In this podcast episode, Reuben and Tessa discuss a variety of bathroom upgrades and remodeling tips to enhance both the functionality and luxury of your bathroom space. They delve into the advantages of installing heated floors, particularly in tile-floored bathrooms, for a cozy and comfortable experience, while acknowledging the potential electricity costs.
Additionally, the hosts suggest practical additions like shower footrests and benches, timed exhaust fan switches to mitigate moisture issues, and dimmer switches for adjustable lighting. Reuben even shares his experience with a smart mirror that offers customizable lighting and includes a defogger, demonstrating how technology can elevate bathroom aesthetics.
Lastly, the conversation humorously touches upon urinals as a quirky but functional bathroom addition. See the attached picture.
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The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk Podcast, a production of Structure Tech Home Inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman; I’m your host alongside building science geek, Tessa Murry. We help home inspectors up their game through education, and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019, and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom. Good to see you, Tessa, as always. Have you made it out to the great Minnesota get together, the Minnesota State Fair yet?
Tessa Murry: Oh, hey, Reuben. Good to see you too. You know, the fair is not really my thing.
TM: Large crowds, a ton of people, shoulder to shoulder, touching sweaty bodies; eating way too much fried food on a really hot day is like not my idea of a good time. I know that that’s like, people don’t say that here in Minnesota, everybody’s a huge fan of the fair, but I go if I have to.
RS: It’s all fried food, isn’t it? Yeah.
TM: Except for the cookies. You can, what is that? Sweet Martha’s cookies or whatever. I always end up eating way too many of those and then feel so sick.
RS: Yeah. I journal every day. What I like to do is look at last year’s journal, the day I went to the fair, and what are my notes for myself. And one of my notes for myself was, go ahead, get Sweet Martha’s cookies for the kids, eat one or two cookies and be gone. That’s it. [chuckle] I wrote that as a note to myself.
TM: And did you adhere to your own prescription?
RS: Oh, yeah. And of course I made it two. But for anybody who doesn’t know what this is, it’s like they give you a bucket of cookies…
RS: And when you have a good person working at the stand and they’ve got three of them, they got three huge ones, when you’ve got a good person, they will get a full sheet of cookies into that bucket and they tower it so high that it’s like, by the time you’re done eating enough to get the lid on, you’re gonna explode.
TM: The cookies are overflowing and they are hot, fresh off the grill. I don’t know, how do they bake that many cookies? I don’t remember. But they’re just, they’re warm, gooey, delicious, and they’re like the best cookies you’ve ever had.
RS: So good.
TM: And you can’t just eat one.
RS: Yeah. Yeah.
TM: So that’s impressive, Reuben. Yeah.
RS: Yeah, I stuck with two. ‘Cause I remember last year I had a sugar crash or something when I got home and I had to take a nap.
RS: It was like 2:00 in the afternoon.
TM: Which is unheard of for you. Yeah.
RS: Yeah. That was not good. So I stuck with it this year.
TM: Oh, man.
RS: Now my kids, not so much. I woke up this morning, the bucket’s sitting on the counter empty.
TM: Oh my God.
TM: There’s always like a day or two food hangover after you go to the fair.
RS: Yeah. So I feel like despite watching that, everything you get, I tried to get some healthier stuff, like vegetable-based stuff, but it was still fried.
TM: Good luck. Yeah.
RS: And it was like, I feel like I still got a little bit of that food hangover.
TM: For sure. Yeah. Well, that’s good for you for surviving another round of the fair. You can write yourself advice for next year.
RS: Yep. I already did. Yep. I did that this morning. Exactly.
TM: What’s your piece of advice you’re gonna give yourself?
RS: Just make sure you get there by 9:30; the parking lot that I usually like to go to is starting to fill up. And remember to bring water for the kids ’cause they get thirsty all day, and if I don’t, then we gotta buy $6 waters. I hate the thought of that. Other than that, I think I got it pretty well dialed in.
TM: Nice. That’s impressive. Yeah. Good.
RS: Yeah. Always fun. And I guess at the time this is airing, it’ll be the last day of the fair, on Labor Day. That’s probably the last day.
RS: So good stuff.
TM: Yeah. Exciting.
RS: All right. Well, Tessa, let’s get into our topic for today. Today we’re gonna talk about bathroom remodels and some tips and tricks. If you’re gonna be doing a bathroom remodel, what’s some stuff you can do to just bring it up a notch or two, bring it to the next level? ‘Cause as home inspectors, we get to go into a lot of different houses, we get to see a lot of cool things that people have done.
RS: And then we get to take those home and do it when we’re remodeling our own bathrooms. And I thought of this, this morning I go in the first floor bathroom and it’s the one everybody uses more than anything else. And there’s no toilet paper.
RS: And I’m thinking to myself, we’ve got a bidet in our bathroom. Who’s even using toilet paper? That’s what I wanna know. Why do we even need toilet paper anymore? [chuckle], That’s what I wanted…
TM: Oh, prepare yourself, listeners. This show might get a little bit… Well, don’t be, I hope you’re not eating any food right now if you’re listening, so.
RS: Yeah, we’re about… Tessa, you can silence your mic ’cause we’re gonna get into it right now.
RS: This is gonna get a little uncomfortable, but I gotta tell you… Oh, okay. What? You gotta say something?
TM: No, no, no. I was just gonna say you sent me, when you thought we should do this topic on a podcast, you sent me like a really long list of all of these things that I’m assuming you have done to your own personal bathroom. Is that correct?
RS: I think I’ve done all of them. Yeah. Yeah, I think I have. And not just, it hasn’t been just one bathroom. I mean, someday I may have all of these in one bathroom, but we’ve done it in various bathrooms throughout various houses, and I think they’re all cool tricks.
TM: Well, let’s not waste any more time. Let’s get into this list. I’m sure our listeners are dying to know how you have pimped out your bathrooms.
RS: All right, let’s get into it. Well, number one, we’ll say a bidet. I can’t say enough about it. The great toilet paper shortage of 2020 would’ve never happened if everybody had bidets. If you’ve ever changed a little kid’s diaper, poopy diapers, and you try to clean up your kid with just toilet paper you know it’s not really gonna do the trick.
RS: It’s not a very thorough cleaning. Wet wipes will do the trick, but what’s even better? It’s a bidet, ’cause then you don’t have any garbage to get rid of.
RS: And I always thought it was a little kooky, a little strange. My wife, when I put it in, she’s like, “That’s weird.”
TM: But now she loves it? Does Anna love it?
RS: She has turned the corner. Yes.
RS: Yeah, she loves that thing. Everybody in the family loves it. And it’s like you sit down and you got a nice warm toilet seat, and you got…
TM: Wait, a warm toilet seat? Is that part of…
RS: Yeah, I think pretty much all bidets come with a seat warmer. So you have a heated toilet seat.
RS: And when I first got it, my wife was like, “Wait a minute, how much is this costing us? This is gonna be another 30 bucks a month.” I measured it. I used my little plug-in thing…
TM: Of course you did.
RS: To see how much it’s costing us per month. And it costs like a quarter a month in electricity usage. I mean, it’s nothing. It’s nothing measurable, basically.
TM: Oh my gosh. What’s the tool you use again to measure that?
RS: It’s this little thing that plugs into the wall, and then you plug in your appliance into it. It’s called a Kilowatt.
RS: I have one of those sense home energy monitors, and it will monitor everything in your house, but it doesn’t dial into little things like that; you can’t accurately monitor that. So you can use a standalone device for that.
TM: Very cool.
RS: And those Kilowatt devices are like 30 bucks or something.
TM: So it doesn’t take a lot of electricity to run it.
TM: And you get the benefit of a cleaner bottom, no toilet paper and no waste from wet wipes, which the planet is thanking you for.
TM: So it seems like a win, win, win, win.
RS: What’s not to love about that?
RS: And what I’d say here, a bidet is a very easy installation to add it onto your existing toilet. It just replaces your toilet seat. It uses the same water line connector that you have for your supply line. I mean, I don’t think you even need a wrench. You just unscrew it by hand, you feed it into the bidet’s line or something, and it’s, I don’t know. It comes with everything you need. It’s a piece of cake. You can add it onto any existing toilet. The ones… I say any, as far as I know.
TM: Most, yeah.
RS: There’s gonna be some exceptions out there. But the one thing is that you do need to plug it into an outlet. So if you’re doing a bathroom remodel, whether you want the bidet or not, maybe you’re gonna change your mind in the future, my advice would be install an outlet near the toilet, maybe behind the toilet on the side farthest from the door so it’s concealed a little bit. Go ahead and add an outlet there in case you’re gonna wanna do it in the future.
TM: Are there any code issues with putting electrical outlet that close to a toilet? No. Right?
RS: No. No, no issue.
RS: Yeah. Totally fine.
TM: Well, that seems easy enough.
TM: That’s a really good thing for people to think about if they’re gonna do a remodel. And I think once you’ve tried a bidet and you’ve kind of gotten over that initial hump or that hesitation/fear, yeah, they are a great addition.
RS: It is. It is. And it’s warmed water. It warms the water for you. It’s like what… It’s delightful.
RS: Okay. All right. Enough bidet talk. Moving on to the next one.
TM: Okay. So what’s your second upgrade that you’ve done or you would recommend?
RS: Okay. Second one, this was in the first house that we really gutted the bathroom and redid it. Something I really don’t regret doing is I put built-in speakers in the wall. And it wasn’t any big project; all I did was buy computer speakers, $100 set of speakers where it had a sub, a little sub that sat inside the cabinet, inside the sink base cabinet.
RS: And I had two wall speakers and I just ran wires up inside the wall to the speakers that I mounted inside the wall, just set them on some studs and just got… You know, if you can buy speakers that have removable grills, you can have the grills just attach to the drywall for the bathroom. My basement bathroom now, I wasn’t able to find that, so I just got some cloth, like speaker cloth, and I made some little makeshift grills out of some thin lumber, maybe one by twos or something, just kind of tacked them together to make them square, took the speaker cloth, wrapped it around and stapled it to the back and just hung it on a couple of nails. So it looks like speaker grills and it’s… So it’s flush with the wall. And then I ran a little cord up and it comes out of the wall and it goes to a little $30 Echo Dot or, you know, one of the Amazon or Alexa devices, and it plugs into there. So you can talk to your Alexa and it plays music through nice speakers. It’s not like a cheesy little speaker sitting on your countertop.
TM: Which is what I do.
RS: It’s actually all built in. Yeah. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s so easy to do this and it costs you nothing. I mean, it costs you, it’s the cost of computer speakers, which are really inexpensive. And I say 100 bucks, I’m sure you could get some good sounding ones for 50 bucks if you wanted.
TM: Oh my gosh, Reuben, I’m just like, I’m sitting here and I am in awe of you. I mean, this project is something I would never think to do and never want to do. And here you are, you’re like, it’s a piece of cake.
TM: What happens when the speakers stop working? Do you have an access panel to get to it? Or I guess where the speaker actually is you can take that off and then reach in the wall and remove the speaker?
RS: Yeah, the wire is in the wall. But as far as computer speakers going, I gotta tell you Tess, the first pair of computer speakers I ever bought when I got my first PC back in the late ’90s, it was these Altec Lansing speakers, and it’s the same speakers I have sitting on at my computer right now. I’ve had these for over 20 years and they’re still great. They still work fine.
TM: Oh my God.
RS: I’ve never heard of computer speakers going bad. I’m sure it does happen, but I’ve just had really good luck. I’ve never had a set go bad on me.
TM: Interesting. Okay. Well, and I guess if you’re building a new house today though, houses are wired to have speaker systems that all are interconnected and talk to each other. So this would be like an existing house that doesn’t have any speaker system, and you just want to be able to listen to music or podcasts or something like that while you’re in the bathroom getting ready and this was your solution.
RS: Yeah, exactly. And if you like the idea of it, I mean, in my basement bathroom, the one where I added it on to the existing bathroom, I didn’t do a gut. All I did was I fished some wires up inside the wall. I drilled a couple of holes inside the cabinet into the wall, and then I ran my fish tape up and I knew which stud cavity it was gonna be. And I drilled the hole there and just did a little cut out in the drywall, put a little blocking in inside the wall for a shelf for my speaker and put the speaker up. I mean, there was nothing to it.
TM: I’m getting into the weeds, but how did you attach the blocking to the stud with just a tiny little access hole to it?
RS: That’s a great question, Tess, and I don’t remember. That is a very fair question.
TM: Like how do you nail that in if you don’t have access? Did you glue it, super glue it? I don’t know, ’cause the speakers are probably light, but…
RS: No, that’s a fair question. I have no idea. I probably toe screwed it.
TM: You didn’t leave a future note to yourself in your journal for tips on how to do it again in the future.
RS: No, I probably took pictures in the process, but I’d have to dig into that. Yeah.
TM: Yeah. Well, that’s a good tip. I always just take my little portable speaker into my bathroom and listen to stuff when I’m getting ready. But you have definitely stepped it up a notch, Reuben, as always.
RS: I stepped it up. Yeah, that’s what I used to do, is I’d have a portable speaker that I’d bring in there but no more. Now I just say “Alexa, play my music.”
TM: Now you’re really living.
RS: Heck, yeah.
TM: It’s the round sound in your bathroom.
RS: Yep. Yep, exactly. Lots of bass. No, you’re kidding.
TM: Sub in your cabin? And I thought, oh man, he’s serious.
RS: They come with a sub, you know. Not like you need it but why not?
TM: So have you done this in your kids’ bathroom or just yours?
RS: Just mine so far. And my kids bathroom is the one bathroom we have not touched since we got this house, but it’s coming eventually. And I’m just gonna connect it to one of those little Echo Dots, and it provides whatever sound you want based on the quality of the speakers you buy.
TM: So just saying, you’ve got some preteens and teens, right, in your house? You might regret that decision.
RS: You’re probably right. You’re probably right. Yeah, kids, turn it off.
TM: Or don’t give them the sub, just give them the little mini speakers.
RS: Exactly. Exactly.
TM: Yeah. Okay. So what’s number 3 on your list?
RS: Number 3 would be heated floors.
RS: Now of course, you got to be replacing the floor and it doesn’t go for every bathroom. If you’ve got a second storey bathroom and you don’t have tiled floors, if you’ve got laminate floors or LVT or whatever you wanna call it, those don’t really get that cold. But if you’ve got a basement bathroom and it’s on a slab, you need heated floors. And it’s not like you need to have the heat cranked up where your toes are toasty, but at least keep the heat up and off to where the floor is not frigid.
RS: It’s so nice.
TM: Yeah. So I did that in my condo when I remodeled it and there was no… It was not a basement slab; it was second or third storey actually. But just when you get out and you step on cold tile, it just doesn’t feel nice. And I think that was one of the nicest upgrades that I’m glad that I did that. It was money well spent. Although I never calculated how much money in electricity that cost.
RS: Yeah, it is a fair dent. That is one of those things that my sense home energy monitor picks up on, and it’s not cheap. I do keep mine dialed down to where it’s not toasty floors, it’s just, it keeps it above freezing ’cause it is expensive for that.
TM: Do you have any idea, based on kind of how big your bathroom is, how much per month that costs to keep it running, keep it on?
RS: My guess would be somewhere in the $5 to $10 range.
TM: 10? Kind of, yeah, I was thinking like at least 10. I remember seeing my electricity bill spike. So yeah.
RS: Yeah, if you want toasty toes, it’s gonna be expensive.
TM: It’s a luxury for sure, yeah.
RS: Yeah, but I mean, at least put it in so you can so you can warm your floors in the dead of winter.
TM: Here’s a question… Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.
RS: No, go ahead.
TM: Yeah, I wonder what the lifespan or the longevity of those electrical systems, you know, the in floor heat is. Do you have any idea?
RS: I don’t. I don’t.
TM: Because you’re laying them down and then you’re putting tile over the top of it and so like if it just stops working like in 10 years, then you’re screwed. Unless you want to rip all your tile out and redo it again.
RS: I think you’re right about that, Tess. Yeah, you could be really screwed if it goes bad, and I don’t know how you would fix that. I’ve talked to some electricians based on some client concerns about what you can do and they’ve said you can take an infrared camera and you can scan the floor and see if there’s any hotspots, but if it’s not working at all, that’s not gonna help you, so, yeah, that could be a pain. But as far as cost goes, it’s gonna be a couple 100 bucks for materials; you’re gonna have to buy the floor mats, you’re gonna have to have the…
RS: Wall thermostat. That might be another 100 bucks, 150 bucks for a thermostat; it’s probably gonna have a built in GFCI device, and then after that it’s just the cost of running the wires to that location. You’re probably gonna want to have a dedicated, you’re surely going to gonna want to get a dedicated circuit for that.
TM: Circuit. Which could cost money. And depending on your situation in your house, if you’ve got an electrical panel, that’s every slot is full and there’s no space in the panel to add another circuit, then that’s… Yeah.
RS: That’s where it could become a bigger deal, yeah, agreed.
TM: Yeah. Is that something you’d say that… I know it depends on skill level, but that an electrician should probably do that for someone.
RS: I’d have to agree, that’s probably an electrician doing it; it’s kinda more advanced.
TM: I was gonna say the wall speakers and the bidet probably, a homeowner who’s feeling courageous and adventurous could try that, but I don’t know about the all, running the circuits and they laying down the mats and everything, it’s like probably not…
RS: Yeah. That’s an advanced installation. And when you’re doing it, after you lay it down, they tell you you gotta take your volt-ohm meter and you gotta measure the amount of ohms and test the resistance before you lay it down on your floor. And then after you lay it down on your floor, you gotta test the resistance in the circuit again. And a lot of it, it’s not basic homeowner stuff.
RS: I agree with you.
RS: Probably a good job for an electrician.
RS: But if you got everything torn apart, it sure is a nice addition.
TM: Agreed, agreed. You sold me on that one. Okay, what’s number four?
RS: Number four, and this is one that I saw my neighbor do when they remodeled their bathroom, so we copied them; we did a bathroom remodel for Anna’s bathroom. And we did a tiled shower and we had a tiled nook for shaving of the legs. What do you think about that?
TM: Oh, this wasn’t for you… This wasn’t in your shower either, this is Anna’s?
RS: This is not in my shower; this is just in her shower.
TM: I know you do extreme sports; I wasn’t sure if you try to do more aerodynamic sometimes, but…
TM: No, I think that. You know what, if you’ve just got a standup shower, it’s nice to have someplace where you can rest your leg.
RS: Yeah, it seemed like a good thing. I’ve seen women comment on that, how great this is.
TM: Yeah. If you don’t have a little seat or a bench in your shower, for sure.
RS: Yeah, exactly.
RS: Although, you know what? Now that I think about it, I wanted to do that in ours, I suggested it, and then my wife wanted a seat or a bench, so we ended up with a bench. But if you don’t have a seat or a bench…
TM: Then you can do that.
RS: Put the recess then, yeah; the recess foot stand, I guess.
TM: Didn’t even know that existed, but yeah, then that’s cool. Very cool.
RS: Yeah. Seems like genius.
TM: Yeah, okay.
RS: This is another one…
TM: What about number five?
RS: Okay number five. And this is a lot like the heated floors. This is a great one. If you’ve got a cold basement bathroom and you’re gonna have electrical work done, is to add on a wall heater. I think that’s a great addition for a basement bathroom; it’s just a little electric heater, it’s built into the wall. You kick it on and it’s gonna warm up your bathroom. And I’ll admit, I don’t use mine a whole lot, but some days you just want that extra heat, you know it’s a really cold day, you’re feeling cold at the core. And it is nice to bring up the temperature in the bathroom because, as you know, the warmer air is gonna hold more moisture and you end up with a lot less condensation on your walls and your mirror and all that other stuff when you have a warmer environment where you’re taking a shower.
TM: Yep, less likely to have mold, yeah.
RS: Yep. And a lot of those just don’t get a ton of heat from the furnace. In fact, talking about home inspection stuff and code requirements, there’s actually no requirement in the building code to supply heat to a bathroom. A bathroom is not considered habitable space, and the cold only requires heat to be provided to habitable spaces. Now most builders are gonna just add heat because people want it and expect it but it’s not required.
TM: That’s so crazy, isn’t it?
RS: It is.
TM: If there’s one room where you wanna have some airflow and some circulation, it would definitely, and for comfort reasons, would be a bathroom.
RS: Yeah, totally agree.
TM: Wow, that’s crazy. Along those lines, kind of with the wall heater, have you ever had a heated towel rack before or used one?
RS: I’ve never owned one of those. Are those good? I’ve seen them, but I’ve never appreciated how good they could be.
TM: I know. I was gonna say, I haven’t seen any here, at least where we are in the Midwest, but when I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve been in places that have them and… Well, actually I’m not even sure if it doubles as a radiator for the bathroom, like it heats up the bathroom but you can also put your towel on it. If anyone’s listening and knows, please send us an email at, Reuben?
TM: Yeah, and let us know. Because it was comfortable, radiant heat is always comfortable, and then also having a nice warm towel when you get outta the shower to grab is the best.
RS: Yeah. And I gotta say, if you’ve got an older house in Minneapolis, St. Paul, something like that, and you’ve got radiators for heat, you got those old cast iron radiators, you could certainly use that for your towel warming rack.
TM: Yeah, exactly.
RS: They don’t get dangerously hot.
RS: Why not throw your towel over that. You’ve got your built-in towel heater right there.
TM: Exactly. Yeah, for sure. Okay. I’m sure you’ve probably got one more thing on this list. What are we at now, six or seven?
RS: I’ve got two more. One of them, we’ve talked about on the show before, and I don’t know if you consider this a huge upgrade, but it’s a good thing to have in any bathroom, is a timer for your bathroom exhaust fan. Replace the toggle switch with a timer, not a big deal to do this. This I would consider a starter DIY electrical project. Not that big of a deal to do it. It’s about as tough as replacing a light switch, it’s about that level of skill. And now you’re gonna have a timer so you can turn on your fan and you can have it running the whole time you’re in the shower and you can leave and still have the fan running for another half hour, or whatever it is, to remove all that extra moisture, ’cause you don’t want the fan running while you’re in there and have it shut off again. The one thing I’d say is that with a lot of these, they do require a neutral. So if you don’t know that you have a neutral wire in that box, then you’re gonna wanna try to find a timer that doesn’t require a neutral wire. It’s something to think about.
TM: I did not know that. So full of information, Reuben. Yeah, I was gonna say that the bath timer would be really nice. I wish I had that because I always try to leave the fan on at least 30 minutes after I shower or until it feels like all of the moisture is gone out of the room as best I can, and then sometimes though, I’ll forget about it and I’ll leave and I’ll come back at the end of the day in the evening and I’ll go in and the fan is still running and I’m like, oh, shoot.
RS: Yeah, and from a building science standpoint, you’ve got 80 CFM leaving all day, what else does that mean, Tess?
TM: Yeah, it could create some other different dynamics that are not desirable in other parts of your house, just depending on how airtight your house is and what kind of combustion appliances you have, but it could create a negative pressure, so it is interesting. Even if you’ve got a pretty airtight house and you’ve got a bath fan on in the upper level, you’ll notice maybe all the smells from dinner cooking down below get upstairs faster with the fan running, it’s just changing the airflow in the house.
RS: And what I was thinking about is your energy penalty because if you’ve got 80 CFM of heated air leaving your house, you have to have 80 CFM of outdoor…
TM: Coming in to replace it.
RS: Entering in, yeah, then you got heat, that’s pumping in all day. And you get funny about leaving your door open a little bit, but now you’re forcing that cold air in all the time. It’s gonna make its way into the house.
TM: Yeah, for sure. And if you’re in a really hot, humid climate or it’s like Minnesota in July and August and it’s a 100 degrees outside and the dew point’s like 70 degrees, you’re actually pulling in humid air, hot humid air, and you could be like, instead of just eliminating the moisture outta your bathroom, now you’ve increased the humidity levels in your house ’cause your fan’s been running all day pulling in all this…
TM: Hot humid air.
TM: Yeah, good point.
RS: And much less funny about running my exhaust fan in the summertime ’cause I just figure I’m not gonna have crazy condensation issues anyway; I just do it so it’s not nasty in there.
TM: Yes, yes, yes, yeah, definitely, yep.
RS: All right.
TM: Okay, do you have one more?
RS: My last one is kind of a bonus one, it’s one we’ve talked about on the show before and I’ve never done this in a bathroom, I’d like to someday; I’d like to have the room for it.
TM: Drum roll, I feel like we need a drum roll.
RS: Drum roll? I did this in my unfinished basement at my last house just had it kinda wide open and I installed the sink next to it, I installed a urinal.
TM: Oh, yes. How could I forget?
RS: How could you forget?
TM: We did have an episode about that, didn’t we? Years ago.
RS: We covered it on this podcast for sure.
TM: I don’t remember what episode was that, that we talked about that?
RS: It was a long time ago; it had to be season one or two, I don’t know.
TM: Man, 2019 or 2020 probably, but…
RS: Yeah, but urinals are, for guys, you’ll never appreciate it, Tess, but urinals are really great.
TM: Oh my gosh.
RS: I won’t get into all the specifics, but they don’t take up a lot of room, you’re just, you’re right there, why not? I don’t know any guy who wouldn’t be delighted to have a urinal in their house.
TM: I wonder if that affects resale in a negative way.
RS: I’ll tell you what, when I sold my last house, what I heard through the real estate agents was they took one look in the basement, they saw that urinal and the guy was like, we need to buy this house. Just pay them.
TM: Oh my God, it emphasized the man cave points, I guess but…
RS: For sure.
TM: That’s, okay, that’s pretty funny. Yeah.
RS: Yeah, that’s not a must to have. And again, it’s something I have not done in a finished bathroom of ours, I just kind of did it on a whim at a house I used to have in an unfinished area. But someday I will do it.
TM: Did Anna agree to that?
TM: Did Anna agree or did you just do that and then she found out later?
RS: I told her I was gonna someday and it was one of those things; like we were probably having a glass of wine together. I’m like, one of these days I’m gonna put a urinal, and she pats me on the head and says, “Sure, you are, honey.”
TM: Okay, Reuben.
RS: And I will admit, I did do it while she was out of town.
TM: Are you serious? And you’re still married, so it’s okay. It’s not her bathroom.
RS: No, she was very delightful.
TM: Yeah, it’s not her bathroom, she’s not cleaning it.
TM: Yeah, okay. Good, good, good. Well, this is not as exciting as a urinal, but one thing I just thought of that I think is a really nice touch to is dimmer switches in the bathrooms.
RS: Oh yeah.
TM: If you don’t have dimmer switches, that is something to think about adding, because it’s easy and it makes such a difference when, if you’ve got sconces or the lights above the sink, and you turn that thing on and it’s just super bright and you wanna not have that shining in your face, a dimmer can make all the difference.
RS: 100%, Tess, totally agree. And it’s not a big deal to replace those.
RS: And you know what here, I’m gonna give you another tip on the dimmer switch. I will never buy a traditional dimmer switch again; you can buy these Alexa internet of things, internet enabled dimmer switches for the same price. It’s like Amazon Basics dimmer switches. They’re like 20 bucks and they connect to the internet and then you sync them up with your Alexa devices, it’s a piece of cake to do it, it’s like two-minute set-up and then you can do whatever you want with it. You can get on your Alexa app and you can set routines for it. Like for my outdoor light I’ve got a routine where it turns on at dusk and it turns off in the morning so we don’t forget ’cause we would constantly forget and leave our light on all day, and you can also just talk to any of your Alexa devices and say, turn off the basement lights, and then it turns off the basement lights. And it doesn’t cost any more than regular dimmer switches. So as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only way to go now.
TM: Wow. So you don’t have to go into your phone, open the app and do all that ’cause it, like that would be too much for me. I just wanna be able to just go into the bathroom and turn them on when I want them on.
RS: Yeah, just looking at it, you can’t tell the difference, it looks like any other toggle dimmer switch.
TM: Oh, okay. So you can still do the manual control on it.
TM: But if you wanna verbally say something, you can go through Alexa and like, turn down the lights?
RS: Yeah, yeah.
RS: I suppose you could go into your phone and do it, but I’ve never tried.
TM: No, too cumbersome.
RS: Yeah. We do it, most of the time we still do it by touch, but if I’m staying at the top of the stairs, I notice the lights are on downstairs, I could just say, “Turn off the lights” and then I don’t need to go down there. So I love those.
RS: I don’t, I guess we’re talking about bathrooms; I couldn’t see the value in doing that in the bathroom. I don’t know what circumstances that would be helpful but sure…
TM: Well, if you’re in the shower and you wanna change the light setting and you can’t reach it, you could yell out to Alexa; she could take care of it for you.
RS: Sure, yeah. And if it costs the same, I mean, why not?
RS: Yeah. And you know what, Tess, you bring that up and I gotta add on one more.
RS: I was at a friend’s house and I saw this mirror that he had. It was the main mirror. You know what I’m talking about?
RS: Okay. And it was like a hotel style mirror where it had a light going around the perimeter of it.
TM: Built into the mirror.
RS: Built into the mirror.
TM: It looks like in the glass, right? Yeah.
RS: Yep, exactly. Now you do need to think about this, you need to run a circuit if you’re gonna do that, it’s gonna be hardwired, you need to run some cable to it. But I ended up ordering one of those, and it is such a good look. It’s the only light that I use in my basement bathroom really, unless I turn on the shower light. I put in some sconces ’cause I didn’t know if it was gonna be bright enough, but it provides such a nice light, it is just…
TM: It’s perfect for your selfies.
RS: If you go through in a hotel… It’s perfect for my selfies, exactly. Every day selfies in front of the mirror in the bathroom, yep.
TM: It’s where you film all your videos.
RS: Totally, totally. But it’s…
TM: It’s like a big selfie ring.
RS: It really does, it casts a nice light. And the one I happen to order, I don’t think I even knew it had this but then found out later, when you turn the light on or you turn on power to it, it also came with a defogger. So you can get out of the shower…
TM: Oh nice.
RS: And for women, I guess it may not be as important, but for guys, you get out of the shower and that’s when you wanna shave and it’s like you’ve got a defogger mirror no matter what you did.
TM: How does it do that? Do you know how…
RS: It’s got… Oh yeah. I use my infrared camera right away to see exactly where the heat strip was.
TM: Oh my gosh.
TM: So it heats up the glass so that it doesn’t have condensation on it?
TM: Oh, crazy.
RS: It’s got a little heater in there, it doesn’t use much power and…
TM: I was just gonna ask you, have you tested it? Do you know how much it costs electrically?
RS: I did, I tested it. It was next to nothing, but even if it was something significant, it’s only on when the light is on. So you’re not having it on for a long period of time, it’s like you shut the light off, it turns off and you’re good.
TM: And are there different shades of light that you can choose from and toggle through, like on this?
RS: Yes, there are, Tessa, there’s three different…
TM: Tell me about that.
RS: Three different hues, and then it’s also got a dimmer built into it.
TM: Oh, nice. So like a soft, a warm light and then a cooler, like natural daylight look.
RS: Yep, exactly.
TM: Okay, that’s nice, that’s really nice.
RS: Yeah, I love that thing. And I never would’ve thought to do it…
TM: How much did it cost?
RS: I kind of broke the budget on that one. It was more expensive than I wanted it to be, but I just felt like I got, I can’t live without this now. I think it was probably about 500-600 bucks.
TM: Okay. But it’s big though, right? Like it’s…
RS: Yeah, smaller ones would’ve been less. I think I got the biggest one there. It was like a 5’1″ or something.
TM: Yeah. So we’re not talking like a small little mirror. It’s like five feet wide by what, like four feet. No, three feet tall?
RS: Maybe three feet, I think it was 5’3″
TM: Okay, yeah. But now that you’ve had that, you’ll never go back to a standard mirror.
RS: Absolutely not. And you know what? For this podcast, in the show notes, I will include a photo of that mirror, and in that photo I’ll be sure to capture the wall speakers and my little Alexa dot on the wall, just so you can kinda get an idea. And this was a weekend bathroom makeover where I added the mirror, I added the speakers and I painted and I added some wall sconces and the wall heater. It’s like, it wasn’t a big bathroom remodel; it was just kind of a refresh doing all these little touches and it was like all right, now I…
TM: I thought you were gonna say you just did it in your sleep one night, Reuben.
RS: I wish, I wish.
TM: You did all that in a weekend, oh my gosh, you put me to shame.
RS: It was a full weekend. It was a full weekend. Yeah.
TM: Yeah. Well, this was insightful and fun and now I feel like my bathroom is completely inadequate.
RS: And you’ve got some good ninja tips for your next makeover; you got some stuff to think about.
TM: Oh yeah, for sure. You know what? I’m just happy that I have a flushing toilet and a sink that works and a shower that’s good. So there we go.
RS: All great things. And, Tessa, just, have you ever stopped to appreciate what a luxury hot running water is?
TM: Yes. Oh, yes. I mean, that’s what I was thinking about; I’m like, we’re, these are all first world things we’re talking about on this podcast, but for sure when I’ve been out of the country, and I did a trip when I was in high school, a mission trip down to Mexico and my showers consisted of scooping green water out of a standing rain barrel and dumping it over my head for a week. So when I got home, I was like, this is the best thing ever, hot shower.
RS: It’s a luxury. It’s luxury.
TM: It totally is. Yeah, I do not take it for granted. For sure.
RS: Yep, agreed.
TM: Yeah. Well, should we wrap this one up, Reuben?
RS: Yes, we should.
TM: How should people get ahold of us if they want to? And please, if you enjoy this podcast, we never do this, Reuben, but we should ask for people to like and subscribe to this podcast and share it.
RS: Yeah, please do, wherever you listen, and rate us.
TM: Yeah, rate us.
RS: Or a review or whatever, we sure would appreciate it.
TM: Yep, we love hearing from you guys.
RS: We do. And you can reach out to us, any thoughts, comments, show suggestions, send us an email to email@example.com.
TM: Perfect. All right. Well, it was good seeing you, Reuben.
RS: You too, Tessa. Appreciate it. Talk to you soon.
TM: Yeah, see you next time.
TM: Yeah, bye.