Master Bath, Part 2

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.”

–Robert Frost

If any room represents the road less traveled in our little cottage, it’s our new master bath.  It might just be my favorite room in the house:  perhaps because I have a thing for preserving the past, or because I root for the underdog, or simply because it’s a complete rush for me to turn a cast-off into something beautiful.  I think it’s all of the above and then some.  Grab yourself another cup of coffee and enjoy this less traveled road we’ve been on for the last nine months.

Our bathroom started life as an office/shower room.  Let’s call it a multi-purpose room in order to make it seem cooler than it was.  The flooring was carpet over industrial tile over concrete slab.  It had a popcorn ceiling that had seen better days.  The steps to the add-on shower had long since lost their dazzle…and tile.  Doesn’t such a place scream “POTENTIAL” to you?  It did to David and me.  Why not turn this into our master bath?  At under ninety square feet it wasn’t gargantuan or luxurious, but it was large enough to shelter everything on our wish list.  The main requirement was a double sink vanity.  Isn’t it funny what things we prioritize?  Even in our 3200-square-feet-city-house-with-the-jacuzzi-tub, we had to share a master bathroom sink.  Considering the fact that we would need plumbers to dig new sewer lines for this addition (as well as the powder room), this wasn’t exactly going to be easy or fast.

After no less than 3 visits by plumbers to fix the old, broken sewer lines and install new ones, we now have the bathroom of our dreams.  I will let the pictures and captions tell most of the story.

IMG_0757 IMG_0789  IMG_0791

Left:  You can see the original door from the family room to the bathroom.

Middle:  Another view of the original shower

Right:  Concrete slab is jack-hammered to prepare for new sewer lines

photo (6) IMG_1140


Above:  I found matching farmhouse sinks at a junk shop.  I paid $50 for the pair; they are deep, porcelain over cast iron, and well-loved (imperfect).  The faucets came from Ebay and were a steal at $20 for the pair.  I love the retro look of the attached soap dishes!  The picture on the left is the vanity being built.  Yes, my wonderfully talented husband built it himself to accommodate these salvaged sinks!  It’s made of cedar and has some iron pipe accents.  The lower shelf is made of FREE cedar fence wood I got on Craigslist.  The total cost of our double vanity came in right at $100 for everything.

IMG_1147 IMG_1122 IMG_1121

Above:  I found these old wire baskets about a half-mile down the road from us at the neighbor’s trash heap!  Can you believe that??!  I didn’t even care that they were speckled with chicken poop.  I brought them home and discovered that they fit perfectly on the lower shelf of the custom vanity!  I gave them a vigorous scrubbing and disinfecting.  I then sewed liners for the baskets and accented them with mini-chalkboard tags and jute ties.  A little hand lettering personalized the trio.

IMG_1139  IMG_1132  IMG_1131

Left:  Soap dispenser I made from a Patron bottle.  I love the shape of it.  I also have a thing for the bee design on the label.

Center:  Outdoor fixtures as vanity lights?  At $32 for the pair, you bet!

Right:  An iron star adorns the cheap mirror.  I bought the mirror because it was the right size, even though it was less than elegant looking.  I painted it to look like old wood.  Adding the star was my homage to the great state of Texas, where I grew up and two of my children were born.

IMG_0786  IMG_1110 IMG_1141

Left:  This is the space where the door was removed, the wall filled in, and the new shower took up residence.

Middle and Right:  Your eyes do not deceive you.  It’s a galvanized shower!  Hubby built this out of roofing material.  I love the juxtaposition of industrial metal with the modern glass doors. It’s trimmed out in cedar.  I was inspired by this and this.

IMG_1123  IMG_1133

Left:  This is the wall that encloses the shower.  I wanted to do something interesting with it.  The poem is by Robert Frost and was on our wedding invitation, so it’s very meaningful to us and a little mushy.

Right:  I know this is a quirky piece, but I couldn’t resist it.  I think it needs a name.  Any ideas?

IMG_0785  IMG_1142

Above:  The tub space before and after!  The painted tub is flanked by an upcycled door mirror that was original to the house.  I added stained shim wood for a custom look.

 IMG_1114 IMG_1115IMG_1126

The towel storage above the tub was part of a group of old wood crates garnered from an estate sale for $5.  Thanks to David’s great Aunt Jane for the vintage lanterns.  I made the artwork with two recycled canvases, masking tape, craft paint, and jute.  It’s part of my mother-in-love’s favorite poem and sums up our journey completely.  The tub faucet came from Signature Hardware.

IMG_1118 IMG_1112IMG_1113

Left:  Galvanized pipe and fittings gave us an unconventional curtain rod.

Middle and right:  I used a window panel and stenciled it with 8 different birds to remind us of our children.

IMG_1125 IMG_1119 IMG_1117


It really deserves its own paragraph, having been salvaged from a construction site by my husband’s grandfather prior to the 1950’s.  In fact, he used salvaged materials to build most of his lake cottage in Wisconsin.  Many happy summers were spent there by David and his family as they grew up.   We discovered this door last summer as my father-in-love showed us around his storage barn; it had been moved a few times after the original cottage was sold. It was dirty with chipping paint but had the original etched glass intact.  What a gorgeous treasure!  David’s parents graciously gave us the door for *our* family cottage.  I can’t even convey how special it is to me to have such a piece of family history in our home.

IMG_0798  IMG_1144

Left:  The original space before the toilet was added.

Right:  The glorious after!  Daughter #2 exclaimed that we were practically the Rockefellers now that we had 3 toilets!

IMG_1153 IMG_1127

We used the door to provide separation between the toilet and tub.  We added some shelves to the tub side to add stability as well as functional space.  That first shelf holds a lotus candle; it was my mom Bee’s favorite flower.  The second shelf is for my beverage of choice as I soak in that extra-long claw foot tub!  Did you notice the little handle in the middle of the door?  It’s actually a working doorbell!  Twist the copper handle and the sweetest sound rings out, similar to a bicycle bell.  I tease dear husband that I shall use this bell to alert him that my beverage glass needs refilling.  The toilet paper holder is made from galvanized pipe.


This is not quite the end of the bathroom redo.  We still have to add doors to the opening; this is the next project.  Right now the wide bathroom entry is being covered by what I refer to as the “bachelor blanket.”  It’s a ratty, old thing that hubby has used in the past in lieu of actual doors and which wife finds less than attractive.  Soon enough the blanket will give way to sliding, barn-style doors.  For now we are soaking up the history and comfort of this room with the satisfaction that we pulled off another project together…wing to wing and oar to oar.


The Bathroom

“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.

   IMG_0346  IMG_0345

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:

IMG_0459    IMG_0418 

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:

IMG_0449  IMG_0671

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.

IMG_0657  IMG_0665  IMG_0659

IMG_0674   IMG_0668

photo (2) IMG_0676

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.