Happy New Shower

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old sink
This practically-new sink the Seabolt's recently installed was manufactured in 1929. (Kym Seabolt photo)

It has come to my attention that some people do not renovate a bathroom annually. Honestly, they don’t know what they are missing out on.

If you don’t have a toilet on the porch when you welcome the new year, how do you know it has actually arrived?

We did not set out to become repeat bathroom renovators but here we are. It started slowly. A new bathtub here, a new sink there. It all adds up. By my calculations, we have easily had five major renovations of bathrooms alone during the last two decades. It is an absolutely insane amount of bathtub replacement, I admit.

The newest victim is our c. 2013 shower. The downstairs bathroom — a former Butler’s pantry converted to a bathroom approximately forty years ago, was renovated by us in 1997 and again in 2013. It is not yet a decade old. Nonetheless, the acrylic shower pan that was installed at that time developed a crack a few weeks ago. A fissure runs from the drain outward and I fear it may be leaking slightly into the basement. Granted, I refuse to go into the basement to check. I figure we can just wait it out and if at some point the shower ends up IN the basement we will know my suspicions were correct.

It was a lovely bathroom. Tile floor, glass shower door, solid surface shower pan (that’s the fancy term for the shower floor). I learned that at Home Depot.

Normal

I swear we are a nice, normal family. I don’t understand the utter destruction we seem to visit upon unsuspecting bathroom fixtures. I have a theory though. We did a lot of the renovation during peak child-rearing. We spent money, yes, but we did not exactly go high-end. We went into big box warehouse stores and bought what we needed off the shelf. So we basically have builder-grade fixtures. You get what you pay for, or in this case, you don’t get what you do not pay for. We didn’t pay for longevity. We also did not get it.

Older and wiser, our prior bathroom renovation on an upper floor was undertaken with salvaged antique pieces. Our cast iron bathtub is dated 1924. The sink is practically new, having been manufactured in 1929. So far, Lord willing, both are holding up admirably.

We have learned our lesson but, alas, century-old showers are not a thing. I know. I looked. I love tile on floors. I do not love tile and grout in showers in homes with well water. We treat it, yes we do. Nonetheless, our water is so hard it could cut you. Scrubbing iron stains out of grout lines is not my idea of a good time. Thus the need for a solid, non-tile, installed shower pan.

As we approached the holiday season this year, I was the first to say I did not want to tear out our bathroom right before the season of guests and sleepovers. When the house fills up we need all available plumbing in working order. So we just lived with the cracks. It’s just another little attack of charm after all.

Now we face the new year with yet another new project: operation bathroom renovation number 977, or so it seems.

As in past projects, I am swearing that this is just going to be a wee little renovation. Hardly more than a weekend project. We will just remove the old shower, shore up the floor, and pop the new shower pan in, easy peasy! Translation: Mr. Wonderful will do that while I worry about what color hand towels and scented soaps I would like to have.

Of course, I also found the most charming vintage door that would really make the room shine. Sure the mortise lock is about a thousand years old and the hinges will need to be reversed, but Mr. Wonderful is a handy sort of guy.

On that note, I also found a gorgeous light fixture. There is nothing wrong with the light fixture that is there, mind you, I would just prefer this new (used) one. Then the current downstairs fixture can go to the upstairs bathroom, and the upstairs bathroom light fixture can go … somewhere as yet to be determined. I haven’t gotten that far yet but give me time to think about it and I can easily turn one project into a half dozen or more. It’s a gift really, although Mr. Wonderful may not see it that way.

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