Home Renovations: Tile, Toilets, and Sinks – Oh My!

Disclaimer: My intention is not for this blog to be all about home renovations, but that’s where my head has been in the recent months, so that’s what manifests in my posts. Also, the house is the most exciting thing going on in my life right now and if not for all the renovations, I’d probabaly be blogging about my meaningless opinion of The Voice contestants and Chunk’s daily bowel movements. Consider yourselves spared of the gory yet riveting details…for now… 

The bathroom in our New Jersey home was a sight for sore eyes, but we knew that the bulk of our funds would be invested in the kitchen renovation (as it was a sight for sorer eyes), so any major overhaul of the bathroom would have to wait.  And by overhaul, I mean ripping out all that orchid and yellow tile and replacing it with something less Easter-psychedelic.

However, there were a few small changes that we could do now to make the bathroom more visually bearable.

When we leveled the floors in our house, our contractor told us that if we intended to replace the flooring in the bathroom, now was the time to do it.  And so off to Lowe’s we went with visions of clean white tile.  Well, did you know that there are about one million options for white tile flooring at Lowe’s?  We did not and were quickly overwhelmed with all our options.  On my one shoulder I had my mom saying, “You have a small bathroom, it’s not a lot of square footage, you can afford a more expensive tile,” and on the other shoulder Mr. S reminding me, “This isn’t our forever home. Don’t overspend if we don’t have to.”  It took me about 45 minutes to settle on a mid-priced curvy lantern looking pattern only for Mr. S to come along and say, “Ew, no.”  As his punishment, I did not help him return all the tile slabs that I had loaded into the cart to the shelves.  We eventually (another 45 minutes later) agreed on a large/small square pattern in a white marble-ish color/finish.  Can you tell I still have no idea what I’m talking about?

Along with the flooring, we also decided to replace the sink and toilet.  Both fixtures were dated and the sink was so small that Mr. S had trouble fitting his man hands underneath the faucet.  We decided on a vanity/sink combo to maximize storage space in our bathroom and given the space restrictions, were limited to 24” models.  Thank goodness the 24” stipulation greatly reduced our options and we were able to quickly select one with a modern shape and dark finish.

And finally, the toilet.  I have never felt more clueless about life than when I was standing in the toilet aisle of Lowe’s.  About a dozen toilets were displayed above our heads ranging from $89 to $399 and Mr. S and I craned our necks trying to decipher what exactly was the difference between a cheap toilet and an expensive toilet.  I mean, I understand if it’s some kind of remote controlled Japanese toilet with heating, self-flushing, and butt-massaging capabilities, but these all looked like regular toilets to me.  Did the expensive ones have capacity for more excrement?  Would the cheap ones need that little chain thingy replaced more often?  It is still a mystery to me.

In the end, we picked a $129 toilet (on the advice of my mother who was witness to how quickly our eyes glazed over at the sight of all those toilets) with a chair height seat and an eco-friendly flusher: small button for #1, big button for #2, and I assume both buttons for a big #2.

As we walked out of Lowe’s with our new purchases, Mr. S marveled at our situation.  “I just bought my own toilet.  Like, it’s my toilet.  I paid for it.  I feel so old.”

While Mr. S was struggling with how our new toilet was a metaphor for his arrival to adulthood, I was grappling with the uneasy feeling of being so ill-informed on everything having to do with the biggest purchase of our lives.  We own a house – a whole house with needs and wants that we know virtually nothing about.  Prior to this, our big project was our wedding and educating myself on venues, flowers, and bridal attire came more than naturally to me.  But the house…we know nothing about anything, and trying to learn about it all at a speed to match the work required was seemingly impossible.  And unlike the wedding, we will have to live with these decisions for years to come, not just one day.  The pressure coupled with my stupidity in the genre of practical home stuff made me feel so inadequate.  (Impractical home stuff I am an expert at thanks to my hours of trolling the shelves of Home Goods.)  Who let us buy a house?!?  Why did we think this was a good idea?!?

But, we try to learn as we go along and continue to rely heavily on others’ opinions – our parents, our contractor, plumber, and electrician, and our veteran homeowner friends.  Without their advice and guidance we’d probably still be standing in the toilet aisle of Lowe’s saying, “Uhh…maybe we should check out Home Depot? Maybe they have different toilets, better toilets?  Or maybe we should just go home…yeah…let’s not buy anything right now.  Let’s just go home and Google ‘best toilet’.”

And then we’d have a whole house with no toilet.

At least all the time spent stupidly wandering the aisles of Lowe’s was worth it.  The new flooring and fixtures make quite the difference in our bathroom.  (We also purchased a new faucet, fan-light, wall sconce, and vanity mirror.  Trust me, the process for selecting and purchasing each item was just as painful as what I described above.)

We’ve also added a new shower head since this picture was taken.

The bathroom magically looks even better when you close the shower curtain (i.e., less purple tile assaulting your retinas).  Voila!

A few steamy showers should get those creases out, right? (The West Elm shower curtain was a bridal shower gift from my friend G and the first wedding related present to be unpacked in our new house!)


Yes, I definitely think this will do for now.


  1. Anonymous says

    I’ve been reading over on weddingbee and you’re a great writer.

    Home blogs are my favourite thing in the world, so I have a lot of ideas I’ve seen and never used. If you want to tone down the yellow tile border and make it black(or white) there are re-glazing kits available or tile paint or such other stuff – since it is just the borders and not the actual shower tile I’m sure it will hold up really well too.. just a suggestion..

    • says

      So happy you found me here! 🙂
      Huh, that glazing kit is definitely giving me something to think about… I’ll have to look into that for sure because it’s really the yellow that is killing me. The orchid by itself can pass as intentionally quirky, but with the yellow…ack. Thanks for the tip!

  2. says

    Buying a home is the quickest way to realize you haven’t a clue about anything–I felt the same way! Thank goodness Todd is far more experienced in these matters (and has even worked in a couple of hardware stores, so he knows his way around).

  3. says

    Exactly how we felt when we bought our house – that what-did-we-just-get-ourselves-into, OMG-debt-repairs-plumbing-electricity in-over-your-head feeling. But then I figured that I know of ton of not-so-bright people that own homes, so it can’t be that hard. I still get shivers when I think about our remaining mortgage (ugh) but the repairs aren’t too bad if you can find a good contractor on Yelp or Angie’s List!

    FWIW… I think if you re-paint over the yellow tile (maybe a silver or light gray?), the orchid tile can be cute in a quirky way.

    • says

      Haha good point on the “It can’t be *that* hard” notion! We’ve been working with a really great (if not a little bit scatterbrained) contractor who’s been giving us great advice on everything. I was thinking black if we can re-paint the trim…but silver is an interesting option. I do love me some metallic…

  4. Alyssa says

    I also found you on WeddingBee and squealed when I found you here. +1 on the amazing writer comment. How did you remove the little yellow soap dishes from the wall? I hope you’re having fun on your honeymoon! I love your Instagram updates.

    • says

      Hey there! Thank you, I’m truly flattered! The yellow soap dishes…we took a chance and asked one of the guys working on our house to remove them and replace them with purple tile that we found in the basement. (Yes, there is more purple tile, can you believe it?!) It could have been a bad decision (breaking more tile along the way) but I couldn’t stand the yellow soap dish and toothbrush holder (like why not make it all purple – whhhyyyy with the yellow?!?). We lucked out that they were able to replace it cleanly!

  5. says

    Hi there–so I just found your blog and so be prepared for a flurry of comment activity from me because I really like your aesthetic. 🙂

    Truthfully, I love the orchid tile, albeit not so much with the yellow. This bathroom reminds me of the bathroom in my grandmother’s old house (only that was one of those classic pink bathrooms from the 50s), right down to the fixtures and the affixed soap/toothbrush holders, but I think the new ones really give the room a much more modern feel.

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