Friday, February 21, 2014

Pulling the Trigger... Finally.

The house that we bought a year and a half ago was a fixer upper and like most houses of its era, it had a master bathroom but nowhere near as spacious as is standard today. There really isn't a good way to fix that problem without either eliminating a bedroom and hurting the resale value or adding onto the house. Perhaps someday we may do the latter but I suspect that we will probably opt to move before that day comes. The master bathroom is small and suited to only one person at a time using it to get ready. If someone is brushing their teeth, it is a packed room with no way to sneak by. So I share the hall bathroom with everyone else and my wife gets this bathroom all to herself.

The shower is way too claustrophobic for me anyway. I can barely turn in that thing without knocking something off the shelves and my face ends up only inches from the shower head when I stand in the middle of the thing. I just need more room in order to shower comfortably. So a long time ago my eyes turned toward the cabinet built into the wall on the left. The more I thought about it the more I suspected that since the toilet was in the way of a full height closet, they just added the wall closet. I suspected that above and below that wall closet was just wasted space. Why not use that space to turn the shower into something not so claustrophobic?

So after a year of finding other projects to do that were more pressing and then a month of idleness due to the holidays and then a month and a half of procrastination, I finally decided it was time to tackle the project. I first made a trip up to the attic where I confirmed that there wasn't a rats nest worth of wiring, piping or ducting in that space. There is a four inch plumbing vent stack but it was in the very corner which was nice. With that verified, I picked up my hammer and went  at it. Knocking that first hole always makes me nervous but when I verified that underneath the cabinet was just empty space, I felt much better. The bathroom is so small, I ended up having to cut the tiny one piece shower into three pieces in order to get it out the door!

Next up, I'm going to move the copper piping to the left about a foot and a half or two feet and move the drain to more or less the center of the new shower. I have to build a new bulkhead for the plumbing which will also hide the black vent stack as well. I was thinking about ripping out the entire ceiling but looking at it with the shower out, the rest of the ceiling is in great shape still. I really don't need up into that space for any reason so I think I will neaten up the edges and just patch in a piece where the cabinet space met the ceiling. I may still take out the drywall around the ceiling fan and work on that problem while I'm there. Currently the ceiling fans just vent directly into the attic. Although it has enough ventilation to prevent mold up there, I don't like doing that and we did have a problem once this winter with an ice dam forming and venting warm air into the attic doesn't help that situation either. Because our roof it hipped on all sides, I really have no way to vent it outside without punching another hole in the roof. I may still do that but I've been mulling over just venting it through the garage ceiling into the garage. It is essentially unconditioned space out there anyway. I haven't decided which way to go yet.

Once I have the demo done and the plumbing moved, I plan to tile the shower which will gain me a handful of inches on the width of the shower. Instead of opaque shower doors, I am going to put in clear glass to make the whole bathroom seem much larger. With the shower gone and the cabinet wall area gone, it really feels nice sized right now. I hope to keep that feeling.


Ron said...

That tiny shower would make me very claustrophobic. I'd be cursing the closet builders when I discovered that they simply boxed in all that space.

It looks like you've got some decent space to work with now. The glass doors should make it seem a lot bigger.

I once enlarged a bathroom in an older well-built house where your knees hit the tub when using the toilet... and decided that I'd take well-designed over well-built any day. Ideally, a person has both, but if I had to choose, give me a decent floorplan...

Anonymous said...

It seems it was built to the size of the shower door or the tray outlet in mind. There is absolutely no other reason why they didn't box-in the 4"er AND the feed pipes when they built the thing day one as you will do. And yes we may be a bit bigger than the 60/70s, but not that much. So that thing was always unsatisfactory

Leigh said...

Both our bathrooms are small, so it's exciting to see someone figure out a way to break theirs out into more room! This will be interesting to watch.

warren said...

That shower still looks perfectly usable...just gotta aim your drainage just right but that should be ok!