Bathroom (1)

Chris has been getting on with the bathroom. We’re having a Japanese-style bathroom, which means several differences from standard North American bathrooms.

  1. First of all that there is no toilet in the same room as the bath and shower. Neither of us understand why so many western people put up with having a toilet right next to the bath.
  2. Secondly, there the shower and bath space is essentially a wet room. However the shower / washing space is separate from the bath, which is only a clean-water soaking tub and is usually shorter but deeper than western tubs. In Japan, you wash completely first in the shower / washing space, before relaxing, clean, in the bath (if you’re going to have a bath at all). The bath water is shared by other members of the family too – because everyone who uses it is already clean, the water does not get dirty. A lid is put on in between uses so that the water does not cool down too quickly.
  3. Finally, the bath and the shower are separated from the changing area of the bathroom, sink etc. This means that several people can use different parts of the bathroom at once and still each have some privacy. It also means you don’t need to have so many separate bathrooms. We also really don’t understand the obsession with multiple en-suite bathrooms. It’s so wasteful and expensive. We don’t want to live in a hotel, we want a functional, efficient and warm family home.

Of course, Japanese products aren’t available easily here. We did look at trying to import a tub, but apart from the expense of shipping, the way Japanese baths drain just isn’t the same as in North America at all (they tend to drain directly into a pan below the bath, and from that pan there is a an actual drain). So we had to achieve a Japanese-style bathroom, relatively cheaply using what we could find here – usually when it was on sale. For example, we found a 5′ by 5′ shower pan (by Kohler) that will form the base of the wet room, and a very simple 5′ wide privacy-glass framed sliding shower door by Mirolin. Apparently frameless shower doors are now more fashionable so remaining stocks of framed doors often being sold off cheaply. The slight exception was the tub, which is also a 4′ Kohler ‘Greek’ tub and the only thing that we found that is even slightly similar to a Japanese tub in North America (unless you want a wooden bath, for which you will pay a premium). All of these we managed to get from Lowe’s back on January 1st when they had an extra 16% off everything for the New Year.

The whole wet room except the ceiling is being tiled with simple inexpensive 6″ square white tiles on a water-proof plasterboard base. We looked at all kinds of options, and basically, there is a big price gap between the basic and the really interesting in terms of tiles, and in between most stuff doesn’t really fit our tastes. So, cheap, clean and simple is what we are going for. The bathroom also has the only bit of stick frame and drywall in the whole house – a piece of wall that contains pipes and separates the wet room from the changing area, which will also have the same maple flooring as the upstairs hallways.

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