It’s bad, guys. Real bad.
My apartment isn’t nice, per se: it’s old, and anything that’s not old is the cheapest whatever possible. But I’m lucky in that where old stuff was replaced with cheap new stuff, at least it was installed mostly correctly. All of the outlets work and we don’t have to have have a complicated refrigerator magnet-blowdryer-microwave notification system to avoid blowing fuses. The doorbell works, the landlord isn’t a dick about paying for a plumber when the sink clogs, and whoever painted the walls before I did actually did it totally correctly. Ten years of renting in NYC has made all of these things very, very valuable to me.
None of that applies to the bathroom, though. The stuff that’s original to the building is in great shape but everything else is a total shitshow.
I mean, REALLY?!?! I’ve never done any tiling work whatsoever but I apparently know ten thousand times more about it than whoever is responsible for this. Like, just ignoring everything else, THE TILES DON’T EVEN LINE UP AT THE CORNER. WHY?????
There are huge chunks of missing grout everywhere. I might be wrong but it looks like grout was somehow piped on like caulk and then just left to dry like that, which is completely insane because that’s not even the proper way to apply caulk. It’s the proper way to apply decorative cake frosting, and that’s about it. It’s not even the right KIND of grout for gaps this size, ffs. And I’m not sure if you’re supposed to use caulk or grout on the corner seams, but whoever did mine used both. It’s an interesting technique, which has resulted in mold patches taking refuge underneath the caulk, then slowly and disgustingly destroying the grout from underneath.
Speaking of caulk:
That’s where the tub meets the floor and… there used to be caulk I guess? And someone removed it? And then just said “fuck it” and packed up and left? Maybe those are actually grout smears and there was never caulk in the first place? The world may never know, because it’s gross and I refuse to touch it to find out.
But I guess maybe that’s a good thing, because also speaking of caulk:
Yeah, that was clear caulk once. Now it’s full of black mold. Neat!. Also notice the two types of tiles, because who could be expected to buy two entire boxes of the same color of tiles? This is a great feature, because grime shows up immediately on the white ones, and after you clean everything the speckled ones still look dirty. It’s really the best of both worlds.
Oh, and speaking of mold:
I’m not sure what people did before the 50’s (which, according to this delightful article, is when vent fans became common in bathrooms), but my disgusting bathroom obviously does not have a fan and therefore looks like this. (No, “open a window” is not a helpful suggestion. I live in Chicago, where the threat of gun violence pales in comparison to the risk of weather-related suicide.There are like six days per year where it is not either too cold or too humid to shower next to an open window.) (Although the next person who tells me “can’t you just open a window?” is risking some pretty severe Eliza-related violence.)
The mold stretches across about half of the entire bathroom ceiling and is frankly pretty horrifying. It’s killing the paint, the air quality, and my mental health. I’ve tried all the internet remedies and nothing makes more than a tiny, temporary dent. (My cleaning guy even suggested I mix toilet bowl cleaner with bleach and spray it on every day, which makes me consider I might not be tipping him enough, or maybe I am tipping him WAY too much.)
This corner doesn’t look that bad in the picture, but it is. Trust me. And please observe the awful yellowing plastic shower head that leaks about as much water as it sprays out.
Then there’s the shower caddy:
I guess I can’t technically blame my landlord for this one, since I’m the one who bought and installed this, but holy shit this thing is TERRIBLE. I’m kind of at a loss about what to do for shower storage. Bottles on the edge of the tub make me homicidal and I absolutely cannot stand the caddies that hang on the shower head, but all of the corner tension shelf things like this one either look like this one, or cost nine gazillion dollars. (Seriously, simplehuman prices are basically terrorism and I don’t know why nobody’s doing anything about it.)
Here’s a picture I took last summer and used in my Craigslist ad for a roommate:
(Luckily my new roommate is a perfect human being it would never even occur to them to care about 99% of the things I spend my time obsessing about.)
It’s not, like, unlivable once you cover up the mold. I actually kind of love the giant formica vanity– it has sparkly gold flakes in it and the weird angles kind of remind me of classic sci-fi spaceship control desks. (“Control desk” can’t possibly be the right words, but you know what I mean.) No grooming stuff except toothbrush bases is allowed out in the open so even though it takes up half of the space in the bathroom, I love having the storage. And I can’t change it anyway, so whatever. It’s fine. And check out the adorbs faucet!
I think this faucet is my favorite thing in the entire apartment. The weird bandaid color of the sink and tub is SUPER annoying because almost ANY other color would have at least been interesting, while this pinky-beigey-yellowish is just difficult to coordinate with in addition to being super boring, but I’m trying to get better at picking my battles. (Side note: what are those chrome recessed areas for? Nothing fits in them, not even tiny soaps. They’re so weird!)
This picture is basically the extent of my efforts so far to improve the bathroom:
Yep, I painted the vanity doors and taped three Ikea rugs together with duct tape to cover up the hideous-but-intact tile. It’s like a whole new bathroom, right?? Well, no, it’s basically identical, and the line of moldy caulk is still the first thing you see when you walk in the room, and I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I despise showers in the first place (really, I hate all forms of moisture on my skin–swimming pools, rain, and hot tubs are all torture) and the grossness of this bathroom is basically eating away at my soul and my happiness.
So last week I bought a grout saw and a gallon of mold-killing oops paint, and I’m gearing up to do a huge (but renter-friendly) refresh in here. I’m going to do a whole post about my plans, but here’s a preview of where I’m at so far:
I still have to figure out what to do about shower storage and a shower head and a few other things, but this is the general idea. (Yes, that’s new flooring. Yes, this is a rental. But there’s only 28 square feet of floor space and I have A Plan.)
Oh and here’s one additional fun fact I forgot to include! After having upper respiratory problems for like three solid months last fall I ordered one of those mail-in mold tests to see if the apartment was poisoning me yet again. I think it was like $70 all in, and these were the results:
So basically I’d just like everyone to know that the DIY Mold Test – Easy Mold Test on Amazon is fake news because LOOK AT ALL THAT MOLD.