold. I do love the finished product, you must be pleased despite everything! Oh, and great choice on the tile colours. You really can’t go wrong with black and white, and marble look tiles. We chose the same for the two bathrooms in the house we built, 23 years ago. It’s now on the market again so we went for a sticky beak on the weekend and they still look great!

  35. Oh Hugzy!! This is one crazy shit hot of a BATHROOM!! I LOVE IT!!! And the stylie towels and soap bottles too you styler you!! I bet you feel like queen of the house in that pretty bathroom. I can believe it about the house reno pains. Anything house build related is similar to childbirth, the screams and hollas it takes to get what you want….and then it’s divine 🙂 All house builds should come with 3 things – a masseuse, a marriage councillor and a Dan Murphy’s voucher

  36. Yes, it was worth it. Thought your “carried shower screen in” story was going to end like mine – in a ga-zillion pieces of broken glass on the floor. Yours was similar, but with less cleaning up. All I could do was smile. After all, it happened on their watch, not mine!

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