A recent bathroom gut and remodel on the second floor of a three-storey house built in 1905 presented a slew of obstacles; old wiring, failing plumbing, a slanted sub-floor, not to mention a series of supply chain delays due to COVID-19. Despite these many hurdles, this seven-week renovation (spread over a three months) proved to be well worth the wait.
My client’s intentions were well outlined from the start — the bathroom would cater to the era of the house and afford the many amenities desired in any newly renovated lavatory space. Beyond the expected upgrades, my client also insisted on polished brass fixtures, which includes all visible water feeds. As such, these fixtures and fittings were ordered well in advance from The Ensuite, to be shipped from a company in California. Unfortunately, this did prove to be a concern, as only half of the items had arrived before the company temporarily closed in March. Despite this setback, the bathroom gut began with the hope that the items would eventually arrive when required.
The main tasks of prepping the bathroom shell were undertaken in a timely manner. The old plaster walls and ceiling were completely removed to make way for new drywall, and the old sub-floor was lifted to enable access to the old plumbing, which was updated and relocated based on the new bathroom design layout. New electric service was introduced to the space to cater to all of the needs for lighting, a new exhaust fan, and heated flooring. Slowly but surely, the space was taking shape.
Amidst the shell prep, the old claw-foot tub (date-stamped 1919), that had remained in storage under the porch since my client bought the house nearly 30 years ago, was sent out to be re-glazed — it would become one of the feature elements of the newly renovated bathroom, especially after the installation of the ornate sparkling golden finish of the polished brass tub faucet and spray-wand. The shower stall, adjacent the intended tub location, had not been fully planned until the gut had begun — my client found it difficult to envision the potential size of the shower stall until the space had been cleared of all existing paraphernalia. Once the maximum size of the stall was established, the stall layout was sketched, and the dimensions were determined. These measurements were necessary for the next step — the custom glass shower stall configuration. The shower base is roughly 40-inches deep, by 44-inches wide and includes a 24-inch door set at a 45-degree angle along the front face, which will allow adequate access to the stall.
With the shower stall sketch and dimensions in hand, I visited with the good people of Shodor — Shower Door Specialties on St. James. To match the base of the stall, static glass panels would be cut to fit along the centre of the shower curb, with a 24-inch glass panel door on pivot hinges along the diagonal. To my client’s delight, the hardware required to install the glass enclosure was indeed available in the golden polished brass finish, essential to maintaining consistent finishes throughout. The shower enclosure was ordered, and the tasks leading up to the shower glass installation would continue until the custom glass was readied. The heated floor was installed, the walls and ceiling were painted, and the tiling was finished over the next series of weeks allowing the space to be populated. The tub was set into position, the pedestal sink and toilet were installed, and the various brass fixtures and exposed water feeds were carefully mounted and tested. With no signs of leaks, it was time to tackle the glass enclosure.
After a brief discussion with a senior installation tech at Shodor the morning I picked up the shower enclosure elements, the first static glass panel was in place within the hour. Because the brass support frame had been pre-cut to my specifications, the pieces easily fit together allowing me to maintain a good installation rhythm. The second static panel was secured shortly thereafter. The 24-inch swinging shower door proved to be challenging, as there is play in the pivot hinge assemblies, allowing for adjustments to level. Once that was sorted out, and the stall was securely in position, the entire enclosure was sealed with clear silicone along every seam.
Having been so focused on the shower enclosure installation tasks at hand, I hadn’t even noticed how beautifully cohesive the entire space had become, primarily due to the polished brass elements throughout the bathroom. And then it dawned on me; this shower stall was created from scratch and is completely brand new, while the tub less than a foot away was manufactured in 1919 — just more than a century separated these two adjacent amenities. And yet, it seems as though they fit perfectly together, in a subtle and classic elegance — a testament to my client’s vision, which had finally come to fruition.