There’s a toilet in my shower

By Mir
December 18, 2006

Operation: Disembarrass Upstairs Master Bath (DUMB for short) has begun. I may not survive the week.

My plan was to lounge around in my dressing gown, watching soap operas and eating bonbons all day, while my contractor made it all pretty up there. Hey, I already bought a ton of tile! My work should be done, now. Sheesh.

Alas, the fact that I’ve never once lounged with bad daytime television and chocolate should’ve clued me in to the impossibility of my dream, even if I had conveniently managed to repress every past home repair I’ve ever had.

(And! To add insult to injury! My contractor did not bring Oscar with him this time! Although that may have saved me from an uncomfortable conversation with Otto. Because the drooling, it might’ve been hard to explain.)

Anyway, I thought I’d fulfilled my end of the bargain: I had floor tiles, a shower door, and a fistful of cash. Otto and I were all set to tend to our own little projects and maybe I would get some work done, you know, to support that whole fistfuls-of-cash thing that contractors seem to so enjoy.

Well, you know, there was a lot of banging and such, so I poked my head in to see how it was going.

“How’s it going?” I asked, feigning cheerfulness and hoping that would make it difficult to give me bad news.

“Well, I’m pulling off the baseboards here, and they’re pretty well rotted.” Of course they were. I mean, NATURALLY.

“Okay, that’s fine, I can buy some new baseboards. We’re going out to Home Depot, do you guys need anything else?”

If there’s a question you do not ask a contractor, it’s whether he needs anything at Home Depot. My shopping list doubled in length (yes, I would dearly love to pick up a new wax ring for the toilet, whatever the hell that is, sure) and the contractor kept bringing up things I hadn’t thought of, like that I needed to pick a grout color.

“I would like it to be… grout-colored,” I suggested. Everyone seemed to find that amusing, but I was still trying to figure out when grout started coming in colors. It took me close to an hour to pick the TILES. Was he trying to KILL ME?

Armed with a list that contained alien items like “thinset” (I envisioned something like an oyster cracker, that might be crunchy and good with soup), Otto and I set off to Home Depot. And it was a good thing Otto was there with me, for lots of reasons. For one thing, he actually know where things are (it’s easier to know that, when you know what the things you’re looking for look like). For another, he doesn’t seem to take people out when pushing a loaded cart capped off with an eight-foot length of baseboard. And finally, he knows just want to do when I’m waving a tile around, growing ever more frantic, in the grout aisle.

“I like the buttercream. Or maybe the almond. I don’t know, what’s the difference between that and clay? Or maybe the sandstone. Oh, I like the sandstone I think. But maybe the buttercream is better. Or do you think the grey? No, grey looks like it’s already dirty. OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE HERE, PLEASE TELL ME WHICH ONE TO GET.”


“YES! SANDSTONE! Good! We’re done. Awesome. Are you sure, because—”


“Right. Okay. Let’s go. Thank you.”

So we managed to get only half of what was on our list for about four times what I’d been planning to spend. Which is just about right for home repair. Go, us!

And do not ask me what the contractors did today, because they worked all day and I suspect the day was broken down as follows:

9:00-10:00 Put toilet in the shower
10:00-11:00 Demolish baseboards and track crud all over the house
11:00-2:00 Install cement boards on bathroom floor
2:00-3:30 Move tools around, track more stuff on the floors

They were pretty busy. Of course, we did manage to work in a discussion about how yes, it would probably be good if we painted the ceiling before they put the tile down. So maybe we could take care of that tonight? Oh, yes, sure. No problem.

Well, Otto and I spent most of the afternoon and evening applying Kilz to the mildew colonies in my bathroom, and while we waited for that to dry we wandered through the house spackling random things, and then we painted the ceiling, and I’m thinking that more or less guarantees that the contractors won’t show up tomorrow.

In the meantime, the children were quite vexed by the state of my bathroom, and wanted to know WHERE will I SHOWER now?? I told them that I will use their bathroom. But where will OTTO shower, they wanted to know. He’ll use their bathroom, too, I said. Then they wanted to know if we could all shower together and things deteriorated from there.

(Home repair: Not just good for your house, but useful in bringing up those necessary life lessons about group nudity!)

In fairness, I should also mention that Otto pulled down a section of fence for me this morning, too. Because he is big and strong. Also because the fence was falling down, but, details. And he removed the baby gate at the top of the stairs, because I was getting to that, you know, but I’ve been getting to it for about four years.

So things are moving along. I think. Only about 4,827 more items to take care of before I can look around the house and say, “Dammit, why didn’t I do any of those before I decided to sell it?”


  1. Heather

    “Life lessons about group nudity.” I kinda snorted at that one. I think it may be a candidate for TLC’s little series heh.

  2. Zee

    Grout comes in colors?

  3. Carla Hinkle

    Having just been through an 8-week remodel, I can confidently say Home Depot is like the Bermuda Triangle that will suck you in, never to be seen again. Or even if you make it out, your money sure won’t.

  4. Cele

    Grey grout looks very nice with slate tile. We added a room on to our house, 3 years ago. I thought I’d like to tile it. After having tiled our entry way, we decided to go with wood floors. I just couldn’t see me cleaning 15 x 24 grout. But you have contractors – you go girl.

  5. Sara

    “Home repair: Not just good for your house, but useful in bringing up those necessary life lessons about group nudity.” I have never seen this covered on “This Old House”. Thanks for covering it here!

  6. Meritt

    Hmph. You’ve just cured my “maybe we should put hardwood on the upstairs landing” thought process. Dead in the water.

    I truly do thank you for that.

  7. JP

    I work for a large Plumbing Contractor in NY, and I must tell you that the absolute WORST thing, is a Homeowner who wants to help! HAHA……….
    Please tell me you didn’t pick out your own fixtures?!?!?

    And just a a helpful tip from my own experience, NEVER refinish wood floors while you are living in the house! The mess that, that entails is enough for you to want to get a speedy divorce or at the very least, cause bodily harm to whomever is closest to you!
    Have fun………….Good luck w/ the remodel!

  8. Judy

    Hon, I feel for you. We “started” remodeling our bathrooms… oh… years ago, it seems like (not really, a month or two back. I would have to check my OWN archives to find out for sure). Our contractor is a friend of ours… so the price was right (can we say “free”), BUT (and it’s a big “but” for a reason)… he lives like 500 miles from us, so he can/could only come for the weekend. He left us with things we could do without him. And… they are still left to do! We finally got the rest of the wallpaper off the walls in the hall bathroom and got everything painted, fixtures put in, etc. We still have the tiling to do in there (after Christmas). And, in OUR bathroom, we only have cement board for a floor and stipped walls/new wallboard. And, to make matters worse, our new shower has sprung a leak we have to investigate and see what we need to do (the general consensus is that we will have to tear out the new wallboard… sigh… and our handyman is busy on a job way across county and probably won’t be available til after Christmas.)

    I’ll make you a deal… if you remind me not to do any remodeling, I’ll remind you!!!

  9. daysgoby

    The Sandstone conversation just convinced me Otto is to die for.

    Clone him. Send him to me.

  10. Susan

    I just had a gigantic flashback to OUR bathroom remodel, lo these many years ago. The high point was probably the night that Wade primed the walls with Kilz and nearly keeled over from the fumes. Good times!

    Also, I was aggravated to tears by our contractor’s insistence that I choose a grout color RIGHT NOW. I think it’s buttercream. After five years, it’s more Kids Have Tracked Dirt On It colored. Whatever.

  11. Ben

    I read this title, and all I could think was “you got chocolate in my peanut butter!”

    Good luck, Mir.

  12. karen

    Thinset is like tile glue.

    And Home Depot is like crack. Which is why I know about thinset.

    Otto? (which came out “Ooot” the first time I typed it) If you two can get through this home repair/remodel thing and still want to get married, and I know you will, then this thing is for life. You’ll have already passed The Test. Yay, you!

  13. Aimee

    Bwah! Lessons about group nudity…

  14. Sophie

    eeeeewwww… I’m having flashbacks to what I did to a house I owned once before I had to sell it. I never did get to enjoy that new roof, drip pan under the shower, and fancy front door with beveled glass. *sigh* Good luck!

  15. Jenn2

    Wow, you’ve officially cured me of my longing to remodel our kitchen. I can cook in ugly.

  16. Bob

    mmmmmmmmmm Home Depot mmmmm*drool*

    almost as good as Sears tool dept.

    now you have a place to sit down while you shower. and it’s waterproof to boot. woot.

  17. CharlestonGirl

    “life lessons about group nudity” Let me say that I usually read your posts really late at night before bed. Today, I got my morning caffeine fix and sat down to catch up. I should have known better. Those 5 words caused me to spew my drink all over my computer screen! Good luck with the remodel, we are about to embark on the same kind of project. UGH! Hang in there!

  18. Elleoz

    I do not envy you for having to do all the remodeling/home repairs. That’s why I bought a new home :)

    I hope that you get everything done and get to enjoy those bon-bons.

    Mmmmm. Now I am hungry and want to lounge on the couch and watch Young & The Restless. Do you think the boss would get mad?

  19. Christina

    You go Otto! I’m sure the sandstone will be lovely.

  20. Liise

    Grrrrrrreat! I am having a hard enough time finding the color “sage” to PAINT my bathroom, I am so hosed when “Grout color” comes into play.

    Group Nudity, not just for breakfast anymore!

  21. meno

    The family that bathes together, stays together, i always say.

  22. Lena

    Thank you! Exactly! Why was I not worth painting and tiling and cleaning and PLANTS all this time?

    Because we’re greedy bitches Mir. That must be it.

  23. Latte Man

    ah yes, home repair, the bane of many an existence.

    When we bought our home, it was a 105 year old “fixer upper” but we were young and idealistic (read: inexperienced and stupid), and sure we could do it ourselves “for next to nothing” in “no time”

    Do I need to tell you how far we still have to go after 12 years? And do I need to point out that apparently after 10 or 12 years, those rooms you painted when you first moved in… well turns out they need to actually get painted again eventually throwing all your plans off course.

    Side Note: I pink puffy (er… I mean cast Iron) heart Lowes, just so I never have to set foot in Home Depot ever again.

  24. ChristieNY

    Yay! I have sandstone grout in my bathroom too! It’ll look lovely! :)

    And yes, I tried to buy things at H.D. that my contractor sent me there for – alone – and ended up handng my cell phone to an employee there so the contractor could explain what on Earth it was that he needed.

    We should all be so lucky to have an Otto with us (mine was stuck at work) when we venture in there!

  25. Jenifer

    Ack… want home repair horror stories….read my blog, we can’t even live in our house right now! hard to live in a house that has no walls!!!!!!!!

    It sickens me…

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