“He is happiest,
be he king or peasant,
who finds peace in his home.”
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Winter has been an indecisive house guest, bringing all her snowy luggage and out-staying her welcome at times. She makes the children restless on snow days, drives us to lament the cost of propane, and leaves our dirt road in sorry shape. She leaves abruptly, lulling us into believing we can relax and enjoy the sunshine. Without warning, she dares to show up unannounced again. In spite of this, I am more often than not enjoying having an excuse to stay inside and work on the house. We are getting things done! I’m re-purposing, redoing, and repainting like a wild, crafting ninja. In the last few weeks we have finished the bathroom, replaced kitchen back splash, installed a vent hood, made a pot rack, and installed an island. I have redone 3 desks and 3 chairs for the bedrooms of 3 lovely ladies. My sewing machine, staple gun, paint brush, and glue gun have been getting a healthy workout. All is well in our little home.
Today I will share the story of our humble bathroom. Even the baby blue toilet wasn’t enough to keep me from loving this space the first time I saw it. It had laminate walls, a monstrous walk-in tub, blue fixtures, popcorn ceiling, carpet, and a window with a view of the back yard. What I found endearing about it was the smell. Really. (Don’t think of something gross.) The faint aroma of Jergen’s lotion and rose water instantly triggered the sweet memory of my Grandma and Grandpa Wilson’s mid-century house on Hadden Street. Even the colors were similar. In fact, many parts of our farm cottage remind me of that place: the wood work, the doors, the ranch style architecture, the windows. It’s all nostalgic for me. Alas, the bathroom was in need of an update to make it more functional for our family. Here are some photos taken before renovation began.
We ripped out most of the bathroom before we moved in so that we could replace the toilet. We also elected to remove the walk-in tub; it just took up too much space, and we really needed a tub/shower combination in there. The previous owner had sweetly installed this very expensive bath tub for his wife, who was ill. He put a shower for himself in the office, which will eventually become our master bath. More on that later. We were able to sell the tub on Craigslist for a good price, which paid for the entire bathroom renovation. Have I mentioned how much I love Craigslist? Here’s a peek at our demo process:
This room presented a few challenges. Firstly it is only 56 inches wide. Standard tubs are 60 inches long and wouldn’t work in this space. Once again, we had to think outside the box. We settled on buying a vintage claw foot tub, but even most of those are 5 feet long or more. I perused Craigslist daily as well as hung out at the local Habitat Restore and architectural salvage store, waiting for the perfect tub. It finally showed itself on Craigslist! We bought it from a guy who was tearing down a house in Leon, Kansas. He loaded it up and met us at Menard’s, and we bought it on the spot. At 54″ long and sporting red paint and gold feet, it was a match made in heaven! Before and after shots:
The only original thing left in this bathroom is the window. Everything else was changed. Sometimes when we were in the thick of the remodeling, it felt like nothing was getting done. However, our “to do” list only has one thing left on it: the replacement of an outlet. Superhubby assures me that will be done soon, and I believe him. That man can do anything! Here are the changes that have been wrought in the bathroom:
1. Replace toilet. This was the first project, of course. We went with the safe choice: basic white. It may be the only normal pick in the house.
2. Replace walls. We had to rip out 2 layers of laminate, replace some studs, and deal with some backer board from a previous tile job. The sheet rock underneath was unusable. We opted for beaded board wood paneling painted white for a cottage feel.
3. Replace flooring. We found a remnant of vinyl flooring that looked like barn wood plank for $40 and installed it ourselves.
4. Replace sink. In a previous post I mentioned that we converted a small $7 yard sale dresser into the bathroom vanity. I got the drop-in sink at Habitat Restore for $10. David even managed to turn two of the drawers into storage; one of them is partitioned into 5 sections, one for each of the kids’ gear. It’s a great piece!
5. Replace tub with a vintage one. Add a faucet, shower kit and ceiling-mounted shower curtain rod. This project looks easy on paper but was quite challenging. After many adjustments to ensure that no leaking would occur, the tub touches both bathroom walls and is a perfect fit. My man is quite the plumber! He always says it’s not his forte, but there hasn’t been a single plumbing project here that he hasn’t made work.
6. Add a cabinet. With 5 ladies inhabiting our homestead, we needed some storage! After scouring thrift stores and antique shops for the perfect cabinet, I happened upon an old ammunition crate at the DAV for just over $20. I gave it a whitewash to freshen it up but left the rustic character intact.
7. Add a towel rack. I aged a piece of wood whose previous incarnation had been as a stair riser that hubby removed during the basement renovation. I then added various vintage inspired knobs bought at half price.
8. Find a shower curtain. At first glance, this seems like an easy task, right? Not so. Many opinions whirled around this topic; the girls might have made fun of me for taking months to pick the right one. In the end, everyone got a vote and no one agreed. We compromised. Now we all love it.
9. Add a soap dispenser. This also seems trivial, but ever since I was bitten by the Pinterest bug, I have wanted to make a mason jar soap dispenser that was big enough to handle the many hands that need cleansing here. I dug a mason jar out of the barn, used the drill and some epoxy, and bought a soap pump from the beauty supply store. Check that off my bucket list. I made a soap dispenser.
10. Add lighting. I went with outdoor fixtures that had cottage character. They were inexpensive and interesting. I don’t know why I love them, but I do.
It’s a tiny bathroom, but it has everything in it that we need. The girls actually squealed with delight as they saw the finished product. Here you go.
Once again, we find ourselves marveling at what can be accomplished with team work, creative thinking, and just a few dollars. Our September Farm just feels happy and peaceful, like it was always here waiting for us. We are home. It’s a good feeling.