Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Bath

A Basement Update

There has been an unanticipated slow-down here on the blog over the last a couple months, largely due to sudden changes in our lives. Slav started a new job in February which not only resulted in little time at home, but also shifted lots of housework on my shoulder. Comparing to quiet evenings of organizing thoughts and typing on the keyboard, I spent most of my evenings cleaning and cooking.

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Peach blossom. 桃花依旧笑春风

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We have welcomed the Spring to Colorado, on which lots of yard work piggybacks. I hope that you do not have bindweed in your neighborhood. Unfortunately I do. Over the last two years I have established a routine of walking through the garden in the evenings, and taking care of small tasks such as weeding and deadheading. But this Spring I had to pile all these small tasks to weekends, which put me out of commission for renovations and DIY projects.

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Spring flowers. #COlife #Gardening

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Knowing our limits we decided to hire a team of professionals to tackle the big renovation coming up in our basement. Last time I brought you down in the basement we demoed the ceilings and closets in the bedroominstalled egress window, and exposed the plumbing in the bathroom. Since then we have demoed the bathroom to the studs:

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The wet wall is now completely exposed from both sides:

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Both original bathroom door and the bedroom door were removed, and some drywall was cut out to make room for a pocket door between the bedroom and the new bath:

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We decided to take this opportunity of renovation to upgrade the plumbing. We were glad that we made this decision – there was lots of water damage behind the walls and mold has been growing around the shower area.

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We also removed the small lining closet located in the little hallway between the bedroom and the old bathroom door. Incorporating the closet and hallway space into the bathroom makes room for a double sink vanity.

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This is view from the bedroom to the future bath, through the future pocket door opening. The part with lower ceiling was the hallway/closet space, which now becomes part of the future bath. We will frame a door between the living space and the new bath, so we can still access the bathroom from the living area. It will also help with the bathroom ventilation and bringing some nature light in this end of the living space.

Due to the low ceiling the old closet/hallway space will host the toilet:

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And the old vanity and toilet space will host a double sink vanity:

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The shower will be installed right under the window. We plan to frame the wall out so we can have a large shower niche built-in.

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We also removed the ceiling drywall in the basement in order to add can lights and insulation to soundproof the basement. The ceiling drywall had heavy texture and smoothing it out will cost us more than just using new drywall.

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Now the demo in the basement has officially finished, our general contractor has moved in and started new framing. The biggest change of the layout down here will be the bathroom area. Both doors to the new bath will be pocket doors to maximize the floor space in the new bathroom. They will be framed in next week:

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The overhead heating pipes calls for a pretty big soffit. Our contractor has framed it in.

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More framing will happen in the bathroom – the shower niche and a small soffit will be framed in to accommodate the can lighting. As soon as the framing is done, an electrician will come in to install can lights and reconfigure the outlets and light switches. Then the plumbing, then the insulation. It will look pretty rough done here for a while. But every week there will be some progress and we are getting our finger crossed for everything going smoothly. I want to say “knock on wood”, but we are already doing it everyday. Ha!

 

The Basement Bathroom: Before + Progress

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When closing on our ranch, the most intriguing aspect was definitely getting the second bathroom. Slav and I had always lived with a single bath. Getting ready at the same time in the morning sounded exciting.

So, it might sound like a surprise that we’ve only used the basement bathroom a handful of times thus far. Well, until you see what it looks like.

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Hello the future master bath.

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It is not a diamond in the rough. It is the rough. We took no pleasure walking into this room, let alone using it. Sitting empty did not do this room any favor either. Over the last a year and a half, bugs and spider webs took over.

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We have been wondering about the hole in the soffit above the shower. It turns out to carry an important function: the upstairs bathtub leaks and this hole lets water drain directly into the basement shower. Although unacceptable, you cannot deny the previous owner’s ability of thinking outside the box.

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The soffit wrapped around the mirror wall and ended at a weird bump-out above the toilet. By opening the utility room drywall, we learned that the only thing inside the soffit was the fan vent pipe, and the weird bump-out used to conceal the water heater ventilation pipe, which has been discontinued when we upgraded to a tankless water heater.

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The first order of business is to assess the room. Although small, this bathroom has the potential to be highly efficient, if we could properly address the following issues:

1. Poor ventilation.

The old bathroom fan was noisy and weak, and the only window in the bathroom does not open. Being the only old window in the basement, it will be replaced with a window that can be fully opened to the outside air. We will also install a proper fan to vent the bathroom efficiently.

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2. The nearly-empty soffit.

As I mentioned, the soffit only houses the vent pipe for the bathroom fan, which will be replaced and relocated. There will be no reason for the soffit to stay, and removing it will allow us to raise the light fixture higher as well as install a taller medicine cabinet.

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3. Builder grade finishes (of the worst variety).

Popcorn ceiling, heavily textured walls, and outdated aluminum fixtures. Ugh.

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4. Direction of the door swing

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Currently the door swings inside, which not only blocks the toilet paper, but also limits the usable space in the bathroom. We have discussed the possibility of removing the door completely and reinstalling it at the living room doorway. Moving the door two feet out will not only save floor space in front of the toilet, but also create better flow between the future master bed and bath.

5. Lack of storage

Currently, the only storage in the bathroom is the medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, it is made of MDF and was completely waterlogged. We have been using medicine cabinets for years and really like the hidden storage they provide. Adding a new and potentially bigger one will completely take care of the storage needs in this space.

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6. The shower area

To save money and work, we plan to keep the shower area and floor tiles. Some good scrubbing and a new grout job will surely make them look as well as they function.

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7. Saving space with a narrow vanity

I actually like the vanity for its narrow profile and the depth of the sink. Unfortunately, it was completely waterlogged down both of the side panel. We are in search of something similar as a replacement.

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Something even more bizarre was the back of the vanity was completely removed and so was the drywall behind. A quick and dirty way to finish the plumbing job, like everything in this house. Ugh.

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The Demo Progress

After getting on the same page on what to keep and what to get rid of, I took the pry bar and removed the soffit.

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It is amazing how much drywall trash this small soffit turned into.

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The flexible pipe you see below was for the old bathroom fan. It had been disconnected inside the soffit until we bought the house. This bathroom was used by four children and inevitably, all the moisture trapped in the soffit has led to mold behind the soffit.

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The U shape pipe next the fan vent is connected to the upstairs bathtub. It leaks when we take showers upstairs. Based on the condition of the subfloor, we think it has been leaking for quite some time as well.

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The medicine cabinet came off without a fight. The hanging metal box housed the broken bathroom fan.

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Removing the corner soffit exposed the old ventilation pipe for the old water heater. This pipe goes up all the way to the roof. The current plan is to trim it at the ceiling level so we can re-drywall. But we also have the option of using it to vent through the roof.

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The bathroom demo concluded the demolition in the basement, at least for the part that we intended to remove. While the drywall dust settles, we officially enter the planning phase, with home improvement stores to visit and plumbers to call. I cannot wait to come back for another update on this little space, which probably involves replacing the window or fixing the plumbing. The bath will only get cuter from now!

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The Magic of Caulk – Small Upgrade Take III

You’ve heard me say this, sometimes small upgrade can make a big impact to a room. We have done quite a few small upgrades ourselves and we love how they instantly changed our lives (here and here). This time, we tackled our kitchen and bathroom, and our target is the old, dingy caulk.

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Yeah, they were pretty bad. We are disgusted by the look, and more importantly, caulk is supposed to close the seams to seal areas and corners that are susceptible to mildew and mold damage. When they crack and become discontinuous, they can no longer to keep the area around sinks and tubs watertight.

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The part we are mostly worried about is the seam right below the bathroom window. Somehow the window sill was installed wrong with a slope going outwards, so water sits there and we are so worried that the water gets into the wall.

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And the caulk here could no longer prevents water from seeping down into the wall.

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When you think that our master bath is bad, here comes worse.

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These are taken around our kitchen sink:

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And here is how bad it was around the backslash:

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If it was not dingy and moldy, it was missing:

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So when Slav finally got a couple days break from his work, he stripped off all the old caulk and applied a new layer while I was at work.

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Slav even caulked the gap between our counter top and the stove:

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Everything is SO. FRESH.

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The kitchen became 100 times brighter – without changing a light bulb! And the bathroom? With white tiles and fresh caulk, it is like a heaven:

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The window seam now looks like this:

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Slav also ran a line of caulk around the edge of each window, where the glass panels meet the metal trims to seal the cold draft.

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Quite a change, isn’t it? Who would knew that fresh caulk can have such an impact? I have been talking about painting the bathroom walls a lighter color since our moving day. But with white doors and bright new caulk, the blue walls actually look lovely. It is such a easy and quick way to make a big change!

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