Saturday, April 7, 2012

The smallest room in the house (part I)

I'm way behind on my updates on the home renovation. The reason, of course, is that I've been spending all my time on home renovation. Anyway, it's time to fix that.

The bathroom we bought was of a piece with the rest of the house: good bones, especially considering when it was built, but kind of run down and wanting repair.
So, that's a claw-foot tub, some pretty marginal shower hardware, a pretty crappy crapper (not shown--the plumbing, which was pretty bad) and a sink that was OK but at the very least needed re-finishing. The floor is fir, but it's really worn and the varnish has died and so the wood is getting damaged. The walls are papered with blue paper that was kind of dark and peeling. However, it was nice and compact and flooded with light from an outsize window. The layout was fine and the built-in medicine cabinet has design features that make it harmonize perfectly with the rest of the house.

So. We decided to keep the basic outline, update all the plumbing, wiring, lighting, and fixtures, and add just a few touches to make it perfect. It's close enough to done now to write about.

Step one was to find fixtures. Most modern bathrooms are the size of bedrooms, it seems--two sinks, a shower and a huge tub, commode, cable TV, bar...they are getting out of hand, and fixture design has kept pace; much of what is sold today is simply too big to fit in our 'loo. So, we had to troop up to Eugene to do some shopping. Fixtures in hand, it was time to get to work.

Step two was to clear everything. The claw-foot tub weighed a ton--it's pretty much a lump of cast iron. Right now it's sitting on our front porch, but we've sold it to a couple who live further out in the country. They want to put it on their deck and make it into a "hillbilly hot-tub." More power to them! That's probably better than the traditional use of old tubs in the Real Doctor's native land. The custom there is to put it in the garden, tipped up to form a protective grotto for a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary or JC. The toilet and sink are going to a recycler who sells such things to people who want antique-y stuff for their renovations.Unsurprisingly, the sub-flooring was just as toasted as the flooring--extensively water damaged, so most of it had to go too.
Even less surprisingly, the plumbing was awful. The pipes were mostly cast-iron/rust in a 50-50 blend. The access port for the sewer line from the toilet had broken off, leaving it permanently open in the basement. Probably for the best that we don't have any pictures of that, or what the basement was like underneath that.

Neither the Real Doctor nor I am wild about claw-foot tubs, so we decided we would install a real shower stall with a real shower head that was taller than me. This meant ripping out a lot of lath-and-plaster, and finding some of the things that were in the walls. This is one of several multi-generational mouse nests we found.
After installing PEX or PVC plumbing for everything, we could put in a new subfloor; it was nice to walk in there without sinking down ever so slightly.
One unfortunate thing about having a proper shower stall instead of a claw-foot was that the big ol' window had to be shrunk. In order to keep as much window as possible, we decided to shift the remaining bit window over to the right as far as possible. So, take out the existing window:
Frame in a new one:
Put in a nice, double-paned, reeded-glass window and some drywall:
And, trim the original wooden framing to size and slip it on. There ya go!
Up next--fixtures and finishing! Oooooh, the excitement!

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