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An Arts & Crafts Bathroom

When Colleen showed me the photograph of a Mission bathroom, and said, “This is what I want!” I realized that the most important thing was that she get all the features on her list, so I asked a lot of questions. And I addressed a lot of details. Only when she had approved a drawing (see below) did I really create a plan of attack for creating the 18 drawers, 3 doors, panelled walls, tile, and structural changes.



We had some difficulties to address.

But once these problems were addressed we were off to the races. I bought very good quality drawer and door handles.

Colleen wanted a reddish brown stain. We used a very dark stain recipe and then applied a reddish glaze on top. This is what they did a century ago and it worked quite well for us.

The trick in choosing the wood, and later in the final finish, is to make the quarter-sawn grain “pop”, as it does in this picture, and still not be overwhelming. I think we succeeded.

But the end result was to give her a great deal of storage, a luxurious and restful bathing experience,  and a glimpse into a kind of woodwork that dominated the early twentieth century and is still immensely popular. All of this was built to code.

The need for a building permit. All jobs which have changes to plumbing, electrical, and structure need a permit. The role of the Building Inspector is to make sure your home is safe and well built. I’ve never felt that inspections were a hassle, but they are very exacting, so I employ subcontractors who are conversant with the building codes. And I myself stay in touch with changes to the code.

On this job, I didn’t know until near the end of the job how I would make the Tiffany Lamp above the tub pass inspection. As it turned out, I was able to take the factory supplied light out of the fixture and substitute a small “battleship light” to take its place. This barely fit into the fixture, but once installed, was un-noticeable. Battleship lights, as the name suggests, are waterproof fixtures used on boats.

All tubs, tub enclosures, and showers must have valves which protect the home owner from scalding. This was a challenge with this tub. The faucet included with the tub, while beautiful, was not scald protected. The codes are very specific. We had to place an anti-scald valve in the plumbing either at the hot water heater or in-line with the tub shut off valves. Fortunately we were able to place it under the floor where it could be adjusted from the room below. This valve, once adjusted, will probably never be adjusted again. We passed all our inspections the first time.  


A drawing like this is very helpful. As the work progressed however, there were several opportunities to improve on our original concept. An “art project” like this one has to have a bit of flexibility built in.

For example, Colleen noticed that we could gain some additional space by removing part of a large chase (at the left in the picture below). This additional space helped me install a longer and stronger beam under the tub.

Where the chase was removed
New support beam