Thursday, September 24, 2009

Masterful Bath

Oh, how long I did yearn to see this before and after photo with my own eyes.

This toilet room in its "before" state was a nearly perfect representation of the previous owners' taste in decor. Not only did they like to use a lot of fancy wallpaper like what you see above, if something happened to the wallpaper — like, say, a stain or a tear — they just papered over it. Never mind that the paper didn't match. I mean, wallpaper's wallpaper, right?

We lived with this look in our toilet room for close to 2 years. And as bad as it was, it beat the room next door, a full bath, which was reduced to a construction zone. We tore the room out within three months of moving in -- stripped the walls down to the studs, left gaping holes that led to the outside, tore linoleum off the floors. We never thought it would be that way so long.

But this bathroom was our biggest challenge so far in this house. The shape was so awkward and the size, too, so strange, that it took us nearly a year just to design the thing. We didn't know where to start. All we had were a few simple goals: We wanted to keep it a full bath, which meant we didn't want to lose the bathtub. Losing the tub would mean the house wouldn't list as a 3 bedroom 2 bath should we ever decide to sell. But we're shower people, not bath people. We knew we wanted the shower to feel spacious and luxurious. That's where we would be spending our time. In a space as relatively small as this one, the obvious choice would be a built-in shower/bath combination, but something about that felt really downscale. After much debate, many trips to Expo in Westwood, several torn up copies of Dwell magazine, and hours spent trawling home decor Web sites, we arrived at a round Japanese soaking tub. Once that was settled, the other pieces began to fall into place.

It has to be said that we got a lot of help on the designs for this room from the now defunct Expo, a subsidiary of Home Depot. They had a service where you could get a personal decorator to design your room, and you either pay $750 or spend over $5,000 and get it for free. I think our tile order alone put us over the $5K mark, so it was not a tough decision. It also has to be said that we blame a lot of the delay in our designing the space on the first designer Expo gave us. It wasn't until we asked and were switched to a designer by the name of Carmen that we started making some real progress.

Other than tile, we knew we'd do better pricewise buying materials on the Internet. It kind of pains me to think of how much money we spent on hardware, until I factor in how much we saved not paying retail. I mean, if you want to know why Expo went out of business, all you have to do is look at those price differences.



Another interesting decorating device the previous owners employed was to paint over windows. Don't like that extra bit of light? Nothing that a little paint can't handle. That and decals. Damn, did it take me days to get the decals off of everything when we moved in. I worked the sliding glass doors with a scraper until my hands were worn and nicked. We replaced the louvered window above with a 40" X 67" picture window. The shade is a woven wood with taped edges from and cost $153.38. It has a privacy backing on it.


They loved their decals. Not sure if you can see how deep the new tub is, but it actually goes down into our floor. I think it's 34" deep, but it only rises 17" above our floor. We were able to do this because our house is on a raised foundation and there was ample room in the crawl space below. The tub filler is perfectly flat — kind of hard to see here — but if I had it to do again, I would put it in the ceiling. You'll see in the pictures below that we put one of the shower heads in the ceiling.


Previously, the bathroom had a double sink and smacked of 1950s luxury. Gold faucets. Ornate cabinets below. Yegh. In the "After" picture above you see the soaking tub on the left, and on the right you are looking directly into the shower. The square in the middle is an indentation in the wall for shampoos and soap. We installed a window above to let a little light in and moisture out.



This is the view from the master bedroom, currently occupied by our au pair. We extended the wall and put in a true doorway, framed craftsman style. It's a slider.



Just another view from Karina's room. I only have so many "Before" pictures, so I gotta milk them.

Here are some names and details for anyone who wants to geek out on them:

Tub: Americh Beverly 4040
Tile: 3 kinds
Coffee sandstone: polished — for the walls on the bathtub and shower side
Coffee Sandstone: honed — for the floors
Rhythm dark Glass — for the walls on the sink side

There's a fourth tile on the floor of the shower but I can't find it in my records. We had to order it at the last minute because the designer didn't realize you couldn't have 10 x 20" tiles on a shower floor. You have to use a really small tile to prevent slippage.

Doors: Valley Sash & Door in Burbank, stain-grade douglas fir
Lights: I'll have to get back to you on that.
Mirror: Ikea. It's funny, but I bought this mirror used on Craig's List for $20, and it used to hang in the entryway of our old house. But that crazy round shape went so perfectly with the tub that we had to keep it. And by the way, I got ripped off at $20, because that's about what they sell it for new at Ikea.
Glass Shower Doors: Alladin Glass in Canoga Park. tel: (818) 700-7833. I found them on Angie's List and thought they were great.
Toilet: Toto
Construction: Conger Construction. Call Oscar Conger at 323.327.3630. I highly recommend him. An honest man who does good work. I really enjoyed working with Oscar and his men. How many people can say that about their contractor?

As I put this together, I'm realizing I'm missing a lot of details. So for now, I'll skip to the pictures. I'll try to do an update with more details when the hour is a little less late.


Blogger Angel said...

You guys are doing incredible things to your home! Fantastic!

September 29, 2009 at 1:48 AM  

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