6.06.2009

Specs! Toilets! Tile!

I've been busy, readers: too busy to stare obsessively at my computer screen for hours on end. I realized about two weeks ago that my sleep cycle was totally ruined. I was getting an average of nine hours sleep, but still felt tired. Also, I had the sleep cycle of a koala, frequently sleeping until 2 pm. Sure, I'm not a morning person, but waking at two or three in the afternoon is a real obstacle to getting anything done. If that trend continued, I would soon have become completely nocturnal, which I have no desire to be.

Around the same time, the condition of the plumbing in my house caused me to snap. My toilet had died a slow death. The tank filled so slowly that it would only flush under its own power once a day, forcing me to add water every time I wanted to flush. This is why I have indoor plumbing? Finally, it reduced me to tears. Change was needed. I called one of my good friends, bemoaning the state of my WC and he pledged his help. I called my mom, who agreed that some improvements were in order. The scales have fallen from my eyes.

So, I'm renovating the house. It's a project that I can be excited about, use some of my design skills, and shop for bargains. Did you know that Habitat for Humanity runs stores full of construction/renovation materials? I bought enough tile to do my bathroom floor for $15, beautiful ceramic tile that looks like stone. Enough tile for the quite large kitchen backsplash? A cool $100 for incredible, California casual rough finish subway tile to replace the frankly dated 70s renovation a previous owner did in the kitchen.

A couple of days after the toilet realization, I was still awake at 5.30 am. I decided to stay awake until a normal bedtime, in order to reset my internal clock. I also decided to go see Lewis, who lives about two and half hours away, to talk about the bathroom. He kept me moving when I was ready to crash, was excited about my ideas, and turned me on to Habitat ReSale. He also woke me up at 9.30 the next day so that I wouldn't fall back into my regular sleep schedule. He's a really great friend.

What happens when two designers sink their teeth into a project like this? A field trip to IKEA, of course. I find it hard to resist the siren song of affordable European design and damn good Swedish meatballs. IKEA even has a line of bathroom fixtures and furniture designed for small bathrooms that isn't horribly ugly. Lewis and I had a wonderful time looking at all of the staged room displays and making up stories about who we thought worked or lived in them. It was a great creative exercise that really started me thinking about the different ways you can tell a story with interior design.

My house was built in 1950 or '51, which led me to think about design in that period. If the original owners were sophisticated design fans who followed the latest crack of fashion, it would have been done in Mid-Century Modern. If you grew up in a post war building boom suburb, you probably saw a lot of Mid-Century Modern without realizing it. The contractors who built the place used the cheapest fixtures, so it wasn't terribly stylish at the time (and definitely not now) and hasn't aged well. A virtual visit to the local house museum also convinced me that I DO NOT WANT an authentic 1950s bathroom. Ugh. Instead, I'm going for a contemporary vision of Mid-Century Modern, which is really difficult to explain to people who aren't design nerds. If you're curious, I'd suggest a visit to the Mid-Century Modernist. There are a lot of drool worthy websites devoted to Mid-Century Modern and California Casual.

This week, Lewis and Ariel came to work on the house. I was very nervous about having people in the house, because I am not used to having other people in my space and it was in a serious state. Fortunately, they didn't care and I was at ease leaving them for a few hours while I went to an appointment. The progress on the yard while I was gone was nothing short of miraculous. Apparently the weeds I had bemoaned were actually wild violets. Think of all of the salads I can eat now that I know that! They also bleached the concrete pad on the patio and moved my mulch pile. After Ariel put out some chic solar lights in the front yard (very similar to the neighbors' lights, adding a nice unifying element to the properties), I felt the house no longer looked like it was inhabited by a crazy person.

Several trips to different hardware stores and almost an entire day were devoted to Lewis's much appreciated resurrection of my toilet. The problem turned out not to be the toilet at all, but the plumbing leading to the tank. He pulled out a section of the pipe to show me. It looked like an illustration for a cholesterol lowering medication. Honestly, I'm amazed that any water got through it. I realize that a working toilet is probably not that exciting to most of you, but I was really tired of the Laura Ingalls Wilder method of flushing.

Perhaps you are not that interested in home renovation. I apologize in advance, as this will probably be a recurring theme in the blog for the next year. The house needs a lot of work, but it feels a lot less overwhelming with Lewis and Ariel's help.

In other news, my glasses arrived today. The mailman actually rang the bell to hand deliver the package, which was greeted with a squeal of excitement. Zenni Optical had sent me an email earlier in the week to let me know they'd arrive soon, but I didn't think they'd come until Monday. I tore into the package and my heart sunk. The cases were tiny, leading me to wonder if I had accidentally ordered reading glasses. The sizes were given in metric, which I do understand but have a harder time visualizing than imperial measure. I thought about the tiny Stonehenge set in Spinal Tap and proceeded with cautious optimism. The lab that made the glasses didn't use those big, standard size cases, which is why they looked so small. The smaller case revealed my naughty librarian frames. They're smaller than my last pair of frames, which may take some adjustment, but I really like them. Definitely worth the $12 I paid for them. The Janeane Garafolo frames that had captured my heart turned out to be a different story. They're too small for my enormous noggin. Sure, they look normal sized in their case, but look like children's frames on. They only cost $25, so I'm not heartbroken. I might even order a larger, similar frame. Overall, I am very pleased with my interactions with Zenni. The Rx in the glasses is correct, which had concerned my mother. Not bad at all, considering what a crapshoot online shopping can be. Once I have taken a shower and done other beautifying things, I might even post a picture of me and the naughty librarian glasses.

3 comments:

teresa said...

wow, can lewis and ariel be my friends too? they sound helpful! home renovation stories are better with: pictures.

i always have the same problem with finding frames--they have to be big enough to make my head look like it is a normal size (when we all know that it just isn't). too bad about the janeane garofalos. my favorite glasses designer is "Jonathan Cate." you can download their catalogs from the website.

K said...

but hey, lookit the blue here!
http://retrorenovation.com/tag/50s-bathroom/
heh I think I grew up with that look.

Kirstin said...

Oy,that blue bathroom set is too much! I finally got my sink from IKEA Bolingbrook last Sunday, and it looks nothing like that. I should post soon.

 
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