Replacing the Medicine Cabinet

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About a year ago, half of the electricity in my house stopped working (I'll save that for another post). As a result, my bathroom was kind of dim. There was a working outlet with a small lamp, but the ceiling light was dead and I was recently made aware of the importance of a well-lit mirror.

I have never liked the mirror/medicine cabinet. First of all, it was made by the previous owners and it shows. It's very crafty (rustic?) and very out of place in there. It wasn't even painted. Second, the mirror itself was too short. I'm 6'3" so I couldn't see myself without bending, and Teddy can't see himself without a stool. I think it was 15" tall. I decided to buy a new mirror, install a light above it, and fix the ceiling light. Silly to do all that and not paint, right? I hit the local paint store, chose a nice pale blue for the top of the walls and some white for the bead-board and ceiling.

Two months later I decided to actually do the job.

Step 1: Fix the lighting. My plan for this was to take the power from the working outlet and use it to rewire the switch and light fixture. This wasn't too hard except for the limited access to the topside of the ceiling fixture. There is a crawl space, but as I mentioned, I'm 6'3". I got the ceiling fixture powered and started to look for a way to access the wall over the mirror. It took me a few trips up and down the ladder to the crawl space to figure out why I couldn't find the wall to drop a wire into. The bathroom is in a dormer that was not part of the original house. As such, the part of the wall where the mirror is an exterior wall with no topside access. Directly behind the mirror is a 2x10 diagonal roof beam. Not something I could run a wire though, nor something I could access without going on the roof. I ended up cutting a horizontal strip across wall, a little bigger than one piece of lathe. I also had to drill a half-inch hole though a few studs, including the corner of the room, which was very tricky. Eventually I made my way to the new switch I added and powered it up.

Step 2: Repair the damage. Cutting a long hole in the wall means having to repair the wall. I had some leftover sheet rock and joint compound from my basement renovation a few years ago but I had to run to the hardware store to get tape. I don't like doing finish work. I am neither neat nor careful. I learned most of what I know about electrics, carpentry, and painting from working in scene shops and on stage crews. Small details aren't as important from 30 feet away. Also, when you're working on scenery, access to the top or back of walls is never a problem. I patched the holes and smoothed the spackle. Sort of.

Step 3: Painting. I primed the ceiling and walls with Zinser 1-2-3, then once they dried, painted them with Benjamin Moore Bathroom & Kitchen paint (mildew resistant). I don't like painting. Well, I guess the actual painting is okay. I don't like removing fixtures, covering appliances and floors, taping corners, or cleaning brushes.


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