I love “before and after” pictures, don’t you? They are an encouragement that anything is possible! There is a lot missing, however, between the two extremes that we don’t see. Days and days of mundane baby steps. Getting up and not feeling the energy to do anything. Or encountering challenges that interrupt your flow, or worse yet, require a do-over.
There were many such days on the way to a new bathroom in the 420 square foot building we call the “Red Shed.” (see picture below). When we bought this property last fall, it was the only structure here, and had been gutted out by the previous owner – leaving no electric, no plumbing, and all the windows & doors need replacement, too.
Our goal for this building? Hopefully it’s for our guests to enjoy. It will also have a hardy kitchen for processing garden vegetables, canning, making cider, etc. And a small relaxing area with a wood stove.
First priority was a bathroom, however. As you can see from the pictures above, Vinny started off with some challenges. But bit by bit, project by project, he tackled them. Meanwhile I was doing my part, like looking for things on Craigslist, and when we were out and about, begging him to drop me off at a thrift shop!
Finally, it got finished – and it is a great feeling! :-) Here is a short video showing the end result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2E3EilfbBk
Or, some pictures:
Some helpful Tips…
Besides doing the work ourselves, which saved money of course, there are some other things we used to complete this project inexpensively:
1. Advanced Craigslist Searching
Vinny calls me the “Craigslist Queen,” and for good reason I think. :-) It helps that it is the absolute best place to find used items, but I’ve also learned to master the advanced search functions. For example, when looking for an old claw foot tub, I figured some people spell it “clawfoot.” Still others don’t mention claw feet at all, but instead just call it a “cast iron tub.” Not to mention it can be called either a tub OR bathtub!
It can get a little complicated, but finding what you want is much faster if you include all possible search terms in an algorithm. For me, I used this: (tub | bathtub) (clawfoot | claw) | iron. The “|” symbol means “or.”
Also – if you have too many results, you can use the minus symbol to hone things down. For example, my algorithm above showed ads for faucets and other accessories for clawfoot tubs, as well as the tubs. Although I did want to see these items too, you may not, so you can add subtractions to your algorithm. For example: -faucet -showerhead -hardware, etc.
Another great help is expanding your search area! Because we live near several CL divisions, I usually use either the choice (on the left column) to “include nearby areas.” Or below that is another option for giving your zip code, and searching for anything within a certain mile radius. You may want to do this if you are getting too many results. And oh, did I mention they have a price range, too?
Finally, we all want to live life and not be glued to the computer every day checking our searches. So save them. Or utilize Craigslist to email you when something new pops up! After you get your perfect search nailed down – just go to the upper right corner and click “Save Search.” But if you want to be emailed for something new, make sure you then go to that page and turn the email function on!
For more information on advanced searching on CL – see: advanced search tips on craigslist
2. Bring pictures on your phone, to the stores
As the bathroom was taking shape, I would take pictures. For example, I did so after the major pieces were in place by Vinny, and the walls were painted yellow. Then when I went to the thrift shops, I would use the pictures to help me find accessories that might look good. Or sometimes I would take a picture of an item in the store, and then bring it back to the bathroom to visualize the item there. (If you have an iPad or tablet with a camera, it’s even better because of the larger image). I’m not good with color – so admittedly it was frustrating at times. But I have a friend who is good with colors. She offered some good advice – including finding the daisy bush which I pretty much centered everything else around.
Speaking of thrift shops, more and more “Habitat For Humanity” Restores are popping up. We found several things there, including the interior door for $25, the clock above the tub for $2, and the medicine cabinet/light for only $8. You can find ones in your area here: https://www.habitat.org/restores
3. Treasures in trash
We were fortunate to stumble upon the sink vanity being thrown away by some neighbors. But keep in mind that many cities and towns have annual “trash days” when people can put furniture and other large items on the side of the road to be picked up by the trash department. I’ve never been ill-disposed to dumpster diving, or roadside collecting (thanks Mom!) and it’s unbelievable the things that people throw out.
4. Other sources
Sometimes Craigslist is not enough. For example, I was having a hard time finding a propane stove on Craigslist that was cheap or in decent shape (for the future kitchen). So I joined some local Facebook Sale & Barter groups. There were a bunch for our county, not to mention smaller ones for our nearest towns and cities. I put a “wanted” ad on several of them, and a man replied that he had a perfect stove for us, for only $100.
Oh, and one other thing. A friend told me about another website for used items, offerup.com. I was surprised at how populated it was with stuff in our area. I’ll be checking that out from time to time, I’m sure. And also freecycle.org – just heard of this one, too.
Last but not least, paint. It covers a multitude of sins, and if you make a mistake, you can always paint over something. It’s a great way of saving money. The claw foot (or claw foot) :-) tub was pretty yucky on the outside. A little sanding, and some rustoleum primer and paint – and it was good to go. If you are a bit more daring, you can also stencil or paint designs – like I with painting a row of daisies on the wall.
As mentioned, the next project on our plate is the kitchen. Personally I don’t like revealing pictures of a work in progress. But bless Vinny – he has no qualms about that :-), so for his sake I’ll show a couple of pictures of the kitchen area – before it’s done. And oh, while I’m at it, I will throw in another “before” picture, too ;-)
P.S. I’ll let you know when I have some “after” pictures. (Although honestly, the “Vinny project” is very challenging, and likely going to take a long, long time.) :-)
In closing, if YOU have any changes you want in your house, or even in your body (such as weight loss, etc.) – and you are determined to take the project on – try to remember to take some “before” and “during” pictures. Believe us, it’s easy to forget to do so. But they can be very motivating to look back and see the changes!
Until next time,