I’ve never shown you our main floor bath, with the possible exception of our first house tour merely a couple months after moving in. So today I thought to give you a peek at how it looks now, as everything will be removed tomorrow! Yep, you guessed it right. The main floor bathroom is our next renovation project and Slav might have been demoing as we speak.
We bought the house AS-IS without knowing its renovation history. Judging by the lack of permit pulled from the city, and based on the age of window and the cast iron tub, we suspect that this bathroom has never been upgraded, since the house was built in 1964.
When you walk into the bathroom the first you see is the window. Ugh the window. It is aluminum, broken, badly insulated, and hard to open.
The stool slopes towards the window as opposed to the shower (how it should be), so every time someone showers, water accumulates right against the base of the window and takes hours to dry. It totally explains why mold is growing along the bottom of the window.
Some of our neighbors closed off their bathroom window completely or partially (to raised the stool height). We have considered doing it too. But during the last window replacement, we learned that the brick used to face our house has been discontinued, which means that we could not find enough of the same brick to patch the exterior if we shrink the size of this window. Fortunately, the new windows are much easier to waterproof. We will be tiling the window stool with the correct slope.
Slav cut slits into the stool to facilitate the drainage. But no matter how many times we re-caulk the window (see the terrifying before here), the mold just grew right back in. We are fairly certain that the stud wall behind the tiles is full of mold, confirmed by the mold peeking out between the tiles where the grout is missing.
The tiled wall around the window/tub will be a total gut job. I like old tiles but ours are not worth saving. In addition to the definite mold behind the tiles, they are misaligned in many places. From talking to our neighbors, we’ve learned that these are likely the original tiles installed during the house construction. I do not know if this was the quality of work at the time, or these tiles have shifted over the years especially given how little grout is left.
Below the window is the cast iron tub. Believe or not, we have not bathed in this house at all. In fact, Last time I took a bath was probably in 2011…we are not bath people. This bathroom is only 5′ x 7’6″. With a 32″ x 60″ tub installed under the window, the rest of the room is merely 5′ x 5′. So here comes the unconventional decision: We will be removing the bathtub and put in a shower only in this bathroom.
Will you buy a house without a bathtub? It is a hot debate. Most of people see a house without a bathtub as incomplete. But when asked how often they bathe, very few have bathed in their own bathtubs! It seems that most of people do not take bath, with a small fraction (only ~10%) of people bathe regularly and will not buy/rent a house without a tub. This information ensures a big market for shower-only houses. The only potential drawback is the estimate price. However, we have done much more controversial modification to the ranch namely decreasing the number of the bedrooms from 5 to 3, so I think outing the bathtub might not be the most radical change.
When making decision like this, I like to consider what I’ll gain as opposed to worrying about what I might lose. First is the space. With the tub the floor space is limited to a 5′ x 5′ square. The bathtub also visually breaks an already small bathroom into two spaces. A free standing shower enables uniform flooring and a frameless shower door (similar to what we installed in the master bath) removes any visual obstacle. The bathroom will look a lot more roomy that way.
The second is safety. We have both slipped a few times in the tub with soapy water especially when stepping out after showering. When my mother-in-law visited, we bought an anti-slipping mat just for her, but she still ended up taking shower downstairs due to the fear of failing. Having a standing shower will remove most of our anxiety during guest visit, especially when the guests are our elderly parents.
Besides the tub there are a toilet and a single-sink vanity. Due to space constraint, the vanity is only 18″ wide and without any counter space. So a medicine cabinet became a necessity.
After nearly 60 years of use, both the vanity and medicine cabinet are beyond saving. Based on the water damage inside the vanity, we suspect that there was a leak under the sink at some point. The good news is, we will be getting a wider vanity, thanks to the water heater upgrade Slav performed three year ago.
See the enclosed column at the corner of the bath next to the door? Every house in my neighborhood has it and it is to accommodate the vents from the basement water heater to the roof. Since we have switched to tankless, this vent is no longer in use. We were able to get rid of it and a weird soffit around it in the master bath last year. Now it is time to cut it out all the way to the roof!
With it gone we would have the option of moving the toilet closer to the entry wall, which will allow us to have a 24″ vanity still a single sink but with a lot more counter space. Slav is very motivated to get a wider vanity because he does not like medicine cabinets. Since Slav is doing all the renovation to this bathroom (it is so small and hard for two people to work in it at the same time), I thought I should stop advocating for a medicine cabinet which he hates, and let him have a big mirror which he wants.
The only thing enclosed inside of this column is some electrical, which is easy to rewire. Getting rid of this column also make it possible to install a pocket door. We love the pocket door between our master bedroom and bath. It makes the traffic pattern very smooth. Right now, the swinging door occupies too much space in front of the toilet.
By now you can probably tell that this renovation is a gut job. Yes. After removing the shower/tub and surrounding tiles, as well as the corner column and the existing door, there will be not much wall left. We also have to remove part of the tiled floor to upgrade the plumbing. We also have to replace the ceiling – as much as a pain in the neck it is, the ceiling drywall is visibly moldy, and opening it up will make adding recessed lights and exhaust fan much easier. Therefore, Slav has decided to completely demolish the room to the studs.
We know what needs to be done in this bathroom; demo everything, replacing what’s moldy, upgrade electrical and plumbing, put in a shower with new windows, and upgrade to all new fixtures. But I also do not want to underestimate how much work will go into this bathroom renovation. It will take Slav many weekends to complete while working full-time during the week. We are in for a long haul, guys.
For reference, here is the floor plan for the main floor, and the main floor bath is No. 5 in the photo. 2 is the kitchen and in between is the only wet wall in our house. 1 is the living room, 4 and 3 were two bedrooms and used as offices.
Coming up the actually design of the room is also not easy. This room is not seen from other angle of the house unless one stands right at the door, so it is an ideal place for something bold and fun. However, it will be used by guests who stay in the adjacent office. so I want the bathroom to feel cohesive to say the least.
From the living quarter:
From my office, where guests will be sleeping in:
Behind the narrow door is the hall closet. Due to the limited storage in the current bathroom, it is used to store extra bathroom supplies.
I’ve been pinning inspiration photos / showing Slav to get his opinions (he has veto power). We have also searched for tiles together and narrowed down to a couple choices. We will go over the design concept of the room once the decision is made. But for now, demo first!
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