This is really about our renovated downstairs bathroom, where we bumped out the wall and added a shower. I say “we” but my part was mostly to open and close the doors for the workers.
But first, some history. Fifteen years ago we moved into this house and found a boarded up fireplace behind a wood stove that I kept stubbing my toe on and that had to be removed. Our friend John Saling not only removed the stove and its concrete base, but found the fireplace, opened it up, removed the really ugly bricks, tiled with “seconds” from Pratt and Larsen that I spent one winter collecting (ten pounds at a time, a dollar a pound) and arranging and re-arranging until I got the design I liked. After tiling (and cussing my choice of seconds), John designed the fireplace surround because, quite frankly, I was flummoxed about what would work there. I simply went blank when asked what I would like, so John did what he thought would work. And it did better than work — it is wonderful: Note the lattice —
Now if I have my sequencing correct, it was after that that Bruce Osen, from Corvallis, another good friend, designed what we call the Garden Room, the back brick-paved “patio” that encloses the magnolia tree, has a little Japonisme gate at the walk, and similar lattice-work to keep it somewhat private, yet open. The Garden Room is the entrance to the back door, which opens to the back hall, at the end of which was the old powder/mud room.
Which is now the new bathroom.
The space is smaller than we had anticipated because in bumping out the back, we needed to avoid damaging the roots of a big and beloved cherry tree. So the room is a scant seven feet wide and perhaps ten feet long — big enough for the facilities, provided they are small (and they are), but without a lot of room for serious decorative amenities. Nevertheless, our neighbor, Jim, is a woodworker, and after the basic functioning shower, toilet, sink, and floor were in and working well, he added some grace notes.
We are negotiating with Jim for a tiny mirror and cabinet/shelves in the corner above the sink. Installing the sink surround was a beastly job, so I’m holding my breath to see what kind of price he’ll put on doing a corner cabinet. On the other hand, he won’t have to work on his knees, as he did for the sink, so perhaps we’ll be able to afford him. He’s definitely one of the few people we know who could have made these elegant upgrades to the functional but plain space. He’s done a lot of theater designs, which, I presume, gives him problem solving skills that ordinary carpenters lack. And he has come to understand my rather incoherent design ideas, turning them into functioning objects that match what I had in mind.
Such good and talented friends we have. I feel lucky — and clean, too, — in this lovely space. –June