Bath time...then and now

Category: Restore & Repair

Yes, I know. We still have not finished the details for the bath on the first floor to be able to show you a finished product. But we have a good excuse. We are still trying to help someone else pull the pieces of their life back together...something that is not very easy to do in these troubled times. So, all the time we haven't been spending at work, we've spent on that. And we are glad to have made that choice.

Which is why--tense and tired--I was really craving a bath tonight.

For those of you who might not have been with us in those early days, here is what bath time USED to look like in the first weeks of the house.

This was the blue bathtub from the late 1940's that didn't fit all of the way across the room. So there was a funky little box there on the one end. And the room came with no tile. Only glue. And the hex tile on the floor had been covered up with layers of tar and vinyl tile. And everything leaked.

THEN! Months later, after scraping out the tar and vinyl, hammering up the concrete, gutting the walls, rerouting some electrical work, replacing the broken glass block window, choosing new non-leaky fixtures, insulating the wall, re-tiling (thanks Paul!), refinishing the tub (twice...thanks Tim!) and making some small design changes....

THIS! This is Bath Time NOW! w00t!

To keep costs in line, we chose to keep the iron tub, the sink and toilet fixtures. We kept the radiator (which we will sandblast and refinish someday when we can do them all at once in the backyard :) We refinished the tub. Chose wall tile that was more in line with the typical subway tile of the early bungalow era and redesigned that "ledge" at the one side of the tub.

Now, it can be used as a shelf for bath products and a candle...OR it provides a lovely headrest during a soak.

The marble that protects the shelf and the window sill is actually cut from pieces of scrap from a distributor. It is tilted ever so slightly towards the tub and towards the wall to encourage water to drain back into the tub. But the tilt is so slight, it is not visually noticeable.

We are still stripping the wood of the built-in, the medicine cabinet and the trim. We found layers of milk paint under the more recent latex coat (recent as in "the last ten years")...and that has proved a formidable foe. Milk paint has the consistency of glue when you strip it. Ergh.

But enough about that tonight. Tonight I soak. Tomorrow I worry.

P.S. That is a copy of Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 next to the tub which we found in the house. Barbara Tuchman won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel and it is a dandy read...especially since the items from Japan and China that we have found in the house are from the previous owners' travels to Asia in 1931 and 1937(?). And that is fascinating to me. Living history. Outstanding. Reading during bath time (and not getting the book damp)....mmmmmmmmm. Really wonderful.

P.S.S. I have discovered that our bathroom fan is very quiet but SO STRONG that it isn't good to have on during a bath. We will use the other light. It pulls moisture from your skin the second a wet knee pokes above the surface....brrrrr. Excellent for preserving bathrooms. Chilly for bath time. So, hooray! It works beautifully!

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Very cool! Very peaceful and harmonious looking.

I hope you are making progress with your friend's situation.

"Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 "

Excellent reading, gave me a compleately different outlook on USA~Chinese relations.

Hey! Super bungalow style tile! I've been lurk'n your site a few months now ever since googln "porcelain Hex tile" in time to share your pain (a wee bit) of what lay beneath the vinyl and tar. Hated to see that old hex go. I'm doing a complete gut bathroom in my southside Chi octogon, and just finished the new floor using black and white hex set in a crazy border pattern. Was much work, but turned out real nice. Anyway, is it proper to pop a ?? here?
If so, here goes. My wall plan calls for American Olean 3x6 Subway (GreenwichVillage) w/sizzle strip accent.

?#1: Grout joints. Did you guys butt the tiles and use very tight joints, or use spacers and do like 1/8 joints? How it go?

?#2: The cost of the Cap tile is killer. I'm trying to use oak trim and cut/butt to it in some places to save on the # of Cap I need. Looking at your tub/ledge shot, (Liken' the marble sill too) whats that outside corner "bull nose" piece? Looks like one continuous strip? Hows it done?

OK I'll quit there. Just a quick thanks for your fun site and inspiration to keep plug'n away at it.

Whoops! Hadn't looked back here in awhile Mattrick...let me see if I can answer your questions...our pal Paul would be a better resource, but here goes.

We used American Olean as well, with the sizzle strips. Love it. White grout on walls and grey grout on floor to make it period-correct (and easier to clean).

We used spacers for 1/8" of an inch of grout between tiles.

That outside corner piece isn't one continuous piece (seems to be a trick of the light in the photo) but, even in real life, you have to look really closely to see that it is multiple pieces. The trim is not shown with the Greenwich Village collection on the American Olean webpage. It is a curved trim, 6" long, maybe 1" wide on the curve. Scoot over to the commercial section on the American Olean website and look up the "Matte" tile series. Then take a look at the trim available. The corner trim shape is most like the A106 quarter round pictured there but matches the surface of the Greenwich Village (color and texture) perfectly. I even think that this is what we used (both tiles came in Designer White) but please, PLEASE check it out at an American Olean distributor before committing to buy it. We made a lot of choices in those weeks and I'm somwhat confused as to our final pick on that solution. (My memory is really, really bad.)

And have fun with it! If you like geometry and have a great tile cutter plus an obsession for detail, laying tile can be done. Because of the weird twists, turns, and funky "off plumb" levels of our bathroom, we needed help to get it done in a reasonable amount of time. Thus, Paul. If you have a pal who has tile experience, grab 'em. Otherwise, taking it show, laying it out, and careful planning will get you the best result.




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