Demolition + Downton

By Kate Riley March 5, 2012

First of all, I’m so sorry to anyone experiencing site problems in the last 24 hours.  Long story short, I’m trying to switch servers to save money but everything is not going according to plan, so thanks for your patience.  Also, I appreciate so much those who have already volunteered to come to the three day event in April for the Alma Project, and also to those who have donated so far.  We do need to raise money, so please read all about our ambitions here and we’d appreciate if you can donate what you can, it’s for a great cause!

Also, CG is a finalist in The Homies and while it’s a bit uncomfortable for me to ask for your vote, I’m just going to break down and do it!  If you learned a trick or two from visiting here over the years or been inspired by a project, cast your vote for CG for Best DIY Blog and/or Best Home Design Blog – you can vote for me in both categories if you wish (but sign in with Apartment Therapy first through FB or Twitter), thanks so much!

Now let’s get down to business.  The weekend was spent demolishing the vanity side of the hall bathroom I’ve been meaning to remodel for oh, three years now.  Saturday morning began with the official clearing out of the cabinets and true confession time, I haven’t completely cleaned out this cabinet in *hanging head in shame* six years.  How do I know it’s been six years?  Because look what was discovered at the way back: a first response pregnancy test kit and ovulation predictor.  TMI?  I’m sorry, it’s just the truth.

mr cg first response


After clearing out the cabinet and its embarrassing contents, it was time to pull down the mirror. When you’re working with glass you must exercise extreme caution and you should use vacuum cups like these for very large pieces.  Ours was held up with two brackets and some adhesive, but with some gentle prodding we were able to get if off and carefully move it out of the bathroom. Carefully being the key word!

remove mirror


Next came time to do the thing I’ve been dreaming of for years – ripping out the yellowed cultured marble countertop.  I really don’t have anything against the more modern cultured marble countertops in shades of white, they have certainly come a long way, but this one was a weird yellowish color that frankly reminded me of the color of an armpit sweat stain on a white dress shirt and it had to go.


remove countertop

And I had to strike a pose to commemorate the occasion.

kate and countertop

I can’t believe I just posted that picture of myself on the internet.

Now before you go and rip out your cabinet vanity do something very very very smart.  Turn.Off.The.Water. to your home.  It’s a necessary step before you mess with the plumbing.

turn off water

Disconnect the plumbing by consulting plumbers you know or various online sources (but if you’re unsure or nervous or don’t want an emergency on your hands – absolutely hire a professional).  I failed to document it fully, I left it to my dude but he’s a handy guy so he figured it out and we were ready to seal off the plumbing and pull the cabinet out.

pull out vanity


And I was left with this blank canvas on Saturday night.

bathroom blank canvas

Yippee cayey!

So Sunday morning I analyzed the situation and came to several conclusions.  One, new light fixtures are absolutely 100% necessary.  That ceiling needs a lot more jazz and the over-the-mirror thingamajig shall be kicked to the curb donated to ReStore to be replaced by two chrome sconces flanking a new smaller mirror.  Amen.

new light fixtures


Two, I need to repair the floor tile and take it all the way to the wall, but thankfully I have the pieces to do it.

patch floor tile

Three, it’s time to make some tile choices for the wall and I’ve narrowed down the selections I was agonizing over to these five finalists.  As you can see they all complement the pattern in the tile floor but there is one that stands out to me.

tile choices

It’s the blue glass offset pattern tile closest to my fuzzy slippers.  There will be a lot of white and chrome so it will bring color and I think be the most timeless choice, plus I’m a sucker for watery blue glass tile and it’s the least expensive since it’s literally off-the-shelf from Lowes.  Shocking I should return to the simple off-the-shelf glass tile from Lowes after having visited 67,592 tile shops in my local area in the past month.

Quick story.  So as I stood there in my fuzzy slippers on Sunday comparing tile samples in the morning light coffee cup in hand and then turned to my beloved and told him everything I was thinking about each and every sample in great detail (it took at least five minutes) and he stood there so patiently listening to me on my second cup of coffee talk about tile (that’s when you really know you are loved) and then I asked him what he thought about all the selections.  My mister replied with one question, “Which one’s the least expensive?”  And I told him it was the glass offset brick pattern tile that I really did like so much and he replied “Well you said the magic words.  That’s the one I like.”  Raise your hand if your spouse is like that.

Changing subjects now to go with the title of this post.

If you follow me on Twitter you know I started Downton Abbey (on Netflix) on Friday night and I’m only up to Episode Six in the first season, but it’s so so so so fantastic! Honestly, nothing on TV compares and I’m upset I didn’t start watching it a long time ago and I wish the characters were all real because I just want to be a fly on the wall at Downton Abbey for the rest of my life.  Here are my impressions of characters so far.

downton abbey cast

Am I right?  Will Matthew get the girl?  Will the staff finally accept Mr. Bates? What is Edith’s problem?  No, don’t tell me.  DON’T tell me anything!  I am savoring every single episode, my mister and I are HOOKED!  Watching Episode 7 tonight, can’t wait!

Coming up, the little change that made a big difference!  I’m talking about that vanity we pulled out of the bathroom, will show you next.




  1. I am obsessed with Downton! Could you imagine all the projects you would have in that huge house? Not to mention the gardens! Nice to see the kitty was helping with the remodel :)

  2. I have this same bathroom issue and cannot wait to see how you move forward with the vanity cabinet. Perfect tile choice, too!

  3. I am watching episode 7 of season 1 tonight as well. Can you believe tonight is the last night you can catch all the episodes of season 2 on pbs? I’m so bummed, now I am going to pay $1.99 an episode to download them from i tunes unless they magically appear on netflix tomorrow. I love this show! Mr. Bates might be my favorite. Anyways, hope you enjoyed the finale!

  4. I’m a faithful reader! I love Downton Abbey, too! I just finished season 1, and I can’t wait until season 2 is on Netflix! The anticipation is killing me!!! :)

  5. Love what you are doing with the bathroom…and I really love the tiles you’ve chosen, no matter what they cost. I have white subway tiles right through our bathrooms because i was too “chicken” to select a colour.

    oh…and as for Downton Abbey. LOVE.IT!
    I’ve watched both seasons now and I know you won’t be disappointed in any of it, not matter how it turns out because it is such a wonderful show. Can’t wait for season 3 to be finished now.

  6. The blue slippers and the pregnancy test just make this post so funny. Just what I needed at the end of a long day. Way to keep it real!!!!!!! :)

  7. I’m so excited to see what you do with this bathroom…I’ve been wanting to redo mine and I need some inspiration!

  8. Another D.A. lover here! Don’t worry, we won’t spoil anything for you, but….it only gets BETTER!!!
    Best of luck with the bathroom renovation. I’m sure it will turn out (in the words of Lady Crawley) “lovely”. :)

  9. My husband is totally like that! Oh my gosh, and Downton. I just Downtoned my weekend away and finished the second season… I stayed up most of the night on Saturday watching. It’s too riveting to stop!!! I’m starting to believe all those people are real and they’re a part of my life :)

  10. Oh, now this I totally understand…except that it looks like you got off fairly easily in that you didn’t need to go to the studs on this project, you are so lucky!
    Choosing tile is difficult and yes, they always ask which is the cheapest!
    It will be wonderful!

  11. I just started watching Downton Abbey this weekend and LOVE it too! Happy watching (and bathroom updating). :)

  12. Kate, you are too funny. I think I’ve had about that exact same conversation with my hubs! He is also very good about listening to me go on and on and on in minute detail about decor choices, but he does always seem to like the least expensive option best :).

  13. You’re “bust a cap” pose was hilarious! You made me laugh before I was even fully caffeinated this morning – no small feat! :)

    And I am a total devotee to Downton Abbey as well. Not all of us can be a countess in a stately English manor, but there are lots of ways to bring this kind of living into our lives! I find that little things, like using your very best wedding china for a cup of tea, have far reaching effects on the mood!

    Love your tile choices, btw. You have great taste.

  14. Downton Abbey… Ahhhh… ;-) My husband and I got hooked on season 1 and finished 1 week before season 2 premiered. They have already started filming season 3!!!!!! I think January it will premiere. WOO to the HOO!!!!! ;-)

    Husband? Cheapest option? I’m with you, sister. Can’t wait to see how the bathroom comes together. Have a blast!

  15. How exciting a bathroom reno..YAY ! Love the blue tiles and have been so wanting to watch Downton, not available on my channel line up and it isn’t even at the video store..Dang. Love the ‘ketteh’ checking out your work.LOL

  16. First of all, I’m getting ready to leave town, but I just had to tell you how excited I am that you love Downton Abbey. Isn’t it just wonderful TV? I don’t feel like I lose brain cells watching it! I love Mr. Bates too. :) You’ll love Season 2 just as much as Season 1, I think!

    Exciting to see the demolition, and I love that you included funny pics…seeing Mr. CG’s expression looking at the pregnancy test was priceless!! :)

    Have a great day…I’m off to NC!

  17. CG – so amazing how many projects you tackle. I wish I had even an ounce of your fortitude. I’m sure the bathroom remodel will be fabulous.
    Funny we too just got hooked on Downton Abbey – watched episode 1 of Season 2 on pbs last night but I think yesterday was the last day but I think I’ll just have to check amazon for the rest because I have to know what happens and I’m already sad thinking there’s only 6 more episodes to watch before Season 3 begins and then ….??

  18. I am such a DA fan too…it will NOT DISAPPOINT! Enjoy each episode and the bathroom remodel…I am slowly gathering things for our bathroom remodel, but am not starting it until the summer when I am not teaching school and can work and monitor it personally.

    Can’t wait to see the finished result…you never disappoint me.


  19. Love your tile choice-my husband would so say the same thing as yours about his favorife.

    I,too, spent whole weekend attached to computer watching Downtown Abbey. It is so addicting. I thought you might be interested to know that you can get first season on amazon prime streaming for free andthe second season was free on but I think yesterday was the last day – which of course is why I accomplished nothing while trying to squeeze in every last juicy minute:).

  20. girl I am obsessed with Downton. I watched all of season 1 in one day and season 2 in 2 days… YIKES. I can not wait for season 3. and just heard they all signed contracts through season 5! MY heart went pitter patter! PS can not wait to see the bathroom! Season 2 is only on until MArch 7th so hurry!

  21. I voted for you! Love reading your blog and this is my first time commenting. I so appreciate your detailed DIY instructions and you have inspired me on my own home projects; I’m even planning a dining table refinishing project! Thank you for all of your creativity and inspiration!

  22. Hand raised about the spouse. Love the tile.
    I am on season two episode 4 of Downton. LOVE IT (4, 5 & 6 READY FOR VIEWING) It is my treat for getting a chore done.

  23. I really like your choice of tile for your bathroom and think the room is going to look great!
    Unfortunately I can’t say that my husband is in love with Downton Abbey. When I asked him the other night if he wanted to watch an episode with me his reply was “Is that the one that I fell asleep during?” Sad. So I will be watching the rest of the episodes by myself because I really enjoyed it.

  24. By the way, you can get Season 2 on Netflix, DVD only, (not instant streaming yet) Three Episodes per disc. Costco had season 2 DVD for sale last week. I think $22.95?

    • Oh no, we have to wait 2 whole days to get a DVD of Season Two? How will we survive that wait? Thanks Bernie!

  25. Dude, I’ll take your light fixture :D mine is teh awesomeness that looks like a burlesque vanity fixture. arg. Love the tile.

    Downton rocks, I had watched the first season a while ago but I’m watching it again, love Mr. Bates and Anna the head housemaid!

  26. I love your blog! I am not saying anything about what happens in Downton Abbey, but it is SO good and gets better!

    To your point about Mary and Matthew… heck, *I* want to marry him!

  27. Haha, I am totally raising my hand! It’s totally adorable, I’ll go on and on and on about a decision I’m debating and he’ll just say, “Well, you like that one, so go with it.” Also, that was my favorite tile pick too :)

  28. I’m in love with Downton Abbey myself…just finished the 2nd season a few weeks ago. Once I was playing the soundtrack on Sonico, and my husband rushed into the room and said, “You’re not watching it without me, are you?”…and the look on his face! You can’t beat a show that is so well-made and your husband enjoys watching with you too!

    • I totally agree Nicole, me and my man get cozy on the couch and watch DA together, we LOVE it! We’re sad Season 1 is over but at least we have Season 2 to watch and Season 3 to look forward to, we just love it!

  29. Ohhhhhhhhhh, so many things to say about this post! First of all, hilarious that you had those old things in the back of your cabinet, but the funniest part about it was the look on your husband’s face. Priceless! Second, your description of the color of the countertop was SPOT ON. Loved it. And last, one of my friends just created a FANTASTIC graphic representation of how all the Downton characters are related. It is so funny, I had to share … I know you’ll love it!

    • Katherine, that graphic is SPOT ON!!!! Totally true, cracked me up! I loved the “Spawn of Satan”, especially how it’s buried last in the corner as the punchline – brilliant!!!

  30. I love your desire to help those who need it most. I donated immediately. I hope you have time and money to do the planting in the back yard. You might want to seek out Seattle Urban Farm Co. for a bit of advice. They build raised beds and plant them for families to grow their own food. It is very rewarding for families (especially the kids) to have the opportunity to participate in planting, growing, maintaining and harvest process. It sets up a desire in a child to grow their own food and then prepare it for themselves.

    • Thank you for the link to Seattle Urban Farm Co. Mindy, I’ll check it out!

  31. I LOVE Downton Abbey. The good thing about starting it later is that you can watch all of the episodes back to back! I’m so sad we have to wait for series 3.

  32. Oh Downton, newest love of my life. It’s killing me to have to wait till September for season 3! And I really love the blue tile you are going with.

  33. Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the vanity! I have a builders grade vanity in my guest bath that needs to go. Love the blue glass tile and your sense of humor too! :D

  34. If you could see me right now…in My fuzzy slippers…you would see BOTH my hands waving high over my head! That is so similar to the conversations at our house! I am impressed you even got him to listen through your decision making process…mine usuall just goes straight to the bottom line…”which one is the cheapest”!
    No better interior design advice has ever been spoken! Ha!
    BTW – I love the blue glass tiles – I think he made the best choice!

  35. I don’t comment often but will you be my best friend?! :) JK…

    My husband is this way EXACTLY! It’s so funny that you wrote this because i’m sure he and I have had at least half a dozen conversations that ended that way.

    And I just finished episode 6 of Downton Abbey last night and it KILLED me to go to bed! I can’t wait to find out what happens. PLUS you totally have the characters nailed…your comments are exactly how I feel about them. At the end of episode 1 when Bates was leaving am I the only one who was yelling “Don’t let him go!” at the TV and then thrust both of my arms in the air like Rocky when he ended up staying?! And yesterday when I was watching episode 3 and I texted my mom (who has already finished season 2) “There’s a dead Turk in her bed!” and she texted back “Yes there is!” (Sorry, hope I didn’t give this away to too many of your readers.) Oh my, it’s so fabulous. I find myself speaking properly and standing up straight with my shoulders pulled back and my chin up. Those girls, they’re fantastic! Great post today…love the tile choice btw.

    • *spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched*

      Renae I completely know what you mean about Episode 1, didn’t it kill you to see him almost beggging Lord Grantham not to leave and then at the end of the episode I was shouting “Nooooo don’t goooooo!” and yes I too clenched my fist in victory when Lord Grantham chased down the car! The lines delivered by the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) kill me! I have so many favorite characters for different reasons, but she is so fab. Thanks for sharing your insight – we will be watching together!

  36. The pregnancy test cracked me up. When my I moved in my husbands house that he formally shared with his exwife I found a box of tampons. I still give him a hard time and ask him if it’s that time of the month and I can grab him the tampons. lol
    (I had a hysterectomy so no monthly visitor for me!)

    I first want to compliment your already installed floor tile. It’s really pretty! The new backsplash is going to be gorgeous. The Mister and I are planning on taking down our builder grade mirror in the brand new house we bought on Friday and also switch to two lights instead of one, so I am especially excited to see that part!

    • Hi Catherine, thanks for the link, how fun is that? I just took the quiz, here’s who I am!

      “You are Matthew Crawley. Congratulations, you’re the heir to Downton Abbey! Industrious and hardworking, you’re justifiably proud of your modern sensibilities. You may have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder about your extended family’s aristocratic ways, but you’re learning to deal with it. Your good looks (and much-improved prospects) indicate you could be quite the ladies’ man, but your romantic nature probably means you’re hung up on one special someone. An indecisive cousin, perhaps?”

      Good to know I’m quite the ladies man! Ha!


  37. I have that tile in my bathroom as an accent in my white subway shower. It makes me happy every day. You’ll love it.

    • Thank you Amanda, I needed that validation, it is the prettiest color blue!

  38. I watched Downton Abbey in a 3 day marathon last week. It was fantastic! I can’t wait for more episodes.

    Love the tile you picked. Can’t believe its from a big box store. Looks like I need to go on a shopping trip!

  39. I voted for you- so very well deserved! I just survived a 3 bathroom renovation. We went with a similar glass tile from Home Depot in a soft blue green subway tile and it looks great. I think you are going to be really pleased with your choice.

  40. So excited to watch the bathroom progress as I’m hoping to turn my very small butler’s pantry into a half bath very soon!

    As for Downton, OH MY GOSH. When I first discovered it last year, I watched the entire season in about two days. It was fantastic and awful at the same time because I had to wait a YEAR for the second season. It’s a sickness, I swear. Though the second season annoyed me at times, it was still great. Season One, though, is just so great. The music alone just makes me all giddy inside. May have to rewatch the first season soon!

  41. P.S. I LOVE the tone of this post. It’s so much nicer to see you “keeping it real” and letting loose a little bit. I love your blog and read every day but just wanted to tell you I liked this post especially.

  42. Looking good, love the fuzzy slippers :) and YES my hubby says the same thing $$$, I lovingly call him Mr. Save-a-buck……lol

    All the best, and I am going to start Abbey too, so see you’re not the last one to get on the wagon :)

    Have a great day……….going off to vote now !!!

    Kathy :)

  43. You’ve got my vote! I can well understand why your vanity had not been cleaned out for six years. Mine would have been the same if I had not moved halfway across the country. I can hardly stand to throw out hair product even if it’s a brand I did not like and will not use. Someone else might like it…

  44. I am a Downton addict. I promise not to spoil a thing… but, boy are you in for some serious twists and turns and a bit of shouting at the TV screen (or at least I did – lol!) Enjoy! One of the BEST shows to be made in a long, long while!

  45. “which one is cheaper?” Those were the words my husband said this weekend as I agonized over which of the 4 shower curtains to use in our bathroom remodel. He said “I like whichever one was cheaper. That’s my answer.” Ugh, Men!

  46. So, I have heard tons of things about Downton Abbey…all great! I’m home sick today and I’m on episode 4 on Netflix…SOOOOO GOOOD! I will finish Netflix episodes today if I have to…WOW such an awesome series!

  47. Just a heads up, Kate. The wonderful Julian Fellowes of DA is doing a special on the Titanic for ABC which, I believe, is slated for April. And here is a link to an article in the New York Times where Julian Fellowes is interviewed. BUT, do not read until you are done with the series.

    And you must get ahold of a copy of the DA book written by Julian Fellowes niece, Jessica Fellowes. Number 7 on the NYTimes best seller list. It is gorgeous.

    Yes, I am a total Downtonite.

    Lady N

  48. Sorry, paper dolls may not be suitable for your daughter. I got carried away.

  49. Hey Kate! Too funny…I JUST started watching DA this week AND am on episode 6 too! I am totally obsessed! Not sure if you’re a reader, but the shows really remind me of my favorite books (The Lady Julia series). They are murder mysteries set at the same period with all the talk of lovely dresses, the servants, etc. DA is like the books coming to life! Check them out if you need a good read! Btw…this is my first time commenting on your blog…but your’s is one of my favorites and the absolute first I ever discovered! You are my number one stop for inspiration! Thanks for all your hard work!

  50. Ah, yes. Welcome to Downton Abbey. It’s an awesome show and I can’t wait for season three. I love that you posted that picture of yourself. :) And you picked my favorite tile as well.

  51. I love Mr. Carson and Mr. Bates. Poor Edith, when anyone pays her any attention, it is only to criticize. I’m rooting for her.

  52. thanks for saying that your husband watches. i might be able to convince my husband to watch with me if he knows there are other men watching too!

  53. Hiya Kate – pleased to read that you’re enjoying Downton Abbey, I agree, it’s fabulous viewing! We had a Christmas Special here in the UK, it really was glorious to watch. I’ve just checked and series two ends with the Christmas Special …. enjoy! :D

    Good look with you’re projects, I will as usual, be following your progress.

  54. Hi Kate – First of all, we watched DA last year and couldn’t wait for season 2! In between, we found another series we liked from Netflix – “Lark Rise to Candleford” – stars Mr. Bates (Brendam Coyle) – and has 4 seasons. Kept us entertained for two months! So, if you need a DA fix, you might try that one.

    Love the bathroom vanity! You do such wonderful projects and definitely have my Hoomie vote!!!

  55. I love the vanity project, what a great way to update! I am saving this to show my husband, he is a builder and I am hoping some day we can do this. I noticed your cat in the pictures, isn’t it just like them to get right in the middle of whatever you are doing? Thanks for sharing the details and the support drawing too!

  56. I, too, am loving Downton. Too bad Netflix only goes to episode 6 or 7 in season 1. I totally agree with your assessment of the characters. I LOVE Mr. Bates and Matthew’s mom!

  57. OMG???!?!?!?!?!? There is a SEASON TWO??? I was laid up two months ago for six weeks and I watched the entire Season One. I thought it was over and I was like “what?” There was no Season Two offered!!! Whooo Hoooo!!! I can order!!!! I thought I was the only one on Earth that liked these kinds of English “films.” I just watched one on John Keats (a love story) last night that I had here for weeks and weeks! Now on to order Season Two!!!

  58. I have been looking at the same types of tile at Lowe’s for my kitchen back-splash Kate..I just love how easy they are to do..The blue is very pretty..

  59. I don’t always get to check the blog everyday, but today I’m catching up…I just HAD to comment today because I have also recently fell in love with Downton Abbey. Where have I been for two seasons, I Don’t Know. I spent one Sunday evening and way into the wee hours of the morning watching the ENTIRE first season on Hulu. I’ve been in a quandry on how to watch the second season that is NOT showing on Hulu. :( I just read someone’s comment that the series can be seen on the PBS website….be still my heart.

    Oh..BTW, I love the bathroom thus far…can’t wait to see the finished product.

  60. I love Downton Abbey. I saw season 1 last year and had to wait all year long for season 2. I wish they had it streaming, but I will wait for the disks in the mail, . If you love Downton, try The Grand as well. It is a bit older, but the story line suckes you in just as much.

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