SoMoToHo Waterworks Continued – The Downstairs Master Bath

Remodeling & Design / Sunday, June 12th, 2016

The two pics below are from a 2011 trip to Ireland. The first is just pretty – from the village of Howth outside of Dublin. The second is the beginning of the Liffey Swim, an annual event that began in 1920 and has evolved into a big-damned-deal, as you can tell by the number of folks lined up to take the chilly September plunge.

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The next project at the SoMoToHo is the en suite bath for the master bedroom downstairs. It is the largest bath in the house and the one that Debra was most excited about transforming. Since it’s a significant project and since we have some other time-consuming stuff going on, we’ve once again enlisted the help of Shawn Cowdin to act as our contractor. He’s reliable and conscientious and attentive to detail and, while he isn’t shy about making design suggestions, he understands and – most importantly – doesn’t try to change Debra’s vision.

Here are a couple of before pics:

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During the move in

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We never were able to use this tub – it leaked.

The shiny brass fixtures fairly screamed late ’80s. I’ve never been much of a fan of “cultured marble” (although I’ve recently seen some honed versions that really aren’t too shabby) and this bath had lots of it. But the thing that made the biggest statement was the toile wallpaper.

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And the unique shade of green in the ceiling:

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Once the renovations had begun, the toilet ended up in the shower and holes had to be knocked in the tile to cap off the water lines.


That demo was far too easy – turns out that there was no pan in this shower. Just tile over concrete. Also, plain sheet rock behind the tile. Naturally, the framing had absorbed water and commenced a slow rot. I guess it’s a pretty good thing that we decided to take this bath to the studs, else we might not have discovered this problem. Given the different layers of wallpaper that we uncovered (see below), I suspect that this wasn’t the original work in this bath. Still, it’s inexcusably shoddy and I’m glad we were able to correct it. (And, by the way, there is no evidence of similar substandard work elsewhere in the house. I’m confident that this is a one-off.)


Since we weren’t saving the tub, there was no reason to be genteel with the demo necessary to cap the lines here.

Once the surfaces were removed, the place begins to look a lot more open.


Effie inspecting the progress



After the old vanity and mirrors were removed some of the earlier wallpaper layers competed for the Fugly Crown.



Make you curious to know what this space looked like in its previous lives, doesn’t it?

In any event, the new shower will have a pan, and pains will be taken to make sure that the water stays where it’s supposed to stay.




The framing is complete and the whole area is clad with Hardiebacker wet area cement board, as it should be.

As Curt says in his blog Adventures in Remodeling, the pretty stuff is coming in future posts. But here is a taste – a bit of marble in the toilet room:


This bath is going to be lovely. I hope you’ll stick around for the job to be completed. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

0 Replies to “SoMoToHo Waterworks Continued – The Downstairs Master Bath”

  1. Thanks, Dan for the mention. Isn’t renovation interesting? Part archeologist and forensic psychologist – when you scratch your head and think “why in the world did they do that?” But future renovators will probably think that same thing. At least when they open our walls they’ll see quality workmanship. Great job.

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