Let me introduce you to my kid's bathroom.
What's your favorite part? The random white column or the lack of plumbing?
This is what my house looked like the day I moved in. That's grasscloth wallpaper. It covered half the house. No really, HALF THE HOUSE. You can see it is faded in some areas where the prior homeowners had furniture pushed against the wall. You can also see the seams (because it was peeling off). Grasscloth can be perfection in the right space, but this treatment was a hair on the extreme side. Apparently it wasn't broke, so they didn't fix it...
Back to the bigger issue - this isn't a bathroom. But, I knew it could be. Or, I hoped it could be. Here's a different angle.
You didn't believe me about the grasscloth, did you?
The space beyond the columns is what my family came to affectionately call - Nowhere. It was a glorified hallway that connected the house's three bedrooms. A glorified hallway that measured 10.5 feet wide and 17 feet long. And there's more. Behind the doorway in the far left corner of Nowhere is more a useless space, known as The Nook.
The Nook is another five feet wide, which doesn't account for the depth of a built-in bookshelf (another foot or so).
Here's a side-by-side photo to help you understand this bizarre layout. Please don't judge my arrows or, for that matter, the quality of any of these photos. They were taken pre-Gray Oak Studio and my attention to photographic quality was lacking. The arrows are pointing to 2 sides of the same wall.
When we added Nowhere and The Nook (plus the width of the wall and the built-in bookshelf) we had almost 250 square feet of space with no real use other than to connect bedrooms.
Now you have the lay of the land and, finally, we reach The Bathroom Plan!
Pretty early on, my husband and I agreed this would be the perfect location for a bathroom for our kids. Our daughter's bedrooms were right off The Nook and, by adding a bathroom for the kids, we wouldn't be forced to survive with one full bathroom. Fast forward 2 years. We finally get the ball rolling. Our biggest hurdle was the wall connecting Nowhere to the Nook. It was load bearing. It was actually an original exterior wall of the house before a previous owner's addition.
With this in mind we tried to avoid taking it down. Why? Did I mention we decided to do this project ourselves? Yep...we did. And the thought of putting a beam in our attic felt quite hefty/horrifying for a couple of modestly experienced DIYers. Emphasis on the word modestly. So, we developed a reasonable layout that didn't require removing the wall and instead made an additional opening in the wall the size of a door.
As you can see in my highly sophisticated and accurate schematic (nothing about the above chicken scratch is proportional), we would leave the load bearing wall for the most part and just take out a few studs to create another doorway/hallway/pass through within the bathroom. The bathtub would butt against the remaining (load bearing) wall and leave just enough space for the toilet. Meanwhile, the vanity and sink would be on the other side of the wall. For a bit we (sort of) bought into this layout because had vacationed in a rental house once with a similar setup.
We spent months with blue painters tape on the floor, which mapped out the precise size and location of all the components. We would sit on our painter's tape toilet and practice getting in and out of our painter's tape shower. I can't stress enough the importance of this part of the planning process. For anyone at the jump off of a renovation - put some painters tape on the floor and really see/feel what a space will be when it's changed. It will help you realize what doesn't work and, more importantly, open your mind to possibilities you wouldn't have otherwise considered. One more tip while I'm at it, when it comes to bathrooms it's never too early to bring in a plumber - there's a difference between where you want all those behind-the-wall-pipes to go and where they can actually fit.
After living for a while with our painter's tape bathroom we realized it could technically work, but it would be awkward and very cramped. After all the work it would take (that we would do ourselves), did we really want a finished product that was awkward and very cramped? Didn't sound like a real win even if it did get us another bathroom. In stepped an incredibly handy (major understatement) and incredibly generous family member. He talked us and walked us through the process of fully removing the load bearing wall. And, he pushed us to go for it. If we were going to take on this project, we should TAKE ON THIS PROJECT. And, he would help.
We reconfigured the layout without the load bearing wall.
Well then. That's a bathroom. Removing the load bearing wall allowed for so much flexibility in the layout and so much more space. Nothing about the new layout felt awkward or cramped. Again, we put down painter's tape. This time we practiced dubbing in the middle of our large and open bathroom floor. The was no question that the wall needed to come down.
Last October, it did.
Here's a huge hole in our ceiling where the wall used to be and the beam went.
And here's shot from when it was finished and cleaned up.
I'm going to stop here for now...I know, a real cliff hanger. But if you'd like to see some sneak peaks of the current state of this space, check us out on Instagram (all those 4x8 subway tiles!!!).
And, stay tuned. I think this story is going to have quite the fairy tale ending.