Bathroom cabinetry & fixtures

Finally, we were getting into the “fun” stuff – the things that would make it a functioning home: cabinets, fixtures, stairs and appliances. It felt like we were so close to being done, but it was only the beginning of May and we, unknowingly, had another three months of work ahead of us.

At this point, I didn’t really have a clear picture of what all the cabinets and such would look like. I’m not a designer and have trouble visualizing designs in my head, so we just tackled one project at a time and basically winged it. Though, I knew the color scheme I wanted which was a golden-brown stain for cabinet door and drawer faces and a dark (almost black) trim.

The first cabinet we tackled was the bathroom vanity/cabinet since it was the smallest and simplest. While doing some research on homemade cabinets, I came across the method of using old pallet wood. Some of the examples I found were amazing and I loved the rustic look. I was fired up about this idea. Not only would it be free material, but we would be repurposing the wood.

I inquired with some of the local businesses about any old pallets that they might throw out and learned the country store down the road supplied a pile every week, free for the taking. So, on the next designated “free pallet” day, we set out to get our pallets. As we started sifting through them, we soon realized why they were free: they were mostly just dilapidated and rotten. I already started doubting this plan. Nonetheless, we picked out two of the best ones we could find and headed home.

We quickly got to work on breaking apart one of the pallets. It was a disaster. If a rusty nail hadn’t already split one of the planks, it would split as we tried to pry it off. It was such a fiasco, and in the end, less than half of the planks were usable. Much to our disappointment, this wasn’t going to work.

So, off to the lumber store we went, where, fortunately, we found some cedar fencing board that was really lightweight and relatively inexpensive. It would just take some work smoothing down their surface.

For the cabinet trim, we decided to go with poplar. It’s sturdy, easily paintable and inexpensive.

 

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Bathroom cabinet trim pieces cut and prepped with pocket screw holes.
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Putting together bathroom vanity/cabinet.
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Painted in Dark Walnut.
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Cedar fencing. The two boards on the left are the original material. The board on the right has been planed to a smooth surface.
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For the counter top, we used a piece of high-grade plywood we had lying around. Initially, we tried staining it, but it looked horrible. So I decided to spray it with the Dark Walnut paint.
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Bathroom vanity/cabinet complete.

 

I thought I’d be thrifty and save a bunch of money by buying a wooden salad bowl at the thrift store to convert into a bathroom sink. Turns out it created way more work than I intended. After all the grinding, sanding, epoxying and more sanding, it was quite the pain in the ass. Had I known, I would have just bought a small round steel sink. At least it turned out pretty!

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Salad bowl sink: before
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Salad bowl sink: after

 

I wanted my shower to be a simple installation while also fitting into the interior style of the house. I had found a couple of examples of people using stock water troughs, so after doing just enough research to learn we should be able to make it work, it was a quick decision to go with a trough for a tub. To round out the style and look of the shower, we decided to do exposed copper piping with simple outdoor spigots for handles.

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My super simple exposed copper piping and trough shower.

 

While researching tiny house layout designs, I noticed most people had their wardrobe closets and/or drawers outside the bathroom area, either in one of the compartments under the stairs or up in the bedroom loft. I also noticed how small and claustrophobic most tiny house bathrooms looked.

When I purchased my RV, one of the main reasons I chose that specific one was its layout. The bathroom was at the very end of the RV, spanned the entire width and was roughly five feet in length. It contained a corner shower, a decent sized vanity with a few cabinet shelves below the sink, tons of shelving in overhead medicine cabinets, a wardrobe closet and a toilet that had its own designated corner with walls and a door. The bathroom was huge compared to RV standards. I absolutely loved that design, so I modeled my tiny house bathroom after my RV with a few minor adjustments to consider plumbing. With that said, I could afford that kind of space with my 24’ trailer. Had I gone with a smaller trailer, I may have had to reconsider.

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Wardrobe closet completed.

 

Opposite the wardrobe we installed shelves and extra storage space. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize these shelves were a bad design until I had mostly moved in. It turns out, the left corner of the second shelf from the top is at the perfect location to smack your head when you’re bending down or reaching back into one of the lower shelves.

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Corner shelves for bathroom storage.

 

I had to do a bit of searching to find the right-sized cubicle to fit in the space under the shelves. Eventually, I found this one at IKEA. This is a great space to store workout and outdoor activity clothing, extra towels and miscellaneous items.

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While researching what type of material we should use for the interior paneling and loft flooring, I had come across something called Blue Stain Pine or Beetle Kill Pine. Beetle Kill Pine results from bark beetles that carry a blue stain fungus which infects and kills a variety of trees. Read more about it here. Fortunately, the dead trees are able to be salvaged and used for building supplies.

I had hoped to use Beetle Kill Pine as my interior paneling, but the accessibility of material and expense didn’t quite work for my needs and budget. So, when I realized I’d need some sort of material for my sliding bathroom door, I was ecstatic I’d finally get my Beetle Kill Pine. It was the perfect accent.

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And to finish off the bathroom, we built this little knick-knack shelf with some of the left-over Beetle Kill Pine.

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Author: Debora Schwartz

I am a traveler, a writer, an outdoor enthusiast and a tiny house dweller.

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