Tiny bungalow bathroom redo winks at city’s Art Deco past

I knew that if only one penny remained after I replaced the roof and the windows on the house, the next project would have to be the bathroom.

The teensy, tiny bathroom had gone from bad to worse during the years between when my brother and I sold the home when mom died in it in 1995, to when dad bought it back again in 2012.

It not only needed updated, but structurally rebuilt. Because the tub is so tiny, it overflows constantly. The floor had been damaged so many times through the years I had it entirely rebuilt.

Because the floor now is a tad bit elevated (you step up to enter the bathroom), the contractor had to saw a couple of inches off the bottom of the door so it would open and close again.

Everything in the bathroom was old – sink, toilet, tub.

Read more: The story of my dad and I reclaiming my childhood home

The sink and the toilet both were replaced, but I kept the tub. The contractor washed it with paint thinner and it looked new again – it didn’t even need repainted, despite being original to the house (1943).

I had the tub area tiled to the top of the stall like a full shower, and then had the shower attachment bolted to the top of the stall.

Voila, a shower/tub combo that kept the integrity of the original tub. And, I finally had a real shower like most of the rest of America.

Bathroom barely touched since 1976 redo by my parents

After taking care of those three things – replacing the rotten floor, adding a “real shower,” and updating the ancient toilet and sink – the rest came down to cosmetics.

I had in my head that I wanted to decorate the bathroom in grays and yellows. I knew I wanted a dark gray floor.

Why? Because dad had urinated on the floor so many times while I lived with him during that one year, never again did I want to see the hint of a urine dribble. Never ever again in my life if I can help it.

I would walk into the bathroom each morning and inevitably step into a puddle of urine. He had no concept whatsoever of where the toilet was when he would urinate.

Read more: Learn about frontotemporal degeneration, behavioral variant, BvFTD, the extremely rare brain disease that killed my dad

With all of this in mind, I took my Aunt Mary’s advice and made that tiny bathroom as fabulous as possible.

“Spare no expense, I mean, it’s a phone booth anyhow,” Aunt Mary reminded me. “You may as well buy the nicest materials available.”

So that’s what I did. The ceramic tile on the floor and in the shower all are from Home Depot. The medicine cabinet is from Home Depot, too.

Mirror Mirror

I consider the medicine cabinet sort of the signature piece of the bathroom. It’s huge. I loved that it’s mirrored inside and out. I also like the art deco LED light I installed above it.

Medicine Cabinet

The long, vertical storage cabinet above the toilet actually was part of my parents’ 1976 redo of the bathroom, the last time the bathroom had been renovated.

When dad purchase the property the second time in 2012, the linoleum in the bathroom had been replaced. It was discolored and peeling up, however.

Everything else was exactly the same. Sink, toilet and all.

The before picture is heinous, but here you go.

Bathroom Before

When all was said and done, my new bathroom cost about $7,500.

Bathroom Featured

Art Deco feel a nod to Rock Island’s history

The bathroom has an Art Deco feel that really is a part of Rock Island’s history. The yellow and gray also blends in with the yellow and red scheme predominant through most of the house.

The bathroom is much easier to clean than it was before, which is important given the fact it’s so tiny anyway.

For whatever reason, my mother had a vanity installed under the previous sink. There was so little space between the vanity and the tub that, through the years, the crevice became a black hole.

The new toilet also takes up less floor space at its base, so it’s much easier to keep things clean around it, too.

Which is important.

After living with dad, a clean bathroom is something I always will insist upon. I know he could not help it, of course.

But any caregiver will tell you that when our time is done, we are ready to pamper ourselves and not look back. It’s imperative to healing.

A word to the wise: If you ever do come into a house and money to renovate it at the same time, I would recommend doing just a little bit of work at a time. I did become overwhelmed at one point with all the construction going on in my house, and this was even with the contractor truly doing all he could to minimize disruption.

For a week, I had to shower at the gym. Not a big deal, really, but something to be aware of if your house only has one bathroom.

Of course, I work from home, too, so it threw a monkey wrench into my workday for a little while. Again, not a big deal, and the contractor did all they could to minimize disruption.

Still, something to think about. Renovating your home is momentous in ways both good and challenging, and it can take a couple of months after the project is done to fully recover.

But when you do, you get to enjoy your beautiful new home for life, hopefully.

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