Though still under construction, a new improvement to the bunkhouse is rapidly shaping up! Life in a small house (197 square feet of occasional awkwardness) can definitely have its challenges. After living in the bunkhouse for a few years, we both felt the need for a bigger bathroom; the present micro-facility (while functional) had lost its previous charm.

However, the character of the bunkhouse itself had not lost its charm and we wanted to keep its snug, and original, form intact. So, how does one add on to a house without actually adding on to it? We came up with an unusual solution which most people would find ridiculous and highly impractical but which we think is a lot of fun: a freestanding “outhouse”! We collaborated on its design, guided by both the availability of salvaged materials we had on hand and the physical attributes of the site. While near the bunkhouse, the addition is not physically attached to it.

While we each compromised design-wise in some areas, we both agreed that the exterior should be a combination of Queen Anne and Italianate details similar to those used when we restyled the bunkhouse. Unlike the bunkhouse, however, the “outhouse” is clad in vertical board and batten siding salvaged from demolished area farm buildings. Only the brackets of the cornice were newly-made. The flat roof and vertical siding were deliberate choices made to visually contrast with the bunkhouse and avoid being too matchy-matchy.

Jim is a master of accomplishing a lot in small bits of time found here and there between other projects and obligations. He completely built the new addition himself over the course of three years harnessing weekends and evenings as time allowed. My role in the construction phase was purely supportive; I assisted with sourcing needed materials and helped when an extra hand was needed to move or position material. The following photos will show the structure as it evolved.

While not quite finished, the new bathroom is far enough along to illustrate. The shower remains to be grouted and plumbing and electrical connections are not yet complete. The room is still very much a work site. Hopefully it will all be operational by summer. Until then, let’s take a quick tour of Jim’s brand-new, still-in-progress, 1880’s-inspired, outhouse-bathroom!

Perched on the edge of a gently sloping rise, the outhouse was positioned to maximize the views offered by each window. Battens are still being placed between vertical boards. What appears to be red paint slopped onto the siding is actually the remnants of old barn paint original to the boards. The siding will remain unpainted.

The foundation was built in 2019 and the walls followed in 2020. Jim built each wall section on the ground and then raised them using a variety of techniques. He built the walls of 2x6s to allow for better insulation.

Work on the interior began in earnest in 2021. Fir flooring salvaged from the misguided remodeling of an area church building was put to good use here. Queen Anne window sash was acquired from both local and online sources.

This sash tilts in for ventilation; ropes will eventually be replaced with chain. Framing for the shower stall stops short of the high ceiling for a more spacious feel.

The entry door awaits attention and hardware.

Insulation! Wall board! Jim’s on a roll and things are really shaping up now…

After finishing the wallboard, Jim painted the walls to eliminate the “cutting in” process around wood trim. This corner will house a small water heater and a gas room heater.

Jim created a wainscot for the room from what was left of rolling overhead partitions salvaged from the same church building which yielded its fir floors. The spirit of the church lives on here.

An antique stove provides heat during the construction process. Sunlight pours into the shower; the white tile illuminates the door’s borders of colored glass to magical effect.

One side of the shower stall anchors an antique corner sink. A porcelainized toothbrush holder (seen on the window sill) will be mounted above the sink. Wiring for a vintage light fixture and a GFCI wall receptacle are in place.

The other side of the shower stall frames the toilet niche. This ornate toilet was found online and dates to 1890. Plumbing has been roughed-in, but the toilet is not yet anchored to the floor. A pull-chain wall tank will provide the flush!

Jim built the shower door to be fun and relate to the rest of the room; we’re not aware of any historic precedent for a wood shower door quite like this, but it seems to work here. The acid-etched center panel (an antique mall find) appears to have been salvaged from an 1870’s vestibule door; it is now flanked by blocks of colored glass. The pull is what remains of a mangled entry set from a retail building. The iron cresting at the top of the door recalls the styling of shower doors popular in the 1930’s while the threshold and soap niche are made of green Vitrolite… some of the very few nods to the twentieth century which were incorporated.

The delicacy of the etched glass is best appreciated from inside the shower. A sheet of plexiglass will cover this side of the door before the water is ever turned on!

An old bathtub faucet — turned upside down — will allow for a flexible shower head.

Yes, it’s still a work site. Eventually the open shelving will hold linens and other items that don’t fit easily into the bunkhouse. The colors of the windows are washed out in this photo; they are fairly vivid in reality.

I almost forgot the ceiling! We salvaged it from a house I posted about a few years ago. It looks great here and we’re very happy to have it.

The colorful border of the largest window frames a southeastern view and competes with the changing seasons for drama.

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