Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bathroom

It's hard to overstate how small the bathroom that Colleen and I share is. If you have a 17 inch monitor, then the floor plan below is actual size, give or take. As you can see, if one person is standing at the sink, then the other person is, well, not in the bathroom. Our whole morning routine is actually a pretty well orchestrated ballet. The problem is that if the timing gets thrown off even a little, then all hell breaks loose. Colleen washing her face and me brushing my teeth at the same time generally results in an unpleasant face being made at the back of the lucky sink-user's head.

For all these reasons, we decided to go overboard on the new bathroom. Big shower, big tub, big two basin sink, generally just big. Inserted you can see the floor plan as well as a perspective drawing of one corner of the bathroom. (I made the perspective drawing point-and-click colorable so we could experiment with decorating it, see some attempts below.) I'll point out a couple of the big features.
  • Double Basin sink: having grown up in a house where my parents had one of these, it seemed standard. Now that I'm grown up and don't have one, it seems like the holy grail.
  • Whirlpool tub: Based on the shopping so far our favorite is a 6 foot long 75 gallon jetted tub.
  • Wall Mounted TV: In our current bathroom/bedroom configuration Colleen can watch DVDs of 80's sitcoms while she gets prettied up. This TV gave us that advantage without having to completely orient the bathroom with that one goal in mind.

  • The Shower: after looking at some widely available standing showers we pretty much just decided to design our own and pay someone to tile it. Our architect actually suggested that we get single slabs of marble for the flat surfaces since it cuts down significantly on the amount of grout work to clean. We loved the idea (though we have yet to see any cost figures). The shower is going to be about 4x5 feet and have two independently controlled shower heads and a half a bench in the back. Hopefully it will be awesome.

For those of you quick thinkers out there, you may have realized one of the problems with big tubs and double showerheads: hot water. If you have a 40 gallon hot water heater (like we do) you can't fill up a 75 gallon tub with hot water. So, what do you do? You can:

  • Get a bigger hot water heater. Unfortunately, this would result in moving our hot water heater further out from it's nook under the stairs significantly impinging on our closet space.
  • Add a hot water heater. If we got a heater just for the bathroom we would need an enormous tank just for the one room. Lots of wasted energy to keep all that water hot for the few times we'd use the big tub.

  • Add a tankless water heater. Electric tankless water heaters max out at 4 gallons of 105 degree hot water per minute. At that rate it would take 15 minutes to fill our tub
  • Add a gas tankless water heater. Bingo! Gas tankless water heaters will heat over 10 gallons a minute and are about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage. We can put the heater in our washer/dryer closet so the hot water will have only a few feet to travel: no waiting for hot water to travel all the way across the house. Also, with a tankless water heater you never run out of hot water (unless you run out of gas of course).

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