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bathroom update – downstairs

– a quick diversion back downstairs as upstairs, progress is finally being made (updates to come).

Inspired by my friend Gill’s impending visit from New York on Friday (horray!) and a subsequent frenzy of cleaning, I finally got round to photographing the downstairs bathroom.

You might remember what it looked like from a previous post, but here’s a reminder:

I still haven’t got round to refinishing the tub.  I started to re-do the caulking (again), and then realized that really the whole thing needs re-tiling – actually, just tiling, as the tiles currently there are fake.  So, it’s a bigger job than I thought (as usual), and with the reno going on upstairs, I’ve put it aside for now so we at least have one working bathroom, however unfinished.

But this is what it currently looks like:

Still small, but the new sink gives us a bit more space and removing the big wooden shelving unit was a huge help in making the room feel less gross.  We also pulled up the floor but have just painted the floorboards as a temporary measure.  The window was replaced and a shower head installed from the bathtub faucet.  Oh, and we also replaced the toilet seat.  What a total revelation that was!  Why didn’t anyone ever tell me before how easy and cheap it is to change a toilet seat?  Why have I been sitting on gross old seats in rental apartments all these years?

So we didn’t actually do that much, but it’s amazing what a great shower curtain (brought back with us from London from Habitat – my most favourite store, I even worked there for a time, long long ago) and some bright paint can do (Benjamin Moore ‘Tropicana Cabana’ – bought as much for the name as the colour).

But, as always, there’s some screw ups that need to be addressed:

You might notice that the new mirrored medicine cabinet doesn’t fit the existing hole (we’ll just ignore the missing light bulb for the moment).
We noticed too.  Why haven’t we done anything about it?

That is a damn good question.

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a bathroom of limited possiblities

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At 4 feet wide (actually, 47 1/2 in. – this will prove vitally important later) and 9 1/2 feet long, there’s not a whole lot that could be changed about the bathroom layout, though much that could (and would) be changed about the somewhat challenged ‘decor’.

- the bathroom as it was (including the empty mouthwash bottle - weird)

Yes, that’s a 4 ft long ‘bathtub’ at the end that must have been popular, oh I don’t know, back when people didn’t bathe much and you had to heat water on the stove.  The whole house was actually built before the invention, or at least, ‘popularity’ of indoor plumbing, and thus you will find exposed pipes throughout the house carrying things we prefer not to think about from our upstairs tenant (you can just about see a pipe in the photo above under the super sexy cabinet).  But exposed pipes are trendy now right?

None of this stopped me, however, from going on a rampant google search for all things related to ‘small bathroom design’ to see what could be done (this search soon changed to ‘tiny bathroom design’ and then to ‘tiny bathroom design in Europe and Japan’ as I discovered ‘small’ is a very relative term).

I had extravagant visions of what could be accomplished that were to bear no relation to either my space or my budget (you could say this was a bit of a running theme).

The first casualty was the clawfoot tub (in my mind).  Yes, you heard right.  I wanted a clawfoot bathtub –  4 feet long.

And goddammit I found one, plus loads of sexy images promising me what my bathroom could be:

From HGTV’s site ‘rate my space

– and these from ‘The Daily Tubber‘ – an actual blog basically devoted to clawfoot tubs (I know, right?):

So it all seemed possible.  And yes, there is a clawfoot tub you can own that is a mere 48in. wide.  You can see it here.

But again, that’s 48in. long, and let’s remind ourselves (as I had to again, and again) –  I only have 47  and a cruel 1/2 inch.  Plus the pipe of course.  It took me a good two weeks to let this information sink in.

So, not one to give up the opportunity for another time-wasting internet home design search, I started looking at images of sexy showers:


From HGTV again.   The one on the right comes from this link I bookmarked ages ago, but I’m not sure where it’s from (so apologies in advance to anyone, and let me know if you know where I can credit this to properly).

Tearing everything out and putting in a shower would be great, but it’s also a pretty expensive option (particularly with the window there), and a huge upheaval if you only have one bathroom (seriously, what are you supposed to do?  Dehydrate so you don’t have to pee for a day? The mysteries of renovating…).   It wasn’t something I was looking forward to.  Thank god for Apartment Therapy though.  They know what’s what when it comes to really small spaces.

A bathroom even smaller than ours at 4 x 6!  I’m thinking the tub must be around the same size as ours, just not totally gross.  So with that in mind, the new plan is to replace the sink, but make the best of the old tub.  The other reason for leaving it is because it’s currently the only place to wash out brushes, rollers and other renovation related paraphernalia.  The thought of putting in a new tub or shower and then ruining it by slopping paint or floor stain all over it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

So, I’ve now bought an assortment of bathtub finishing stuff, and will be tackling it…soon.

Tune in…well, when I finally get off my ass and actually do it (and will then reveal what else we did – it’s just still too embarrassing to show with the tub like it is).

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