When undertaking any renovation, it is important to share your vision and ideas. The builder will provide recommendations and the know-how, but they don’t know how you want to live in your space. I have previously shared my opinion that builders don’t always know best. Identifying that early in our basement finishing project was key to getting the basement layout of our dreams. But it is equally important to voice your opinion on the small things. Details are important.
When our builder originally planned the bathroom, he included a linen closet. It was a nice idea, but we really had no need for a linen closet. The bathroom would already have a 48″ vanity with plenty of storage underneath. A built in linen closet seemed very constricting to me. I wanted the bathroom to feel airy and open. A linen closet jutting out in one corner did not fit my vision. So we asked the builder to remove it from the plans.
The builder asked if we wanted the vanity to go all the way across or do double sinks. There certainly was no need for double sinks in a downstairs guest bath. One of the bathrooms in our town home had a large 60″ vanity with a single sink on one side. It had a lot of storage, but then there was a large expanse of pretty much useless counter space (although we did use it for the baby bath). Instead of a larger vanity, I told the builder I wanted to leave the extra space open for a free standing cabinet or a bench.
Well, then there was a surprise. Another darn pipe was in the way of our plans. The builder forgot part of the reason for suggesting a linen closet was to conceal a bump out in the wall for the pipe and access panel. Instead of a nice open corner in the bathroom, I had a pipe to contend with. The builder offered to frame out the linen closet for free. But the hubby and I, still resistant to the linen closet idea, decided to brainstorm our own ideas.
First, we thought a built-in bench could conceal the pipe. The builder could frame in the bench, cover the front and side with drywall, and add a wood seat. A bench would not take up any visual space in the room at eye level, so the open and airy feel would remain. We both started to rally around the bench idea.
Before pitching the bench idea to our builder we wanted to imagine it in the actual space. We brought our idea and tape measure down to the bathroom. As soon as we set foot in the space we noticed a glaring problem with our plan. Another pipe! There was another pipe at chest level running horizontally. When it met the giant pipe running vertically in the corner, it jutted out of the wall around the larger pipe to turn the corner. This meant even if the bench would work for the lower pipe obstacle, we would still have a problem higher up.
Back to the drawing board we went. I thought maybe the simplest solution was to bump the wall out in the corner about 8″. It was a compromise between a totally open corner and an obtrusive linen closet. Then I had a big idea. I could not explain it, so I decided to try to create it in Google Sketchup. The idea was to bump the wall out to conceal the pipes, but then recess the middle portion to create a niche. The niche could later be finished with some shelves and a towel bar.
I emailed my sketch to the builder. He double checked the measurements and shared it with his framer. They agreed the solution would work and had it framed out the next day. It is exactly what we wanted. I cannot wait to see it once it is all drywalled.
I love how the framer made notes on the lumber to make sure he got it just right. His notes reference the drywall to be added. You can tell he put a lot of thought into ensuring the space on either side of the niche would be exactly equal after the drywall goes in. The niche starts 18″ up and stops at the same height as the top of the door. The builder said, and we agreed, stopping the niche at that height would be visually pleasing.
We will be adding a couple glass shelves in the niche for display. We also plan to hang a towel bar in front of the niche. We love the idea of having extra space between the towel bar and wall to hang a towel. The niche is pretty narrow, so the towel bar may just be for the hand towel and a wash cloth. We have plenty of wall space between this corner and the shower to put additional towel bars for bath towels.
I am so glad we found a builder that we are comfortable with. Communication is essential to the success of every project. Our builder is open to our ideas and due to his openness we have felt comfortable sharing our ideas. We have also found it helpful to use a variety of communication methods. Talking is great, but pictures are even better. We always felt free to doodle on the floor plans our builder shared during the planning process. Using Google Sketchup to portray our bath niche idea was a step up from doodling on paper. Altogether, talking and visuals helped us share our vision with the builder and helped him make our vision a reality.