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A Big Dilemma

by - Friday, October 17, 2008

Hear that? That's the sound of the plans for the Guest Bedroom/Nursery coming to a big, screeching halt. Why? Well, there is another problem area of the house that is screaming out "Fix me first!!".

This is my bathroom. The Monet Room, if you will (we also have a Van Gogh sunflower bathroom in the basement, if you can believe it). The previous owner had a professional artist come in and adorn the walls with art... art to be enjoyed while you're.... doing your business ;). The bold walls aren't my biggest issue. Nor is it the carpet on the floor (YES - CARPET!!). And it isn't the lack of storage or disco strip lighting, though those certainly are problems to be fixed. No, the biggest issue, the one forcing us to address this room now, is this:

It may look small, but this is an extra deep compact soaker tub... enclosed in glass. To a short, pregant woman, its a death trap.

Our initial thought was to do a 'quick fix' on the room - paint out the walls, replace the carpet with vinyl, take out the glass enclosure, put in a grab bar, and put up a shower curtain. Easy job. But then I started thinking about how it would really function... I'd have a hard time bathing a baby because of the high tub walls (I'd either have to climb in the tub and take a bath too, or stand outside the tub because kneeling doesn't give me enough reach). Other option is to just take a shower with the baby... but the thought of jumping over that tub wall with a wet baby in my arms is not appealing either. Then there's the lack of storage and counterspace...where to put all the baby wipes and such.

To top it all off, the timeline is a problem. Try and do a reno after the baby comes, and I will have to lug baby down two flights of stairs all the way to the basement bathroom, in the meantime. Wait until the few months before baby is born, and I will have to lug my big third trimester belly down and up two flights of stairs to the bathroom. That is so not happening.

So, our only option is to do the bathroom renovation now. Right now. No waiting, no breather from the kitchen reno, no sitting back. We do the bathroom now in the next two months, and still have some time to do the Guest bedroom.

Oh dear.

If anyone has any other solutions, I would so love to hear them. This is one reno I am not looking forward to.

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  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    If you must change out the super deep bathing well, have you thought of something like Swanstone for the tub (if you are thinking of keeping one) or a shower pan (sized to fit most former tub footprints) with matching walls? The glass surround would probably be best to get from a local glass shop if thats the route you will be going or you could do a wall between the loo and the bathing area either with cement board over stud or glass block. I give you so much credit on being able to do your business in a bath with carpet on the floor and some quite vibrant wallscapes. Must be interesting in middle of the night treks! Good Luck!

  2. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Oh, this is going to be sooo much fun for you! I cannot wait to see what you and Handyman decide to do in there. And you are very smart to think about how making these changes NOW will impact your lives so positively as the months go forward.


  3. Oh wow. I think you are correct in doing this now, but wow. I wish I had constructive advice but I don't just wish of good luck headed your way!

    And even more wow -- Monet walls, can't say I have ever seen that before!

  4. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Wow, that is some bathroom! Still, you want to do this right. By all means rip out the carpet and take out the glass ASAP, but think about whether that deep tub will be an asset later on. When the baby is tiny, it will be easiest to bathe him/her in a baby bath or sling - maybe even starting out in the kitchen sink. All I'm saying is, if baby has a mini-tub of his/her own, the tub itself isn't an issue. And you might enjoy it as your pregnancy progresses... what's more, the deep tub might be a good thing to have once baby is a young child prone to splashing around with bath toys.

  5. Holy crap. No words of wisdowm, just moral support!

    We also have bathrooms to attend to before the nursery/office take over . . .

  6. If you paint I recommend using KILZ primer to cover the painting on the walls otherwise the color will bleed through normal paint-you may even have to use an enamel base. I also recommend taking the shower enclosure and rug out-nothing screems germs like carpet in the bath. If you have to get some peel and stick tiles for now until you really decide what you want. Do you know what's under the carpet??? I love your blog but did not respond to your request for comments.

  7. anon1 - we'll have to keep the tub as the other bathroom only has a shower stall. Much better for kids and for future resale to have at least one tub I think. I like the idea of a wall between the tub and loo though; I'll see if I can work that into a floor plan. The only good thing about the current glass walls is they prevent water from getting on the carpet, lol.

  8. jbhat, I figure we'll have more than enough to worry about in the coming months ;) Probably best to deal with this now and have everything in working order. This isn't quite the "fun" next project I had mind though, lol.

  9. vamh - hopefully you will never see monet bathroom walls again, lol

    mrs.leah.maria - so glad to hear I'm not the only one in this boat. The baby's not even here and he/she is already making changes, hehe.

  10. anon2 - I thought about the baby-tub too. Unfortunately, the tub walls are over 2 feet high, just under my armpits when I'm kneeling on the carpet, so it won't be too easy. I keep flip-flopping on this... the extra deep tub won't ever be 'easy', no matter how old the baby is. Argh.

  11. Thanks for the paint tip tracylynne! I know, no matter what, that carpet is coming out :)

  12. can you put some kind of step or have something you could put there to sit/kneel on when you need it? we have a wall between our tub and toilet and i think it makes our bathroom seem a lot smaller, but our bathroom isn't very large to begin with. maybe you could just do a 1/2 wall or something. good luck though, can't wait to see what you come up with!

  13. Hi there & congrats!

    i think it is a smart decision to do the bathroom before the nursery! You want to get the toughest job out of the way while there are still just 2 of you and what do babies really 'need' when they are born? You can always have the basics in the nursery ready when the baby comes and then work on it if/when you have the time.

    We just remodeled our only bathroom (yes, this DID involve a porta-potty). We hired a contractor to finish it quickly, but I did the design and product sourcing. We used an ikea sink since it was only 16” deep and had a custom vanity made along with a linen cabinet. It would be pretty easy to build something similar if you have some woodworking skills. Take a look:

    Floor - this is often the most involved part because anything could be under the carpet... if you plan on doing something more permanent than peel & stick tiles, you might have to replace the subfloor, which means taking up the toilet & the sink. I am not a fan of vinyl though. Also, doing it well the first time means that you will not be throwing out another floor in 2-3 years.

    Walls – as a less expensive alternative to tiled walls, try painted bead board. Is the tub surround tile staying?

    Tub - unless you really hate it, I would keep it and remove the glass partitions. You probably won’t bathe the baby in the tub until he/she is a bit older. The grab bar is a great idea and often overlooked unless you are designing a space for a senior or someone with stability issues. There are some on the market (motiv & ginger to name a few) that look less institutional than one you may see in a public restroom.

    Sink – I would replace the pedestal with a shallow wall-mounted vanity with storage or a simple wall mounted sink. With not a lot of floor area in our bathroom, I thought it was important to keep the sink up off the floor. Ikea hacker has a great example:

    Storage – I can’t tell from the photos… is there a medicine cabinet above the sink or is it just a mirror? If there isn’t a recessed medicine cabinet, I like the idea of using several off the shelf cabinets from ikea in a row. Something that is about 8” deep will hold most of what you need and not poke out too far. Also, directly across from the toilet looks like an opportunity for more wall-mounted storage. If you need something deeper for towels, etc, I would maybe put that over the toilet.

    Good luck!

  14. Finally, remember to breathe ;) It will come together.

  15. Whatever you decide, I know it will be beautiful!

    My mom and dad did a complete bathroom reno last year. It took a good 30 days, but the results were well worth it. A few features they love are the taller vanity cabinet (counter height maybe?) and the taller toilet height with self-closing lid.

    They did a porcelain tile with glass accents, but are now considering renovating their master bath and are thinking about doing solid surface for the shower walls...easier to clean than grout.

  16. Wow, first of all I've been out of the loop for a while so I have to say congratulations on your Handy-Luster Baby! That's such an exciting news.

    Second, I have no suggestions, sorry! but I agree that you have to fix the bathroom now instead of later. Not only because of your very valid pregnancy points but also because the bathroom really really needs it lol. The art on the wall is out of this world and way too distracting you know...

  17. No solution, but I will say that if had Monet and Van Gogh bathrooms, there is no way they'd get painted over.

    We obviously have very different styles. :-)

  18. Anonymous11:00 AM

    All I can say is "Good luck" and "Keep a stiff upper lip."

    Expedient comes to mind, but it always has a way of hanging around years too long.

    Then again, expedient today is better than expedient of yesteryear.

    We'll be watching and cheering from



  19. Thanks for all the great ideas meredith, and for the flickr links! We're considering a floating vanity, or an open vanity style. I agree, in a small space its good to keep the floor visible as much as possible. That Ikea vanity is awesome! You've given us a lot of ideas. Thanks.

  20. michael - 30 days for a bathroom reno? I'd be happy with that :) HandyMan loves the look of tiles with glass accents. I'm not entirely sold though, lol. We'll see.

    shanny - thanks! I love the name baby Handy-Luster! I'm going to use it :)

    raven, if I could get the Monet & Van Goghs shipped to you in your roaming RV, I'd do it in a heartbeat ;)

    Thanks mark!

  21. First- a grab bar is a great idea, I wish we had one in the girls' bathroom to help little legs get in and out.
    Second - Don't panic and rush through this just because the baby is coming. I bathed my first child in the kitchen sink until she was 6 months old b/c it was too hard on my back to lean over a normal bathtub. I know it'll be no fun to work on this after the baby comes, but don't rush into it because of the baby.
    Focus on the baby's room and set up a changing table in the nursery.
    Honestly, we would have done some things differently in the kitchen had we not been in such a rush to complete it before the baby arrived. And, personally, I don't think the best when I'm pregnant, so some of my decisions were based more on trying to get out of a store and take a nap rather than thinking through how we were going to use an item. I'm sure you're different, but I strongly suggest not doing a remodel while pregnant. Just my 2 cents... Good luck with whatever you decide! We have 2 tiny bathrooms that need remodels, so I'll be watching your progress.

  22. oh wow! when we were looking at condos, one had a soaker tub (and a bidet?), and i climbed in it. at only 5'-1", i knew it would not work.

    i look forward to seeing the progress. i know it will be stunning in the end.

  23. Oh, dear is right! What a project to have to tackle when you're pregnant. Well, if anyone can pull it off, you two can! :-)

    Can't wait to see how this turns out!

  24. Oh wow. I like murals...I have even earned extra money doing them for others. Yours looks well done, but even I would have to paint over them. Too much in such a small place!

    When you tear that tub out, send it our way...I would love to soak in that. My baby days are definitely over and soaking up to my chin sounds heavenly.


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