Bathroom Reno, Part 1 – Off the Wall

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been fixing up my condo here and there. I repainted my main living area from a warm grey to a cool grey, I sewed 3 curtain panels (I still haven’t finished the last one) and I finished a major feat – my bathroom. I’ve wanted to change up my bathroom since the day I moved, 4 long years ago. The two things that bothered me the most about it was the completely over-sized, builders’ grade mirror that was glued to the wall. The other was the pedestal sink. For years, I dreaded taking on those two elements, afraid of how much work it was going to be, fearing it was going to be more manual labour than I wanted to take on.  As arduous as I thought those tasks were going to be, I knew they weren’t impossible, so I thought I might as well get them over with. And in any case, I refuse to pay any contractor to do a job I know that I am physically capable of doing myself. That just was not going to happen! So I sucked it up, did my research, set up a plan of attack and reached my goals.

I wish this pic had a better shot of the mirror, but trust me when I say it was huge

I wish this pic had a better shot of the mirror, but trust me when I say it was huge

Above is a picture of my bathroom before I moved in. The setup remained the same until a few weeks ago. The first item to contend with was that lengthy wall cabinet. I really didn’t like this thing. For one, I didn’t care for the wood veneer. And for another, I hated the fact that it was so shallow, causing many of my toiletries to fall to their deaths. I’ll never forget the horror of watching my limited edition Christian Dior eyeshadow crash to the ground and shattered in several pieces. All sorts of things – hair clips, shampoos, body lotions … they all managed to fall on the floor at one point or another. The cabinet was screwed in in 4 different places. I whipped out my drill and took the screws out. I loaded the cabinet down to the recycling room, and that was that. Pretty easy. I had to take down the light fixture as well. I shut off the fuse that supplies power to my light, removed the light, capped the wires, then turned the fuse back on. Luckily, the electrical outlet in bathroom is powered by a different fuse from the light fixture. I was able to plug in the floor lap that I usually have in my bedroom. It was a bit awkard, but it worked out.

Now let’s talk about the builder’s grade mirror. Oh, how I loathed that thing! Like most Toronto condo bathrooms, my bathroom is pretty small. This mammoth mirror was 5 feet by 3 feet big, and it was affixed with plaster.  It took up the entire wall of the bathroom. It was way bigger than I needed, and it didn’t leave room for anything else on that wall. I did my online research to see how I’d rid myself of this looking-glass. I was surprised that most of the videos on how to remove a mirror involved some serious demolition action. That was not the route I wanted to take. No, I wasn’t planning on keeping the thing, but I definitely didn’t want to have to deal with mirror chards beneath my feet. I finally came across some instructions on Lowe’s website on how to do this job. From that site and other sources online I gleaned info from, I compiled a list and set out to get my ducks in a row. These are the items I got together:

  • Pry bar
  • Packing tape – 2 sets
  • Wooden shims
  • Bubble wrap
  • Safety gloves and glasses
  • Drywall compound for patch work
  • Drywall tape
  • Putty knife
  • Sanding sponge
  • Wall primer
This isn't my mirror, but this is how you do it

That’s not my mirror, but this is how you do it

I started out by putting bubble wrap on my toilet and sink, to protect should something go awry. The next step was to tape up the mirror. I actually can’t take credit for that job – my cousin helped me out with it. The reason behind taping up the mirror is that in the event of the mirror cracking, it would have something adhesive to cling on to. That way, it wouldn’t fall to the floor and be a bleeding hazard. Now it was time for the main attraction, the job that I was terrified of tackling for the better part of this decade – removing the gargantuan mirror. I also enlisted the help of my brother-in-law for this job (as much as I take pride in doing my handyman work all by myself, I needed extra hands for this project). I got everyone together, handed them their pairs of safety gloves and glasses and told them how it was going to go down:

  • Start at one corner and place the pry bar under the mirror and gently lift up
  • Place the wood shim under the pry bar to protect the dry wall
  • Listen out to hear the mirror lifting from off the wall
  • Keep the mirror supported throughout so it doesn’t fall off.

So the gentlemen started. I was in my kitchen, ie construction headquarters, puttering around, looking for who knows what. I was about to join the guys when I realized they were halfway finished. To be honest, I actually didn’t really do much for this mirror project. My bro-in-law had gone through the entire mirror with the pry bar in about a minute and a half! A minute and a half, I said! The job that had been daunting me for YEARS essentially only took 90 seconds. Everything happened so quickly, that I didn’t even get the chance to take pictures of the whole production. I was in the bathroom when the last piece needed to be pryed off. My cousin, BIL and I supported the mirror, which was heavy and cumbersome, and took it down to the recycling room of my condo. Oh, I can’t forget that my sister helped out, too – she opened the doors and pressed the elevator button for us!

mirror project

That is what my wall looked like after the mirror is off. I was very pleased that the dry wall was intact, with only a few superficial rips in the Mirror Project 1paper here and there. I was, however, surprised to see that the drywall around the light fixture was never taped up, mudded up or primed, but that wasn’t a big deal. I went to Home Deeps the next day and bought some drywall compound. I came home, taped up the spots to be patched up with drywall tape, applied the compound to the wall with some putty knives I already had, waited 24 hours, sanded the areas with a sanding sponge, wiped down the dust that accumulated and primed those areas. Here’s the end result:

Mirror Project 4

And that concludes the first part in the bathroom reno journey. Up next is the pedestal sink and its removal. Trust me when I say that is definitely a story!

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One response to “Bathroom Reno, Part 1 – Off the Wall

  1. Pingback: DIY Wall Decor – Create Texture Using Drywall Compound | Random Relevance·

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