...because home doesn't happen overnight.

A bathtub in a bathroom. It’s a novel idea.

tub in bathroom 1

And we finally executed it in the main bathroom! (Don’t mind the masking tape on the floor. The toilet isn’t set yet.) Steve and I designed the tub’s base. He created two wood saddles from a reclaimed beam to support the tub. I primed and painted the tub’s exterior. I have an entire post coming on those projects. We hired a plumber (it was actually a two man job) to install the fixtures: water supply lines, drain, overflow, faucet, shower head support and curtain rail. We’re really happy with the final product! We do a double take every time we walk by the bathroom and see a tub in there.

tub in bathroom 4

The install wasn’t without a few hangups. We fully expected some to pop up since we were flying by the seat of our pants. There aren’t too many homeowners bringing in old clawfoot tubs and modernizing them with wood cradle bases and new fixtures, so there’s not really that much information out there on the subject. I’d like to share the issues we ran into with the tub install just in case it’s something you’re considering for your own home. So, here goes… (Again, I will address the tub’s base and paint job in a separate post so this mainly concerns the plumbing install.)

1. Things go missing. The day before the plumber came, we brought in all the fixtures for the tub that we’d been storing in the garage. When we took inventory, the shower head (just the head, not the support) was nowhere to be found. We looked everywhere! We ordered the parts over two years ago and somehow, amidst the renovation shuffle, the shower head was misplaced or thrown out. Ugh. We felt stupid and irresponsible, said some four-letter words, then sucked it up and ordered a replacement. Renovating is a humbling experience ;)

2. Chrome-plated clawfoot tub drains are typically special order items. When the plumber came to hook up the tub, all he had on hand was a standard brass drain. I love me some brass but we had already chosen chrome for the rest of the plumbing fixtures. We thought a brass drain and overflow would look out of place (especially since it would be visible) so we had to hunt down a chrome-plated one which added time and cost to the install.

tub in bathroom 5

3. There’s nothing standard about vintage clawfoot tubs. The drain end of the tub has a slight slope on the vertical where the fixtures go. This means the fixtures don’t meet up with the tub at a 90º angle – which isn’t ideal. This posed a problem when installing the water supply lines, drain, overflow and even the faucet and shower head because each fixture relies on the placement of everything else. It was difficult to get the fixtures straight without compromising watertight seals. Obviously, it was important to us not to have leaks but we also didn’t want noticeably crooked fixtures. Our plumber was able to strike a good balance between function and aesthetics but not without some finagling. His exact words were, “Plumbers did a lot of cussing in the 1800’s.” Haha. Anyway, we decided to focus on lining up the drain, overflow, shower head and curtain rail and not worry too much about the water supply lines. (I.e., if the supply lines were perfectly straight, that would offset everything else.)

Another issue arose when we discovered the curtain rail was meant for a standard 5′ tub. Our vintage tub is 4½’. (The room is only 5′ wide.) Steve had to shorten the curtain rail by cutting out sections from each side of the rail. (The rail kit is made up of two symmetrical rods that meet at the shower head and ceiling flanges.) It wasn’t difficult but it was another hiccup that held up the install.

4. Four hands are better than two. It’s crazy how much the placement of one fixture affected the position of subsequent fixtures. There was a lot of “hey, hold this while I do this.” At one point, I was called in because a third pair of hands was needed. This was especially necessary when the ceiling flange was mounted. One person was in the attic holding an anchor block in place so that a second person could drill into it from the bathroom. I was holding a level to make sure everything was plumb. It’s not rocket science but there’s only so much you can do with two hands.

So, yeah, the install wasn’t a standard run-of-the-mill install. But it’s done and we have a working tub! We haven’t used it yet but we did fill it up and drain it to test things out. No leaks!

tub in bathroom 7

tub in bathroom 6

We’re crazy in love with the fixtures. The porcelain handles are so charming. Similar fixtures will go on the sink to help tie the old tub in with the new vanity.

tub in bathroom 8

Once the tub was in, we were itching to set the toilet. We chose a sleek, contemporary model to contrast with the old tub. I am so intimidated by this toilet!

tub in bathroom 9

It has a dual flush button on the tank, an elongated seat with a soft-closing lid and clean lines. Can toilets be sexy? I say yes. Steve worked on installing the toilet the day after the tub was finished. He was two screws away from having it set when one of the brackets at the base broke. Two screws away from not sharing one toilet! So close. At this point, it’s par for the course. We’re waiting on a replacement. Hence, the masking tape on the floor until it’s officially done. The brick on the floor to the left of the toilet is covering a heating / cooling register to keep Cheetah from disappearing down into it. She’s one curious kitty.

tub in bathroom 2

I’ll share details of the tub’s base and paint job next week. And I will include a source list when I post the final reveal. But if you have any pressing questions that just can’t wait, I’ll try to answer them in the comments section.

We’re getting there. What do you think so far?

P.S. – It was such a gloomy day when I snapped these shots. I had to lighten them quite a bit to get the base of the tub to show up. The photo quality isn’t my best but hopefully you get the idea.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

75 Comments

31.October.2014

Most gorgeous bath I have seen in a long time, seriously beautiful! Perhaps you should keep the kids out until after Architectural Digest shoots!
Margaret

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replied on October 31st, 2014

I don’t know about AD, but I’m calling dibs on first bath!

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31.October.2014

Hi! I started reading your blog a few months ago and am steadily making my way through your archives, too. I’m up to January 2011! I find your and your husband’s story of downsizing really inspiring and just love your blog. The way you take on new projects together and deal with the business of three kids and a husband who travels sometimes is really great. As is your obvious love for each other.

Oh, and your bathroom looks beautiful, too! It’s also inspiring to see that it’s possible to slowly put things together. It took a few years for you to finish your bathroom, and that’s just fine! A family of 5 can, in fact, share one bathroom! I hope you get your second toilet soon.

I’d like to request a few more photos with Cheetah in them. She’s so adorable!

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31.October.2014

Beautiful!! I absolutely love the tile you did on the walls and how it frames the tub/shower area. All the black and white contrast is so yummy and you found (yet another!) great rug. Can’t wait to see the final reveal!

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Your tub looks so similar to ours, especially the hardware. I love the wooden legs–so unique and gorgeous!!

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31.October.2014

Absolutely dying of jealousy right now. LOVE it. Especially the black side of the tub and the wood legs.

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31.October.2014

So good! What are you doing for a vanity?

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31.October.2014

I love it. We have two cast iron tubs – a big slipper tub on feet, and a tiny little one on a pedestal. We used the exact same faucets, shower head, ring, etc. Those things add up – I remember the sticker shock when we priced out all the accessories, but I love, love, love the tubs.

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31.October.2014

This room is coming together nicely. I love the wood cradle base.

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31.October.2014

Oh my! It may have been a whole lot of headaches but it was totally worth it. It looks amazing. You’re totally giving us inspiration for our own bathroom overhaul … whenever we actually get to it, that is.

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replied on October 31st, 2014

Thanks Jason!

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31.October.2014

I have a question! I’m curious if there was a method to figuring out how far apart the support cradles should be? How does one figure out an appropriate span? Looks fantastic and yes, that is one sexy toilet!

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replied on October 31st, 2014

For proper support, we aligned the cradles or saddle legs or whatever you want to call them with the placement of the tub’s original claw feet. Since the tub isn’t symmetrical, we couldn’t evenly space them along the 4.5′ width – which may have looked better but may have led to tipping / wobbling.

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31.October.2014

I have been dying over this bathroom since your first post on it way back when you started the whole downsizing project! I would never have chosen black tiles, to tile all of the walls, or a wooden cradle for the tub, but it’s GORGEOUS! You have such a great way of piecing things together and making them work beautifully together. I have to say though, I’m surprised at your toilet choice. I’d love to hear more on yours and Steve’s choice for such a drastically different main piece for the bathroom.

Love your blog!!

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replied on October 31st, 2014

It’s Steve’s dream toilet! I let him pick. I like the old / new contrast and it should be easy to clean. I think it’s going to be a “conversation piece” when we have guests over. Haha.

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31.October.2014

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how the tub turned out. I was so excited to see this project! It looks great, and, after seeing it, I’m thinking one of the best features might be how easy it will be to clean underneath the tub with the extra height from the wood base. I’ve had many clawfoot tubs and they are usually so close to the ground that cleaning is a real pain (literally, I have scraped my knuckles up badly trying to wipe up messes). This looks like an improvement in style AND function!

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I LOVE it! And, I have to say, I love that toilet. I’ve been telling my hubby for years that when we redo our hall bath, we’re getting a toilet with no visible trap on the side, because with two boys in the house, I’m tired of cleaning pee out of all those nooks and crannies! ;) (Our hall bath is an identical set-up to your master, and our master mirrors it, but with the door on the end wall instead. You better believe I have your bathroom in the back of my head as we plan the renovations of ours!!) Thanks for all the inspiration and helpful information!

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replied on October 31st, 2014

Steve chose the toilet. He’s always wanted a modern one. Guy thing? Like you, I am verrrrrry excited about less pee in crannies.

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31.October.2014

LOVE the base of the tub. Great contrast with the cast iron.

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31.October.2014

stunning! YES, a toilet can be sexy…and your tile and tub!

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31.October.2014

AMAZING! I love it.

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31.October.2014

Oh wow, I’ve been looking forward to this reveal for a while now – looking great!!! So glad you mentioned ordering those parts over two years ago…we are finally getting back on track for a bathroom update and our pedestal sinks have been sitting in the garage for a year!!! (Still in the boxes – hope there’s no shipping damages – YIKES!!!) Can’t wait to see all of your finishing touches – plus the vanity!
Happy Halloween and have a great weekend!
Leah

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31.October.2014

Great job on the base! I love the look.

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31.October.2014

Seriously, it’s stunning and not even completed yet! Wating anxiously for the complete reveal.

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31.October.2014

Beautiful. Bravo. I can’t wait to see the vanity.

The toilet appears as though it could swallow a small child! Very sleek.

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replied on October 31st, 2014

Haha! We were afraid the toilet might be too big but it has a small tank and hugs the wall so that it actually takes up less room than the standard toilet in our master bathroom! I’m still intimidated by it though.

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31.October.2014

Everything looks SO good. This has been worth the wait.
We put in a clawfoot tub last year and it definitely an exercise in patience, learning, googling.
We put in extra floor joists to support it since the second floor of our 100 year old home wasn’t designed to hold the weight of an iron tub full of water. We restored it ourselves and found simple fixtures to go with it. I’m so happy it’s done and looks good. We do have a separate shower so it’s not used daily, but still worth the work. Congrats on your cute tub.

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31.October.2014

Looking good!!!

We’re installing our new tub fixtures this weekend. The big challenge for us was finding a set to work with the narrow width of the drilled holes in the tub and that had both the shower head and the handheld option built in. Took months to find one that wouldn’t break the bank but we finally did and, like you, I’m totally obsessed with how beautiful it is!

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31.October.2014

This is shaping up to be my favorite room in your house. Really looks elegant already.

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31.October.2014

Tub looks great! I love the color, the fixtures and the base. Maybe it’s just the angle of the photos, but the toilet looks as big as the tub! Have you considered swapping the toilets- putting the modern one in your master bath and the traditional one here?

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replied on October 31st, 2014

I agree with switching the toilets!I think this bathroom looks like it should be the master- the other one seems much more kid-friendly- your boys must have better “aim” than mine with all that grout!

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replied on November 11th, 2014

I was thinking the same thing – either switch the toilet from the master or do a (sleek?) wall-mounted toilet. I feel like that current toilet takes all the spotlight off the tub. I don’t know if the angle throws things off, but it makes the tub look so small.

Everything else is lovely & can’t wait to hear how you did the base!

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replied on November 1st, 2014

This bathroom is small – about 5′ x 8′ – and the location of the doorway (off-centered) makes the room difficult to photograph. I had to zoom out quite a bit to get an overall shot of the room. Depth of field is coming into play here. The toilet is closer and it looks even bigger because I zoomed out. I think the petite size of the tub makes the toilet look bigger than it really is, too. The tub is only 4 1/2′ wide as opposed to the standard 5′. I don’t think we’ll swap toilets. We did some measuring and the toilet in the master bathroom actually takes up more square footage than the one in here! There’s actually more room to maneuver around the sleeker toilet than the round one in the master. Thanks for the question!

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replied on November 2nd, 2014

Perhaps adding some black to the toilet would help it to blend in. Is a seat replacement a possibility? Thanks for getting me interested in toilet shopping, ‘tho. I see Kohler makes a “night-light seat” that has really piqued my interest. It may lead me to a complete bathroom redo.

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31.October.2014

Black, white, wood, and texture–elegant and functional. Though I prefer large tiles, in this room, your choices shine, rug included. Any place for a touch of plant greenery, perhaps hanging? Also fascinated by that toilet and look forward to details.

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31.October.2014

I love it! I have a claw foot tub to and I should have painted it black like you did… I guess I could take it all out and paint it BUT I will wait to see how that process went for you :) Also, where did you purchase your curtain rod? I like it!!!

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31.October.2014

Very nice. Love it all.

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31.October.2014

I’m in love this this bathroom! And that black pencil tile continues to prove to be an excellent choice.

I can’t remember if you’ve said this before, so please forgive me if you have… What are your plans for the shower curtain? Will you use two panels that can be kept open to expose the tub and window? Or just one? I was wondering if the plan is to have the window obscured or exposed when the shower is not in use.

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replied on November 1st, 2014

We’ll have to use two shower curtains. The shower head and ceiling flanges won’t allow for one curtain to enclose the entire tub. I’d like to leave the window unobscured if possible. I love windows in bathrooms!

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31.October.2014

I absolutely LOVE that you used the wooden base instead of traditional feet – gorgeous!!!
~Kylie

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replied on November 1st, 2014

Thanks Kylie! We do too.

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31.October.2014

Hi! Well it’s been a long adventure but you are almost done and it was worth the wait. Nice job.except for the commode. Hope you are looking for constructive comments as well as glorious comments. IMHO the commode design is completely out of place for that bathroom. Your bathroom’s style is early 20th century – as in early 1900’s I love the ‘prohibition’ era tub with the today color ‘modern black’ on it. I love the shower curtain frame. I love the tile you chose – very 1920’s (my Italian family all had that tile in their apartments above the stores they owned in Cliffside Park NJ and Palisades Park NJ when they arrived at Ellis Island back in the late 1800’s to 1915. Your tub has curves, The shower curtain rod has curves. Your floor tile (love it) is octagon shape a derivative of a round shape. The commode is futuristic. Too many sharp edges and it takes away from the ‘atmosphere and intent’ of the room. But hey I am not an interior designer – it’s just my opinion and what do I know?

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replied on October 31st, 2014

I agree that the toilet seems out of place, but I completely understand that hubby needs to be involved too. It would be interesting to see the wood base a tad lighter, maybe it is, but in the picture it’s hard to see. It’s also hard to see the black exterior part of the tub against the black tile, again maybe it’s just the lighting. This is your blog, your house, and you are fabulous for sharing! Can’t wait to see it finished!

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replied on November 1st, 2014

It was pretty dark and gloomy when I snapped these photos. The area under the tub is always in the shadows so it’s difficult to get a good picture of the base without completely blowing out the shot. Sorry it’s not more visible!

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replied on November 1st, 2014

Oh man, I love the toilet and how the style is such a sharp contrast against the tub. I intentionally fill my spaces with both curves and clean lines. I adore vintage mixed with modern. The clean lines provide a nice relief from the curves…preventing things from getting too stuffy/traditional. But, like you said, Linda…I am not an interior designer. Just my opinion and what do I know? :) We’re all so different with different tastes. Guess that’s what makes the world go round!

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replied on November 1st, 2014

Agreed! A standard round bowl toilet would work fine in here but we tend to like contrasting colors, styles, textures and patterns. I don’t think there’s a wrong or right choice – just different tastes. It’s a good thing!

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replied on November 1st, 2014

Absolutely love the tub! Everything is gorgeous – fixtures, paint choice, wooden base. Love!

I do have to say I agree about the toilet. I think it detracts from the look of the room and overall aesthetic. Swapping toilets sounds like a good idea to me.

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replied on November 1st, 2014

I like the contrast of the toilet’s more angular lines, which echo the pencil tile, with the roundness elsewhere–a pleasing tension but a subtle one thanks to the white porcelain in the black and white space. Recently I saw a classic midcentury modern chair with grainsack upholstery; that seemed jarringly out of place and just plain wrong. This sleek toilet in this bathroom play off each other interestingly, not gratingly (to me, anyway).

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31.October.2014

What do the boys think of the new facilities? I think you may find that they will prefer to continue using the master bathroom. I second Liz’s idea to swap the toilets.

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01.November.2014

I love it ALL. Please don’t swap the toilets! :)

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01.November.2014

I dig the toilet (wrote no one ever?). You’re not trying to recreate an 1800s bath room; contrast is key to design. Can’t wait to see the whole shebang! (Please try to coax Cheetah onto the rug-or into the tub!- for some of the reveal shots!)
Beautiful work.

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replied on November 1st, 2014

It’s funny you mention Cheetah. The moment I pull out my camera she’s right there in my viewfinder. I have to coax her out!

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01.November.2014

This is gorgeous! I love love love how the tile and the tub and the fixtures have all come together. I have to say that if it was my house, I would definitely do the toilet swap that was suggested above. The contrast is just too much for me and I would want all the focus to be on that bathtub! But it’s not, so go with whatever!

Can’t wait for the final reveal.

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01.November.2014

The tub is beautiful but I am not loving the base. It may grow on me more as the room comes together but it seems a little too rustic for its surroundings. Just my completely unsolicited two cents… (for what it’s worth I think the toilet is great)

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01.November.2014

Hi Dana,
I love everything that you have chosen and the way that it is coming together. The bathtub looks fabulous, I have been dying to see it done since you mentioned the reclaimed lumber you where using. And the tile that you’ve chosen is a beautiful mix. I gotta say that toilet is quite the throne! I like how different from standard toilets it looks, the modern sleek lines of it and how easy it will be to clean. From where I am sitting it looks looks a little big and boxy, like it hides the tub a little. But I am sure it looks a lot better proportioned in person. I can’t wait to see what you are using for a sink and all the texture s you will add as finishing touches. I am looking forward to the final reveal. I hope you guys are having fun with the project, I know it may be a pain in the behind but when everything is done it will be so rewarding for all of you. Thank you for sharing the progress. I love it!!!

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01.November.2014

It’s gorgeous – all of it! So gleaming and white and luxurious. Great job with the selections!

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01.November.2014

Love. Love, Love your bathroom!

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01.November.2014

Hello Dana. I always love your blog- mostly because my style is so similar. I relate to your blog and yet I am also inspired as many of your ideas work so well in my own home. I loved the mood board/plans you showed early on for this bathroom. I think the tub and base look fantastic. The wood base adds the warmth to that space and the contrast is beautiful. However, the toilet seems like a miss to me. I think I would have liked it in a mood board but now seeing it in such a small bathroom and so close to the tub it looks off. In the photos the focal point is the toilet- and you have two interesting pieces competing for the spotlight. I agree the toilet is sleek but also massive and chunky. It could be the angle of the photos. I know bathrooms are difficult- we’ve done two. I only offer my comment with kindness and really I can’t wait to see the final reveal.

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02.November.2014

Looks so very fab for such a small space. Although the toilet isn’t my fav either (seems like your commenters are either in the love/hate camp with the toilet–who knew toilets would be so divisive!) BUT, once you mentioned the easy-to-clean thing, I’m sold. Bonus that it is small & sleek… we have small bathrooms too so I totally understand.

My question is about the rug. It’s beautiful but do you worry about keeping it clean? Is it washable? We actually have a similar style/size rug in blue tones that my IL’s brought back from a trip, but I have nowhere to put it. Your first sneak peak pic of the rug made me realize it would look GREAT in the bathroom, but it’s the one we all share and I fear it would get icky fast.

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02.November.2014

We have the same faucet on our clawfoot tub! If the showerhead that went missing is the one that came with the set, you’re lucky. It’s terrible and we replaced it after about three days. Your room looks great!

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02.November.2014

Love Everything! Where do you put your shampoo and conditioner?

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replied on November 2nd, 2014

So far, in the other bathroom! Haha. We use Honest Co.’s shampoo + body wash in one so it should fit in the soap holder just above the faucet.

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replied on November 4th, 2014

Thank you so much Dana

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02.November.2014

This is one reason I love following blogs like this. I would have never picked out that toilet to go with that amazing tub; and yet I love it. Sure a traditional one would have worked fine but this makes for such an interesting contrast (without being a show stealer).

Looking forward to the rest of the space!

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Its gorgeous Dana. Slow and steady definitely win the race here my friend:)

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04.November.2014

That is a strange looking toilet. Beautiful tile work and bathtub. Congrats on the progress.

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04.November.2014

I like it! The diagonal line in the toilet kinda matches the line of the tub.

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09.November.2014

I have a pic of the same kind of wood cradle supports for my vintage 4.5 foot vintage clawfoot tub and have been looking to buy these kinds of supports with no luck. Would you be so kind as to share how you made them? And thankfully I only have a few of the white floor tile in place … easier to rip up so I can put down this black hex instead! Gorgeous!

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14.November.2014

It looks amazing! I love the design! Thanks for sharing!

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18.November.2014

[…] needed the clearance for the drain line. Not to mention, a lower tub would have put more strain on the already strained water supply lines. Ah! So many little things to think […]

01.December.2014

Hi, Dana. I just spotted a modern toilet like yours in Brian Patrick Flynn’s mountain house project in the north Georgia mountains! I think you’ll like what he’s done with the place. https://www.facebook.com/flynnsideout/photos/pcb.275287882677916/275287016011336/?type=1&theater

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replied on December 1st, 2014

I saw that spread a few months ago but didn’t notice the toilet! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It’s like when you get a new car and suddenly you see the same make everywhere you go!

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