All posts tagged: Cottage Bathroom

Sink for the Cottage Half Bath!

OOF. I’ve been working on several different posts and a million other things and I can’t seem to get anything done. I’m all over the place. So…hi, folks! Long time no see. Missed ya.

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The big news today? Not that big. I bought another old sink. My life is basically non-stop action and excitement with a heaping scoop of filth thrown in for fun.

I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for a cute cast iron sink to go down in the half-bath on the first floor of the cottage, and this one fit the bill! It’s probably from the 40s or early 50s, super heavy, and—despite the grime and filth, in excellent shape! I love the simple lines (which to me don’t really scream any particular era—just simple and classic), and the flat section at the top where it’ll meet the wall seems like a perfect spot for a bottle of hand soap and a cup for toothbrushes or whatever. It’s a pretty small bathroom, so I like that this particular sink has that little storage opportunity built-in. I’ll still put in some kind of cabinet or shelving or a medicine cabinet or something, but it’s a start!

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The best part? BOOM. $25 dollars. This entire project has definitely come with some unexpected costs, so saving money here and there on stuff like this really helps keep the budget more in check.

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There’s a few things to think about when buying vintage enameled cast iron fixtures, and the first is really to inspect the condition of the enamel. I don’t mind a little etching and minor staining (which can often be improved with non-abrasive cleaners or plain old white vinegar), but major chips, cracks, or areas of damage—especially where water will hit—will rust and degenerate over time.

Damaged enamel doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good buy, especially if the shape is super unique or something, but all of the repair solutions that I know about will never really measure up to an original enameled coating. There are epoxy-type patching compounds you can buy at most home improvement stores, which you basically spread on, let dry, and sand smooth, but the finish is never going to look seamless or perfect—it’ll just insulate the cast iron from further rusting. You can also get stuff like this reglazed professionally (typically they come to you, mask everything off, and spray a new coating on the fixtures), which looks nice at first but isn’t all that durable—you generally have to have it redone about once a decade or so, and it scratches and chips fairly easily in the meantime. The most durable solution I know of is sandblasting and powder-coating. In this process, the enamel finish is blasted off until the cast iron is bare, and then the entire thing can be powder-coated, which is essentially a very tough, durable paint treatment that can be done in a million different colors. It also tends to be pretty affordable, but prices vary. That’s the plan for the downstairs bathtub in my house, since it’s in super solid shape overall but the enamel has seen much better days, and I was quoted $300 to have the work done…which is much less than I’d spend on a brand new tub! This is the same process that my pal Anna had done on her bathroom fixtures, a radiator, and some exterior metal work, and all of them have held up beautifully!

I don’t know of a way to actually have something completely re-enameled (anyone?), though, so the best thing is really to try to find fixtures that don’t need this kind of repair work in the first place. It also keeps costs down, duh-sies. This sink is in great shape, so a little scrubbing should take care of it!

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The second thing to think about is the metal cleat that the sink hangs off of. If you’re installing one of these bad boys, bear in mind that they are HEAVY mo-fos and you may have to open your wall and install some wood blocking for the cleat to screw into. Anyway, often vintage sinks get separated from their original cleat. I bought this sink from the Historic Albany Foundation, which is a fun salvage place with good stuff at great prices, and luckily for me they had a big bin of these cleats to peruse, so it was just a matter of finding one that fit! If your sink is still in production (like the Kohler sink I bought a while ago), you may be able to just order the cleat directly from the manufacturer, and if you’re really in a bind, lots of people get them custom-made by a metal shop for a fairly nominal cost. Anyway, there are options! If you love the sink, don’t fret if it doesn’t have the cleat.

By the way, the nice man at the salvage place told me that often you’re better off with a steel cleat than a cast iron one. Cast iron becomes more brittle over time, so sometimes the cleats are cracked or broken either prior to or during installation. I know that rusty little thing looks like bad news, but it’s very solid and I was assured should hold everything just fine.

faucets

Lastly, the taps! As much as I don’t really mind double taps on old sinks, especially for a half-bath, I gotta say I do prefer a single faucet. Often cast iron sinks that are originally made with double taps can be elegantly converted (Anna did this in her bathroom, too), but the cost of the plumbing work and the faucet/knobs/escutcheons definitely adds a few hundred dollars to the price. So potentially your cheap $25 sink really becomes a $300-$400 sink, which is still fine, but maybe not the kind of deal you thought it was.

ANYWAY, I know this thing looks REALLY gross, but I’m guessing some Barkeeper’s Friend and some TLC will clean it up. Maybe a few new little parts, too, but hopefully that won’t be a big deal. The faceted shape of that little faucet is so cute, though, right? I like it.

I’m so glad to report that—I THINK HOPE AND PRAY—winter is pretty much done. There’s still snow on the ground, but it’s melting, and hopefully it won’t be too long before I can really get back to work on the cottage. The lack of heat (or a gas line!) really kind of messed everything up for a few months, but now that we’re more or less out of the danger zone of pipes freezing and stuff, I’m excited to get back in there! Now that things have stalled and dragged out for so long, it’s going to be super exciting to start making real progress again and whipping this place into shape!

The Second Floor of Bluestone Cottage

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Alright, so we’ve seen the exterior of the little condemned cottage-house that could, and we’ve taken a walk through the first floor, so if you’re still here and haven’t abandoned ship for some nice blog you might actually get a decent Pin out of…want to go upstairs?

Too bad. You have to. My blog, my rules.

It’s slightly less bad than downstairs.

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I’ve talked before about how cute I think the staircase is, so here it is from the top! So cute! I love the natural wearing on the pine treads from so many years of use—I think the plan is probably to just sand and seal them, unless the stains are really bad and they need to be stained really dark or painted. Anyway. There’s potential with these stairs!

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There are two really sweet little casement windows in the stairwell (one at the bottom and one at the top) that I’m really hoping I can repair and put back. Fixing the windows is a pretty slow and labor-intensive process, so I think I’ll just have to do one by one over the course of the project.

Here is where I ask for a little help and guidance in the off chance that there are any very savvy hardware specialists reading: all of the casement windows in the house still have the original hardware that allow them to open and close (the casement stays, those funny things at the bottom) BUT almost all of the stays are missing the little knob that keeps the window in place if it’s opened or closed! The hardware can definitely be stripped down and reused, but not without replacement knobs. Anyone know of a way to buy just the knob, without having to buy an entirely new casement stay? Buying new stays is an option, but at about $35 a pop, I really don’t want to do that! Thoughts?

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To help you orient yourself a little, the stairs run in about the middle of the house. At the top, there’s sort of a landing zone which is right over the dining room.  Then there’s a bedroom directly over the kitchen and at the other end, a larger bedroom essentially over the front half of the house. Make sense? Alrighty then.

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This first bedroom is way cute and a really nice size. I love that five-panel door, too!

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In the corner, there’s this kind of awkwardly-placed closet that maybe I’m dying to tear out. I know that might be a tough sell, but it just feels…so recently added and out of place here, right? Unless closets are original (or more seamlessly added), I much prefer the alternative of using freestanding furniture to accomplish the same thing in old houses.

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The other side of the room looks like this. The two little double-hung sash windows let tons of light into the room and are in relatively good shape…a little restoration and they’ll be just fine. I’m weirdly excited to get my hands on all the windows in this house. Restoring old windows is such satisfying work.

I have no idea why all of the walls in this room are covered with 3/8″ OSB, really. I took it all down already and it was concealing some holes (which didn’t seem to be an issue in, uh, the rest of the house?), but mostly the walls are fine? Who knows. Like the rest of the walls in the house, the drywall is in such bad shape and so poorly done to begin with that it’s SO not worth trying to salvage. Down to the studs!

landing

Back at the top of the stairs and outside that bedroom door, there’s a nice little landing kind of space and doors to two rooms: the current full bathroom and the larger bedroom. To the right, there’s this non-original wall that really just needs to come down, but the placement of it actually makes a lot of sense to me. Allow me to explain!

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Here’s a better, blurrier view of the wall. It basically bisects this generous landing space and creates what the listing referred to as a third bedroom.

chimney

Here’s the chimney, which I still think might be fun to expose for a little texture and character.

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This “third bedroom” is a disaster. I have no idea what’s going on with the walls, but it doesn’t really matter. The room is really only big enough to wedge a twin bed and a side table into so I don’t really feel like it’s worth maintaining as just another room.

You know what it could be, though?

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A totally good bathroom. Right? I mean, if we’re doing all new plumbing and electric and stuff anyway, it’s not like it makes a big difference to put the bathroom somewhere else.

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So since that will be a bathroom, I can rip this other bathroom out completely. This bathroom is truly horrifying. I’ll spare more photos (FOR NOW), but there’s really nothing in here worth salvaging at all (the tub is fiberglass, don’t be fooled). This picture makes it look like maybe it just needs a little cleaning, which is funny. There’s literally a dead animal in the vanity. Total hoarder-style flattened mummified thing. I can’t even identify it. It might be a ferret.

ANYWAY!

The advantage of ripping out this whole bathroom is two-fold:

1. See how that wall at the end of the shower is built out? Well, there’s another little window behind that! It took me a while to notice since you can only see if from the outside of the house, but it’s there and intact and it’ll be nice to uncover it from this mess.

2. Also, this bathroom really cuts into what would otherwise be a very large, lux bedroom!

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Check it! This bedroom could be SO nice and fancy-feeling, right?

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I love this bank of windows in the front, which faces the front yard and the street and lets in a ton of light. On either side of the windows are these closets, which I think are a nice use of space here.

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I suppose this is probably the wall you would put the bed on, which is nice and long and stuff.

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This is the backside of the bathroom—remember, the whole thing is going! Instead of one little window in a weird little nook, this wall will have three nice windows letting in even more light and looking really charming and lovely. It’s going to be such a nice room.

So, I know the upstairs maybe doesn’t look like much, but I might be even more excited about it than the main floor! Want to know why? I’ll tell you why.

Much like the main floor, the ceilings up here are only about 7.5 feet high. The difference is…there’s no attic in this house.

Ohhhh yeahhhh. Let’s vault them! Let’s vault all of the ceilings! This upstairs is going to be SO GOOD. Bright and light and architecturally kind of interesting…I’m really excited for it. I’ll be working together with a contractor to figure out the best way to do it without compromising the structure of the roof, but it shouldn’t be too bad. It’s sort of a similar to my plan for the old upstairs kitchen in my house, so maybe I’ll even learn a thing or two doing it here first! I love the idea of doing sort of a paneling (or faux-paneling) treatment on the walls and ceiling and then painting it all out bright white. I see it. I see it in my brain. It’s awesome.

So, about that window hardware…

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