Beach Cottage Decor

Unused Bathtub?

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If you do not take baths and instead prefer to shower, have you ever wanted to do something with the space occupied by the spa or tub in your bathroom?  Our project last weekend was to design, construct, paint, and finish a “spa cover” for the rather large and unused bathtub in our master bathroom.  Michael and I don’t take baths.  I was not satisfied to just leave the bathtub alone; I wanted to give the space a purpose.  It takes up quite a bit of space in our bathroom.  Fortunately for me, Michael was more than able to accommodate my wishes!

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Michael decided to design a custom cover that simply rests over the tub.  That way, the tub will still be there when we sell the house, or if I decide one day that a relaxing soak in the spa is just what I need.  The latter is highly unlikely!  Building a cover that doesn’t involve removing pipe and faucet hardware, or the entire tub, was the best option for us at this point.  Originally, I envisioned a plain piece of fiberboard resting on top of the tub.  You can imagine my surprise and gratitude when I got my first look at what Michael was designing.  He used individual pieces of fiberboard to create a beach cottage look for me.

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I don’t know how he does it, but when it comes to measuring, Michael is a pro.  He measured the cover to fit perfectly over the funky shape of the tub.  When he cut the wood with his table saw, he made the sides high enough to fit on top of the faucet and knobs.

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After he built it, Michael applied putty to cover up the screws.  We let the putty dry overnight, and then Michael sanded it.  The fiberboard cover is very heavy, weighing at least 100 pounds.  We carried it into the house for painting and realized it is also very awkward to move.

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Michael designed and constructed the cover, and painting  was my department.  He picked out a very beach cottage paint for me, antique white, and set up all my painting materials.  The roller brush he suggested I use made short work of the paint and finish jobs.

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I gave the cover 2 coats of paint during the week.  I found painting during the evenings after work to be very relaxing.  After the painting was finished, Michael sanded the wood with fine-grit sandpaper.  Then, I applied the first coat of protective finish and let it dry overnight.  Michael lightly sanded the cover the next evening, and I applied a second and final coat of the finish.  We used Minwax Polycrylic Clear Protective Finish in Satin.

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I am a big fan of Minxwax.  I used the protective finish on an unfinished wood dining table, and loved how I could easily wipe the surface clean with water or 409, as many times as I wanted, without damaging the wood.  Since the cover would be placed in the bathroom, I wanted to make sure I could clean it as often as I wanted without having to worry about messing up the paint job.  Minwax has a polyurethane protective finish for unfinished wood, but since we were working with painted fiberboard, we used the polycrylic finish.  The Minwax website provides clear instructions for all their products.  We just followed these directions along with some helpful tips from my sister, who is also a fan of sealing and protecting things with Minwax.  She explained that Minxwax has to be sanded after application because it leaves a somewhat bumpy texture on the surface of the wood.  Sanding it smooths out the surface so it won’t catch debris from a cleaning cloth or anything else that comes into contact with it.

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The cover was ready to meet the tub by the end of the week.  We moved it into our bathroom on Saturday.  The”installation” added some comic relief to the project.  We had no trouble maneuvering the cover into the bathroom, but placing it on top of the tub proved to be quite a challenge for us on Saturday morning.

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Originally, Michael considered building the cover in the bathroom, but the garage is much more conducive to the operation of an electric sander and table saw.  Sawdust has a tendency to get on everything during the sanding process.  The bathroom failed to meet the bill for a suitable build site.  We just had to figure out how to get the finished product on top of the tub.

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I’m sure the fact that I was more concerned with photographing the process than contemplating the best way to place the cover on top of the tub was not amusing to my husband!

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Michael ended up crouching down inside the tub after we positioned the cover on the end of it.  Then he basically held the cover up with his back while I attempted to assist in the placement of it.  We managed to position it, but now Michael was enclosed beneath the cover. The cover fit so perfectly that it left no “wiggle room.”   He was not able to simply step out of it while I held it up.  Michael ended up slithering out from under the cover like a worm while I propped it up to create an opening.  Alas, the cover was in place, and Michael was safely out of the tub.

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I’m so happy with the job Michael did for me on this custom cover for our bathtub.  I’m still thinking about how to decorate it and arrange things on it.  For now, I unpacked my apothecary jar and placed shells, sand dollars, and a star fish in it.  I used the pillow, conch, and glass fishing float in the back corner.  Now we have a handy and large counter space  for towels and toiletries.  Storing folded towels here is particularly convenient since our linen closet is upstairs.

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Here’s our before and after:

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15 thoughts on “Unused Bathtub?

  1. I guess trying to get a pic of Michael wiggle worming out would have been kind of pushing it in the “helpful assistant ” department…
    I love the shiplap beach look and it will be so nice to have extra “counter” space for getting ready.

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  2. What a project! The result is amazing. It justifies all the difficulty of getting it into position. Michael, you are a real wonder. It was kind of Heidi not to take a photo of Michael slithering out of the tub!.. It looks oso fresh and welcoming! Very very creative!

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  3. I love this, because I have a ‘useless’ bath-jacuzzi exactly this shape in my bathroom. And the wasted space annoys me, so I have been Googling like mad in search of a hard cover for a bath-jacuzzi, without success. And then I saw what you and Michael did – just what I would love to do as well! Alas, I am not as gifted and strong as Michael – would not be able to build and then manoeuvre in place one such big piece on my own.
    Thanks for posting this, anyway. It gave me some ideas, so I will have to ‘find a Michael’ to build such a cover for me!

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  4. Hi Heidi and Michael,
    We moved to Tasmania Australia from Adelaide/Melbourne and overseas and bought a house with a large corner bath similar to yours. We never had a bath as big in all the places we lived!! We have only used it about 5 times in 10 years!
    I have had the same idea for years but have not managed to materialise it until now! Your detailed article has inspired us both and my husband has finally and enthusiastically added it to his To Do List! Thank you for sharing your experience and skills. Congratulations on working together to find solutions to problems in and around the home and life. Best wishes Sylvia and Steve (Launceston, Tasmania)

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    1. Sylvia- thank you for reading our unused bathtub post, and I am happy to hear it will be useful for you in your own bathroom! And we also prefer showers to baths 🙂

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