The “What If” Game

Brooke here.  The Canadian Husband is still at large.

Keeping a home improvement blog in the winter is difficult.  There is still stuff to do – soooooo much stuff to dooooooo!!! – but the vegetation is on its way to dormancy, we don’t want the windows open to let the pant fumes out, and … well, there’s this puppy who thinks that cleaning is Awesome.  Zu is fascinated with things that sweep or scour; I’m hoping I haven’t trained him to pick up on my OCD.  Cleaning is difficult, though, when a happy wiggly thing is sitting on the broom.

One HUNDRED THOU . . . wait. Thousand? I don't get out of bed for anything less than . . . That's it, I'm outa here.

I’ve been diligently entering the DIY Network’s “Ultimate Kitchen and Bath Giveaway,” however.  Each day, every day, with eyes on the prize of a hundred thousand dollars.

Do you hear Dr. Evil saying that?  I hear Dr. Evil saying that.

Still, the mind does tend to wander with the potential, especially as $100,000 might not be enough to redo the master bathroom.  Yeah, reread that. Roll it around in your mind for a while.  Taste how stupid it sounds.

Maybe an illustrated aid will help shed some light on the problem?  One of my side projects is to draw up a nice little pen-and-ink blueprint of the house, but that’s not quite done yet so let’s look at the slap-dash version:


House as of today. Master bathroom is an itty-bitty postage stamp of a thing on the upper left section. Anything unlabeled is a closet.


The master bath is about 4″ by 5″, and the shower is about 18 inches square. There’s room for a sink and a toilet and nothing else; this goes for human beings, especially human beings who want to dry themselves off after a shower.  We learned very quickly that keeping the toilet seat down was a tactical decision.

There’s not enough space in the house to remodel that bathroom.  There’s just nowhere for it to go.  So we’ve been playing around with the idea of adding a porch to the master bedroom, letting it wrap around the full back of the house, then knocking out the master bathroom wall.  Then we’d add as much square footage to the bathroom as the porch is deep and, *poof!* Larger bathroom!

Add in the cost of the plumbing and the porch and the new doors and the bath fixtures and the labor and the roof extension and the electricity and the extra whatnots no one ever thinks of when they begin a bathroom remodel, and your hundred grand disappears faster than you can imagine.  Especially when your mind says things like “as long as we’re rewiring the back of the house, we might as well update all of the wiring because that fuse box is basically a spider dispenser.”

Then your mind really starts to wander.  I made another hashed-up blueprint of what we’d do if we had an unlimited budget: bust out the entire back wall of the house and extend it 20″, raise the roof line, move the Precarious Death Stairs, and so on.  It’s a little embarrassing to post, tho’, so I’ll leave it for another day.  It’s a real sign of the decline of your imagination when you wonder what you’d do if you won the lottery and you stare off into space, sighing, quietly, something very much like “… energy efficient windows …”

14 thoughts on “The “What If” Game

  1. When we were looking at remodeling a stupidly tiny 2nd floor master bathroom, the home inspector suggested making a sort of bay window in the bathroom, only without the window. That’s a lot less work than you’re contemplating, I think, although still way too much work if people would just build things well in the first place.

    1. My parents are currently running into issues with small changes because people built most of our house well. You can’t change things without a lot of effort because it was built to last. Meanwhile, it’s a 20-year old house, and things have started to break(plus my mom loves decorating). So swapping out a small section(12.5 sq ft) of tile turns into a day on your hands and knees with a chisel just to get rid of the mortar.

  2. Maybe you could train Zu to clean the house, freeing you to work on all your projects? Lol, are you sure he isn’t just interested in you, not the cleaning?

    Also, is there a reason why you can’t knock down the wall between the master bath and the closet, combining them for a bigger bathroom? It looks like that closet is actually bigger than the bathroom, so that would more than double the size of the master bath. Of course, then you run into the problem of where to store your stuff, so perhaps not. Maybe you could section off the hall leading to your office and the master bedroom, making the hall bathroom the master bath? Unless of course those are the only two bathrooms.
    Or you’ve thought of all those things and I’m just prattling on.

    On a final note, the weird void looks suspiciously like a secret room. That has potential for both awesome and horrifying. Hopefully awesome, or just ductwork.

    Oh look, I’ve joined the “What if” game. lol

  3. Almost every home owner has that secret mental file of “If I won the lottery” plans.

    Mine aren’t all that grandiose, but every time I open up the ads section of the paper or we get another ad-mailer full of coupons, I drool over the 3 & 4 season sun-room ads to replace the functionally obsolete back porch. Eventually, I’m going to step on the soft spot that’s forming in the outdoor-carpeted plywood floor and break some ‘nice’ HOI adjuster’s monthly quota.

    And since I can’t actually view what might be directly above or directly below it, I’ll do a pick-three spread on C. 1) ductwork/former ductwork 2) Support beams 3) Capped off gas line or chimney for original kitchen stove 4) dumbwaiter or laundry chute 5) Bricked up in there is a mummified corpse or the original oil/coal furnace.

    Oh, and I feel your pain, I’ve dealt with tiny hole-in-the-wall bathrooms that were originally a walk-in closet, a former stairwell* or at least, were never meant to hold a shower.

    *I stayed with a friend for a few very long days, in a house had been converted into two apts. at some point in the late 70’s and the inner staircase had been gutted and turned into two incredibly narrow bathrooms with a toilet on one side and a box shower behind the door and a bar sink sort of on the way to the kitchen. Upstairs they’d moved an original cast-iron tub in too in the center and it had the worlds squeakiest bifold closet door instead of a real door. I wish I had taken pictures just to post to a what-not-to-do site.

  4. What about replacing the closet with built-ins along another wall and expanding the bath area into the freed-up space? Could also consider only “walling off” the shower and toilet, leaving the sink somewhat exposed, as is common in hotels now. Storage space is the easiest thing to move…

    1. I had a similar thought, only putting a walk-in closet in taking the space out of the Brooke’s office room. Either that or shrink Brown’s office and make a bigger bathroom and master closet.

  5. The lotto thing makes me dream of gutting my house and re-doing it ALL. The bones of our house were built some time around 1900-1910. Every person who has ever done anything to it, has done it cheaply and not well. If you lean against a wall, you run the risk of popping a hole in the drywall. I can still see plaster and lath through some of the holes (on the wall behind it) I have six generations of wiring, including a separate fuse box for each of them, and my gas stove (electric igniters) my gas furnace (electric ignition) and my dishwasher are all on the same circuit, so when the fuse blew three years ago, I had a freezing cold house, and no way to cook anything. (This happened the first day of deer hunting season, which is a religious holiday where I live, so every repair man, handy man, and otherwise able bodied person was out in the woods. Oh, and the fuse for this particular circuit is hidden behind a switched box, that looks like it hadn’t been used in over 30 years) So yeah, day dreaming about energy efficient windows…..just the tip of the iceberg …

    1. That reminds me of the time the water in my old apartment building got shut off because of some of the ancient pipes in the basement exploded. This was on a Thursday night of a holiday weekend. My then landlord didn’t schedule anyone to come in until Monday. (He claimed no one was willing to work, I think he was being a cheap bastard.) It was not a fun experience. No offense, but I’d take no heat over no indoor plumbing any day of the week.

      As to the plans, how about pushing the back wall of the bathroom further into Brown’s office, and then compensating for that by getting rid of the closet in there? Or make your office the bedroom, the bedroom your office, the hall bathroom the master?

  6. oh yes, and what about turning the great room into a master bed/bath? Granted, then you’d have an extra bedroom, but you could turn that into a multi-purpose room pretty well, and it’d still be on the other side of the house from the bedroom (which is a requirement for me, as my husband plays video games, loudly.)

  7. It’s not a decline of imagination, it’s a refocusing. Sounds to me like you’re doing some amazingly imaginative things to make this place over! And besides, energy efficient windows rock!

  8. It is at times like this I bless Dutch officiousness about buidling regulations… Especially those that involve getting insurance. I assume both the Hall Bathroom and the Master bathroom are similar wrecks? What do you intend to use the crazy weird ass green room for again?

  9. You know, I’m starting to agree with other posters. Just looking at the rough floorplan, the easiest and cheapest alternatives to building an addition would be to redefine the spaces. In fact, if this was a post-WW2 home, I would say that it definitely would be cheaper, because your dealing with drywall and most likely non-structure supporting walls.

    Cheapest option A: Gut existing master bath and turn it back into a half bath or do it asian-style (or is it euro-minimal?) where you tile the entire room and turn it into an open shower with a toilet–I wish I could find a picture but I can’t remember which show it was or the name of the episode. I wanna say it was asian-style because it had the sink built into the top of the toilet like you’d find in a Tokyo apt.

    Opt. B–Trading Spaces: Cut door from your office closet to Hall Bath and/or steal space from Bath if tub is not in the space between closet & outer wall. (10-1 it is). Perhaps even closing off door to hall. Then merge former Mas. Bath & Mas. closet and cut a door to the hall making it the general bathroom. To save space, eliminate both existing closet door & bath door. Or possibly make it a Jack n’ Jill with a door to Brown’s office. Build new, shallower closets on the inner wall separating the two rooms.

    Opt. C–Green Monster: (I’m also assuming that the crazy Green room is the one shown in prev. posts with exposed red duct-work and not the one that Elizabeth painted green?) Turn current Mas. Bath into J&J half bath. Move the stair o’ kludge so that it runs along the back wall of the kitchen, leaving enough room for a new elbow hall to the Green Room. Against that new stairwell wall, build a new master bath from scratch that takes a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the existing space. Add either a walk-in closet off it or closets against the inner wall with Brown’s office.

    Opt. D: Apply to every home renovation show that subsidizes the work done. Develop fibromyalgia and pitch to Extreme Home Makeover. When Ty Pennington shows up, ensure that he will be electrocuted to death by his bullhorn. 😉

  10. Kimichi got in a lot of options, but as I’ve only just seen this today, I’ll take my own whack at it 🙂

    My suggestion: Put your office in the Green Room. Your office needs will expand anyway, so this just gets you ahead of the game 😉

    In your current office, I’d say build a wall to extend the line of the hallway- block it off as a closet for your linens, and your master closet, and the new wall would hold the entryway for the guest bedroom (formerly your office)…

    Then, demolish your master closet and bathroom, and move the doorway for the master bedroom over a foot or so, or however much you want to allow a good-sized bathroom where the old bathroom and closet are. I even drew a picture because I was bored 🙂 But then I couldn’t figure out how to post it because I am lazy.

  11. Master Bedroom becomes Brown’s office. CWAGroom becomes master bedroom. New doorway to old office from new bedroom. Another closet on the outside wall from the existing OBO closet. Area between the closets becomes dressing room.

    Eliminate the old hall door from OBO and the remaining area becomes bathroom with dual sinks, big tub, freestanding shower, and probably room for a linen closet.

    Or something like that… 😉

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