Building a Bathroom: Rub A Dub Dub

We’ve made major progress on our closets-turned-new-bathroom project, with choosing and installing the bathtub as the biggest item crossed off of the list recently.

Lowe's Shopping Bathtub 1

We haven’t had a working bathtub in at least a year (maybe two? I’ve lost count of the days…), so as you can imagine, I was skipping down the plumbing aisles imagining what it would be like to soak in any one of the beautiful baths hanging from the shelves. And to upgrade Liv’s bath time from the kitchen sink (or showering with Mom or Dad) to an actual bathtub? Exciting.

Lowe's Shopping Bathtub Tub 2

Olivia: What is this magical place? This must be bath-land, the land that Mommy dreams about.

Liv’s quite the little shopper, and she’s easily impressed:

There’s plenty of criteria to consider when you’re shopping for the perfect tub. If you find yourself in the plumbing aisle anytime soon, consider the following:

  • Style: This is an easy one, but there are two main styles of tubs – free-standing and wall-mounted. The design aesthetic of the overall bathroom can easily be affected by your choice, let alone installation. While our goal is to create a modern bath with plenty of vintage-esq accents (to help tie the bathroom into the rest of the 1930’s home), we decided that a free-standing clawfoot bath would take up too much room in our small ~75 square feet of space and opted for a wall-mounted version instead. Clawfooted tubs come with the traditional claw, with a pedestal mount or with ball feet.
  • Size & Features: If you’re replacing an older tub in a current bathroom, you’ll be limited on the size and plumbing of your new bathtub. The location of the drain, for example, is already set. The average bath tub is about 60″ wide, 30″ deep and 14-16″ high – though this can range on what year your home was built and what style of tub was installed. If you are building from scratch, take into consideration which wall will be plumbed and how the layout of the bathroom will affect your tub placement. Then choose a bathtub that fits the appropriate space, lines up with the drain lines and is skirted on the correct outside edge.

A free-standing tub is stunning but requires plenty of space.

  • Cost: A final limitation can be cost. While free-standing tubs are beautiful, they can often run in the $1,000 plus range (even from a salvage shop). Wall-mounted tubs are much more cost-effective and you can expect to spend somewhere around $250 for a basic version up to $800 for a whirlpool-style tub.
  • Cool fact: Roman tubs are deeper than your standard wall-mounted variety, and Japanese tubs are even deeper than Roman tubs.
  • Final notes: Be sure the tub allows for a shower installation and double check that your current water heater can support a new bathtub (especially a really large one!). If you’re installing a bath tub into a brand new space, make sure the floor area can support the new weight.

We opted for a recessed bathtub (three sides will be wall-mounted while the fourth side, or “apron”, is exposed – the most common style of tub) with a custom tiled shower (as opposed to a wall-kit, or a plastic lined shower). We found the perfect Kohler option right off of the Lowe’s shelf. It’s small enough to fit comfortably in a 5 foot nook in the wall, but still offers relaxation features such as a row of jets for the best spa-like experience (without being out-of-this-world pricey or jacuzzi-like).

Here’s a peek though the dining room door:

At this point the walls were framed (see all of the demo and before closet shots here) and the space for the new tub was ready to be filled. That’s a layer of hardibacker there on the floor, evening out the different styles and sizes of the closet floors.

The skirt (or apron) is open for plumbing purposes.

Once the tub is in place (the framed walls firmly hold the 60″ bathtub) a roll of tar paper is applied to the walls to add an additional water-resistant layer.

That’s a future closet space over to the left and the rest of the walls remain to be lined and filled in with dry wall.

A staple gun is the easiest application for adhering the tar paper to the studs, though a hammer and tack nails would do just as well. Attach tar paper directly to wood frames and don’t be afraid to use as many staples as necessary to keep the paper taut. Corners should be pressed in manually so that they are especially tight.

The edge of the tar paper should meet the edge of the tub and not overlap it.

Use a utility knife to identify any spaces for future fixtures, these holes won’t be visible at the end but will help you stay organized and aware of the space of the entire project.

We haven’t covered plumbing here because it’s so very specific to each home. Consult a plumber or head out to the land of Google to find out more details on converting a current bath or building one from scratch. A detailed project, indeed!

In other news, Liv is three months old! I’ll be back shortly with a round-up of our favorite baby products for the first three months and an update on the mantel and nursery projects.

Friday Guest Blog Interview: The Design Pages

I haven’t been great about regularly posting on this series (so much is going on over here!), but there are so many wonderful blogs out there that I wanted to revisit it on the occasional Friday to share favorites that I think you’ll find especially inspiring. The best part of  this series is diving into the who, what and how of these talented bloggers – from their favorite styles to what they love about blogging to their best tips and tricks.

So here we are back again with another Friday Guest Blog Interview with The Design Pages, a blog by Vancouver-based interior designer Carol Smyth. She shares her crafty design style and diy projects (like this mid-century modern makeover featured on design*sponge) and seriously – I don’t know where she finds the time to get it all done.

And when a friend recently asked me, ‘do you know of any distressing tutorials?’, I sent her this post – and that’s the sign of a great blog!

Let’s jump out to the Who, What and How….

Read More »

Going Green: Cloth Diaper Results and Q&A

Our little test over the past three weeks has been pretty fun! I’m not joking when I say that I was pretty excited to change Liv’s diaper – eager to find out how well this version or that fit my criteria (ease of use, trimness and durability). Here’s a look at the initial cd post, review #1 and review #2.

When it came down to it, there were two diapers that I really looked forward to putting Liv in: Happy Heinys minis for day and GroVia for night time. As I mentioned yesterday, all of the brands reviewed were pretty stellar and you really can’t go wrong, but these were the two that we’ve invested in for Liv’s first 16 lbs (or until she’s about 9 months).

I’ll likely revisit the stash I already have (and will continue to use!) to see what our next 16-30 lb purchase will be (I must admit, if I find a cloth diaper that doesn’t require line drying – GroVia hybrid’s only downfall – and is as great as it is overnight, I might switch it up for round 2).

gDiapers came in at a close third. The fit on g’s are terrific – they look just like a normal disposable under clothing and are so easy to use (I love that I don’t have to replace the entire diaper each time I change Olivia). Liv’s a heavy wetter and in the end the cloth outer covering couldn’t always hold up. BUT if your baby is a – how shall I say – ‘normal’ wetter, I’d definitely give em a go. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience of picking them up at Babies R Us and Whole Foods.

Now for a little Q&A that I received via email and in the comments.
I’m a novice when it comes to cding, but I’m more than happy to share what has and hasn’t worked so far!

Pricing: Is cloth diapering really cheaper?

I love that an upfront investment will turn into years of monthly savings. Here’s the quick math: the average cost of disposable diapers runs about $60 each month. That times 2.5 years adds up to $1800 per child. I figure that if I invest in two rounds of 18 cloth diapers (roughly 8-16 lbs and 16-30 lbs) at about $15/diaper, I’m looking at a $270 cost today and a $270 cost in 6 months ($540 total) for 2.5 years of use x multiple children (we hope to have 3-4!). And the water use? I calculate that to run us about $.50 a load, meaning we’ll spend roughly $65 more each year and about $500 total if you account for 2.5 years per child and 3-4 kids. That means we’ve saved ourselves somewhere around $6000 over the long haul. Not bad, right?

AND because I bought many of our cloth diapers second hand (I have no issue with purchasing dipes from someone else as long as I’ve done my research and asked important qs like, how long did you use them for? how did you wash them? (affects their absorbency) what shape are they in? I’ve received several hand-me-downs, and my score of 10 Happy Heinys for $60 on eBay came from a mom who dressed her daughter in cds for a mere four months before selling them in pristine condition ($6 a diaper? Can’t beat that). Want to try re-diapering? Check out eBay, Craigslist,,, and a ton of other great sites by Googling ‘Cloth Diaper Consignment’ or the like.

Still nervous? A reader shared this link with me on the cd program ‘Changing Diapers, Changing Minds’ where you can try and return 10 different cloth diapers for the cost of shipping! (Thanks, Lisa!)

Environment: You’re using so much energy to clean the diapers, is it really that much more environmentally friendly?

This is subjective, but my feeling is that while you certainly do use a decent amount of energy and water to get these puppies clean (one hot rinse, one cold wash and a trip to the dryer) the benefits of not wrapping up waste in plastic only to sit and fill a landfill for hundreds of years to come far outweigh the water (a renewable resource) used in washing. You also have to take into account the energy used to make disposables and all of their components.

Cleanliness: Do you actually have to touch the poop?

Ha! I agree, the thought is pretty gross :). Right now we have baby breastmilk poop so while ‘explosions’ can sometimes be an issue, it’s really not stinky, big kid poop (yet). And I promise, there is NO poop touching. The entire cloth dipe drops right into the wet pail (to contain the smell – read more about that in review #1) and the entire wet pail is poured directly into the wash every two-three days. When Liv starts on solids, we’ll give biodegradable liners a try, and perhaps a sprayer too.

Cleanliness, Part 2: Can you explain how you wash them?

Per the instructions on the cloth diapers, each load gets a cold rinse (just a pre-rinse, not a full cycle), a hot full cycle and a trip to the dryer (though I hope to hang them outside in the summer). I use Charlie’s Soap and I hear Rockin’ Green is awesome, too. So far so good!

Cloth Diaper Diapering Tools

Okay, you’re probably so done seeing half naked pictures of Liv. Back to home updates and great entertaining/decorating finds. And to all of you non-cloth diaper readers out there, I still love you! To each his own. Thanks for being patient through these posts.

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