Want some advice?
If you remodel your bathroom and you happen to live in Manteca do not, I repeat, do not buy a black toilet.
About seven years ago I was insane enough to remodel my house. There were practical things to take care of such as replacing a 1951 electrical panel and installing ceiling fans throughout the house. Most of it though was what one would call cosmetic. Between those items, some work in the laundry room and kitchen as well as the bathroom I managed to drop $30,000.
If you have ever remodeled your home you know that the most expensive room square foot for square foot is the bathroom. In my case it was almost $12,000.
To put this in perspective my bathroom is 9 feet by 5 feet or 45 square feet. I’ve been in homes where the butler’s pantry or the broom closets were larger.
It is my one and only bathroom. Do not misunderstand me. I am not envious of people with larger bathrooms or more bathrooms. It is just right for me. And for people who asked me for years how I could get by living in a house with only one bathroom I’d wonder how many bathrooms they thought one person needed.
The times when I’ve had grandkids living with me, three people were able to get by with one bathroom. Keep in mind that at one point as a kid I lived in a house a bit smaller than the 980 square foot one I now live in. And that was with my parents and three siblings. That was six people with one bathroom. It works. It wasn’t the Stone Age as we had running water. The best part is you learned not to hog the bathroom. You can take short and effective showers and you don’t spend 30 minutes every morning in front of the mirror before heading off to high school as one of my older brothers did in later years when we moved into a larger home that had 1½ bathrooms after my dad died.
I guess that’s why I prefer low maintenance hair — I do not use what the folks at Scores call “product” when I get my hair. And it’s why I’m at a lost why anyone needs to take showers longer than three to four minutes.
Given that you’d think it would be out of character to have spent $12,000 remodeling a bathroom that is just about half the size of some of the master closets being built today in Manteca tract homes.
When I decided to buy the home I liked the 1950s tile, cast iron tub and even the old school toilet that was not low flow by any stretch of the imagination.
But given I did not have $185,900 in cash and had to secure a loan, my good faith deposit of $2,000 did not derail Wells Fargo’s plan to modernize the kitchen and bathroom on the assumption it was a “loser” in the foreclosure market due to it being smaller with just two bedrooms and a bathroom along with a kitchen that was still in its 1950s glory. My loan was funded on the same day the hatchet men the bank’s representative hired to modernize the house started destroying the kitchen and bathroom.
The flawless 1950s countertop and backsplash tile in the kitchen was replaced with the cheapest and ugliest pieces of Formica they could find. They yanked out a beautiful and solid bathroom vanity with near perfect 60 year-old tile with a flimsy replacement built with plywood, ripped out the cast iron tub and put in a fiberglass tub with fiberglass wall panels that they left large gaps in. The replacement toilet was newer but I’m sure it wasn’t new. Carol Bragan, my real estate agent, made sure things were done right in the house having to go back three times in some instances to the bank’s agent to get the incompetent handymen he hired to do the job right.
I never intended to change much in the house except to update things like the electrical panel. But after the bank in its infinite wisdom destroyed the bathroom and kitchen I changed my mind.
My original intent was to go with earth tones and just make the bathroom look like the typical tract home bathroom of today. But the space, fortunately, stopped me from doing that. There was also the issue of the “ceiling”. I live in a California-style semi flat-top that has two rarities — it is one of only two built in Powers Tract with a crawl space and no false ceiling. That means the height of the room at its tallest point near the door is 6 inches more than the length of the bathroom. Putting in fixtures such as the vanity and bathtub that are in most houses today would have made the bathroom even painted off-white seem even smaller as they would have needed to be crammed into place.
So after four months of driving myself and people I dragged to home improvement stores, tile stores, and granite slab suppliers up the wall, I came up with my plan to go black and gray while forsaking tradition. It is essentially a modernistic take on a 1950s era flattop.
Dark gray stone replacing the vinyl on the floor didn’t break the bank because there was so little floor area. Forsaking a bathtub/shower and going with a slightly expanded area for a shower with glass mounted on a pony wall with no door was a bit expensive as was the various mixtures of gray tile colors used not just for the shower areas but also a third of the way up on the rest of the bathroom walls. I added a stand-up, 5-foot-9, 24-inch by 28-inch vanity I had custom built by Perez & Sons Cabinets. It was stained black and topped with a granite slab upon which a black glass bowl sink sits.
In order to use the sink comfortably you have to stand and be at least 5-foot-9. It’s the perfect height for a guy as you can shave without bending over. And given I often have to shave twice a day thanks to my 2 o’clock shadow, it is definitely more convenient.
The bathroom was capped with a heavily fluted glass door. It is the only interior door in my house as I yanked off all closet doors, two bedroom doors, as well as the doors on my above counter kitchen cabinets and built in cabinets in what passes a hallway. The shelves and cabinets were painted black. And did I mention the kitchen sink? It is a granite-style black double sink.
You may have noticed the common theme of black. I don’t have a lot of it, just what I described.
I was able to order a black toilet from Home Depot but it took me two months to find a black toilet seat. You’d think if you’re going to sell black toilets you’d also sell black toilet seats. Because it was so hard to find I actually bought a spare black toilet seat just in case when I finally found one.
Did I mention I live in an area of Manteca with hard water? I know this because I am reminded of it daily by my black toilet, dark gray shower, black glass bathroom sink, and black kitchen sink. Hard water stains are 20 times more visible on black. I went through eight pumice stones the first year I had the black toilet in a bid to keep it clean. Everything else is also somewhat of a challenge to clean. That’s especially true for my black shelves that show off dust perfectly thanks to the fact I have my windows open most of the time given I eschew air conditioning.
Between the water stains and dust, rest assured you’d be wise to avoid using black in your home whether it is the toilet or a glass bowl sink.
But here’s the bizarre part. Even though it requires a ton of work to keep clean “clean” if I had to do it all over again I’d would have added more dark grays and blacks where I could including replacing the tannish tile in the kitchen.
That’s what happens 25 years after you managed to break six bicycle helmets within a five-year period.