Room by Room: Bathroom
Some people find my bathroom design incongruous with the rest of my house: the living spaces are relatively compact, whereas the bathroom is almost huge by comparison. I've always felt that a bathroom is something of a "sacred space," more than just a utilitarian necessity. A bigger bathroom is especially important for us older folks: we need a little more room to get around, we like things in convenient locations, and certain "creature comforts" are essential. Indeed, as I developed the house plan, the bathroom grew in size and acquired more features over time.
A great deal of thought went into not only the layout and features of the bathroom, but the framing and infrastructure as well. For example, I added horizontal studs to which handrails, towel bars, and other wall-mounted objects can be firmly attached. This adds considerable strength, and eliminates the possibility of damaging the sheetrock. Several mounting studs can be seen above.
The ceiling was sheetrocked on 4 February 2019, and most of the walls on 13 May.
Sheetrock was completed on 9 July 2019, and tiling began 13 August.
There's no tub side to step over—a major help—with plenty of room to move stiff arms and legs. Plus, it has a second shower head to get more hot water on sore muscles and joints. As a bonus: no shower doors to keep clean. In addition, it has a thermostatic temperature control: once set, the temperature will remain steady regardless of the incoming water temperature or pressure. Here's an early view of the framing:
Below left: The thermostatic temperature control unit is top center, and the second shower head valve just below it. Below right: The second shower head is posed in place, at the lower right of the image.
The on-demand water heater is located in the lower half of a linen closet right behind the shower. This means virtually instant hot water, and as much of it as I may need. Here's the water heater installed and ready to rock:
The linen closet was finished 25 August 2019.
And the shower was finished 1 October 2019.
This is a benefit for anyone with a bad back (I have four collapsing discs that herniate on occasion). On 13 June 2016 framing began.
Here's an overhead view of the tub enclosure during framing, taken circa 2 July 2016.
The tub was installed 8 June 2020, and I took my first bath in it that afternoon.
Some people wonder, why does the tub sit so high, and how do you get into it? The tub is elevated off the floor by nearly a foot for two reasons: one, I never liked a normal-height bathtub; it always seemed as though one was sitting on the floor. And two, it physically decouples the tub from the concrete floor, allowing the water to stay warmer for a longer period of time—the space beneath and around it is packed with insulation.
Evolution of the bathtub step. In its original configuration, seen here on 13 May 2019, it was short and shallow—awkward and hazardous:
On 11 June 2020 I added an extension on the front, making it less shallow, but no taller, so it was only marginally better than before:
The final version, completed on 11 April 2021, features a second step and additional grab bars for significantly easier and safer access to the tub:
Incidentally, there used to be a skylight over the tub, which I added on 1 October 2017. A year later, the roofer recommended that I omit it. I was sorry to lose it, but more relieved for having eliminated a potential maintenance headache, not to mention a non-trivial expense.
The basin is a little higher than normal so it's easier for tall adults like me to reach. The wall-mounted faucet is likewise higher than normal, and is up and out of the way of the sink, with extra room beneath the spout. The sink is seen here posed atop the built-in cabinet framing:
By 24 September 2019, most of the tiling was done.
The medicine cabinet is integrated into the framing, so it's flush with the walls. The bottom half of it is visible in the image above; below it's finished, 24 November 2019.
We all get old, naturally, and since this will be my last home, I anticipated future needs. The toilet is located in a comfortably wide, relatively deep alcove, so that handrails could be mounted on both sides. There's a cabinet over the toilet to store supplies, placing them within easy reach—no stooping—completed 28 May 2019. And a last-minute addition (2 July) was the moist wipe cubby, at the far right, below the light switch.
Also, there's a pair of strategically-placed night lights so one can navigate the bathroom safely in the middle of the night, without having to go blind turning on the regular lights.
Useless factoid: the bathroom was the first room in the house to have a 100% finished floor, which happened on 20 November 2019.
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