huge wooden window in shower--how to cope?

writersblockMay 5, 2014

While going around with a friend who is looking for an old cottage, I fell in love with an old house in a historic district, but of course there's one big problem.

The house has been totally renovated, and except for a flip kitchen and bath it's not bad, and the kitchen is adequate to get started with. The bath is more difficult, though. It's a small house with a small bath, and I have to assume there was a small clawfoot tub in the room before. (The house was built sometime between 1865 and 1875, so no bath originally.)

The renovator put in a nice acrylic alcove tub, but there is a giant window just above it, so low that you could use the sill as an armrest while sitting in the tub. I only have the listing photos, but this should give you an idea. It's the opposite window to this one and it's identical in size:

Here's the only pic of the full bath. You can kind of see the sun reflecting on the sill behind the shower curtain. (I wondered why they left the curtain drawn for the pic.)

The problem is how to work around this. Obviously this setup is just begging for trouble, but the house is a listed property in a designated historic district and it's forbidden to replace that window since it's visible from the street.

Any thoughts on how this could be made to work, or should I just forget the whole thing? Personally I can't think of any solution except to gut the room and try to squoodge things in at a different angle, but as you see there's not any too much room to do that, and the window is in the way no matter how you change things around. (Sorry, I don't have exact dimensions--at this point just wondering if there's anything to do short of a gut. I could put some kind of privacy film on the glass, but it's still a lot of wood in a shower.)

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lotteryticket

It's too bad you don't have the dimensions. Perhaps you could put the pedestal sink on one side of the window and the toilet on the other and find another spot for the tub and/or shower. Or you could go with a freestanding tub and pull it away from the wall a bit

Other by Lewes Home Builders Lane Builders LLC

It's a look that might work well in a bungalow.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:26PM
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gabbythecat

Do you *need* a shower in that bathroom? An old fashioned claw foot tub would work well there, especially with old fashioned looking toilet and sink. But it doesn't like like you could do a shower there - unless it was one of those smallish corner ones that *might* fit. But then you wouldn't have the vintage tub...it sounds like you could have fun fixing that house up - the Internet makes it possible to find very wonderful furnishings.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:17PM
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badgergal

We had a window in the tub area in a historic condo that we owned. We just hung a shower rod on that side of the tub and used a frosted liner. The nice part about that is that you can push the curtain to the side when not showering and still get nice light in the room.

A couple units in the building kept the outside of the window the same and put glass block in it. Not sure they were really supposed to do that though.

Whether you use privacy film or a shower curtain be sure you check it from the outside at night. Sometimes you can see shadows and then some, from the outside when the lights are on inside.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:21PM
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robo (z6a)

I like this solution on Apartmenttherapy:

"We have the exact same thing in our bathroom, because it used to just be a bathtub. What we wound up doing was cutting a small clear plastic shower curtain to fit, plus 4 or 5 inches on the three sides. Then we put a washer and screw through one side of a binder clip and screwed it to the underside of the wooden sill. That way, we can tuck the bottom edge of the curtain into the clip. This does two things: you aren't getting touched by the clammy curtain whenever it moves (since it can't) and it doubly protects the sill since it's all tucked up and doesn't drip. It's hung with the same cheap curtain rod that you can get at Walmart for $2."

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:22PM
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robo (z6a)

Or GW blogger VictoriaElizabeth's more high tech solution here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Window in shower

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:25PM
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writersblock

Thanks very much, everyone. Lots of good ideas. Lotteryticket, I'm sure it was something like that before he redid it, since the window isn't rotted the way it would be if there'd been an alcove tub/shower all these years.

As for needing the shower, it's the only full bath in the house. One of the two tiny closets has been turned into a powder room and I'd rather have the storage, really. But if that meets code for a half bath, it does it by millimeters--no way to expand it to a full bath. It's quite a small house.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:57PM
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palimpsest

What about a small sliding shower door of tempered glass to go over the window? Not cheap, but less expensive than redoing a whole bathroom by far.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:33PM
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writersblock

Hmm, yes, that might work, palimpsest. It would take some figuring since the sill protrudes so far into the tub, but yeah, that's a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:41PM
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Trebruchet

writer'sblock:

I've finished several of these in solid surface. It's not too difficult or expensive, but you've got the get the details right.

Remember Bruce Lee "Be water."

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:00PM
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writersblock

Hmm, that's very interesting, Trebuchet. I can see how you could do the sash and casing, but what about the muntins? Do you happen to have a pic or a link?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:41PM
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Trebruchet

Sorry no pics or links. The trick is to think like a drop of water. You need to be shed or evacuated and unable to penetrate.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:22AM
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geoffrey_b

"but the house is a listed property in a designated historic district and it's forbidden to replace that window since it's visible from the street. "

I'd steer clear of the property because it's in a historic district. No telling what you cannot do.

A wooden window in a shower is not good.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:25PM
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OldTimeCarpenter1

Assuming that the bottom of the window is higher than the edge of the tub, then the solution is easier than you might think.

The tile solution linked above to Victoria Elizabeth's bathroom is something we used to do regularly -- at the time there was no other way to do it.

Now we do something easier.

First, replace the window with a vinyl window that matches as closely as possible the window you removed. A number of companies make good vinyl windows. We like Milgard, if only for its unlimited lifetime warranty. Ordinarily I hate and will not install a vinyl window in an old house, but this is the one exception.

You will also need to cover the frame with plastic.

This is easy. All sorts of companies make cellular PVC trim. The oldest and best known is probably Azek.

Remove the window and cover over the existing frame with PVC trim. Caulk all seams and use dabs of caulk to conceal any nail holes (we usually just glue ours up, no nails)..

Install the vinyl window inside the new PVC frame IAW the manufacturer's instructions -- be sure to use to use no-rust stainless screws.

For window casing, stool, etc. on the inside, again use cellular PVC trim boards. You can even get rosettes these days from companies like Chemcrest for that Victorian or Arts & Crafts look. Before we could get these pre-molded, we used to cast our own from Bondo automotive body putty -- sounds like it wouldn't work, but it does.

Now your window is waterproof. Happy showering.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:14PM
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writersblock

I'd steer clear of the property because it's in a historic district. No telling what you cannot do.

Well, they're mostly concerned with keeping the parts of the house viewable from the street as historic as possible. I could add on way out into the back yard if I wanted, as long as it doesn't show from the street. I could easily change out the window if it were in the little annex to the back of the house where the kichen is, for example, because that's narrower and you can't see it.

First, replace the window with a vinyl window that matches as closely as possible the window you removed

Well, but that's the thing. Since this window is visible from the street, although it's on the side of the house, no possibility whatever of changing the window for anything different. No vinyl windows, ever, anywhere that people walking by can see.

(How odd. I know I replied to Geoffrey_B and OldTimeCarpenter yesterday but my reply seems to have gone missing. Anyway, thanks for the new suggestions.)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:56AM
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OldTimeCarpenter1

What sort of historic district is this?

We redo many historic houses and have no trouble replacing windows as long as we get the same look in the new window.

You should check on this with whatever preservation board has jurisdiction.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:53PM
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