Birthday/Push Gift

Update: Almost a year has gone by, and we still love our bathroom! It looks like we had an old hyperlink for our contractor Eric - this is his website. He works all over the Houston area. My parents hired him to remodel their bathroom in Missouri City and it turned out fantastic.

A Post By Mr. Leaven

My wife's birthday is in March and our first child, a son, is due in August.  At first I thought the idea of a bathroom makeover was the perfect birthday gift -- she has wanted this for some time.  As the project grew, however, I suggested that this might include, worthily, the attribution of "push" gift as well.  I suspect that there will be another push gift later.  She's awesome, and I love her dearly.

It's been a long while since I've participated in a renovation project, and all that over budget stuff is distressingly real.  But we survived somehow, and tonight we get to use the bathroom for the first time in over a month.  Cool!

I've posted a lot of pictures because I don't have a lot of clever anecdotes.  I'll give details where helpful, and please feel free to post comments or questions.

We moved into our cool "treehouse" split level home almost two years ago, and have loved every second of it.  The master bedroom, living room, and kitchen area are upstairs, and everything else is downstairs (quiet!).  Every home has a room that is begging, "Please, sir, may I have more?"  To which my inevitable reply is "Whaaaaaat!  You want more!?!"  It was our master bathroom, that was somehow stuck in the early 1990s, all white with gold trim, echoes of Nirvana, Michael W Smith, or Garth Brooks bouncing around the room.  So we decided to update.  We had a few ideas -- nothing concrete really, just some things that we liked:  glass tile, European styled shower, open vanity, chandelier, tile floor of some sort.  So we hired a contractor -- who turned out to be GREAT (this guy may be a best-kept-secret, but I'll give you his first name:  Eric) and got to work.

The day I came home from work and saw the above I thought of Cortez who scuttled his ships at one point to prevent a mutiny.  The point of no return arrived suddenly and with a lot of banging and dust.  But the project continued...

So where are all of those TV personalities at a time like this?  I actually emailed a few to drum up interest.  Those shows are great for New Yorkers and Southern Californians.  The TV people just don't care much about Texas.  I kept notes for the contractor on the wall at one point, not knowing how else he would see the details I thought important.

Mrs. Leaven and I poured through books, magazines, the internet (a ton), and visited showrooms, and suppliers of this and that as we tried to make a vague dream become a solid reality.  Here is a collage of a few of the photo ideas we tossed around:

And, gradually, the weeks went by, and the tile was selected:  Carrara marble 1" hexes for the floor, Emser cut black stone for shower floor, Emser Cielo subway glass tiles for the shower walls, and Emser Semplice white subway tiles for the bathroom.  We were going to try to get a double vanity undercarriage from Restoration Hardware, but our contractor offered his services and I was pleasantly surprised at what he produced.

The bathtub is one of the harder things to get, as it is one of the centerpieces of the room and typically is rather expensive.  We wanted a jazz era tub (think claw foot) but with a little modern flair, and we came across the Cheviot Dakota tub, pictured above and subsequently.  It is a pedestal slipper style cast iron tub which blends antique elegance with something more here and now.

Pretty soon we had forgotten what we had, as we saw what we were getting.

So, yeah, the mirrors haven't come in yet, and there are a few things to polish up, and add.  The sinks -- Kohler Garden Bandana Artisan vessels -- were bargains from an internet supplier.  They don't have overflows, but they do have cool pop-up drains -- you just push them down to close them, and push them again to open them.  Cool.  The fixtures are Moen Weymouth, except for the lights which are Hudson Valley (on sale!).  The toilet is a high efficiency Kohler Tresham.

The shower has no door, as we desired, and works nicely.  Mrs. Leaven has a nice tub in which to soak, and read (need to get a rack for her book) under a cool and relatively inexpensive chandelier.  The contractor dropped the windows which, of all the changes, may be the biggest one, as it let in so much more light, and generally makes the whole room feel much more open.  We'll put in a something around the bathtub to fill in that area, and we have a floor cabinet for more storage.

My wife is pleased and that is the important thing.  She's the one with the creative drive around here.  I do some corrective maneuvering at times, but she has kept things going.

Everything looks great, and hopefully will last for a long while.  The important surfaces have all been well-sealed.  I suppose we'll eventually get some stains, but that will just make me love the house that much more.  It's the little imperfections in our houses, like our lives, that endear us to one another. Let me know what you think!


  1. ummm wow AMAZING!!! Im first loving the chandy! Who picked that out? Its for sure something I do need myself, its presh! I can see this in my master closet :) LOVE! The tiles are perfction! GREAT job, Im jele, its beautiful!

  2. oh and great post all around, love the notes on the wall :)

  3. If you Mr. Leaven's article, please visit the contractor's website at, or visit his Facebook page at A talented guy should be referred.


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