A master bathroom re-design

When we purchased our circa 1967 house, we knew we had to renovate it before moving in. There were quite a few things we needed to address, but the oddest was the bathroom situation: in a house of four bedrooms (plus one in the basement) there was only one full bathroom! There is no bathroom at all in the basement, a powder room on the main level, a full bathroom by the kids’ rooms upstairs and at the time, just a powder room off the master.

This is the extent of the “master ensuite” when we purchased the house:

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That was it: a toilet and a small vanity.

The good news is that we had a solution! We didn’t need four bedrooms on that level so we quickly came up with a plan to use one of the bedrooms to (a) create a larger master bathroom and (b) a larger master bedroom. I’ll provide more information in a separate post on how to we changed the floorplan to allow for that. For now, I’ll focus solely on what we needed to do to create the new master bath.

The space you’ll see below is the former master bedroom, part of which we used to create our new ensuite. The first pic is from the real estate listing.

The next picture shows the doorway to the master bedroom from the hallway. We kept the doorway where it was, and then had our contractors create the bathroom wall starting just to the right of that doorway.

From there, it was a matter of configuring the bathroom itself. In order to do so, I needed to make some choices: what kind of cabinets did I want? Did I want a shower AND a tub or just a shower? How much storage would we need? Thankfully most of those choices were easy: I love a good bath so a tub was absolutely necessary! And duh, storage was essential! As for cabinets, I decided I’d like to have a furniture-type vanity instead of built-in cabinet vanity. Our contractor had told us where to look for various bathroom fixtures like tubs, toilets, etc. and it was there that I saw a vanity I loved.

Once I knew the dimensions for all of my chosen elements, I was able to start designing the floor plan. I used the free, online tool Floorplanner to help plan where everything should go. It was quick and easy, although not overly pretty (at least not the way I did it)! But, since I could enter in actual dimensions for everthing, it was to scale and very helpful in determining the best layout. After several iterations, this is the layout we decided on:

Okay, that looks pretty rough; I’m kind of embarrassed to share it but for any DIY people out there, I know it can be helpful to see how others have done things so I’m sharing it anyway.

Back to the pretty stuff … so, the vanity I chose became my starting point for the rest of my design choices. I often find that I need a starting point – something I really love – that becomes my anchor for all of my other choices. If something I like doesn’t coordinate with my “anchor”, then it doesn’t make the cut. Here’s my anchor:

I love the weathered oak finish and the Carrera marble top.  Our house itself is traditional in style, and since we weren’t overhauling the entire house (just the upper level), I felt that our choices should be in keeping with the overall look and feel of the house. I did want it to feel updated, though, so “updated traditional” became my mantra. I also knew I wanted herringbone marble floors and beautiful drapery from Tonic Living, my fave source for gorgeous fabric and custom-made window treatments. It didn’t take long to bring it all together:

1.Rustic Chic 60″ Vanity – Double Bowl – Weathered Oak from Fairmont Designs

2. Marble tile in a herringbone pattern.

3. Clarice, China fabric from Tonic Living for custom-made curtains

4. Amir, Azure fabric from Tonic Living. We didn’t end up using this but I had considered using it to cover a stool.

5. Classic Wall Mirror in polished chrome, 24 x 36″, from Restoration Hardware

6. Kent sconce, 15″, in polished chrome from Restoration Hardware

7. Benjamin Moore Palest Pistachio for the wall colour

8. Benjamin Moore White Dove for the wall cabinet and trim colour

For the wall cabinet, we considered having it made by a carpenter but then our contractor suggested looking at IKEA for solid wood options as a more affordable option.  (In a bathroom with its accompanying moisture, solid wood as opposed to particle board, is the way to go.) Eventually, we landed on the Hemnes line, and after searching Pinterest, we realized it could be customized with paint and trim to fit our vision.

To save money, we decided to tackle this part of the bathroom reno ourselves for the most part. We purchased the Hemnes unit, built it, spray-painted it, and then picked out trim for customizing it. At that point, we handed it back to our contractor for their carpenter to trick it out with the trim we picked.

In the end, everything turned out exactly as I’d envisioned. That was seriously so exciting and satisfying. And for someone who had never had an ensuite before, this large master bathroom was absolute paradise!

Without further adieu, here are the “after” pictures!

Being the hands-on (and slightly OCD) person that I am, I gave exact instructions for the shower niche. I wanted it to be long and narrow, with the lowest part at a good height for holding my foot when shaving my legs. (Too much information?) I also wanted to make sure the niche would accommodate my various bottle sizes. Here’s the visual I created in Photoshop for our tiler about how to construct the shelves within the unit itself:

 

And the tiler did an amazing job accommodating my request.

I’m a big proponent of using rob hooks for towels instead of towel bars. I strongly dislike when towels are placed messily on a towel bar (ie, not perfectly folded and square), and you can avoid that altogether with the intentionally-casual hanging of a towel on a robe hook.

Once the reno was completed, I had fun adding sweet little touches. I put a bunch of the children’s baby bath pictures into silver frames, and to this day, two years later, they still bring a smile to my face.

Other silver touches:

My late dad’s old shaving brush and razor get a place of honour on one of the shelves.

I love seeing my mom’s stitching on this pretty hand towel.

I suspect an actual designer would look at this room and perhaps see all sorts of problems with it, but honestly, I’m thrilled with what I accomplished in it. I had a lot of fun planning the room, choosing its finishes and then seeing it all come together as the contractors completed their work.

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