Ahhh...Spring Break. The dulcet tones of bored children and husband underfoot. The soothing rhythm of feed-the-family-walk-the-dogs-do-the-laundry, punctuated only by the occasional reminder that they are all still here. Isn't there someplace you people need to be? Like, not here? Trying to write a book, here, cats. And my house is wee and my office is in the living room.
In a clever gambit, I suggested that Phillip and the children repaint the kids' bathroom. It's upstairs, conveniently situated between their two bedrooms. They pretty much don't use it, because it has no windows, has never been painted since the builders sprayed it white, and is generally the gloomiest slice of real estate you ever saw. Add to that a suspiciously musty odor that I have always attributed to sub-par housekeeping, and altogether the place is sorely in need of some attention.
If the kids have a nicely redecorated new bathroom to hog, they won't always be in OURS.
If the rest of my family are crammed into a 6-foot room industriously occupied, I will be left in relative peace.
Two Birds: One Stone. What could possibly go wrong?
Appearances to the contrary, this is not the usual location of the kids' commode. It has been temporarily relocated. Because of the painting. Honest.
A Mommy-Initiated thorough cleaning of the loo did not remove its musty funk. Suspiciously more intense around the throne (where one really enjoys sticking ones nose, let me assure you), it was the scent of plumbing, and despair.
You know that thing where someone says "Smell this milk - I think it's gone bad," and you actually, do? Well this was just like that, but much, much worse. My experience informs me that nothing good ever comes from behind toilets. Come to think of it, kneeling in front of one is never the prelude to a good experience, either.
Closer examination (during which, it should be noted, I was not peacefully writing a book) revealed that the seal around the toilet was compromised. And by compromised, I mean missing. If there had ever been anything between porcelain and crappy builder-grade vinyl flooring, it's a memory now. Fearing the worst, we bravely moved the toilet. And by we, I mean Phillip, whom, I noted, looks surprisingly sexy when schlepping major plumbing fixtures. Who knew? Then we pulled up the baseboards and the vinyl flooring. Nasty bit of work, that. Did I mention this was supposed to be about people other than me, and involving nothing more challenging than some swell purple paint?
Two words a homeowner loves to hear: DAMP. SUBFLOOR. For the blissfully uninitiated, that means that moisture found its way under the crappy vinyl flooring and into the sponge-like plywood meant to support the not-insubstantial weight of the commode. Yay! Mildew!
Phillip and I debated the relative merits of replacing the subfloor. And its degree of difficulty/expense. When I say debated, I mean it went something like this:
Me: "We have to disconnect the sink, then unscrew the vanity from the wall. Then we yank down the tile backsplash, which often destroys the drywall behind it. That allows us to drag the vanity out of the room. Then and only then can we begin gutting the subfloor. For that we need wrecking bars, face masks and fortitude. Then we get new 1" plywood, which we (try to) cut using my wimpy little table saw, and install it. After that we can reinstall the vanity, reconnect the sink, and install a whole new floor and baseboards. Then you and the kids can paint the walls."
Phillip: "Is that sucking sound our bank account, or our will to live?
Me: "Both, my love."
Phillip: "What's plan B?"
Me: "It's a little number I like to call "Lipstick On A Pig." We kill the mildew with scary chemicals and dry the subfloor with fans. Then we cover the carnage with inexpensive new flooring and properly seal the toilet. The downside of the Lipstick-and-Pig plan is that it only borrows us some time. Nothing more than a postponement of the inevitable and expensive Big-Men-With-Proper-Tools plan."
Phillip: "And plan B means I don't have to move a vanity?"
Me: "Not today, my friend. But you do have to lift the toilet again."
Phillip: "Step aside, little lady."
So while the subfloor dried, Team Huff went ahead with the painting. Which really did improve the look of the place. And the mildewcide seems to have done its job, if the receding stench is any indication.
A visit to the big orange store netted us boxes of floor, encouragingly labeled "The Easiest Floor in the World!" It actually says, right there on the box, Easiest! In the World!
What could possibly go wrong?
If I don't post pictures of a completed bathroom on Friday, you probably don't want to hear from me anyway. Knit On, Gentle Readers.