Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Tiniest Bathroom - is Also the Grossest Bathroom

Every old house has at least one gross project - and the winner for this project is the little bathroom on the first floor.

It’s really tiny – 5.5 x 5.5 feet – and has a shower, toilet and sink!  That means there isn’t much room for people J  It’s not part of the original house, it’s more like an appendage that got added later.  It juts out from the side of the house with a crawl space below it.

Bathroom addition 
In all honesty, we should just get rid of it.  But a first floor bathroom is a pretty nice feature and if anyone ever wanted to use the adjacent office as a bedroom (maybe for a parent that needs first floor living), having an adjoining bathroom would be a real plus.

So, it will stay.  It just needs a major facelift and, as we quickly discovered, some infrastructure work as well.

The challenge with a bathroom above a crawl space in Maine is keeping the pipes from freezing in the winter.  I had assumed that they did a really good job insulating the room when they built it, but we quickly discovered that was not the case.  The only insulation we found in the walls was 1” of Styrofoam, which has a negligible R value. The pipes in here must have frozen a lot!

And last week we finally opened up the crawl space below the room.  Well that turned out to be an adventure!  Behind the sheathing, we discovered the same 1 inch of Styrofoam.  But behind that was a foam mattress pad!!!  Cut up into pieces, it had been shoved up against the walls, along with bags of old clothes and other junk (including lots of rodent nests). I guess the pipes kept freezing and they just filled the space with whatever they had on hand.

None of us really wanted to go crawling around in that, so Rich grabbed a shovel and started to dig it out– only to have a mouse come flying out at him!!!  

Mattress Foam Padding, bags of old clothes and lots of mouse nests
Once we stopped laughing, we realized it needed some serious attention.  So we dug down around the perimeter and installed metal hardware cloth (I feel like an expert on this stuff after dealing with the squirrel problem at my own house!) all around.  It will keep mice from coming in, even if they dig.  And then we added new sheathing.
On the inside, we sealed the floor with 10 mil plastic as a vapor barrier. Next, we will have the walls foamed with closed cell spray insulation.  This will not only keep the pipes nice and warm – but mice don’t like to chew through spray foam!

For the ‘beautification’ part of the bathroom, there is also a lot of work to be done! I found this tiny little vanity – so at long last this little room with have a bit of storage space.  I love the blue, in person it’s a bit more of a navy and really looks lovely.

This shower will get a new white base and I’ve been searching for some sort of ‘wow’ tile to use in the shower stall.  We’re adding a recessed light in there, with a glass door, so it needs to be pretty!  I really like these glass octagons.  They shimmer like water in the light.

For the floor, I love this white marble mosaic.  A bit contemporary and a bit traditional at the same time!

The room will also get a new square window, to match the others on the house.  So farewell to the contact paper covered one that’s in there today!

Insulation is scheduled this week, so we're making nice progress.  Hopefully we won't have any more gross discoveries at this point and the mice have found a nice new home!
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  1. Whoa. I would have had to have a long stern talk with myself to go back in after a kamikaze mouse leaped out at me. Love the tiny vanity. We had an ensuite bathroom about that size in the master bedroom of our old house. Very cozy if two people were trying to use it at the same time.

  2. Your choices for the shower tile and flooring are lovely, as is the vanity. Can hardly wait to see it finished.

    How very kind of you to be so concerned about the wee mousies! ;-P Hopefully they have decamped the premises rather than just found new quarters in your renovation project.



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