Form or Function? A Tale of Bathroom Design.

cartoon messy houseI don’t know about you, but I have not yet realized the dream of living amongst people who bring their sweaty sports clothes down to the laundry room instead of shoving them behind the bedroom door or under their dressers, who know that making a bed involves fluffy pillows and nurse’s corners and not a pile of bed sheets twisted up into a ball at the foot of their mattress and who, when called out on the half eaten whatever wherever are man enough to own it as opposed to calling out the invisible fifth offspring known affectionately as “Not Me.”

And so as we prepare to meet up with the architect to go over the initial rendering, I have but one request, build the house around them: The Children.  I have adjusted my wants vs. needs list and concluded that not only do the needs far outweigh the wants but even better, they should come in at about half the estimated construction cost.


  • KITCHEN: open plan with walk-in pantry and XL island
  • MUDROOM: laundry area with locker storage & bench seating for 6
  • KIDS’ LOFT: open plan with mountain views


  • KITCHEN: open plan with serving window to outdoor bar/seating area for anyone under 21 years of age or with more than two legs. Walk in pantry will be fitted with wi-fi, a wine fridge and locking system from the inside as it will double as my personal safe room.
  • MUDROOM: interior garden hose hookup and floor drainage for optimal washing of the dog & the kids
  • KIDS’ LOFT: padded & sound proofed, windows optional

I’m big into function over form.  Is that wrong? I’m totally outnumbered here so I’ll admit that self-preservation is high up on my list – obviously. Take for example the bathroom that I’ve been obsessing about for the past three years.  It is the ONLY possible answer for a familia numerosa as they refer to us here.dream bath kids

What is not to love about this Machiavellian work of art? Do you not see that there is no shower door to clean? Look again! Behold, the doorway to Narnia.  The wall is recessed far enough back that you don’t need the fancy door begging soap scum removal every thirty-five seconds.  And what about that raised lip on the entry? Slow down, young buck.  Did you think you were going to RUN into or out of this one of a kind showering alcove?  Think again, and let the water drops fall where they may.  Floor drainage of course will be paramount and may God strike me dead if they ever think to plug the drain with a washcloth for that small lake effect.  This is my plan for the kids’ jack-n-jill bathroom.  And it all revolves around this shower to which we will add a second shower head at the opposite end.  Why shower 4 kids kids bathone at a time when you can throw the girls in together (phase 1) then the boys in together (phase 2) and be done in half the time? It’s the junior high PE concept of hygiene: group showers.  I reminded the husband of the timed shower spigot, which let’s face it, the savings that thing would net us from 4 kids pooping out on pumping that thing for hot water would mean that the bathroom would pay for itself within the first six months. Genius, I’m telling you, GENIUS! Why is this not standard in all houses with kids whose idea of bathing is standing under the shower head and draining the entire household of its hot water supply while never once thinking to grab the soap and lather up? To my surprise the husband thought my idea cruel and unusual (as in punishment) but given the fact that we haven’t yet broken ground, there’s still plenty of time for me to make my case.

So before I forget, does anyone have a source for timed shower spigots in southern Spain?









Plan A

Anyone who has ever moved will agree: moving sucks.  At 44 I kept thinking, I’m too old for this shit. And then I remembered my favorite aunt. She has moved something like seventeen times, probably more but who’s counting? – upgrading, downgrading, building up, tearing down, gutting, bingeing, purging…you name it; the woman has done it all and always on her own save for borrowed braun of friends.  She bid adieu to each house leaving it better than it had been handed to her and us scratching our heads as to why she would wittingly give up the sweat equity for the next diamond in the rough.  So with her on the forefront of my mind, I am slowly unpacking us into the current and hopefully last rental knowing that I still have one final move to make once the new build is finished.

After getting through our first bout of arguments related to design, husband and I reached what felt like a good compromise on the house plans.   We prioritized our ‘must IMG_20170704_201955540_HDRhaves’, drew out an initial set of plans on scratch paper, transferred them to Autodesk and then converted them into a CAD drawing to show our architect.

Our rendering is a 4br/3ba contemporary open-plan concept; its footprint resembling a U shape that opens to the backyard. We plan on using two 45’ high cube containers and five-40’ high cube containers which, combined with the open space afforded by the center portion of the U, will give us a little less than 3500ft of interior living space.

Here’s a peek at our initial sketch and its corresponding breakdown:


GROUND FLOOR (Left side of U)

Small office at front of house

Mudroom/Laundry w/entrance to side yard

Half bathroom -maybe 3/4 (still debating)


Open plan kitchen w/serving window to outdoor patio & grilling area

GROUND FLOOR (Center of U)

Great room

GROUND FLOOR (Right side of U)

Guest room w/bathroom at front of house

Master suite w/entrance to backyard

house plan labeled


SECOND FLOOR (Left side of U)

Girls’ bedroom

Jack-n-Jill bathroom

Boys’ bedroom

SECOND FLOOR (Bottom piece of U)

Breezeway with sitting/reading area

SECOND FLOOR (Right side of U)

Kids hang-out/game room loft area

house plan 2 labeled


The only two deal breakers for me involve the bedrooms.  First off, the master has got to be on the ground floor.  The kids are now old enough that I don’t feel the need to have them next door and with the current state of my knees due to all the marathon training, stairs will not be an option for me in the not so distant future.  Second, closets.  Did you know that Spanish homes don’t typically have closets? Who was the genius that thought up this obvious design flaw? Brilliant.  Just brilliant.  I’d like to have some serious words with this individual.

One of the more unique aspects of the design is our plan to use the longer 45’ containers up on the second story. We have done this purposefully in order to create a roof over the outdoor patio/grilling area.  Doing so gives us just shy of 200ft worth of coverage, not huge but enough to get the job done.

There is no second set of containers above the right side ground floor of the U.  So how can we get the kids loft space without any containers on that second story? The plan here is to use I-beams and pitch the roof.  By pitching the roof to span the great room and loft spaces we can maximize the benefit of solar panels.   As for the roofing over the left side of the U (kids bedrooms), we are tentatively planning on a green roof, using succulents native to Granada.

I was initially worried about the architect’s interpretation of the above information but he actually seemed to have a pretty good handle on it. He’s currently drafting a plan to show the interior dimensions of the project.  Upon finishing and getting our approval, he will then present the plan to the local government to get permitting in order.  I have no idea how long this process will take but just knowing that it took us almost a full year to purchase and close on our land, licensing on our car is still ‘in process’ eight months after the fact and we’re going on a month with still no internet hook-up, I sigh and mumble, ‘Typically Spanish’ which I’m thinking may have been a better name for this blog.