Take That, Cursed Bathroom


My bathroom and I have a love-hate relationship. While it is a place of sanctuary and rest (rather more so now than it was when we bought the house,) there are also little niggling things about it that bug me.

Some of you might remember the atrocity that was the original bathroom:

After nuking the floral border, pink and blue pastel paint and bronze shower doors, I was pretty content with it.

Still. One of those little niggling things things was its lack of storage space. Besides the under-sink storage in the little cabinet, there was nothing. I have a half-dozen items I like having ready access to, and those half-dozen items cluttered up the top of the sink. I wanted to put them away, but within easy reach.

Enter The Over-Toilet Storage Solution.

Last winter, I’d decided I needed more storageย and looked at options. A large hanging cabinet over the toilet would be perfect, problem solved. Well, no. There are absolutely no studs in the wall behind the toilet, or at least, none we could detect.

No problem, I’ll just grab one of those over-the-toilet hutch-type thingies I’ve seen all over the place, and that will be that.

As projects so often do here, getting the hutch got shelved for nearly a year. When I finally found myself at Bed, Bath and Beyond last week with Mom, I spied a hutch I liked and hauled it home.

When The EngiNeir brought it upstairs for me and looked at the area between the sink and the toilet, and the toilet and the tub, he discovered Yet Another Problem – there was less than an inch of clearance between the toilet and the sink, which was far too small for the legs of the hutch.


Not to be discouraged, I said, “no problem, I’ll just return it and get a hanging cabinet.”

What did I forget in the year this project has spanned? There are no damned studs from which to hang a cabinet, Erin.


Rather despondent, I set out to return the hutch and figure something else out. On the way, I stopped by a vacuum repair shop to have our three (3) vacuums cleaned and tuned up. Only two stayed at the shop, as I refused to pay eighty dollars for a stinking tune-up on the Dyson Animal. No wonder people just throw them away and buy new ones, for Pete’s sake; it’s easier, faster and only slightly more expensive than having existing ones repaired. Still, for conservation’s sake, I left the two cheaper models there for tuning – $39.99 for the Dirt Devil, $49.99 for the Eureka. Oy!

Anyhow. Back to the hutch. I’d purchased it all the way over on the West side of town, about a half hour away. On the way over, I decided to buy a new toilet instead and solve the problem that way. It was an idea that had occurred to me earlier in the day, but seemed silly. However, swimming in my stew of frustration and dejection, it made perfect sense. I’ll Freecycle the old one and get one that’s narrower and more water-efficient. I could stop using the plastic buckets to collect shower water, because I’d be using less per flush. Brilliant!

At Home Depot, I compared the various flush usages, prices and widths. Finally, I settled upon a $138 model that was only 17.75″ wide, compared to the old one’s 22.5″. It uses 1.23 gallons per flush, and is kind of cute – for a toilet.

When a lone ย woman is buying a toilet at Home Depot, any man within visual distance will offer to lift it for her. Chivalry, as it turns out, is not dead. What nice guys. ๐Ÿ™‚ PS – Toilets are heavy.

The EngiNeir and I wrangled it up the stairs, dismantled and ripped out the old toilet and discovered… the new toilet had a completely different (larger) footprint from the old. This bathroom has carpeting in it.

I contemplated ripping up the carpet and getting new flooring. The EngiNeir suggested we cut a bigger hole in the carpet and see how it went. Ok.

As we were exploring this option, he came into unfortunate contact with the rusty tack strip surrounding the foot of the toilet that was keeping the edges down. The EngiNeir eschews doctors, and thus is not current on his tetanus shot. Derp.


We carried bravely on, despite the fresh blood on the tools, and despite the thin, yet incredibly sticky, coating of wax all over us and everything in the room from the wax ring. Whatever that wax is made of could be used to adhere things to space ships for atmospheric re-entry. It is disgusting and wildly water-repellent.

Using my trusty Wusthof kitchen shears (which will cut through anything, even after 15 years of abuse and never having been sharpened,) Mike cut a bigger hole in the carpet, pried the tack strips up and checked his work. Perfect.

After much sturm and drang, we got the new toilet into place and decided to do the hutch the next day. We were in urgent need of delicious Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine.

Today, The EngiNeir assembled the hutch from its myriad boxed pieces and we got it, too, into place. Getting the final crossbar behind the toilet into place took some Doing, but he did it!

Of note: There is less than a millimeter of space on either side of the hutch. Phew. The toilet is not centered, however, and cannot be. This offends The EngiNeir’s sensibilities, and I may have to craft some kind of a drape to help disguise this shortcoming.



Victory! And I love it!

Next (and perhaps even last) on the list is to replace the exhaust fan, which sounds like it’s thrown a bearing once it’s been running awhile. Ideally, a larger, jacuzzi-jet-having tub would be great… but I don’t even think that’s possible in this space, so it’s a pipe dream.

But for now, calm and serenity have been restored in the bathroom area, and I plan to bask there shortly. ๐Ÿ™‚

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8 responses to Take That, Cursed Bathroom

  1. David Johnson

    The bathroom looks great!!! ours are the SAME chocolate brown!!! (a very chic color)… well done!

  2. Michigan Heather

    Isn’t it amazing how one things leads to another… and how long a “simple” project takes?

    Congrats = it looks great!!

  3. Andrew Duthie

    Look up offset toilet flanges. Not sure of their intended purpose, but one should be enough to center the toilet under the enormo-hutch ya got, there.

    That said, I suspect it’s a lot of work to install. But maybe it will help justify getting rid of the carpet in there!

  4. I love this post! I am also struggling with a lack of bathroom storage, but I have a different problem in the solution. Our existing bathroom furniture (under the sink) is black. I want an over the toilet cabinet (like the one you wanted but couldn’t hang), but I have YET TO FIND one in black. They come in white… they come in espressso… No black. URGH!!!

  5. Erin D.

    Andrew, that’s an interesting idea, thanks. I’d never heard of that before.

    Jackie – Y’know, I haven’t seen them in black, either. I’ve seen dark woods – would something like that work? Or maybe… Krylon? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you can find something!

  6. Mel

    My bathroom project this year is going to be replacing the bathroom ceiling, since I’m going to have to rip it out to cut through the first roof, so I can then put in a vent through the second roof (old house surprises!). And then I can finally insulate.

  7. Carrie

    I understand EngiNeir’s frustration with lack of symmetry. I also suffer from the same affliction. What occured to me though, is how about using that space for a vertical stack of toilet paper rolls? I think BB&B sells a sort of rack for just such a purpose. I have one and love it. Nothing is so frustrating as not having a new roll on hand when you need it. ๐Ÿ™‚ BTW, it looks great.

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