Monday, January 21, 2008

Feature Creep

That's what my husband calls it when someone at work tells him they want him to design a simple project, and then they ask him for just one more feature, and just one more feature, and just one more feature, until, suddenly, what was once a "simple project" is now a huge and complicated mess: Feature Creep.

Ever since we moved into our house a year ago, I have wanted to make some serious upgrades to one of the bathrooms. For starters, the housing inspector told us right away that the grout in the tiled floor was no good, and we'd have to regrout pretty soon or risk water damage to the subfloor.

Then there was the uneven baseboard to contend with. That poorly repaired water damage to the wall surface near the bathtub. The generally crappy paint job. The vintage 1950s medicine cabinet-- creaky, dirty, tiny, and losing silver from the mirror. The leaky 1970s faucet. The ugly, rusting vintage 1980s light fixture. The beat-up, particleboard Walmart sink cabinet, so big for the space you could barely open the bathroom door past it, let alone find room for a step stool so a three-year-old could wash his hands without help.

But, there have been so many other things to fix in the rest of the house during the past year that all we'd gotten to replacing so far in that bathroom was the faucet, the medicine cabinet, and the light fixture. I'd touched up the paint a bit, put in a towel bar where the sellers had illegally ripped one out after closing, and tried vainly to re-repair the poor water damage repair job without ripping out large chunks of wall.

But past weekend, while walking through a Lowes just to kill some time while my husband waited to meet someone nearby, I saw a nicely priced, nicely made sink cabinet, with an included porcelain basin. It was just the sort of wood finish my husband likes. It was just the right size to fit into our little bathroom, leaving just enough room for a small step-stool so my son could finally reach the sink on his own.

It was the only one left in the store.

So of course, we bought it.

I had measured and checked our existing sink cabinet carefully while thinking about a replacement, and I knew that the tile floor continued under the cabinet. I knew the pipes and the faucet we already had in place would almost certainly fit the new sink. Installing the new sink cabinet and basin, then, really, should only take an hour or two at most. Should pretty much be a cinch. Right?


Some previous owner of this property HAD tiled under the sink cabinet, but only partway. This unknown not-so-handyperson had tiled partway under the front and sides and then just used broken bits of tile to shim up the back of the cabinet, to make it sort-of level.

The New Cabinet does not appreciate being put on this dirty Old Floor.

At least I knew now why water tended to pool on the back of the sink counter.

Well, we thought, so what? The tile in our bathroom is a plain, cheap textured white style. How hard could matching it be? We figured we'd buy a few tiles at Home Depot, tile over the empty space, put in the new sink, and voila! I could even regrout the rest of the floor, while we were at it. It would be a one-day job. It would be a cinch! Right?

Um . . .

We went to all of the hardware stores in our area. No white textured tile AT ALL. No eight inch tiles, AT ALL. We went to a specialty tile store. It was there that we learned that eight-inch tiles are out of fashion. White floor tiles are hopelessly out of fashion. And the specific style of tile we were looking for? Had been discontinued, several years ago.

If we wanted a complete, finished, matching tiled floor, we would have to retile. The whole floor.

Which meant of course that we would also have to remove the baseboard, and the toilet.

At this point, I decided, what the hell? Let's fix the wall and paint, too!

And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!

And you may ask yourself
Am I right? I wrong?

And you may tell yourself
My god!...what have I done?*

So if I'm not around much this week, YOU KNOW WHY.

And yes, of course I'll post an after.

(Soon. Did I mention that's our only bathtub, there? Yeah. )

*Quoted from the Talking Heads


KBO said...

That is exactly what is going to happen when we redo our scandalously-cheaply remodeled bathroom. Previous owners cut every corner possible and we're just waiting to fall down the rabbit hole that you just did. Probably kitchen, too.

On the bright side, it will look bee-you-tea-full when it is done. You can do it!

R said...

ugh. i always dream of owning my own home (after 30 years of payment, of course). . . until i read things like this. blech.

Anonymous said...

It always starts with just the one small thing to fix or do, then it landslides into the big thing!!!


Awesome Mom said...

Good luck! It should look fabulous when you are done.

Farrell said...

It'll look great when it's all done!

Anonymous said...

I love that you quoted the Talking Heads. One of my faves.

This too shall pass. And your bathroom will look great afterwards.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

I had the IDENTICAL scenario last year.

I BEGGED My Beautiful Wife to pick a new sink/cabinet the same dimensions as the old one. She didn't.

The tile stopped.

It was a mess.

Debbie said...

I am eternally devoted to your improvement abilities upon reading this (because, duh, I've committed myself to you in eternal devotion in a general sense since I first laid eyes on you - uh, your cyber-rep).

and that bathroom is going to look so fine after you're done, it's gonna probably ask you to take it out dancing. just don't let it try to talk you into the pricier dinner/dancing clubs. bathrooms are known for their chicanery in such things. it'll take what it gets and LIKE it.


Zookeeper said...

Sounds exciting! I can't wait for the "after".

Anonymous said...

I am having my oak floor redone and was searching for something or other info (oh I know... when can I put the rugs back? um IN A MONTH!) and I found this site. I am going through almost all the same stuff and it's so creepy, but not Feature Creepy creepy. Just house crap creepy. I have the best leaky new Lowes toilet nightmare story I will share--Ive told it so much though I will wait.

Partner in whine.