After a tough day, when I wonder why I bothered to do any of this, I take a shower and it becomes clear why. I love this bathroom. The stress melts away and I'm inspired to do more tomorrow.

This bathroom design was done exactly how design is not to be done. No plan. It meant removing things, adding, removing again. Much more like sculpting than remodeling.

Sconces are porch lights without their glass cover. Very common light here, used in subdivisions and replaced by many people. I like the rectangular shape, a bit more Craftsman.

I dislike the fake candle tubes the bulb sits atop. These seem to be on many such lights for the past 100 years or more. They are needed to protect the wiring so they just can't be removed. A ¾" copper coulper fit perfectly over the tube. Wish all enhancements were so easy. In the photo the left candle doesn't have a copper cover yet.

Quarter sawn white oak, glass top keys from a Corona 3.

Light Switch

I, like many people, have always loved the old push button light switches. I had an issue with the door casing being so wide it intruded into the light switch space so I had to do something. Moving the light switch box was not at the top of my list.

My first thought was to reproduce my own push button switch one using glass top, metal ring, typewriter keys for the buttons. They have a shape people love to touch. They're the Coke bottle of the key world.

I ran into a small issue when desiging the switch, it stuck out from the wall too much. The original push buttons had most of their workings inside the box. Creating an actual electric switch is where I draw the line. I'm not really one for ignoring building codes, people get Darwin Awards for such feats.

After much thought, and many designs, I came up with what you see here. It fits over an existing standard toggle switch including the plastic face plate. So it's even safer than a standard switch because it is a standard switch but fingers are kept even further away.

Green switch

My first switch plate was a ceramic number. But too Victorian, and the plastic switches showed through. I was lucky that when I trimmed the door the switch plate was in the way. So something new was needed.


I want as much plumbing exposed as possible to make maintenance easier. With a bit of care the look can be enjoyable as well.

I was worried about the mixing of hot and cold but it has worked perfectly.

On survior type TV shows where people are deprived it takes about two weeks for them to start complaining of not having a shower. It seems to come right after lack of food as a concern. A shower fixture is an important feature in a home, one we take for granted. It should show its importance.


The gauges are to give the fixture some weight and provide some animation. Without them the exposed pipes are a bit light and lacking in interest. Seeing the gauges spring to life in the morning demonstrates a connection to the house and the community beyond.

Temperature gauge on the left in the mixed stream. Fahrenheit and Celsius, so a way to interalize what Celsius means. I now realize how warm 40°C is without having to roughly convert to Fahrenheit in my head.

Pressure on the right, although it could be anywhere above the handles. Unforunately this pressure gauge only goes to 30 psi and here in Phoenix the normal range is 40-80 psi so this gauge isn't much help.


As winter approached I noticed hot water running out at the end of a shower. I turned up the heat on the tank and considered replacing a low float head. But I solved this by using the pressure gauge. Turn hot to 5 psi and then cold to 18 psi. That setting provides good, but lower, flow and conserves enough hot water for the entire shower.

I was suprised it found this small utilitarian use.

Tiny Hot Water Heater

This is all powered by a 20 gal electric hot water heater. By US standards that's tiny. I wanted to find the baseline of what we really use. Most people would agree a 1,000 gal hot water heater is probably wasteful for two people. 40 to 50 gal would be normal, but I wanted to put that to the test. Conventional wisdom isn't always right.

In summer we are able to get at least two showers without a problem. In winter, one shower per 1-2 hour cycle. .

A smaller hot water heater is another way to remind us hot water isn't provided by magic. It is a resource to be managed. We're not conserving, we have and use plenty of hot water.

Shower Caddy

Hangs from a piece of solid Brazilian Cherry as I wanted the wall connection well above the normal splash line.

All copper. Bare, no protective finish in keeping with my desire for materials to improve with age. The place where we keep the bar soap did turn green quickly, but even that process has slowed. The green tarish doesn't transfer to the soap to any noticeable degree. The rest of the caddy is turned dark brown as it tarishes. I didn't know what to expect but I'm very happy with the result so far.


Car Wheel Keep On Turning

I saw these solid aluminum car rims on a craigslist drywall pickup. They were on a trailer heading to the scrap yard.

They struck me as looking like portholes. And aluminum would work in a bathroom. $40 for four, our best guess at their scrap value.

I thought myself very clever, a porthole in a bathroom. I was pretty sure I was the only person on the planet to think of such a thing. Later I found several companies making very nice brass porthole windows for homes and bathrooms, starting around $90. Not as clever as I thought. But I'm not sure I would swap this one out for a "real" porthole. That makes me not clever and stubborn.

It was never my intention to make a nautical themed bath. I don't even like nautical. No fish nets hanging from the ceiling, no sea shells anywhere, and no anchors please. A real porthole would have made the bath nautical no question. With the aluminum rim wheel window I still feel this could be in a train suite or home.