Figuring out a glass block shower can be a pain in the rear! If you’re using a contractor they may be vaguely familiar with this type of wall system – or, if they are not, they will try to steer you to a “standard” shower enclosure since it’s what they know how to do. But, if you have your heart set on the benefits of a low maintenance, high privacy glass block shower and want to make it happen – no matter how difficult it is to figure out – you’ll want to read this article.
Well I’m here to tell you a glass block shower doesn’t require a brain surgeon to design and install (and my wife would agree I’m not a brain surgeon – or at least I don’t have the listening skills of one)! I’ve been working with this product since 1985 (wow- that makes me old) and have learned a few “tricks” along the way about glass block design. In this article, my goal is to help you identify the top 6 glass block wall shapes. Then we’ll look at each shape (I’ll give you some “out-there” names for them) and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each so you can wrap your arms around which is best for you. Just to let you know I’ve saved the most popular design for last (but don’t jump ahead because the other 5 designs may be better for your project) So let’s get ‘er done and figure this project out!
You may think I’ve gone nuts. How can glass block basement windows possibly be sexy?? If there is a definition of YUCK it’s got to be basement windows. Most existing metal or wood framed basement windows are nasty. In almost every case when I – or a member of our company – visits someone’s basement to look at a project they say, “Sorry for the mess down there! Do you want me to clean off the dirt and cobwebs from the windows?” Yes – existing basement windows are anything but sexy.
So how can replacing a metal or wood framed basement window with glass blocks add some sex-appeal to your basement (if that’s even possible)? How can they make you happy taking trips to your basement to do the laundry or hang out in the rec room – or at least make it a bit less depressing? Read on and see.
Do you sometimes think taking on a bathroom remodel is something you must endure more than it’s something you’ll love doing? I’m sure Tami of Agoura Hills, California certainly had these thoughts during her journey (along with her husband Todd) to redo a way-too-small bathroom which had not been renovated in 30 years (see the before image below).
You see, Tami’s bathroom remodel took 8 months to complete (and a lot of personal research and effort). The project could have been done in a shorter time – but Tami was determined to get the best (and longest lasting) products for her project. It’s funny I would be writing this article about bathroom remodeling endurance and perseverance on my Dad’s birthday. You see my Dad passed away 28 years ago, and one of his sayings which is cemented in my mind even today is, “An ounce of perseverance is worth a pound of genius, and in this family Michael we ain’t got no genius, so you need to work your butt off.”
When Tami told me the story of her bathroom remodeling project it’s one of patience, planning and above all else perseverance (Dad would have been proud of you Tami). In this article, you’ll get an inside peak (and 5 inspiring tips) to see how Tami and Todd not only found ways to push through their bathroom remodel, but achieved an excellent finished product. Let’s dig in.
Isn’t the window in your shower a pain in the butt? I bet you’ve asked yourself on more than one occasion, “why the heck did a builder put a see-through window smack dab in the middle of our shower? Was the guy who built this home an exhibitionist? Didn’t he also know water would be hitting on the wood trim surrounding this shower window sill each and every day and eventually the wood will rot out?”
Now, you’ve got a problem. Everyone in your family is after you to do something about this deteriorated window trim. The challenge is where to start? What’s the right solution to fix this trim?
The other day I was talking to Jeff Spurio, a Shower and Window Design Consultant, and we were discussing how frustrating shower windows are for homeowners. While it may be tempting to rip down the old and put up some new trim (something certainly more waterproof than wood!), simply retrimming the window may not be the best solution to get your shower (or combined tub/shower unit) problems behind you.
As Jeff told me, “Mike – as in life – I guess we need to step back and see things in a wider perspective. See what’s going on not only with the window trim, but to think about questions like do we even have the right window and are the shower walls built to last?” As the old saying goes, “it doesn’t make sense to put lipstick on a pig.” It certainly doesn’t make sense to put new trim around a shower on its last leg or a window which doesn’t open or provides no privacy.
In this article, I’m going to give you some inside tips Jeff shared with me explaining how he helps people to not only think through selecting the right trim to use around shower windows, but most importantly to develop a solution to make sure their entire showering system (walls, window and trim) will perform well (and look nice) over the long run. Let’s take a peak at 5 ½ tips (yes – the ½ tip is important as well) Jeff shared with me to help you get the right window trim AND the right showering system.
If your schedule is like mine it’s crazy. You’re personally joined at the hip to your cell phone. Work demands are well…too demanding. You feel (at times) you’re short-changing your family and friends. You know loving others is all that really matters.
At this point you may be asking yourself, “Mike, what does this have to do with bathroom remodeling?” Well, homes can and should go beyond bricks, mortar, lumber and shingles. A home (or bathroom) properly designed and remodeled can become a transformative experience (yes – I know it’s a bit flowery, but I’m sticking with it). Homes can create a feeling of peace, tranquility and a connection to nature with the right design which can provide a temporary refuge from your craziness.
While any of us can experience this connection to nature in a home by touring an architectural masterpiece like Falling Water designed by the great (yet completely arrogant) Frank Lloyd Wright, we can’t stay in this very cool mid-century modern home with our friends and family (boy – I wish I could).
Fortunately, if you want to escape the insanity of being a Soccer Mom/Dad or hard-charging much too busy city executive you can find places other than Falling Water to have this connection with nature or your family.
One such place is at Sequoia Beach Dreamery (owned by Andrew Zarrillo). This vacation home rental is located next to the Austin Creek and surrounded by 600 year- old redwoods in the tiny town of Cazadero, located in the Russian River resort area of Sonoma Country, California. This unique Zen-inspired home is now even more special with a transformative bathroom remodeling project which connects the homes awe-inspiring exterior with a tranquil interior.
Join me on a journey and see how this home’s “wet areas” (bathroom, outdoor shower, hot tub and river) can help you disconnect from your “busy-ness” and reconnect with nature and those you love.
The Sequoia Beach Dreamery Bathroom Remodel
A bathroom (or your bathroom) can be simply thought of as a collection of a lot of things. You’ve got a vanity, sink, toilet and shower/tub. To have a special, transformative bathroom you need to create an “experience” beyond just a bunch of plumbing parts. To do this step back and ask these questions:
What’s the theme of my bathroom remodel?
How do I want to feel when entering and leaving this room?
How can I inject my passions, my personality, into the space?
When I asked Andrew about the theme of this bathroom remodel he said to me, “Mike – it’s simple. I wanted the look, feel and tranquility of a Japanese garden. I wanted to bring the outdoors into the bathroom.”
These earth tone colors create a relaxing “earthy” feel to the shower
As Andrew expressed to me that while the old bathroom was functional, it was also dated and had a small enclosed shower which wasn’t welcoming.
The bathroom before was a bit drab – but functional
Based on the on-line review below I think Andrew has done a darn-good job achieving his goal of transforming this dated bathroom into an inspired and beautiful design.
“Andrew has thought of everything. He has an eye for design and creating beautiful spaces.”
Let’s see how Andrew made his bathroom vision come alive.
Marilyn called me in tears. She said, “Mike, my glass block shower has become a nightmare. These idiot contractors don’t know what they’re doing. The grout joints are lousy, the shower pan and walls don’t match up. Can you help me?”
I wish I could tell you this was the first time I’ve received a call from someone whose glass block shower project was not going well. You may be wondering, “Why is that?” The biggest reason is most contractors (and DIY homeowners) have not done this type of project before. They may be experienced in bathroom remodeling– but a glass block shower (a material you can’t cut to fit like tile) requires a game plan to make sure all the elements (the shower pan, glass block wall and interior shower wall panels or tile) work together seamlessly.
In this article my goal is to not only give you the 5 reasons you don’t want to build a glass block shower without a plan, but provide you with inside tips to make sure you get it done right the first time (note – I think I can help with this because I’ve been supplying and installing glass block showers since what feels like back when Moses was a boy. I started with this product line in 1985 – when I had more hair and a mustache). I don’t want you to be the next “Marilyn” I mentioned above or for your project to resemble the quote below.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
Are you afraid when friends ask to use your bathroom? Worried they might peak behind your dated pink shower curtain and see the “gunked up” (not sure that’s a word) tile grout and rusted cast iron tub which lurks in this dark spooky alcove space you get to “enjoy” (sarcasm intended) daily?
Your old bathtub is not the sexiest place in your home. You have to climb into this this space to shower every day, and its’ not as easy to do as it used to be. Since the tub is stained and nasty you wouldn’t dare take a bath in (if you had the time – which you don’t anyway). Why are you putting up with this poor functioning tub?
You’ve checked out the cool walk in showers on Pinterest, Houzz, at your local Parade of Homes and hotel rooms you’ve stayed in. You’ve experienced those moments of shower envy. You say, “these showers are really cool – but it’s not happening in my small 5’ 8’ bathroom.”
I’m going to tell you it’s actually possible to get a slick walk in shower – even if the only space you have for it is the slender 60” wide tub area. You may be thinking – you’ve got to be a magician to fit a walk-in shower into my space. Check out the 7 tricks below and see you how you can convert your bathtub into a sleek walk in shower. Learn how to gain space without breaking down the walls into adjoining rooms.
Controversy and debate seems to follow glass blocks and glass bricks like a bad rash. Some people give them an enthusiastic Siskel and Ebert inspired two thumbs up. Others say – yuck – I wouldn’t put those 80’s glass blocks in my home if you gave them to me! As someone whose been in the glass block biz since 1985 (yes – I’m dating myself here but I like to tell people I started at the age of 11 – a BIT of an exaggeration but I’m going with it) it’s easy to see that building material trends are changing constantly and that has impacted how people feel about glass blocks.
You see some stuff which was hot in the 80’s not being used any more. With glass blocks there are styles, product and installation systems which are popular today most people don’t even know exist. Most people think of glass blocks as one wavy 8” x 8” unit stacked on top of another.
So, before you say whether glass blocks or hot, or not, read on to see what k options others are finding to be inspired ….and also what products and systems are just “old-school.” At the end of the article I’d love to know whether this post has changed your opinion or not.
I’m a big fan of glass. Maybe it’s because I’ve been involved with various products in the glass business since 1985 (wow – that makes me sound old!). The more familiar (and knowledgeable) I become about uses and properties of glass the more I love it. I am not alone in being a glass lover.
So why do we love glass? How does glass make our bathrooms not only functionally better – but provide a cooler design look as well? Most importantly how can you use glass in a bathroom to not only “live better” but “live cooler” – providing you with a sense of style to live to your fullest? In this article, we’ll first take a quick peek into 5 benefits of glass in a bathroom. Then let’s have some fun and check out 7 1/2 “crystal-cool” ways you can use glass to add some wow factor to your next bathroom remodeling project.
5 benefits of glass products in a bathroom
Glass has distinct advantages all its own. Here are some reasons people incorporate glass into bathroom designs:
It can move light and provide sight. A dark room, a dark shower is not only depressing – it can be downright dangerous. Walls isolate us, where glass opens spaces up. Transparent glass also offers expansive views through rooms and offers a “window” (yes – pun intended) to our outside world.
Its reflective properties can make a room “live” bigger. When light can literally bounce off the walls the space feels more open and lively.
Glass can give you energy. Just think how you feel on long, cold and dark days? If you’re like me – more tired. A light filled space created by a glass shower, a partition wall or skylight (even with the light from the moon at night) can improve your mood. A brick wall just feels like – a brick wall.
It provides privacy and light. Just think about it. There are not many materials like translucent glass which give you the “BOGO” special (buy one, get one benefit free) of moving light through a space and providing privacy. In a bathroom -where we are showing our “hot” (or maybe not as hot as we’d like) bodies the idea of privacy with light is appealing.
Cool colors, textures, and illumination all in one material. Whether you want to live in a cool, clean minimalist world of simplicity and function – or in a bright colorful bohemian chic setting where patterns and colors collide decorative glass offers the opportunity to wow your world!
Now let’s have some fun and check out ways to wow with glass in your bathroom. I’m warning you – some of these uses may surprise you, some may wow you and others you may say there is no way I’m using that! At the end of the article let me know which glass uses you’re giving two thumbs up to, and which are definite downers.
Thank you for reading our remodeling blog this year! Your support has resulted in the blog growing over 2x what it was in 2015 – and I can’t thank you enough.
Before writing posts for next year I wanted to give you a glimpse into those articles you liked the best and some input about trends and happenings in the remodeling industry. You’ll see from the list below your interest in showers (walk in showers, shower design, shower kits and even shower accessories) was through the roof. For the articles written about glass blocks you showed most interest in the “secrets nobody tells you about glass block windows” and the unfortunate departure of Pittsburgh Corning as a manufacturer (it’s always disappointing to see a US manufacture decide to exit an industry and take jobs with it!). Lastly – although I only wrote two articles on a cool tiny home project you were all over it. If you missed any of these blog posts, please go back and take a look by clicking on the article title links below.
Without further delay let’s get to the top 10 remodeling blog posts for 2016! I will tell you the top story was completely surprising to me (I never would have “thunk” it).