Meanwhile, in the outhouse

I know.  It’s been a while since I posted anything on building our outhouse.


I know you have been waiting with baited breath to see our next step!  😉

We have been using the outhouse for more than a year now and have a very strong opinion about it…


Does it smell bad?  Not really.  Every few days or so we throw in either a sprinkling of lime or a cupful of composted wood chips.  This helps keep down smells and also moves the natural composting along.  I have heard that you can throw some red worms down into the pit and they will naturally compost the contents, but we haven’t tried that trick yet.

how to build an outhouse

We put siding on the inside walls and caulked the seams – that should keep the spiders out!

Once we got settled up here, we knew we wanted to finish off the outhouse, especially with some interior walls. I hate spiders and I think every spider within the vicinity of the outhouse set up housekeeping in the corners of the 4 x 4 framing studs!  We wanted to use something sturdy for the walls that won’t attract moisture, and decided to use siding!  You know…   the stuff you put on the outside of your house?  It was reasonable in price, sturdy, easily cut and painted very well.  We didn’t insulate the walls because, for heaven’s sake, it’s an outhouse!  😉

When we remodeled our master bathroom a couple of years ago, we kept part of the old vanity, and a few modifications made it the perfect fit for our outhouse.  The under sink storage would come in handy. The vanity was made from oak and was very sturdy, but had a few dings and scratches in the finish.  I could either sand it down, restain the wood and reseal it, or I could lightly sand the glitches and scuff the surface, then paint.  I opted to paint. Since I didn’t want to do too much sanding, I decided to use a fairly dark brown spray paint, which would help hide the imperfections in the wood.

Years ago (more years than I care to admit) I worked in a tile store, and was lucky enough get a lot of free discontinued or defective tile.  I once acquired 14 cases of 4″ x 4″ beige tile because the manufacturer found that the color was off just the slightest bit!  Between the free tile and the left-over tile from many projects over the years, I had saved a lot of tile.  Seriously – a lot!

How to build an outhouse

This is a picture of only a part of the tile I have saved over the years! The colored tiles were still boxed up. You can see the floor tile we found at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in the bottom right corner

So…  what to do with so much tile?

Why, tile the outhouse, of course!

The first thing I had to do was organize my tile.  I had boxes and boxes of this and that – beautiful blue 4 x 6 tiles, gorgeous multicolored 1 x 1 tiles, and hundreds of white, off-white, gray, almond, tan, beige, bone, etc., 4 x 4’s and 6 x 6’s.  I had end caps galore, along with bullnose and quarter-rounds in lots of different colors.

But, the one thing I didn’t have enough of was floor tile.  I really wanted to tile the floor because tile is so much easier to keep clean than bare concrete.  We went to our local Habitat For Humanity’s Re-Store and found the perfect tile!  I didn’t need many square feet to cover the floor and I found eleven 12 x 12 floor tiles for only 50 cents each!  Sold!

building our outhouse

I had lots of these beautifully textured, brilliant royal blue 4″ x 4″ tiles that made a nice accent to the tile.

After working out the number of tiles I would need for the vanity top and the bench seat, I thought the result would look just a little bland all in almond and white, so I decided to add a band of these brilliant blue 4 x 4 tiles. The blue in these 4 x 4’s brought out the blue accents in the floor tiles!  Perfect!

Laying the floor tile was easy.  I purchased a simple tile saw several years ago at one of the big box stores for about $80, and it has come in handy many, many times.  Since I had more tile than I really needed for the floor, I decided to use the excess as a floor edging, bringing the tile up the sides of the wall.  This would make it a lot easier to keep the floor clean because I would be able to basically hose it off!  I used thinset adhesive to set the floor tiles because I was tiling over a concrete floor and sides.

how to build an outhouse

This is a picture of the floor tile all set – but not yet grouted. I used 3/8 inch spacers. You can see a different tile I used at the threshold. This floor tile had a bullnose edge (which gives one edge a finished edge) and it matched the other floor tile pretty well.

When the floor was completed, I began to set the tile on the vanity countertop.  First to set

Building an outhouse

The edge cap tiles were a bit lighter in color than the almond colored field tile, but that’s okay, it looked good anyway!

were the edge pieces.  Since I didn’t have any corners for the edges, I had to cut them myself, which can be tricky.  I messed up on only one piece which was lucky, because I only had one to spare! Whew!  Once all the edges were set, I placed all the field tile – that’s the 4 x 4’s on the sink counter and the 6 x 6’s on the bench seat.

Meanwhile, Ray was cutting holes through the outhouse wall right behind the vanity.  These holes allowed us to install a couple of hoses, so that we could have running water in the sink!  A sink in an outhouse?  You betcha!

Building an outhouse

The hose on the left is a drain that goes out to our fern grotto. The hose on the right goes up to the faucet, supplying water to the sink!

how to build an outhouse

This old sink came from my grandma and grandpa’s old hotel in Gridley, California. A little elbow grease was all that was needed to make it almost new again!

This sink came from my grandma and grandpa’s hotel.  The hotel was built in 1872 and had old sinks, clawfoot tubs, armoires for closets, and pull-chain toilets!  Before it was torn down my family was able to get some of the better pieces. Just a little bit of elbow grease and some cleanser and the sink looked almost new again!  The old faucet pieces and parts weren’t useable, so we opted to use the hole on the right for a single faucet (only cold water would be supplied to the outhouse) and the hole on the left for a liquid soap dispenser, both of which we bought from a hardware store for less than $20.

A few days after the tile had been set it was time to grout.  I had three partial boxes of grout to choose from.  One was a creamy yellow.  Nope.  The other was gray.  Nuh-Uh.  The last one was a color called “camel”.  The color on the box showed a reddish, almost orange-ish brown, which is the color of our dirt!  So that was the one – camel!

how to build an outhouse

The sink is very functional now, with running water, a soap dispenser, pretty soaps, and a hand towel at the ready.

I decided to grout everything, even the counter-top and bench seat, with the camel colored grout.  I knew it would hide our dirt well, and was very pleased with the outcome.  Once the grout was allowed to set for 48 hours, Ray installed the sink.  The sink is supplied water from our water tower, which was built up the hill from the outhouse and is approximately 20 feet tall (height adds water pressure).  Several long garden hoses snake through the forest on our property from the tower to the outhouse, through the hole Ray cut in the wall and up to the faucet.  The waste water (which is considered gray water) is drained from the sink with a short hose out into the fern grove we are planting around the outhouse.

how to build an outhouse

I used the same color of grout for everything. Not only did it unify everything, but it is the same color of our dirt, so it should be easy to keep clean!

Then, what would an outhouse and sink be without a medicine cabinet?  My oldest sister, Deana, was remodeling her new home and didn’t want the old medicine cabinet that was in

Building an outhouse

This medicine cabinet probably came from the 50’s. A tag inside identified it as coming from Montgomery Ward!

the bathroom, so I took it.  It was a little rough around the edges and had a few layers of paint on it, but I felt that was what gave it so much charm.  So, I decided to gently sand off the loose paint and leave the cabinet in it’s charming, well used condition.  When Ray mounted the cabinet into the wall, I knew it was perfect!

Now I needed to finish the edges!  You see, the tile I used had raw edges.  That’s what field tile is – tile with unfinished (unglazed) edges.  We remedied that with some left over decorative wood molding.  We did have to buy a bit more to finish under the vanity, but all in all, the finish work in this outhouse cost us very little.  Now, while we are living in our travel trailer as we build our new home here on the homestead, our family and friends have a decent, functional and (I think) cute place to use when nature calls!

how to build an outhouse

What do you think?  We LOVE it, and so do our family and friends who come to visit!
Of course, the final touch is a beautiful oil painting my mother painted!  It looks perfect in there and I know it will be safe until our new home is built.

Other than landscaping, painting the outside and building a front porch/stair up to the outhouse, it is pretty much done!

Would you use my outhouse?




Here is a list of blog parties I may attend: Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop;Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday;Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues;Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWined Down WedProject ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative MusterWednesday Showcase; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs;Green Thumb Thurs;Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs;Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery;Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things;Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend;Show Off Friday;Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party;Friday Favorites;Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share;Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday;Sunday Showcase



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32 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in the outhouse

  1. I really admire your beautiful outhouse. I have lived long enough to have had one many, many years ago. Back then, they were only “functional” and not at all pretty. Most were not even painted – ours was not. One time I got locked in an outhouse and it was not pleasant. so make sure you can open from the inside as well as the outside. You all did a super job. Love reading what you are building on your homestead. Thanks for sharing.

    • Such nice comments! Thank you so much, Martha. I can’t imagine getting locked in an outhouse – what a nightmare! Luckily the window is probably big enough for me to crawl through, but I hope to never have to try! 🙂 Thanks again, and I am glad you enjoy reading my blog.

    • I have so much tile it’s silly! But, it comes in handy now and then. Since the only real way to destroy tile is to break it (and even then it can be used as a craft project) I don’t mind storing mine in odd, out of the way and forgotten places. Reading material? Yup – it’s in there! We also recently installed a solar light on a motion detector. That way no one will forget to turn off the light and run the batteries down. I just realized: you don’t have to flush and you don’t have to turn on or off lights – now isn’t that modern! 🙂

    • I am so glad you could stop by today, Jessica! Thanks for your comment! You know, you can stop by any time you like to use our outhouse. We love to show it off!

  2. A great job Vickie & Ray! I like how resourceful of you to use the old sink, mirror and tile you had saved. Also you did a really nice job on the tile work. It all came together very well.

    Yes, it’s worth the drive up there just to use it! Do you keep a Guest Log book in the outhouse?

    • A guest log? What a great idea! Though, I’m not sure everyone would participate. 🙂 Maybe I could paint the inside of the door white and hang a pen nearby, so people can write comments on the door. See you soon!

  3. YES YES I would use it!! Now you got me thinking about our outhouse! I think some tile is in order too! Funny, but being an outhouse owner, I really enjoyed reading this and getting ideas!! I guess I am a bit of a nerdy homesteader/homemaker!!! Great job!!!

    • When we were researching outhouses a few years ago (before we built ours), we were surprised of the lack of posts on the subject! What we did find were some very interesting facts, and a repeated sentiment that people actually loved their outhouses! I enjoyed laying all the tile in there – especially since the only cost the adhesive. It sure is a lot easier to keep clean, which was my first priority, but now that it looks so good I enjoy having guests over to the homestead! I’m glad you are back from your travels safe and sound.

  4. My first glance was it was a replica of an outhouse, you all did a fantastic job, I like a lot above, have used outhouses, but always with wood seats, this is the “purtest thang”! Great use of material on hand and repurposing the medicine chest and sink, truly sustainable!!

    Thank you for sharing on Friday Features this week!!
    Hope you have a great weekend!

    • It is purty isn’t it! Tee hee! I am glad you liked it! Using all the repurposed things is what makes this outhouse so near and dear to me! A sink from my Grandma and Grandpa’s hotel, the medicine cabinet from my sister’s new house, the tile from years of hoarding… it all made quite a nice outhouse!

  5. This is not just your ordinary outhouse. lol! Love that you were able to use your grandparents sink! You did a fabulous job. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  6. Hi, stopping by from GRAND Social. Love the outhouse and, yes, I would use it! This is a huge compliment as I remember being a five-year-old (many, many years ago) whose babysitter had an outhouse and I was terrified of falling into the toilet/tank. On top of that I grew up here in Australia with the legend of the red back (spider) on the toilet seat – in an outside ‘dunnie’. There’s actually a song about it by Slim Newton.

    • Ewwww… (shudder) the thought of a spider on the toilet seat gives me the heebie-jeebies! That’s why I put that big ole plastic seat on there – no spiders within 8 inches of my backside! 🙂 Also, eliminating all of the nooks and crannies of the framing lumber gets rid of a lot of them also! Thanks for the compliment, Tamuria!

  7. LOL! What a crazy process. I grew up with an outhouse and we were totally good with it, but I was a kid and had no idea as to the process of what would go into making it in the first place. The pictures are great!
    Thanks so much for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop. I hope we see you again tomorrow.

    • Yes, Vickie, it does make it a lot more pleasant! We figured, if this is what we have to use for the next couple of years while we build our new home, it might as well be a nice place to visit. I’m so glad you stopped by to comment today, Vickie!

    • Thank you so much! I am truly honored! It’s amazing how many people have interest in outhouses, though I know most don’t (or won’t) use them. however, from all our friends and family who have visited our homestead, we haven’t heard any complaints! Have a wonderful week – JES – and I hope you enjoy the first day of Autumn on Wednesday!

  8. I have never seen such a nice outhouse in my life! When I was growing up some of my aunts and uncles had outhouses and I was always afraid to use them when I was a little girl. We had indoor bathrooms and I wasn’t use to a hole in the ground kind of set up and that dark hole look deep and scary, not counting the scary spiders in there! I would not be afraid of your outhouse at all! LOL!

    • Haha – between the white extra tall toilet seat and finishing off the inside walls to exclude spider homes, the outhouse is much more spider UNfriendly! That was a very important feature for me in the outhouse, as I have a terrible fear of having a spider visit my backside! We actually have had a lot of fun building this outhouse and we are having even more fun showing it off to our visitors that come to our homestead. BTW – I slipped over to your blog and saw your posts on how to make a rag rug and also a basket – beautiful! I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for reading my blog today, Barbara!

  9. Oh my gosh, Vickie! I just read this series of posts on your outhouse. I am soooo jealous! Ours homemade outhouse is not nearly so nice. It’s definitely more utilitarian than yours. But one thing about ours though, is that it’s completely portable, which is good since it is now sitting in it’s third location. And when the house is finished, it will get moved yet again. (One of these days I’ll get around to doing a post on it, as well as updating the post about our shower system.)

    I love how you collect the tile and found a wonderful use for it. Now that we have our cargo containers, I’d love to be able to find sweet deals like that to keep on hand for the possibilities. Good job. It’s all beautiful!

    • Well, thank you, Maridy! I’m blushing. 😉 The “chamber” below our outhouse is quite big and after using it for more than three years now (more than two years every day) it isn’t even 1/3 full. We put red worms in last year and I think this helps a lot. We also put in wood chips to help absorb some of the moisture. So far, so good. Once the house is built, the outhouse will only be used when we are working in the orchard, so we aren’t concerned about it filling up. Besides, it’s only the two of us and occasionally guests. I would love to see a post about your outhouse!