Sculpting our lives, building our Sri Lanka nest ~ part 4

At this point, we are days away from moving from Viet Nam to Sri Lanka and there are still a few big missing pieces of the puzzle, most notably our bathtub.

Of course we can start off with  just a shower and no tub, but the soaking tub in its own garden setting, right now is the priority and distinguishing feature of the house for us, with the decision to try using a huge industrial cement pipe, which Ben hoped could be morphed into a bathtub.


Our future bathtub… Ben’s reputation is on the line here. The bathtub will either be phenomenal or we will laugh for a long time about this unconventional choice of materials for a bathtub.

Here were our instructions to the mason, hoping he can make some magic happen.




Said mason, pondering his next move…. What could he be thinking?


Okay, the two pieces of the pipe have been soldered together. Creating the reclining angle at the “short ends”, turns out to be the most difficult part.


It’s looking pretty good so far… and the location is perfect. Of course you have to use your imagination and visualize a lush garden setting.


Drum roll… TA DA and we have a bathtub! We requested soft rounded edges … and importantly, we have to figure out how to lock the cylinder in so that it doesn’t roll around once filled with water and still has aesthetic appeal. Our solution is to slightly “sink” the bottom edge in the ground for stability.



What color should the bath tub be?  For years Ben has wondered why bathtubs are pretty much always white or cream colored and “why not make them a color? Way more fun!”  We decide on a sunflower yellow/sienna tone, similar to that which is on the exterior walls of the house.


It comes down to light versus dark orange…

OK… so that’s where we stand on the infamous bathtub dilemma.

The house is coming along pretty nicely..


All cleaned up and with a little love, this is starting to be a pretty cute house in the “jungle”. We think of it as in the forest, but it seems most refer to this lush coastal terrain as jungle.


We decide to go with a cheery and bright shade of something in-between yellow ochre and orange.  No doubt we are being influenced by the classic color of architecture in Hoi An, (which is a bright yellow ochre.) Lots of back and forth on how dark or light the tone will be… What do we do when we are actually indecisive? We split the difference ~ the two side walls will be darker,  and the front and back walls will be lighter.


The sides of the house are the darker tone. We will just have to see when we get there how this color feels to us.


An antique wooden traditional door  graces the entrance to the external bathroom from the side of the house, Good find Ben! We may well paint this in blue tones, or leave it in natural wood. To be determined later.

Inside the house, things are moving along as well.

There were some unseen problems with the ceiling wooden beam system, so we had to replace one beam. The wall that separates the main bedroom from the guest bedroom was extended to go all the way to the roof.



Once painted, the additional section of wall that goes up to the roof adds tremendous height to the room and draws attention to the spaciousness of the vaulted ceiling. Good call Pete!

BUT… things come to a screeching halt when we see the “off white” paint inside.


I guess our notion of “off white” is different to what was understood. We receive pictures of beige walls. Hmmm…. We decide that it’s not that high an expense and that living in beige is not for us… “Back to white please!”

What else?

We need a bed, two actually.  They quote us $300 for building each wooden bed frames.  Not unreasonable, except that we are now exceeding our budget. Once again this requires a creative solution. Ben did a few rounds of going to market places to see if they had any wooden pallets around and eventually he was able to find enough to create two bed frames.


We are in suspense… The carpenter confirms that he can make us bed frames out of these wooden pallets We’ll see how they turn out. But for now, they are certainly a very inexpensive solution for the beds.

Final big item: The custom made shelving for the walk in closet.



We designed these shelves (same as the under cabinet shelving in the kitchen) to have slats of wood rather than solid wood. Reason being as less dust collects and the end product is nice and airy. Work in progress, but looking great so far!

We have booked our tickets from Hoi An, Viet Nam, to Sri Lanka and leave here in about a week.

The house will be ready enough that we can move in!


What do you think so far?

(For those who want to backtrack to the beginning of this process, see below)

Sculpting our lives, building our Sri Lanka nest ~ part 3


50 thoughts on “Sculpting our lives, building our Sri Lanka nest ~ part 4

  1. lexklein

    I simply cannot believe a bathtub materialized from those pipes! Not to doubt Ben’s ingenuity, but I just didn’t imagine how it could really happen. All that extra smoothing and softening and slanting did the trick – really amazing! Can’t wait to see it surrounded by plants and filled with water! Everything looks great. You must be thrilled and so excited to move in.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes Lex, it is fairly satisfying that we went from concept to reality and rather quickly. We are thrilled that the idea actually seems to work. Of course we have yet to try it! I am very looking forward to taking a bath in our IP (industrial pipe!) bathtub.

      We are excited for sure. Of course there is a lot of work that still needs to be done but twig by twig we will eventually get our nest the way we want it, to fit our lifestyle. The garden will take a while to establish itself but given that Sri Lanka has a tropical climate things should grow pretty quickly.


  2. Charles

    Hola, hola,
    Todo me parece fenomenal!
    I love the ‘look’ and the hard surfaces of wood, stucco, and masonry.
    Is it hot there, as in, are there many days beyond 90 degrees? And the humidity, how is that?
    I think you two create well together. Nice work!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Gracias Charles.

      Glad you like the look. Once we add lots of cushions, bolsters and curtains using Sri Lankan textiles, there should be a good balance between hard and soft surfaces.

      As for the weather, April is the hottest month in Sri Lanka, with an average temperature of 84f. And the coldest is January, with a temperature average of 81f ~ so that’s pretty good! But averages don’t mean much, for example at the end of next week, the day we arrive in Sri Lanka, the temperature will be maximum 91f and minimum 74 (so hottest hours at midday of course) and the humidity will be 77 degrees. Good thing the beach is just five minutes away.


  3. Sharon Rosenzweig

    I think what we need to see is a picture of one of you in the bathtub, for scale. Nakedness not necessary. Also, how does it get plumbed? Will you have hot water? It’s all looking so cozy, and the temperatures you mention make it seem less extremely hot than Nicaragua. Is that true?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      No worries girl, you will see a picture of me in my bath. But first I gotta get there! (We are still in Viet Nam at this point in time).

      It has plumbing like any other bath… We have a water tank, pipes and a solar panel to heat it. Only question will be if we still need to have a hot water heater in addition to the solar panel… Yet to be determined. However, given that I LOVE hot water and what is the point of a bath tub without hot water? One way or another we will have hot water and LOTS of it!

      I think it is less hot than Nicaragua, but that waits to be determined as up till now the longest amount of time we have spent in country is a total of 5 weeks.


  4. Liesbet

    That is one cool bath tub! I couldn’t see it happening after the first photo of the pipes. I guess you used the bigger half of each and that’s why you needed two?

    I think making the beds out of those wooden pallets is a great idea. How did Ben go to the market and get those ordered to Sri Lanka? Or had this happened before already. Very exciting times for you guys!

    Will you rent the place in Vietnam out? Looking forward to seeing the finishing touches of the bath tub and the house…

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Lisbet for the substantive comments! ~

      It IS a cool bath tub. Let’s hope it works too! (Otherwise we can use it as a bird bath or a fish pond I guess…) Yes, we used the bigger half of each pipe and for this reason it required two pipes to be soldered together.

      The wooden pallets were at the local supermarket in Sri Lanka! (So, they did not come from Viet Nam but are local and were FREE!)

      Not sure whether we will rent the little apartment out in Viet Nam or maybe just find someone to take over the lease..


  5. CompassAndCamera

    The bathtub is dreamy! What a fantastic solution and kudos to the mason for bringing your vision to life, and finishing the project with such perfection in the curved surfaces. The whole house looks just amazing. Congrats and happy housewarming upon arrival! ~Kelly

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Kelly for the lovely comments…. Agreed, definitely kudos to the mason who tackled something he had clearly never done before. No doubt he thought we were crazy or at the least, a little strange… but he did a great job, especially on all those corners, for sure.

      So glad you like the house makeover. We will be able to do a lot more once we are living there and able to assess what works and what doesn’t, and add things like handmade Sri Lankan fabrics, antique windows, benches, flowers, edible garden…..


  6. carolinehelbig

    Awesome…I love the tub and the colour you’ve selected. The pondering mason photo is great, and you’re right, it would be interesting to know what he’s thinking. I’m really enjoying watching this project unfold.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Caroline!! So glad you love the tub and the color as well. And particularly that you are enjoying the process along with us. We were not sure how much detail becomes “excessive detail” but decided, based on feedback (such as yours), that enough people enjoy the process to warrant our covering it in novella like installments.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yay, thanks Louise. I hope the applause is well founded…. I will cheer once I have taken the first bath and confirmed that it works in all regards.

      Am very happy with the shelves. The woodworkers are definitely very skilled. We toyed with the idea of more wood (for example for counter tops in the kitchen) but I started to feel guilty about using too much wood. Hopefully we have struck a good balance between masonry and woodwork…..


  7. Gilda Baxter

    I can’t believe how fast it has all progressed. Do you and Ben tend to agree pretty well on all decisions? The bathtub looks like is going to work very well indeed, good choice of colours. I am loving all your progress reports…keep them coming.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      I know Gilda, it really has progressed very quickly. Almost too quickly for me, as sometimes when I am “not sure” about a decision, I like to take time to ponder it and let it sit for a few days and then usually the right choice comes to mind. With this make over job, that has not really been possible as time is of the essence with the crew on the ground and being paid by the day for their work. So the biggest difference has been that Ben has absolutely no problem with quickly making a decision on something. But overall we do tend to be pretty compatible overall ~ otherwise I imagine that this kind of undertaking would be rather stressful!

      I agree ~ I love the colour choice for the bathtub. Sri Lanka is a country that is chockfull of bright colors and textures so we would like the house to reflect that culture.

      Thanks so much for the complimentary feedback Gilda …. Stay tuned as there will be more to come.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks so much Joanne ~ the bathtub has to be one of the most creative ideas yet! I had trouble imagining it too until I could see the visuals. And even then, it was definitely not obvious. Hence the “pondering mason” photo.


  8. Lois Cone

    Love your new unique treasures, including the traditional wooden antique door, thank you for sharing your amazing creativity… you 2 are an inspiration for us all!

  9. Anna De Boer

    Oh lovely memory! Some 11 years ago the construction of my apartment in Colombo came to an end. I had it re-painted as the off-white selection turned out to be very yellow!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anna, that is funny that you had the same experience. It is a good learning moment for sure.. which is that something as simple as “off white” can mean different things to different people.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Anita, it really is a great setting and we are both looking forward to experiencing life in Sri Lanka..That’s a good point about budget ~ “necessity is the mother of invention.)


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Jo… lovely comments!
      “Necessity is the mother of invention.” (We witnessed this in peak form in Cuba.)
      Low budget keeps it real, keeps it simple, and inspires creativity.


  10. badfish

    I was gonna suggest that they make tubs like that…but the final product is very cool! I sorta like the cement color as it is. Is it possible to attach a couple rods to the bottom and sink those in the ground, and/or elevate the whole thing above ground…or attach a frame-like thing to the bottom and sink that?

    Slats in the shelving…good idea in a jungle…er…forest.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Sshhh… my bath tub was destined to be a sewer pipe!

      I am personally not a big fan of natural cement, although I agree it looks cool. It’s a bit bleak and harsh for our personal taste ~ we are big on colour, as is Sri Lanka, so colored cement is appropriately within cultural context. The bath will be partially/minimally sunk into the ground.

      Slats in the shelving ~ so many reasons why YES. Primarily due to moisture in tropical climates, also eliminates dust, keeps clothes airy and has a lighter look than solid shelving. Ah yes and less homes for critters!


  11. My Inner Chick

    The bathtub is exquisite. Can it be the color of the sea?
    Also, can I come live w/ you?
    Just kidding.
    I’d need to bring Mr. L and my Tabby Cat and my 2 boys and….
    What a thrill that would be.
    PS. Thank you for entertaining me! x From Duluth, MN.

  12. Sue Slaght

    It is coming together beautifully! I adore the bathtub with its rounded edges and partially sunken look. You two are so creative and the wooden palates for bed frames is just one more example. Can’t wait for the next installment.

  13. lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

    OMGosh, this is so creative and will be gorgeous! I was mystified by the first image as it’s my first visit here to your site, Peta. I was like—what’s that huge cement cylinder for? LOL> Awesome tub! Your adventures sound fascinating. I’ll look forward to seeing more progress on your Sri Lanka home. I’ll also have to read back a bit and catch up on the Vietnam adventures. I’m so jealous 🙂

  14. Laurel

    So creative, and so beautiful! I love the idea of the tub from the concrete pipe—I envision quite a luxurious outdoor bath area once you’re finished decorating and landscaping. Outdoor tubs are my favorite. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Laurel… I wasn’t sure I loved the idea of the concrete pipe but I have faith it will work out well… Outdoor tubs really are the best. I think it might be because they remind me of being at a natural hot spring, such as the ones we visited in Ecuador in the mountains. The combination of fresh air, lush green foliage and hot water, is a great one.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Jeff we are just starting to put some plants into the garden. It will take a while before everything grows and fills in, but it is looking pretty damn good so far. Stay tuned…



    Peta, this is fabulous. We’ve built a couple of houses in the US and renovated a house in Khartoum, Sudan, so we can relate to what you’re going through. We’ve also spent some time in Ubud, Yogyakarta and Luang Prabang, and we can appreciate the ambience you’re trying to achieve. Your plans and progress look great. Best of luck in finishing it off soon. ~James

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks James. Khartoum?! That’s a name that conjures all sorts of exotic visuals and Ben is just saying how much he would love to visit there. Ubud, Yogyakarta and Luang Prabang some of our very favorite places… So nice the you “get” the idea of what we are after. The vision definitely has been inspired by our travels in these regions, as you can see by the outdoor bathtub in Yogya. So much fun to experience something and say “one day we will build that” and here we are….


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes, we are definitely happy with ourselves for a plethora of creative aesthetic solutions. “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Having a limited budget required us to be more creative than we might have been otherwise. We are working on an update post, so stay tuned for the sequel.


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