This Old House

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Merri and Dunkin, my pet rabbits with whom I live in indentured servitude and who graciously allow me to also maintain a full time job to pay the rent and buy their food and toys, are bored.  My work on the Cape house is agonizingly slow and they can’t even pretend a polite interest any more.  They’ve offered to “reboot construction” which translates from bunnyspeak to “gutting the place with their cute little buck teeth and rehabbing it as a crash pad for napping rabbits”.  After serious consideration, I’ve declined.  So they went back to sleep.

Honestly?  I’m bored, too.  Mainly because nothing seems to turn out quite as I had intended.  I’ve been stalled out on the bathroom for more agonizing weeks than I care to admit, stymied on shower fixtures and a vanity.   I had bought a bathroom kit from ELF Miniatures.  The little bathrooms on their website look so flipping’ cozy and realistic!  But, like their kitchen kit that nearly drove me to drink (and that’s a short trip, at the best of times), the bathroom kit resisted all my attempts to make it cozy and realistic.  My bathroom ended up looking like those gas station privies that, after opening the door and taking one good look (never mind the smell), you resolutely shut the door again and walk briskly away, assuring yourself that you can hold it until the McDonalds at the next off-ramp.  ELF Miniatures kits and I DO NOT mix.

Resolutely, I decided I would just get on with it piece by piece.  I bought a toilet from Shapeways, which was originally something like 1/32 scale.  I asked the designer if he could make it 1/12 scale for me and he obliged!  Shapeways people have been very kind with all my odd queries.  Here it is before I started meddling with it:

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I didn’t like the tank sitting up so high, so I used a craft knife to remove the “pipe” between it and the base.  In addition, I was concerned that because the toilet was all one molded piece, once it was spray-painted there would be no realistic space between the toilet base, seat and lid.  So I took a craft knife to it again and carefully sliced everything apart, including removing the tank lid.  I even hacked off the little flush handle because it wasn’t quite right. Because that’s the anal-retentive way I roll.  After each piece was spray painted, I glued it all back together.

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See the lovely gaps between the base, the seat and the lid?  There was a method to my madness! I was pretty happy with the result except for the funky, oversized flush button I had to fashion after the traditional metal handles I attempted fell apart.  Sigh.  Also, the toilet has this funny, gritty finish to it – almost like little pockmarks – that can’t be disguised with spray paint.  I really wanted a smooth, porcelain-like finish, but no matter how many layers of paint I put on, the gritty look remained.  I tried sanding it lightly, but no dice.  I’ve had other Shapeways miniatures with this bumpy skin on it, so I’m assuming it’s inherent in the plastic.  I’m trying REALLY HARD to ignore it!  And that damned button.  What was I thinking?!

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Here is is, installed.  My husband helped with the whatsamajiggie that brings water up into the toilet through that little pipe with the flexible tubing on it.  He rummaged in his model train supplies for the parts.  He has all manner of squirrely little plastic bits and pieces that can used for 1:12 scale plumbing or appliances.  I highly recommend getting buddy-buddy with an HO scale model train enthusiast and then pilfering their stash while their back is turned.  One dark night, I’m going to sneak out these insanely cute minuscule bolts that will be perfect for the sink drainpipe.   Shhhhhh!

I’m getting ahead of myself!  This is the bathroom space I had to work with:

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I decided right away that the squishy little space under the eaves was of no use whatsoever.  OK, OK.  So really I was going to put built-in shelves there, but quickly realized that way lies madness, so abandoned the attempt.  Instead, I blocked it off to provide a wall behind which the “plumbing” for the shower would reside.

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I had originally wanted to use a tub in this space.  I’d seen Brae’s method for spray-painting a glossy porcelain interior on a Crysnbon tub on her Otterine Miniatures site, and replicated it on one of those tub-shaped soap dishes you can pick up on eBay.  I love how it turned out! But I realized that in a weekend house, you’d probably just want to grab a quick shower after the beach, not waste time lounging in a tub while everyone else scarfs up all the lobster and guzzles down all the Sam Adams, leaving you with a lukewarm Diet Coke and some sad Doritos crumbs at the bottom of a plastic bowl.

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I had found some very nice flooring tiles from Lowe’s.  Not that vinyl stuff backed with adhesive.  These are very smooth, patterned on both sides, and snap cleanly after a few cuts with a sharp craft knife.  Once I decided on a shower, I used two complementary patterns with the lighter for the floor, and the darker for the shower enclosure.

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So, a walk in shower it is!  I have a tub full of old white Lego bricks, mostly discolored or stained.  I snapped some together to form the shower enclosure, then topped them off with Lego tile pieces to form a smooth surface instead of all those little bobbles on the bricks.  I sanded the whole thing down and then spray painted it.

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I also painted some square plastic strips in the same color for molding to enclose the entire shower area. Oh, and did I mention I had to bash out the second bathroom window and plug the gaping hole before I set up the shower.  ‘Cause I did.

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I used Liquid Nails to clue the whole thing in, then “caulked” the gaps in the shower with silicone goop.  Not too shabby!  Still need a drain, faucets, and shower head. And a caddy for soap and shampoo.  One thing at at time!

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The plan had been to put up a curved shower rod with a nifty shower curtain that would hang inside the enclosure.  Something adorable and nautical!  But my husband rather belatedly pointed out that in real life, the rod would have to be either supported by a pillar at the end of the enclosure, or connected to a metal support wired down from the ceiling. And that, in either case, you wouldn’t be able to close the curtain completely around the shower space.  Ohhhh…kay!

I was suitably grateful that he’d told me this long after I could have switched to Plan B.  Or even come up with a Plan B.  The man knows I have ZERO spacial or logic skills.  He was holding out on me for some mysterious, and obviously nefarious, reasons of his own.  Now I’m mentally fiddling about with the idea of a frosted glass door the length of the enclosure.  And how I can possibly fit it to the Lego construction without totally futzing it up.  There goes my totally adorable shower curtain.  Grrrr!

While I’m mulling that over, I’ve been attempting to find a bathroom vanity that is a. aesthetically pleasing and b. something I won’t screw up so badly it ends in the rubbish (after I smash it to bits out of sheer frustration).  This is what I want:

Rustic Bathroom Vanity

Or maybe this:

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Hmmm….