November 14, 2017
Now that winter has arrived in Manitoba, we have time to work on indoor projects – like the upstairs bathroom.
For a long time, we didn’t have an indoor bathroom. Instead we had an outhouse (and still do) and in the summer, used the bath house (a separate building containing a sink, tub and sauna, see Bath House post here) for washing up. In the winter, we bathed and washed our hair in a basin using snow heated on the wood stove. Some would wonder why anyone would want to live without such basic necessities as running water and an indoor toilet. However, living with just the mere basics – a washbasin in this case – gives you a real appreciation about how little you really actually need. Plus it gives you a true appreciation of the luxuries we take for granted. After getting by just fine with a basin, having a fully working bathroom seemed like a real luxury. We completed the main floor bathroom in August 2015 (see Main Floor Bathroom post).
I guess you can say we are slow builders, as two years we have finally finished the upstairs bathroom. But we were not really in a hurry. One bathroom worked just fine for us. Now that the upstairs bathroom is finished, it is nice to have a washroom off the master bedroom. Not sure why, but I seem to like the color purple for a bathroom. The bathhouse and main floor bathroom are purple, and now the upstairs bathroom is also purple. I love the clean crisp look of the purple against the white trim.
The bathroom features a single sink with a large counter area. Ken built the cabinet under the sink – 3 drawers and 2 cupboards out of the same rough cut birch that he made the kitchen and living room cabinets from (see Kitchen Update post).
The main floor bathroom has a shower, so we decided on a tub for the upstairs bath. In hindsight, we really did not think through the logistics behind this tub. When are we ever going to have enough hot water to fill this big tub???
In our previous house in the city, we had a large double jet tub that we loved. Every Sunday after coming home from a weekend of working on this property, we enjoyed a long soak in the jet tub while we discussed our progress over the weekend and planned for the next weekend. However, we failed to consider that our water situation would not the same as it was in the city. (see Off Grid Hot Water post) In the summer, we generally have lots of water from rains, but hot water is limited (water is heated by solar generated electricity). In the winter, we have lots of hot water (as it is heated by a coil in the wood stove) but we are in water conservation mode. Once the fall rains stop and winter freeze-up comes, we need to get through to the spring melt with the water stored in the basement cisterns. Filling this tub and using the jets will be limited to spring or fall when the cisterns are full, it is raining out and the wood stove is in use. But who is to say you need to have a full tub of water. The tub will be great when the grandkids visit – no more kitchen sink baths, and all three can fit in this tub!
The bathroom has a rather unique construction, with the toilet being separated from the main bathroom area by a wall. The toilet is a low flush Sealand Traveller toilet which uses about 1 cup of water per flush. It is hooked up, along with the toilet on the main floor, to the central composting unit in the basement. The waste is mixed with sawdust and peatmoss, rotated in the composting drum and composts down to a hummus rich substance that we spread around the fruit trees.
The bathroom ceiling is sloped, with a high ceiling over the sink area sloping down to about three feet high on the other end. To compensate for the low ceiling, the tub was moved out three feet from the wall and a small storage area was built behind the tub. Its a perfect area to store our suitcases and I am pretty sure the grandkids will love this hiding space. Ken even made a cute hobbit door for it, complete with name plate. The ability to create these little whimsical features while building is what I love the most about this building process.
Since the house does not have a linen closet, we added a wall of shelves for storage. For the shelves, Ken built a bunch of boxes – about 18 inches by 36 inches – which we stacked crate-like on the wall to create shelves. I love the look.
Almost all of the fixtures in the bathroom (and throughout the whole house) we purchased off Kijiji – the Corian sink/countertop, corner jetted tub, sink and tub taps, a large 3 foot by 6 foot mirror, tiles around the sink and tub areas, vinyl flooring, cedar around the tub base, doors, low flush toilet and light fixtures. If you are patient and diligent, you can get some really super deals on great quality items, either lightly used or leftovers from building projects. Most of this stuff was purchased over three years ago, before I retired. I was living in the city so could easily pick up Ken’s finds. However, you do need to either know your stuff or be prepared to trust the sellers. We have gotten burnt on a few items that were either not working properly or missing pieces. But even with the occasional dud, we saved a bundle buying used and its a good idea to Re-Use rather than buy new.
While it is hard to believe it, we are coming close to finishing this house! Other than a few smaller jobs, basically all that is left is the hardwood floor on the second level. We have finally purchased all the hardwood (yes, on Kijiji – so the floor will be a mixture of different woods) so that will be our next project. However, as in every home, there is always no shortage of projects to undertake. So while the main build will be complete, we still have lots of projects we want to tackle. I have my fingers crossed that the flooring will be in before Christmas.