Found Things: The Master Bath

“For whatsoever from one place doth fall,

Is with the tide unto another brought:

For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”

–Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen

Few things make me swoon like a worthy adaptation of a Jane Austen novel.  The above quote is from a tender scene in “Sense and Sensibility,” where Colonel Brandon humbly reads to Miss Marianne Dashwood following her epiphany that what she truly yearned for had been right there for her, patiently waiting.  If gentle reader is familiar with the book, she will recognize the idea that strong and enduring is often preferable to new and exciting.

This has certainly been the case while doing our master bath remodel.  I have a confession:  old architectural elements, fixtures, and designs make me swoon!  One of the reasons I haven’t blogged about the bath progress much is that I’ve been gathering materials for quite some time, searching for those things that have been lost to modern design.  If you want the things that endure, such treasure hunting takes time; even longer is the time needed to figure out how to incorporate these rough diamonds into a functioning bathroom.  Dear husband has patiently and expertly endured my journeys through junk shops and Craigslist ads in search of just the right thing, and he’s made sense of how to use them.

Last week I was reminded just how long this project had been dragging on, as the friendly county inspector came out to see our progress 2 weeks ago.  Indeed, he pointed out that my permit for the master bath work had expired two months ago!  Fortunately this is not an offense punishable by neither fine nor flogging, so he offered to extend the permit for another 6 months once he returned to the office.  I was grateful; certainly I had been overly optimistic at the time that I filed for the permit, thinking that it would easily take less than 6 months to redo the family room, powder room, and master bath.  Here we are 8 months later with a completed powder room, good progress on the master bath, and nothing completed in the family room other than insulation.  Apparently when you file for a permit, you should only list and and estimate costs on what you can complete in 6 months.  Silly me!  Lesson learned.

If I’m being frank, the master bath is pretty dang awesome.  It’s awesomeness is such that I can’t show the whole thing all at once for fear that gentle readers will either a.) faint or b.) die of insane jealousy.  Okay, truthfully it isn’t finished yet.  However, we are close!  Today I will focus on two elements that are complete:  the bath tub and the flooring.

I found the antique clawfoot tub on Craigslist.  (Don’t pretend to be surprised.)  I negotiated a good price, visited the charming bungalow on a river that had been the tub’s home, and watched hubby and a plumber lift that beauty into the back of our farm truck.  I knew it could be glorious in our new bathroom.  This one cost me less than the one I found for the kids’ bathroom, and it was bigger.  At 5 and a half feet long (5 feet is standard size), there’s no reason to even bend my knees to recline in it.  Yes, it was covered in bits of gold leaf, peeling orange and yellow 1960’s wallpaper, and the loveliest shade of tan paint that I like to call “skin tag.” Naturally, it was love at first sight for me.

photo (14)

These are pieces of what was haphazardly adhered to the tub!

I knew I didn’t want another plain, white tub.  I could buy one of those anywhere.  I headed over to Pinterest for inspiration:

tub3 tub4

tub1 tub2

Of course, before installing the tub, the floor would have to be installed.  This was no small task considering that we started with chipped industrial tiles on top of bare, uneven concrete slab.  In addition, the slab had to be dug out in places to make room for new plumbing. A doorway had to be closed off from the family room to make room for the reconfigured shower. Walls had to be built to separate the bath from a hallway. Now it’s coming into focus why that permit expired!  After leveling the concrete floor, we put down a 3/4″ plywood subfloor and waterproofed it.  We picked out a porcelain tile that mimics old barn wood and proceeded to lay it.  After completion, we laughingly chanted our mantra once again, “I can’t believe it worked!”

After some painting, stenciling, grouting, plumbing, grunting, and cursing, here’s our finished product:

photo (13) photo (15)

One person’s cast-off can be another person’s treasure, don’t you think?  Our found things are bestowing upon us a most loved and swoon-worthy bathroom!  More updates to come…


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