These clients moved from Washington, D.C. to the Floating Homes community in Sausalito to retire.
What they wanted was to “feel like they were at a spa” when they went into their bathroom. I walked into a nice bathroom that had been recently freshened up for the sale. There was an 8’ wall with a 7’ soaking bathtub with Jacuzzi-style jets and a motor. Neither one of them liked to take baths! So, that’s where it began…
I took out the bathtub and discovered, as is not unusual in a floating home, that the previous craftsman had been a bit creative in getting the plumbing to work for this tub. [It is good to realize that these structures are (mostly) concrete hulls that have wooden structures built on top of them, and then they are finished according to the tastes, wants, and budgets of the owners. The utilities are connected to the pier by flexible hoses, wires, etc., which move when the boats float up and down on the tide, typically twice a day. This boat goes from sitting on the mud, at low tide, to floating about 4-6’ above the mud at high tide.] So, for waste water to be removed from the boat, they lay black ABS DWV pipes in the same way that you would in a typical home, sloped to a collection point, in this case a 32-gallon plastic tub that has an ejection pump and a mascerating grinder to reduce the size of the solid waste.
The layout of the tub and the proposed shower required a fair amount of creative plumbing to get the drains to work (I typically increase the slope of the drainage pipes to account for the listing of the boats during high tides and/or sitting on the mud.)
To accommodate the two sizes of the clients (one over 6’, and the other nearly a foot shorter) I designed two different shower set ups: one for the taller man at the entrance of the shower, and the other at the far end of the shower for the shorter woman. The on/off controls for each shower were just inside the door, at the entrance to the shower, so that you could turn on both showers without stepping into the shower, or getting wet! (Note: This is now a code-required feature throughout most of the country – I designed this some 5 years previous to it becoming required) so, you open the door, have the shower on/off controls, and then under each shower head (at different and appropriate heights), the temperature control knobs are located. For the woman, I built a small corner shelf for her to place her foot upon while she shaved her legs. For the man, I built a custom teak bench that would fold down from storage on the wall, to run the majority of the 8’ length of the shower, and support his size while relaxing in the steam shower that I also incorporated into the design.
On the bathroom wall is a remote key pad to start and adjust the output from a steam generator that was mounted on the exterior of the boat, and piped into the shower through the wall, under another tile bench that served as a smaller perch while showering, with a steam outlet on the far end of the bench. A steam shower can only work efficiently if you are generating steam into an enclosed space. So, the next step was to slope the ceiling (to avoid drips from condensation), and build glass walls to enclose the space efficiently. These walls needed to be made in three panels at two heights, which were then mounted and sealed while incorporating a door to enter into the space. The woman client happens to be a glass artist, so she wanted a spectacular statement piece for these panels. The chosen glass design had to be cast in sand in West Virginia, shipped across country, and then installed. There was a smaller piece of matching glass that was used to seal off the window, while still allowing light in.
The walls and floors were tiled using 5 or 6 different sized tiles in a repeating, seemingly random, pattern. We used a quarter-round trim to finish the edges of the project, and it turned out beautifully.
The finishing touches were Aura paint by Benjamin Moore (no VOV), relocating the door to allow for more room, rewiring for new lights, and a thermostatically and timer controlled warm floor system to allow for the floor to heat up before they got up in the morning.
The other things that we did on this boat were installing a Murphy bed and shelving into their office, to allow for guests and books. (Often times, the spaces in floating homes are multi-use, as they square footage is often less than you would find in a regular home.) I also installed a beautiful backsplash in their kitchen after the remainder of their home (the upstairs) had been remodeled by another contractor (which had been negotiated before I had worked for them doing the down stairs.)