Disappearing Shower Curtain for Small Bathrooms

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Introduction: Disappearing Shower Curtain for Small Bathrooms

For years, I wanted an ensuite off our master bedroom. Then I won a free bathroom from Mico Wakefield in a competition! But the space I had was very small and had to be multi-purpose (read the story in the Homestyle magazine at http://www.homestyle.co.nz/renovations/ensuite-chimney).

The last thing I wanted was a shower curtain rail at head height in the tiny space. There are commercial solutions out there which are similar to this, but I could not afford them. So I had to invent a low-cost way of keeping the shower curtain and rail out of the way when the shower was not being used.

Step 1: The Curtain Track

I got a local firm to make a curtain track in a 3-sided square shape with rounded corners. This was attached to the ceiling of the small space (about 2.4m high). It is quite unobtrusive.

My two shower curtains are required to cover only two sides of the square, as the ensuite walls in the shower corner are the other two sides. The third side of the track is used to let the curtain return into the corner when not in use. (In the picture, you can see the curtain suspension cords in the corner descending from the curtain track on the ceiling.)

There are enough gliders on the track for one per hole of the two curtains (allowing for a two hole curtain overlap), with "assistant" gliders between each of these, and a few gliders for the side which does not have a curtain suspended from it.

The picture shows the ceiling with the shower head pushed out of the way against the wall.

Step 2: String the Gliders Together

I tied the gliders together with little knots to make a "train". You can see the string in the pictures (looks like it is getting a bit grubby, I hadn't noticed until now! I think it is rust smudges from the curtain rod.) This helps the gliders navigate the corners of the track, and keeps the correct spacing so there is no pressure on the curtains when opening them. I think the string was left over from when I made a roman blind, but you could use anything, really.

I hung a curtain rod on the last glider to help with opening the curtain because you do not want to pull the curtain itself. The rod is a standard curtain/blind rod about a meter long (it has bent a little bit over the last few years). This system has worked well, and shows no signs of any issues (apart from needing a bit of a clean).

Step 3: The Ball-chain Suspension Cords

The "ball-chain" is actually costume stuff from Spotlight (sewing supply chain store) because the real thing was too expensive. I did some calculations and cut as many lengths as I had curtain holes (less the two overlaps). I got ball-chain connectors from Mitre-10 Mega (a hardware chain) and connected these to the cord at both ends, and attached curtain hooks. I made the suspension cords slightly too long, hung the curtains from these in the fully extended position, and then carefully cut each of the the cords short enough so that the curtains only just touched the floor. This meant that each cord was a different height to its neighbor, as the floor is slightly sloping.

Looks like there is a small bit of rust on my curtain hooks after several years use! You don't see it normally, and it hasn't been a problem.

I use two standard commercial shower curtains (ex-motel ones) which overlap by two holes. I got three pairs of them, so that they would all be the same length and hole-number when I changed them. Being second-hand, they were relatively cheap.

Step 4: Curtain Disappears Out of the Way

When not in use, the curtain can be hooked back into the corner. I used to use a piece of bath chain attached to a suction hook as a curtain tie-back, but now I just drape the curtain over the shower hose. I'm lazy.

Step 5: To Conclude...

I love my tiny multi-tasking ensuite, even after a few years. I really can't understand why anyone would want a huge bathroom - imagine the cleaning!

No, the toilet paper does not get wet, nor do any of the towels. Even my robe on the door is fine (the shower curtain does touch it, so we don't aim the shower straight at it.) A simple wipe around with a squeegee dries the floor after the last person (usually me).

Changing the shower curtains is relatively easy; it could be even easier with larger hooks, but I prefer the sparkly, fiddlier ones.

We have an automatic movement sensor for the light and fan unit, and have no problems with mold. This could be because we also installed a heated swivel towel rail and a heated mirror. 

My tiny ensuite makes me feel like Doctor Who in the Tardis. There is even room for two inside at once!

Thank you for reading my first instructable!

For more information, read our story in the Homestyle Magazine at http://www.homestyle.co.nz/renovations/ensuite-chimney.


Plans drawn by Macdiarmid Architecture (http://macdiarmidarchitecture.wordpress.com).
My company is MCK Design & Print Ltd (http://www.mckdesign.co.nz).

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39 Comments

The shower curtain brushes the front of the toilet when using the shower. Yes, I clean the toilet with the shower. Makes it so easy. Still no issues with the ball chain stuff!

Im much more interested in your bathroom as a whole. is the toilet and sink in the shower? Can you sit on the toilet and take a shower, "I mean with the lid closed"? Can you clean the toilet with the shower head?

This would be a great idea for all the people building the tiny houses. For me, it may come in handy for the travel trailer that I plan to build. Great use of space!!

Progress report: after several years of use, the system is still working well. There are no signs of corrosion in the curtain track, and it still slides really well, especially since I sprayed it with silicon spray. I replaced the string connection with a thin curtain ribbon thing which you can put the hooks into. These are normally sewn to curtains to hold curtain hooks. I like my system so much I intend to use it again in our new house we are going to build.

A long curtain might be hard to take down to wash (I am vertically challenged)!

If you made a curtain that fitted all the way to the ceiling from the floor, it would be like a shower-dome. :)

where can I get that type of curtain tracks???

IKEA's KVARTAL system would probably work fine for this (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/depar... , ceiling fixtures, single track rail, corner piece single track). The screws or fasteners used to attach it to the ceiling should probably be aluminum as well to avoid corrosion.

The metal track on the ceiling was made for me by a local curtain company. It is a standard metal profile with standard runners.