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Once upon a time, there was an old house who needed a second bathroom.  With two parents and two little girls, the one upstairs toilet was not nearly enough.  And so, the mom and dad set to work creating a bath-in-a-box.

The previous owners had sectioned off a part of the original dining room and had rough plumbed it to be a 2nd bath.  (and by “rough plumbed it” I mean “did it all wrong so the plumbing inspector shut us down and demanded we fix it or he wouldn’t sign off on the other permits”).  So, we sunk a few thousand into the smallest space in our house in order to gain a properly plumbed and functionally laid out bathroom.

Initially, they had “designed” (and I use that term very lightly…) this bathroom to have just a sink and toilet in it.  I have no idea what their thoughts were on a bathroom door since there was none but we knew that we did not want it to swing out into what we were designating as the living room, nor could we afford to have the door swing in to the tiny bathroom as it would be sure to trap in some unsuspecting soul (or anyone who was bigger than a bean pole).

Dad suggested swinging it in anyways to the right and putting a small corner sink (custom ordered which meant approx. $300 and no shower).  I knew that with two girls in the house, the addition of a shower stall was necessary.  Little did we know when we first started that this would have to be our main bathroom for over a year.  An accordion style door was then suggested but I couldn’t see that being classy or sound (or smell) proof so we crossed that option off the list.  I love the idea of pocket doors and was disappointed that this house didn’t have one.  Our general contractor explained that a pocket door would require cutting into the header and into the wall, which could pose a whole bunch of unforeseeable problems.  In hindsight, since this was a new addition, we probably could have rigged a pocket door into the wall after all but I digress.

My ever creative dad did some designing.  Mr. G did some researching.  I did some Pinning.  Mr. G. found some barn doors that had the mechanism that we needed to slide the door in, therefore, taking up less space.  I wanted to make sure we had doors that matched the other ones in the house and searched on Craigslist ad nauseam.  Unfortunately, all were too wide.  We had to buy new but it was very close to the old ones here.

My dad designed a clever way to hide the all important sliding mechanism to make it blend into the style of the house.  All together, it was functional, allowed for a full size sink and shower stall, blocked the sound, sights and smells (thanks to the addition of a vertical door sweep that my dad added to the side of the door so that once it closed, one couldn’t peek in).

One problem solved, another arose.

The floor slanted quite substantially in that area.  As in it dropped about 5 inches towards the outside of the house.  There was a lolly column in the basement helping to add support underneath to that area but we had to do something about the floor itself (and added another lolly column for extra support).  The older man we hired to build the shower stall helped us lay strips of planed wood along the base floor to slowly elevate it to match the flooring going to the outside.  The result is a step up into the bathroom, but an even floor, which made tiling it that much easier.

With the shower stall, we really should have just had more faith in ourselves and did it ourselves.  Instead, we paid more than twice as much as we were quoted and it took twice as long and the tiling itself is a bit messier than expected because although we chose self spacing subway tiles, he insisted that spacers needed to be used (and then subsequently charged us for the “extra labor and supplies” of the spacing part of the job without telling us this ahead of time).  It’s a sore spot for us since he was a family member of a dear friend and so, to save face for all, we paid him when he was finally done and vowed to never do that again….

We kept the design simple and tried to match what was going on in the rest of the house.  So, dark wood like tiles became the flooring, the vanity and sink I got for $25 at Lowe’s after getting rewards cards back from my AMEX and went with the subway tiles (because they were cheap) for the shower, which we knew would we repeat in the adjacent kitchen as the backsplash (because they were cheap….there is a theme here 😉 ).

The hardest part was finding matching trim work for the baseboard, door frames and window framing.  The window trim we just used leftover scrap that didn’t match anything but it was free and we painted it with the same white cashmere paint.

My dad once again came to the rescue and instead of finding a match, which was nearly impossible, he created some new ones to look similar to the others and kept that side of the room all the same by replacing a nearby doorway frame that goes into the kitchen.  It’s hard to see the difference unless you look for it, and thankfully, only someone as obsessive as me would notice it. 😉

At 9 feet by 3 feet, our downstairs bathroom is complete with a shower, sink and toilet.  What was once again something we were told could never work….did.  With a little imagination (on my part), creativity and finagling (on my dad’s part) and lots and lots of sweat, elbow grease, some grout and unfortunately, a few tears (on my and Mr. G’s part), the little bathroom that could…was.


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