Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bathroom Window Dilemma

In the “Bathroom Before” video I shot the other day I showed a window that I said was going bye-bye very soon. Well, this wasn’t entirely accurate. The window happens to be in what will be the shower. Windows in showers just seem like a bad idea because they beg for rot.

The problem is, I can’t really just remove the window. There are issues on the exterior of the house, that I won’t go in to detail now, that makes it difficult to remove the window. It’s a unique situation, that would take a while to explain, so just except the fact that for now removing the window is not an option.

Anyway, the plan has been to put either very dark glass or a very obscure glass in the window and then board it over from the inside. It would be walled over with tile on the inside and become one wall of the shower area. On the outside of the house the window sits a little over 7-feet up on the wall and there is a large box covering a sub-panel just below it. No one would ever be able to look directly in the window. The reason for the obscure glass or tinted glass was so it wouldn’t be obvious from the outside that you are looking at the back side of cement backer board.

It’s a bit of a hack job, I’ll admit, and not something I’m proud of, but it’s not the end of the world either. The window is definitely not original to the house and there is nothing architecturally significant about it. It is a single sash in a jamb that doesn’t open and never has opened. The window was installed in the teens or 20s and the jamb is salvage because it has pulleys for window weights but there is just the one sash that has no place to go. There is evidence that there was a sink on this wall at one time so they must have taken a double hung window, taken out the bottom sash, and raised the sill up.

So yesterday I went back to Stafford Glass to pick out some glass for the window. When I was in there last week getting the Florentine glass I spoke with them about it then. They showed me some dark tinted glass, but it only came in quarter-inch thick glass. Normal window glass is an eighth of an inch thick. This was that kind of glass that was very popular in the 70s & 80s for making those glass front stereo cabinets. Remember those? Ugh!

The other options were the myriad of obscure glass that they had to offer. There are more than 40 to chose from. Prices start at around $10 a sq ft and go up to about $22 a sq ft. Not cheap as far as glass goes. I need 5.5 sq ft to do the window. I needed something that would really obscure the view, and wouldn’t you know it, the nicer looking glass that really obscures the view was up in the $15 to $20 range. We’re talking around $100 to put new glass in a window I’ll never be able to look out of.

As I said in an earlier post, Stafford Glass is a small shop run by a husband and wife team. It was the wife who was showing me the glass samples and as we looked at the different samples and figured the price I let out the appropriate guttural sounds of someone who doesn’t want to part with $100 for glass. As we were looking she mentioned to me that her and her husband were retiring and the shop would be closing for good in 18 months when their current lease runs out. It’s a great loss for the community.

She finally suggested we go out in to the shop and look at remnants. They are eager to begin to clear out inventory instead of ordering new glass. We started going through the glass and either nothing caught my fancy or the pieces were too small. Finally she pulled out a piece of purple glass. She called it violet. It was heavily textured with….well look at the picture and come up with your own description. She said it was a piece of salvaged glass and she would let it go for $5 a sq ft. If you’ve read my blog for more than a week you know what my answer was.

Salvaged glass..…Relatively cheap…. Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! We have a winner!

See the old pulleys at the top left and right




I don’t know if this is salvage from the 1870s or the 1970s, but it doesn’t matter, I really like the color. As I was putting it in though, the plan was still to cover it up from the inside. I put it in last night and finished up pretty late. Today when I got home from work I went in to the kitchen and I could see the color streaming out of the bathroom. The window faces south and the color from the sun hitting the glass just changes the whole room. It’s just spectacular. This was at midday and the whole room was bathed in this pale purple, er...I mean violet light. At dusk it became more subdued but still very pleasant. In the evenings it looks like almost black glass, but there is still a bit of color to it.

Now I’m thinking I should keep the window. I wouldn’t have any wood trim around it. Instead I would tile inside the jamb all the way to the sash and use quarter round tile at the 90 degree angle at the transition from the wall to the jamb. The sash is redwood and will be painted. I can goop up any gaps with high quality caulk (3M 5200 to the rescue!)

On the other hand, I have to ask myself, would the violet color be too much? Would I get sick of the bathroom always bathed in violet light. There is the other stained glass window on the other wall that is boarded over right now to protect the glass, so the light from that window may tone it down a little. Also, the room is not well lit now, but will be when the bathroom is finished. Good lighting should also tone down the violet color. I’m not sure what to do.

It’s not something I have to decide on right now. I’ll live with it for a few days and think it over.

16 comments:

Kathy said...

When I saw the bath video a couple of days ago I hoped you would keep the window, I was thinking a stained glass window would allow privacy. The violet glass is really lovely, I can imagine the outside of the house looks great, too. (My nephew & his wife just painted their guest room violet with green trim - I wouldn't have had the guts to choose those colors but it looks wonderful.) Why don't you put up one of your vote machines? I'll vote for keeping the window.

StuccoHouse said...

Keep the window, keep the window, keep the window (she says starting a group chant).

Carol said...

Can you rig up some sort of short shower curtain to cover the window when you shower? I once lived in an apartment with a window in the shower (original) that we kept cover during our showers. Then we'd push the cover to one side to let the light in when we were finished. Just an idea.

Anonymous said...

You simply MUST keep that violet glass window now, it was meant to be.

kingstreetfarm said...

Neat! I think it's very unique. I vote for keeping the window.

You could use marine paint on the sill, by the way, to help prevent rot on the painted surfaces of the wood.

Karen said...

Keep the window. We have a window in our shower/bathtub and tiling around the window works just fine (it's been fine for over 25 years) A shower without a window feels too confining. The window will definitely make it a more comfortable place to be. Besides the violet glass is fate. How could you cover it now and close out that glorius light?

Kim said...

Keep it! If you don't have any sills it should be safe from rot as long as you paint it properly. The glass color is really nice and the warmth of the light it casts must be awesome.

JAXTER said...

Keep the window!!! I used to live in an apartment building (beautiful pre-war building) that had windows in all of the showers, with wooden sills and everything. Sure they needed yearly painting, but it was so worth it! Sigh - I miss that bathroom.

Anonymous said...

Keep it!!!

merideth said...

keep the window is right! by the way, on the last This Old House project, they milled the casings out of PVC for a window they kept in the shower. Looked just like wood but, obviously, impervious to rot. Super-cool!

Sam said...

Wow, that is one beautiful piece of glass. I'd certainly want that purpley light filtering through into my shower.

In college, I lived in a total dump once with a bunch of guys. The only redeeming feature was this big casement window in the shower. Everytime i showered, I could fling that window wide open, and listen to the birds, observe the verdant overgrowth of my ghetto surroundings, or wave to neighbors. I've ALWAYS wanted a big window in the shower since, and if i ever build my own bath, I will have one. There's something about feeling like you are showering outside that is extremely exhilerating.

Anonymous said...

Greg
Please keep the window. I am very jealous. I can just see Mort sleeping in the violet sun light on the floor.

Beth

Jordana said...

You could put a marble sill in, instead of wood. They look really lovely and it would go well with the other marble in the room.

jm@houseinprogress said...

You know, all the COOL kids have windows in their shower. Like this!

http://www.houseinprogress.net/archives/001134.html

Greg said...

Marble! Of course! From now on, when ever I run in to a materials problem, the first thing I'll ask myself is, can I do it with marble. It just so happens I have a lot of extra white marble.

jb61 said...

Purple rain, purple rain - fabulous art...