4x4 sq foot bathroom in "new" (old) house - HELP!
June 27, 2012
Hello! My first post, please bare with me. We moved into a mother / daughter where the "daughter" part is a 10yr old addition. The addition does not have a bathroom.. but because the 2nd bath in the older house is located right beyond the door to get into the older house from the addition, they must have felt it wasn't needed.

But... that bathroom is 4x4sq foot. We don't have the money right now to extend it so we're just going to give it a makeover, new vanity (maybe?), mirror, shower door (curtain? help!), flooring and wall.

It has a closet bi fold door to get into (the width is only 25inches) http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v439/pressedinabook/newhouse/Dover-20120627-00777.jpg

This is the bathroom at a glance. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v439/pressedinabook/newhouse/Dover-20120627-00764.jpg The floor is linoleum and the lip below the shower they obviously didn't do a good job as that is all starting to come up and has water damage in the corner.

Any suggestions on what I can do with this shower to where I won't feel claustophobic and water will not get all over the floor? We discussed putting a door but with the toilet right there, even a swivel door would make it difficult to get into the shower. Luckily, I'm a small girl (5'2) so I can fit in but having friends over would be difficult. We put a tension rod INSIDE the shower.. for now. Still not sure how I feel about that.

I'm just torn on colors, on tiles, on flooring, on the shower.. on everything! Here are more photos: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v439/pressedinabook/newhouse/Dover-20120627-00765.jpg

And here is the pretty gross looking sink. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v439/pressedinabook/newhouse/Dover-20120627-00774.jpg

Thanks in advance for ANY insight.
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I don't think I'd put any money into it and close it off for now. Do you really need it? Bathrooms are not inexpensive renos. Why spend money if you can wait a while and do something that you'll be happy with down the road?
    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:09PM
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HI -- I agree , putting money into a patch job is a waste. I bet there is a mold problem too. Just start saving like crazy to do a proper reno. Meanwhile shop around and find discount tile shops and discount bathroom fixture stores. If you check some of the kitchen and bath design shops they redesign their showrooms often and you can get some good bargins on good quality fixtures etc. But first thing of all, is to have a plan drawn of the space , that will keep you on track.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:41PM
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Enhance Floors & More
Keep in mind this is workable and can look charming too with a little effort. I would buy a nice pedestal sink and replace it. Spray paint the tenision rod with (Rustolem spray paint) the same color as the tile...color looks neutral to me . Then buy a shower curtain simple print or plain pattern same or similar color as the tile. This will keep all the colors the same and keep from seeing all products in the shower and make the space appear larger too. For extra storage buy and install floating shelves for a candle, perfume etc. If you need more storage in a small bath buy one of those white wire shelf things to hang around shower head. Should cost about $160-200. Happy Decorating!!!!!!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:47PM
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If that is a baseboard heater under the sink, I'd get someone in to see if it was up to code. There has to be a buffer between a source of water and a heater.
    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:48PM
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Wow. That is mini-bath, for sure. Since you can't undertake anything major right now, you're best bet is to just try and camouflage it the best way that you can. If you remove the sink, it's probably just going to be more of an eyesore because then it will be apparent on the wall where it is attached that it has now been removed. I see that there is already some damage to the tile on the wall behind the sink, so removing the sink will only add to this. The baseboard heater also looks to be rusted, and I am assuming its electric, so there could be some wiring issues. Does the bath have one of those ceiling light/vents? If it does, you could replace it with the type that has a heater in it-I don't think they cost much over a couple of hundred dollars, if that. What I would do is to shop around and find a matching shower curtain and sink skirt. If you can't find anything ready made that you like, you could find someone handy with a sewing machine, if you aren't that way yourself. Then I would find myself some synthetic material that I could make a shower curtain out of, and also a matching skirt for the sink. I am also going on the idea that if the shelf over the toilet is not easy to remove, either. so I think I would check into trying to paint it a neutral color-just make sure its the kind of paint that will stick if its plastic. I would also remove as many things as I could that are just sitting out right now-and I realize that there are just some things that you have to have out, like soap, etc. I also would remove the mirror-again, if it's not so attached that it would look worse after you removed it. If you can remove it, then-if you really need a mirror to style your hair or something after you shower, I would get one in a smaller, simpler style to hang over the sink in some way. Since it's such a little bath, there weren't many other ways to arrange things, so I hope that when you get to re-do it, you can fix it just the way you would like it to be.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 2:47PM
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ginger Mama
If you are wanting to change the flooring, I would suggest using cork. It can be purchased for about $16 psf, which seems high but you won't need much.Get the ones that are small circles about like pennies. They are easy to cut to fit and water will not hurt it. It also is not necessary to remove the old flooring. Check the DIY website for more information.
If you just use the regular cork flooring, it is much cheaper than the small circles. I checked it today at Home Depot and it is less than $3 sf for the regular cork floor tile and you wouldn't need to grout it.
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 2:48PM
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ginger Mama
I had not looked at the pics before I posted, so now I would like to make some other suggestions. Is there sheet rock behind those fake tile panels on the walls? If so, pull those things down, repair any damages to the wall and paint a neutral or cool color. If you want to open it up and not feel like you're in a tube, use two colors. Use a slightly darker shade on the bottom part of the wall. Bring this color up to the level of the sink.
At Home Depot and Lowes, they have some bargain glass mosaic tiles for about $5 per sf. These are on a 12x12 mesh backing that is easy to cut. Separate each pc. into thirds horizontally and you will get three linear feet out of one sheet. Use it as you would have used a wallpaper border (ages ago) between the two paint colors bringing from the shower opening around to the right running it above the toilet to the sink and around to the wall that meets up to the entry door. This should cost less than $50 including the adhesive and grout. You can also avoid having to buy tools for install if you use a spray on tile adhesive.(I used Homax Spray and Set purchased at either Lowes or Depot) go to www.sprayandset.com..Also, a tip-if you choose a colorful or light colored glass tile, it looks best with white grout. If you use a colored grout it will bleed through the glass tiles and dull the colors.

Now to the sink...Plumbing is very expensive so I would say work with what you have.
Try your hand at some wood working. The least expensive suggestion would be to use 2x4's, cut them to fit from the floor to the bottom of the sink and place them to match the angles on the corners of the sink and also cut two that will go against the back wall under the sink. Do these to make them look as if they are supporting the sink as a shelf or cabinet would. (to look like legs) Attach a decorative molding over them (I would suggest a fluted molding such as what would frame a door facing) Fill any gaps where the molding buts up to the 2x4 with wood filler. Be sure to sand it after it dries to make it look smooth. Then paint them. I would also put a shelf under there for towel storage.Let me know if you need an easy way to do a shelf. Also, since your pipes will show, spray paint them with a stainless, pewter or nickel paint that can hold up to moisture.

Replace the oval mirror with a smaller, square framed one. You should be able to find one at a thrift store for less than $20 and paint the frame. Remember, it doesn't need to be a bathroom looking mirror. Furniture mirrors are much nicer. Of course place it lower and centered over the sink. Hang it appropriate to your needs.

Because the side wall is so close to the sink, I would not use a towel bar. If you want a feminine touch, use glass "chrystal" furniture knobs (a couple) if you want to stay neutral use a nickle or pewter type knob or use coat hooks on that side wall to hang your hand towels. If you could find old doorknobs that are small, it would be pretty.

To your shower entry: DO NOT paint the tension rod. Hang the tension rod inside the shower with a liner on it. On the outside of the entry, hang a nice drapery rod
and use grommet top window drapes, therefore making it look like a window instead of a shower. You can purchase grommet top fabric shower curtains too, but they may not be long enough to hang from above the entry to the floor.

Lastly, (not really,I have even more suggestions, but I'll hush-up) a bi-fold door does take up a little too much space sometimes.At least 5" of the doorway. I'd replace it with a regular door. It would be great if you could get one with a frosted glass full length insert. That would really open it up, but it might be expensive unless you adapted a regular door yourself.

I do have some alternate suggestions that wouldn't cost more but would be more work. Let me know if you want them. I know this is a lot of work, but it really wouldn't be very expensive for such a big change. Oh, if you're wanting to use these ideas, your first step should be choosing the glass tile so you can get your color palette from them. My e-mail is patpattymac10@yahoo.com.
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 5:56PM
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vasthu ram
ginger mama's notion is correct. i think he is from India
    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:16PM
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Donna Talley
Save for a proper remodel! Tiny bathrooms can still be fabulous, look at what these folks have done!
East Village Studio
Paiko Lagoon Oasis
May Construction
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 7:14AM
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Terry Ahlers
Great ideas all. From a military spouse of 40 yrs (hub now retired) I've come up with lots of ways to get comfy in lots of places and spaces. Seven years ago we did a huge down size to semi-retire in a house with a canal just outside our back door. It is on the intercoastal waterway along the TX coast.

Our master bath is almost exactly yours! Your mini-bath has lots of potential!
Keep that in mind.
I'd live with the tile, shower, sink, and toilet for now. All are nuetral and a great jump off point.
I'm guessing you like colors in the burgundy, purple range. Whatever your favorite, shades of it (think paint chip cards) can be your accents. I'd build from colors and shades in "Tha Bath" lady picture, if she is an indication of what you like. It really does work to start with a photo, print or painting or even fabric or something you happen to spot in magazine!
Personally, I'd put the tension shower rod right between the two shower sides. More room that way. Getting just a shower liner works, 'cause they are translucent and all I have seen/used are softer than the pastic "exterior curtains". Good to get the little reinforcement stick on circles the hooks don't tear the curtain in use.
No need to paint the rod. Covers for them are available in about any color. They are made of thin plastic and slip right onto the rod,via a horizontal slit the length of the rod.
You can cover the old metal towel rod brackets with the Command brand removable plastic hooks. They have chunky ones. Then you'd have two hooks on your wall for spa-like towel storage and close against the wall to give max space. I think the crystal glass drawer pulls mentioned are an even better idea though. Pretty.
On that note, don't be reluctant to repurpose, reuse, reprint, all recycling! It's always a good feeling and if you let your mind get out of that box, it can really be fun.
The shelf above toilet can be replaced with any sort of open shelves or even closed cabinet with narrow depth. DIY.com or any hardware folks will be of good help in figuring how best to mount it if it will be on the tile.

Above sink I'd cover the towel brackets by just mounting a shelf of your choice with the underside of the shelf like it was sitting on the top edge of the metal brackets. That way your shelf makes the old bracket mounts "disappear". I agree, center mirror above sink. If it would work better for you, turn it hoizontally (why not, if there's room). Tilting it a bit at the top will give you a better view. That is done for those in wheelchairs.
The frame can be made to appear sort of antique if you want a small "project". Just paint the frame with a shade of your accent color and before it is completely dry grab a small wad of paper towel and lightly rub off some of the new paint in areas. Nice antique effect, if you like that sort of thing. Craft paint (in little sqeeze tubes) is water soluble, so you can wash hands and toss the brush or rinse and reuse. They come in packs of several for pennies a piece. Also can leave frame gold and then using a brush that has any paint at all on it, an accent the gold.
I'd get rid of the shelf above toilet, replace with one or two shelves that coordinate with your sink shelf. Need a new t.seat. Not for the toilet seat!! Always remember the thrift shops, dollar stores, things you may find someone else has put at the curb, dumpster,etc. Think outside the box and you'll find all sorts of ways to have a place you love.
Cork and stick on tiles are great for floor. Check mold damage first. If minor, don a mask, make absolute sure you have good ventilation and kill all mold with bleach/water fifty solution. Wear gloves; let dry thoroughly. Then proceed with redo. Lipped rubber shower floor basin is a possiblity. Think maybe the shape of the shower floor may be a problem. Remember, once you have mold under control you may be able to seal off leaks you are unaware of with caulk. Comes in a handy squeeze tube now. Even available in clear, colors, and "paintable".
Your baseboard heater. Works? You can wash off vents with cloth and soapy water. White vinegar cuts grime. We absolutely need a GFCI wall socket near any water source for protection against shock. Under sink area can be camophlaged with one side of a strip of wide Velcro glued, probably with more than the adhesive on the velcro itself, under sink where it doesn't show. then you get tablecloth, curtain panel, piece of fabric, towel whatever you choose and use fabric glue, available at sewing depts, fabric store,craft depts to fasten the other strip to the sink skirt you just created to the underside of the sink.
On second thought, With the heating there, if working, I'd opt to keep flammable items far away. Maybe a two sided panel screen, made from reclaimed wood, or even metal to make sure there's no hazard. Sorry I have made this so lengthy. I do tend to ramble!!!
Hope to see what ideas you have put to use from all your suggestions. Have fun making all your spaces just right for you. If you want to ask any specific questions, contact me tkahlers@me.com
    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:32AM
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Jean Batty
Consider a shower dam to keep water in the shower and prevent further damage. http://www.kr-specialties.com/collapsibledam.html
    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:44PM
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So you have a bathroom you don't love. I think a few simple things will make it comfortable and liveable untill you renovate.
Get a new softer shower curtain. Keep all colours light , actuall very light to make space fresh.

Keep a monochromatic theme. Stay with light beige- white on walls. Put down a peal and stick floor. The floor is inexpensive and anyone can do. Just make sure you prep the surface. Put up a white open shelf from Ikea. Use this to store your shampoo etc.

Take care of the water issue to prevent mould.
A little TLC can go along way. Make thiss space soft clean.
    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Ruth Tekell
People keep saying "plumbing is expensive"! But that's only if you plan to switch things around. If you can keep the sink, toilet, and shower where they are, it's not a big expense. It looks like you need some storage first. The less stuff lying about, the more spacious it will feel. You can get a very narrow sink as well as a narrow vanity upon which to mount the sink. Wall cabinets are usually only 12" deep and you can get a long narrow sink that will fit on top. Since your spaces are so small, you can probably afford very expensive tile and countertops. If your cabinet is 12" deep and 18" wide you can afford to put a slab of nice granite on top. You can probably even find a scrap really cheap and use it as is or get someone to cut it to fit on top of the cabinet. They make flexible p-traps and tubing now so it can be tucked away inside the cabinet.

Get a solid white toilet seat. You don't want to use a lot of busy patterns in a small space.

Make use of the space over the toilet for storage too with narrow shelves. You can put stuff in baskets or other containers to keep the appearance of clutter down.

And definitely move the shower rod all the way to the top of the shower inside, and cut the clear plastic to fit the opening rather than having all that extra plastic to contend with and looking like more clutter.

And finally, you might find you can get a recessed light installed in the ceiling of the shower for not too much money, depending on what's up there. If there is an attic, a sun tunnel could brighten it up at least in the day time. But most showers have a recessed light. If you have a thousand dollars, and some imagination, you can make it look amazing. Use google to search for plumbing fixtures such as narrow sinks. And you definitely want to get rid of those builder grade handles and faucet for the sink. It just doesn't cost that much to get nice ones.

Good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I need to know how much you are willing to spend to make productive suggestions?

If it was me....I hate the tile the most....so I would focus on ripping that out and replacing it with drywall. If you are at all handy, you can do this yourself to save money (read a how to online). The floor will be mostly covered by a floor mat and the shower can be covered by a shower curtain. It is the walls that are the most imposing and not in very good taste. Drywall is cheap, but your labor will be hard work.

Then, if budget allows, i would replace the wall hung sink with a nicer looking pedestal. If no budget for this, I would velcro a "skirt" around the sink for now. Use fabric to match/ coordinate with the shower curtain. Sew it yourself or ask a friend or relative who sews to help.

Replace the toilet seat with a normal (non fish) one.

Rehang the mirror to center it over the sink.

If the bath/ shower was installed only 10 years ago, this fix should last you for quite a while.
    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 3:30PM
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ginger Mama
Nope Vasthu ,I'm just from a rural small town in Alabama! And I'm a woman who remodels without spending a lot of money. I like to stretch the budget and re-purpose items. I'd prefer to spend smarter and work harder. I think my suggestions on this bath would cost less than $300.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:15PM
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On the plus side, you have nice tile and it's neutral. Get a pretty little vanity similar to this; a cabinet to allow for storage; a pedestal will not give you storage. example: http://www.bhg.com/bathroom/small/make-a-small-bath-look-larger/?psrc=sstag:b:smallbath_R1206BbathTag#page=6
Shop Habitat Restore for cabinets. The shower entry is pretty much an impossible situation. The clear shower curtain to let in light while showering and a pretty fabric on a tension rod to hang in the shower entry to keep closed when not showering would be the best option; good luck. I personally would not invest much money into such a small space. Consult a residential architect for an hourly fee to help design a remodel for the future that will let you create the space you need; it will be money well spent believe me.
    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 10:57PM
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DND Services
Hmmm. Not an easy one. As a UK designer, unfortunately we have very small bathrooms as the rule due to our so called building designers cramming so much into such tiny spaces!

Based on what you've said, I think you're still going to hate it until the day comes when you can rip it out and start again. So, my advice would be unless you really need to use it close it off till you can afford to do it properly as everything you spend today will effectively be wasted!

Once that day comes, take down the wall to the shower completely and instead install a new full width shower tray and a simple glass screen. You gain probably three inches in room depth then too which in such a small area is significant. You do not need a door with a decent tray and appropriate drainage.

Regarding the toilet and basin. As you are only small, from what you've said, I'd fit a short projection wall hung toilet with a concealed cistern and a small semi recessed wash hand basin of say 510mm wide with a cupboard under. Taking them off teh floor improves the sense of space.

Over the units I'd put a full width mirror to make the space seem bigger.

The units front need to be light coloured and your lighting needs to be good and daylight coloured to 'feel' relaxed.

All in all keep it very simply - European style. I feel that kind of treatment would open it up magically maximising the usable space and also making the whole seem bigger than it really is.

Good luck.
    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 2:06PM
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HI -- That's what I would say is to make the whole room in the European style . That is , the whole room is one big shower stall - a tiled box . With a pedistal sink and a small toilet. You just will have to make sure the door and door sill is water proof so the water doesn't run out into the hall. You could also still pull a shower curtain over the door inside when you take a shower. And the drain will be in the floor -- which is where I would have it done so it's a proper shower base. You almost have to make it like a RV bathroom. You can use those full tile look panels which is cheaper than ceramic tiles. And you will need good venting. BUT , if you are going to do a proper remodel in less than 5 years then this all maybe a big waste of money. You will have to work the numbers. $$$
    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:45PM
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purna vastu sasthram
I am Ramakrishnan.N from India. I am seeing vasthusasthra( an Indian ancient architectural book which says in which place we should put kitchen door windows hall bath etc.) for homes , companies shops and schools etc.If you like to learn it contact me in vasthuram@gmail.com. I have sent a model vasthu plan. see it and suggest me pls.. thanks madam.
    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:31AM
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