The last remodeling project (maybe)

It may be the first New Year’s resolution in my life that I actually and fully completed. On Jan. 1 this year, I vowed this would be the year that we finally remodeled my bathroom, which I likened to a Greyhound bus station pit stop in a column I wrote for the magazine’s December/January issue.

The bathroom was the last original vestige of the 1970s ranch house we bought nine years ago. We have spent every year of the past nine remodeling or updating some aspect of the house: all new doors, windows and floors; a new roof, hardscape for the back yard, thousands of plants for the barren third of an acre lot (now a jungle). We replaced the water heater, dish washer, added insulation, painted it inside and out, put in new countertops and tile in the kitchen. Upgraded the lighting. Gutted my husband’s bathroom. We joke that it would have been cheaper to buy a new house.


Above: The "before" photos

So it finally came down to my stinky little 5x8-foot bathroom with it’s permanently stained tile and painted-shut vanity doors, an operation I avoided because A) who wants to be out of her bathroom for a month? and B) it’s expensive to do, even for a small space. Here’s the miracle that I will tell you first: the whole operation went so smoothly I regretted waiting so long.

I think the secret to it was that I had planned for years what I wanted to do: keep the style warm and natural to fit in with the rest of the house, focusing on quality materials and colors and textures that were bold, but soothing. I picked the tile way in advance from Contract Furnishing Mart, and knew I wanted a natural wood cabinet. I even bought and installed a black toilet last year. I know. It seems weird, but it really does work. And the plus is that our mineral-heavy water doesn’t stain it.

The other thing we did right was to hire the perfect remodeler. John Burris of Creative Living Spaces in Portland suggested making a custom concrete sink and using a piece of reclaimed 100-year-old fir for the counter top. Finding the right vanity was key since it was the major piece in the bathroom, and after months of looking I still hadn’t found what I wanted. Or, I found it and it cost way too much.

John’s design was a perfect match with the tile, and with the spirit of our Northwest ranch vibe. Plus he  was as excited as I was about creating something wonderful. He was as much a creative partner as a contractor, making great suggestions about hardware and how to style the tile. To top it off, he kept the project on track despite his wife giving birth while we were under construction. Thank you, Beth and sweet baby James for being so accommodating. You can use my sink anytime.


Above: The "after" photos

You might wonder, as my husband does, if I will be happy now that the remodeling is complete. Absolutely. It’s nice to sit back and relax and enjoy the house and not think about what needs to be done.

Absolutely. Except maybe for that hot tub/Zen garden I’ve always wanted to build. And maybe a new driveway. But after that, I’m definitely finished. Most definitely.

Robin Doussard is Editor in Chief of Oregon Home. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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