Thursday, January 10, 2013

Things to Come

In the span of nearly fifteen decades, styles obviously come and go.  What was once considered the height of interior design can quickly become outdated, stale, and--let's face it-- flat out ugly.

Such is the case with my upstairs bathroom.  In the 1960s, aqua tile was IT, as shown in this photo by Pam Keuber of RetroRenovation.  I suppose it is fine if you have a charming ranch or split-level, but not so much if you have a traditional postbellum gable-front house.  Since I'm not ready to show you the entire horror that is the upstairs bathroom, I'll give you a preview:

You're looking at the ceiling above the toilet.  Yes, the ceiling is tiled... isn't everyone's?
This particular bathroom has some serious issues, other than the feeling of being trapped in an aqua- tiled box.

1.  The tiles in the shower have come loose from the adhesive mortar, causing tiles to sometimes fall off and break.

2.  The bathtub doesn't have a stopper.  This doesn't stop anyone from taking a bath; see #3.

3.  Old lead drum trap.  Old houses sometimes do not make any sense.  At one point, I'm sure the bathtub was a claw-foot tub, much smaller than the "standard" 5-foot tub of today.  When the bathroom was remodeled in the 1960s, the drum trap was never moved, and sits beside the tub (under the floor), about a foot in front of the drain inside the tub.  What does this mean?  It means that water draining from the tub has to make a 180-degree flat turn at some point, enter the drum trap, then gravity can take over and drain the grey water.  The problem with drum traps is that they're not self-cleaning as in modern plumbing.  Using drain cleaner can slightly improve the issue, but drum traps have to be cleaned manually on a regular basis.  At times, my tub has taken two entire days before it has drained completely.  The trap has recently been cleaned, so it takes a mere 2-3 hours now.  Here's a visual:

That there is almost accurate, except that when water immediately leaves the tub, it leaves in a straight, horizontal line, then makes whatever wonky turns it has to take.

4.  Nonexistent grout in some places.  Since I've lived here, I've been attempting to do something to stop the seepage of water under the tiles, short of ripping the walls out and remodeling.  When tiles fall off, I put some silicone adhesive on the back of it, press it into place, wait until it dries, and use silicone caulk to waterproof the seams.  I tried regular grout, but the cement backing just doesn't want to work with it.  It pops right back out within a week or so. 

5.  No modern ventilation.  There is no exhaust fan in the bathroom, but there is (lucky me!) a window in the shower.  This isn't as bad as it seems, unless it is winter.  In summer, I just leave the window open, but it is definitely not an option when it is 20 degrees (F) outside.  Steamy air just wafts through the upstairs hallway and I save money by not purchasing a humidifier.

6.   There is no heat in the bathroom.  

7.  The bathroom has zero storage. While there is a cabinet under the sink, it can only hold a few bottles of body wash, a plunger, and that's about it.

Don, my contractor, is stopping over today to update his bid with changes I'm considering.  Originally, I wasn't going to switch out my toilet for a new one, but I'm going to go with a 1.28 gal/flush version rather than the 1.6 gal/flush toilet that is currently there.  I'm also getting a bid on radiant floor heat versus a hot water baseboard heater; and lastly, checking to see whether a cabinet can be installed in the narrow space behind the tub.

Updates to follow, but here's a tiny preview of the inspiration for the new bathroom:

This print is by Mae Chevrette, and can be purchased at Mae's shop on Etsy.  I have several of her prints, and I just love her work.  Definitely check her out!

Blogging tips