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February  28

Avocado Anyone?

Bathroom_1 I could just wait until this bathroom comes back in vogue. Subway tiles are all the rage, so why not avocado formica. Seriously, got a quote for a renovation of this bath at a local kitchen/bath shop. I'm still dealing with sticker shock -- $20-$25,000, not counting materials (i.e. shower, toilet, sink, tile, etc.) Just so we're clear, we're not talking a master bath, no Jacuzzi tub, bidet, or even towel warmers. We're just looking to bring this baby up to speed. Are you surprised, or is this merely the cost of living and using the loo? If you've recently done a similar job for less, post your experience here.

February 28, 2005 in Sheesh! | Permalink


Here's a tip I was recently given by a realtor friend: send in the picture and plan without telling them where you live and get a quote. She said contractors often base the price of a bathroom or kitchen renovation on the price paid for the house. So if you're in Montclair or GR, you're overpaying (or, you're paying 'progressively'.) She lives right on the GR/Bloomfield border and always tells them she's in Bloomfield--says the quotes are half as much as if she says she's in GR.

Posted by: Lex | Feb 28, 2005 10:56:01 AM

Based on personal experience renovating several bathrooms and consulting and advising my clients, I would agree that it's easy to spend $20,000 to $35,000 on a gorgeous bathroom, but not always necessary.

Cost may depend on whether you give yourself up totally to a kitchen/bath renovator that will handle every aspect of the project, including having you choose tiles, vanity and lighting from its own stock -- or whether you serve as your own contractor. That means you will personally consult with the people at Home Depo or Expo or Standard Tile, make your independent design choices, have your space measured and assessed for the $100 they may charge, and then hire a contractor to DO THE JOB. You'll even get a contractor's discount at stores like Standard Tile if you're working with a registered contractor.

Of course, you'll be intimately and insanely involved in the project, beginning to end -- running around for the right faucet hardware, comparing flooring, making last-minute choices on towel and toilet-paper racks, windows, lighting -- but you'll probably save money.

Additionally, if you choose wainscotting for your walls rather than expensive ceramic tile, you will save more. I also saved hundreds of dollars by buying all my fixtures at LampsPlus.com -- a wonderful, bargain resource. Online I also found the Crescent shower rod, which may be the most important bathroom invention in the last century!

The main thing is to work with a pro who will relish having you as a partner and boss, and will do the job expertly, on time. So, get referrals from friends, your real estate agent, local vendors.

With the money you save on the bathroom, you can start work on your much-neglected 50's-vintage powder room.

Posted by: Roberta Baldwin | Feb 28, 2005 11:09:26 AM

We did a bathroom about 3 years ago--(very nice, but not super-duper)--and it was in that price range. I am not even dreaming about a new kitchen....

Posted by: ss | Feb 28, 2005 11:27:53 AM

Sounds like a Showcase quote. They always seem to be sky high. Must do good work, but I think they're always at the high end of the priceline. Had a $30K quote from them, had it done almost as nice for about$10K.

Posted by: Tired taxpayer | Feb 28, 2005 11:38:16 AM

liz, everything people are saying here is right on the money, and completely matches my recent experience of completely redoing a kitchen. roberta baldwin pretty much describes exactly what i did, to bring in a brand new kitchen for appr. 11 grand, and i am very happy with it.
email me off the board and i can give you the minutia of what i did without boring the socks off of the rest of the thread.

Posted by: fran | Feb 28, 2005 11:50:34 AM

C'mon Fran...tell us how to save tens of thousands of dollars. You won't bore our socks off.

Posted by: interested | Feb 28, 2005 12:58:54 PM

Yea Fran, please inform.....

Posted by: Red State Man | Feb 28, 2005 1:05:35 PM

Truthfully, I'd invest in a $25 renovation and paint over the avacado. :-) I like "old" more than new - more character.

Posted by: gc | Feb 28, 2005 1:57:17 PM

the color looks more like SAGE than Avacado--and it really doesnt look bad to me.

Posted by: ss | Feb 28, 2005 2:02:30 PM

Watch TLC or Home Gardening Network and you can probably learn some cool tipcs to make your bathroom look significantly better WITHOUT spending $25k!!

I don't think the bathroom looks horrible... If you're willing to experiment, take your time, and get your hands dirty...you can probably do a lot of it yourself. Or, have the people from Home Depot install pieces of it (like the flooring, or the cabinets, or the light fixtures).

I bet for even $2000 you could make it look much better, even if you dont replace the toilet or bathtub, etc.

Posted by: butchcjg | Feb 28, 2005 2:31:23 PM

Thanks - I think. It looked a lot worse before I painted the walls -- which were actually shiny wood paneling -- to match the buff colored tub. I never touched the bathroom in my old house -- it was 70 years old with a porcelain pedestal sink and floor-to-ceiling black and white subway tile -- beautiful, even with a few cracks. In person, the avocado looks plenty tired...

Posted by: Liz | Feb 28, 2005 2:41:20 PM

You could probably do this:

Paint the bottom portion of the cabinets...Take the dimensions and hire someone to install a new countertop for the cabinets... That woudlnt be too much at all and the cabinets are the main source of ugliness.

As for the floor...it wouldnt cost that much to have Home Depot install a new tiled floor. Or you might be able to buy some of those lineolium type squares and put over the top of that stuff (we did that in our kitchen and you can't tell its not fancy).

Small tweaks can relaly make it look nice. Just fixing the cabinet color and the floor and then choosing a color theme for the walls, shower curtains, etc can help a LOT.

Posted by: butchcjg | Feb 28, 2005 3:49:08 PM

hi there. ok, here's what i did. i moved into my small crafts bungalow last summer. the house is great, but the kitchen was not really functional, ie, the dishwasher door couldn't open all the way because it hit the stove door, and there were not enough cabinets, etc.
my good friend nancy franklin came over with the august 2004 issue of consumer reports which had JUST come out. i read every page, since it was the kitchen renovation issue! (lucky me!) reading their suggestions, i learned about the different brands of cabinets available at places like home depot, ikea, lowes, etc. and what their pros and cons were. i also learned--and this was the money saver--what were important upgrades, and what was a waste of money. for example--i chose the high rated kraftmaid cabinets, available at home depot, and i upgraded to a hardwood box from a standard particle board box. this added appr. 1000 to the total cost of my cabinets, but it was worth it. what i didn't opt for was the glass fronts, which would have added around 260 PER CABINET to my costs--not necessary for me, but someone else may find it worth it.
i chose a standard finish on my cabinets--muslin, a soft off white finish, on natural birch. many other finishes are available, but some, the glazes, will boost the cost nearly 2000 dollars, and again, if you are saving money, you have plenty of lovely standard finishes to choose.
at home depot, you must pay 150 dollars to have them send their measurer over to measure your kitchen (or bathroom) meticulously, but it is worth it. in spades. (and it is appllicable to your cabinet purchase.)
for my countertops and sink, i chose something called topstone, which is the generic version of corian available at home depot. it was on sale for around 45 dollars a square foot, and with a minimum footage purchase, i even got a free sink. i chose a pretty color called white limestone, with a slight texture. i would have chosen silestone, which was top rated by cr, but that would have been around 119 a square foot, and i didn't feel it was a necessary expense. i love the topstone, it looks and wears beautifully, and cost less than half.
I was originally going to put fancy ceramic tiles on the floor, but instead i called european flooring and had them rip up a ton of old linoleum, paint, glue and subflooring. there was a beautiful old southern pine floor just waiting to be refinished.
i went to sears for my new stove (kenmore) and to karls for my new dishwasher (maytag.)
my carpenter/handyman, who had been putting in some new windows, tore out my old cabinets and prepped the walls for the home depot installer. yes, i used the home depot installer, but that was a mistake. he really wasn't very good, and my carpenter/handyman (roger mullette, a genius) walked around making little fixes on things that he missed. plus, he (the home depot guy) cost around 1500 dollars and my carpenter said he would have done it for much less!
i hired my own electrician and plumber, and my carpenter/handyman made suggestions. i bought some high hats and a pretty new ceiling fixture for my lighting, and i hired a painter to do the walls and trim. yeah, i picked out my own faucets and things from home depot, and that was easy.
is it a fancy, architectural digest kitchen? no, but it is quite pretty, and if i can figure out my digital downloads, i can post a photo or two. by the way, the home depot kitchen people suggested a much better cabinet layout which has really served me well.
costs (these are approximate)
cabinets and knobs - 2800
floor - 800
countertop and free sink - 1500
paint - 900
fixtures - 300
appliances 1200
cabinet installation and prep 2000
electrical and plumbing 1200
hauling away all the ripped up crap 350
(call danny remuszka for hauling, he's great, and very nice)
what does that come to, around 11,000 grand?
something like that. anyway, i am very happy with my pretty, fresh, clean kitchen, which functions perfectly, maximized all my space, and works.

Posted by: fran | Feb 28, 2005 5:26:17 PM

A few years back I re-did a (smaller) bathroom and did everything but the actual plumbing installation myself: demolition, carpentry, tile, paint and wallpaper. It still cost almost $4,000. And we didn't do boutique fixtures either. Everything came from TileWorld, CabinetLand, FixtureCity and the other geographical entities that dot Route 22.

Posted by: The Prop | Feb 28, 2005 6:49:27 PM

i think the key is, use your imagination and do some research about pricing, quality, etc.
the businesses who do custom kitchens and cabinetry make magnificent kitchens and bathrooms. but i couldn't afford that scale of work, and also, it didn't make sense to put that kind of money into this particular house.

Posted by: fran | Feb 28, 2005 7:05:48 PM

What about just getting new doorfronts for the cabinets and getting a new countertop? The sink doesn't look TOO bad, and the light fixtures are manageable for now - and if not can be replaced relatively cheaply by visiting Lowes/Home Depot and installing them yourself. As for the floor, that's another DIY - just rip it up and lay down 12" stone tiles - you need less of them so the cost will be reasonable (depending on what you pick).

Lastly, paint the walls yourself for $25.

No way do you need to spend so much for a bathroom that is in decent shape already. Outdated, sure, but easily fixed (for under $1000).

Posted by: Jaynee | Mar 1, 2005 3:49:46 PM

For nice economical redecorating, I believe in not fighting with the big stuff if it's in decent condition. That is, don't replace toilet, tub, sink, etc. just because it's not my favorite color. Instead, find a color palette it fits in and change the stuff around it. Paint, wallpaper, and curtains/shower curtains are all cheaper and easier to change than fixtures and floors. (For example, beige ceramic could be part of a subdued color scheme like pink-beige-taupe-grey-silver; a beach color scheme of sand, sun, sky, seashells; or something stark with black, white, and another strong color; etc.) Repaint the cabinets, change the color of the door insets. For more impact, work your way up the difficulty/expense list--if you change a light fixture, faucet, or even a sink would that be enough? Re the floor, I'd clean and and keep it unless you really hate it; the small tiles are hard to find anymore so they're in again. And although avocado, gold, and tomato aren't colors that appeal to me, pastel versions of those seem to be showing up everywhere lately.

Posted by: gil | Jul 12, 2005 4:53:10 PM

My great-grandfather and my grandfather built my house in 1948. The bathroom is mostly original, including peach-coloured tile about 4' up the walls with a black trim around the top and bottom. It is a nice, innocuous colour that is easy to match and contrast. Right now the rest of the walls are a deep navy blue, which was fun for the first six months but show every mark and is going to be a bear to cover up.

We have the same tile, in white, in the kitchen and I love it. Not only because I know they did all this work by hand and it makes me think of them, but it's nice to have walls you can easily wash clean. It was mounted on concrete so it's not going anyplace. The only problem we have is that the grout in the tub enclosure is apparently petrified in places, and is allowing some water to seep through to downstairs... not a condition I want to allow to fester.

I do not want to tear the tile out, and was considering either swanstone (www.swanstone.com) (solid 3/4" sheets of some kind of shiny plastic which I am told is better than Rebath or any other fibreglass tub surround because the colour and texture go right through the material so it is impervious to scratches and dings that would make fibreglass look awful. Swanstone also make countertops with integrated sinks (no seams to collect gook!) that match. The price I got for the Swanstone surround was $350 for the materials, but my plumber wants $750 to put it in. He also quoted me $500 to replace the toilet, which seems positively insane. The same guy hooked up a water heater, a washer and drier, and replaced a toilet in our basement a few years ago and that job cost a lot less than what he's quoting now. I'm not sure what has transpired in the meantime. So I am looking for suggestions for a plumber and possibly someone who would be willing to do the Swanstone installation... or I may go over to Home Depot, take a caulking class, and replace it myself.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 20, 2005 8:39:32 PM

$25,000. OUCH. I just did over my entire country house for less than that and it was featured in a major decorating magazine (yes, I'm way frugal...). I'm in the process of doing over my apartment's bathroom and my entire budget is less than $2000 and that includes labor. Granted it's an apartment which I don't own and I'm not buying top of the line toilet, vanity, etc. Here's a breakdown:
$300 per day (labor, 2 guys, 2.5 days)
$69 toilet on sale at Lowes this week (or $59 at Home Depot)
$39.98 tri-view medicine cabinet at Lowes
$28.93 - bathroom faucet
$98 - bathroom vanity & sink topper @ Lowes
$30 - 3 "Lack" shelves at Ikea
$85 - "bath fitter" type pvc wall sheets to cover existing ugly tiles
$100 - misc. toilet ring, faucet tape, caulk
$85 - new lighting fixture
$75 - black & white laminate tiles for the floor
$20 - new rain fall shower head
$60 - primer & paint

Posted by: jean | Jan 29, 2006 12:53:20 PM

How timely! We just finished renovating our 2 tiny bathrooms in our 1935 house in Montclair. 6 years ago, we got bids from Showcase Kitchen & Bath for $17,000 for 1 and $21,000 for the other. No way. In 2004 years later, we broke down and got 2 more bids, this time $40,000 for both all the way up to $68,000 for both. (That was the high-end bid and included generous allowances for toilets, etc., but did not include tile, electical OR plumbing.) Again - forget it. We decided to cut out the GC and use our own plumber, who knew a good tile man, who knew a good carpenter. Despite this tactic, all in, we will have spent about $40,000. But we went to Mediterranean Tile for our tile, which is beautiful, but expensive, and we bought very high quality toilets (Toto) and fixtures (Hans Grohe, Andre). The worst part of this job was the time involved - the tear out began Dec 12 and, well, the last nits are being taken care of THIS WEEK. In the meantime, we had our furnace replaced and CA installed - the furnace job was a disaster - faulty installation caused a "puff-back" of soot into the house and we're still negotiating with the furnace company's insurer to get that cleaned up. My husband and I are still married, but it has been one tough climb. All the magazines will tell you about the stress of having this sort of work done, and from my experience, it's true. I think if you are very wealthy, you are probably shielded from a lot of it, because you give over everything to the GC. In our case, we both work, so that meant a good deal of juggling to be home at critical times and keep on top of all the things that came up. Would I do it again? Well, I guess I'd have to say yes. In the end, I don't think hiring an expensive GC would have saved us the personal wear-and-tear, because the truth is, if you care about quality, the homeowner has to babysit the contractors and be available to step in when a question/problem arises. Our job would probably have been completed sooner with a GC on tap, but maybe not. Mind you, we didn't begin the demo until we had taken delivery of every single piece of trim, tile, etc., to avoid delays once the job began. Nevertheless, there were delays which arose from unforeseen things that came up, so all the best laid plans do not guarantee a timely completion. Money is king - it makes so sense, but doing a tiny bathroom is just as expensive as doing a huge one. In our case, it just meant that we splurged a bit on the trimmings, but the work costs were probably the same.

Posted by: Anne | Apr 27, 2006 1:31:28 PM

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