Before & After: The Head


When we started this refit adventure, there was absolutely nothing wrong with our head (or most of the interior for that matter). We had decided that we really weren’t going to do much to it except maybe add a fresh coat of paint to cover the “used to be white but is now more yellow” color that was coating the walls and replace the nasty hull liner.

Well, as usual, our original assumptions were severely incorrect. While we didn’t change anything structurally, we did make some major upgrades. Here is the before pic:

The before. Complete with non-working head, holes in the wall, nasty hull liner and yellowing paint.

The biggest upgrade was the purchase of a new head (or toilet for you land based folk). Our original head was an old Headmate manual pump which means that you have to pump a lever to get your toilet to flush and remove all liquid from the bowl. A marine toilet is a bit different from a land based toilet because you don’t want any liquid sitting in the bowl and splashing around while you are on the move. Over time our Headmate stopped sucking the liquid out of the bowl properly. It may have just been a bad seal, or it may have been much more. All I know is the rebuild kit was half the cost of a new toilet and wasn’t guaranteed to fix the issue anyway. So we headed down to West Marine with a friend of ours who generously let us use his Port Supply account to buy a new Jabsco Twist & Lock. While the installation wasn’t completely a breeze or clean, it was a lot easier than rebuilding an old head to have it still not work when you are done.

The after. What isn’t exactly clear is how low this head actually sits. At 6’3″ Jason has to play quite the aiming game just to go pee! Eventually we’ll figure out a way to raise this up a bit.

The second thing we upgraded was the counter. This included changing out the sink, faucet and countertop. This one ended up being a necessity as well. As our time on the hard prolonged we noticed that the counter was starting to sag and upon further investigation we found it was actually rotting. So I cut a new piece of wood, covered it in cork and called it a day. The original sink had a tiny hole in it that we remedied for a while by simply placing a can underneath it to catch the drips. Eventually it was time for a more long term solution. When Jason tried to weld it he couldn’t get anything to hold because the metal of the sink was just too thin. Enter a new sink (rather, a repurposed sink from our original galley!). Then add the cheapest bathroom faucet you can find. I’m talking $14.99 from our local Ace, cheap. Since we can’t do anything the easy way we opted to customize our faucet and original soap dispenser and raise them up a couple of inches by putting them on nice wooden blocks. Pretty.

Cork counters and hull liner. And, yes, I took this picture straight. That is just the angle of our catwalk!

When we ripped out the port lights we also took some of the molded headliner with it so I had to fill in all the holes before I could repaint. I have no idea how long this spackle will last in a marine environment, but for now I’m loving not having holes in my walls. Then I added a two coats of white paint. It is amazing what fresh paint will do for a room! It is so much brighter and looks a heck of a lot cleaner now! When Jason sanded and poly-ed the main cabin floor boards he also did the head floors as well.

The in between. Holes EVERYWHERE.
Our fancy new medicine cabinet. You can see why I choose to be behind the camera most of the time.

Then I added a hanging floor length mirror to the door and a medicine cabinet to the wall behind the head. We had to beef up the latch on the cabinet to make sure it stay closed as we sailed. I couldn’t believe how cheap this cabinet was! I think we got it for $15 at Home Depot. Having extra storage is definitely a help as well.

When it came to the lighting in the head I was really concerned about making sure I had the right light to put on my makeup should I ever decide to wear it again. I didn’t want anything directly overhead as it was guaranteed to amplify the giant bags under my eyes and send me directly into a horrible depression. We ended up getting one of these dual switch DC lights from Amazon. For just about $15 a pop you really can’t beat them. We updated all the bulbs to LEDs and positioned it just above the mirror to create a shadowless canvas for makeup application. Who cares that in the couple months we’ve had the light installed I’ve put makeup on maybe one time, I have the perfect spot to create a gorgeous (and appropriate) smokey eye should I ever desire to.

Storage wise our head is definitely not lacking. We have a huge under sink storage cabinet, then another quite large space behind the sink, as well as one drawer. Just for kicks I hung an old Ikea clear spice rack to hold a few odds and ends. Add in the new medicine cabinet and I think I have just about as much space as I did back in my apartment days.


For a few finishing touches, I spray painted the towel bar as it was starting to get a bit yellowed with age. Now it looks as good as new! Next I picked up a small stainless garbage can from Walmart. Then I added my first Pinterest inspired project! Day after day I pin fun home decor ideas and I stumbled across a great idea that I could use on board. The idea was to use a cleat and some rope to hang your toilet paper. I thought it may be a bit overkill if you used it in an actual boat, but after talking to my friend Sandy from SV Avalanche she convinced me that whatever keeps it from rolling around the boat in rough seas was a good idea! And for the final touch I added my most favorite Brooklyn poster ever created. This is literally the only piece of artwork we have up in our boat and I am so happy we were able to fit it in. Brooklyn will always hold a special place in my heart and this poster makes me smile every time I see it.

I will always love Brooklyn. Also, velcro ties come in handy on the boat for just about everything. Here I keep my broom in place.

I promise that when I started writing this post I didn’t think I did that much to the head. After this novel, maybe I did more than I thought!

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  1. Before and After posts are my favorite and this one is a real winner! The head looks great and I like the personal touches like the paper holder. 🙂 The cork counter is beautiful too. Good enough to be the first head photos on pintrest!


  2. Love this! I know you got a new boat, but I thought I would put in my 2 cents about cork for anyone else who might think a cork counter top is a good idea. While redoing our kitchen we were looking for flooring. After seeing countless installs on tv shows like diy and hgtv I thought it would be great. All of the tv shows kept saying it was great for wet areas, durable, etc. after talking to four different cork flooring manufacturers I gave up on it. As soon as they heard that my kitchen had french doors to the outside as well as the back door that we mainly used to get in the house they asked us if we were planning on putting down rugs. Apparently cork is not good for wet areas, despite what the diy tv hosts say. It rots and molds if it has standing water or gets wet often. Probably not the best choice for a bathroom…or a sailboat for that matter. Looks good, just not practical from what the cork manufacturers told me. Love love the small touches! You definitely made the space feel very warm.

    • Hey Leah – If you are talking about traditional cork flooring, then I absolutely agree with you! It isn’t pure cork. It is cork on top of an unsealed piece of ply. That will absolutely not hold up to the salt air. We went with cork underlayment and were really pleased with it. The only issue was if you didn’t fill the gaps with epoxy to seal it, it could be a bit tougher to clean. Once we figured that out we were golden.