Friday, August 12, 2011

Bathroom Remodel

Here are some quick before and after photos of our master bath. I haven't taken any after pictures of the other two smaller bathrooms yet, but I should because they're pretty cool, too.

Entrance to bathroom before. Notice that there is no door between the bedroom and the vanity.

The new entrance. Isn't this an enticing view? We have a door! Now we can brush our teeth and not wake up the other person. We plan to change the ugly gold handle on the door eventually, when we replace the door hardware throughout the house.

The overall picture, before. Note the door between vanity and toilet/bath area. If you're going to have a separate door in the bath, it needs to be just for the toilet. Duh. Also note the harsh, bare bulb, 80's lighting, with at least two sockets broken. Our closet is on the wall to the left, out of view. We didn't change that at all. The wall where the towel is hanging disappears in the remodel.

The overall picture, after. We can't get the glass shower door installed for a few weeks so we have a shower curtain up temporarily. The shower and floor tile is actually grey, but it does have brown in it, and that's what the photo seems to show. It's a textured porcelain tile, which does not feel cold to walk on. The vanity is also grey, not brown. The shower floor and niche tile are glass mosaic tile, with all kinds of bright colors in it, which is hard to capture in a photo, but which was one of my favorite design elements. But yes, the walls are purple! I was a bit worried about having the toilet sticking out like that, but we were limited by the architecture. Originally, we were going to push back the wall where the shower faucet is, but it was full of duct-work. Instead, we moved the toilet out towards the vanity and made the shower about eight inches wider than it was when it was a tub/shower combo. We made decisions like on the fly and I like the way it turned out, with the shower in that more narrow niche. We were originally going to tile just the shower walls but when we realized we had that niche, flanked so nicely by symmetrical partial walls, we decided to bring the tile all the way out to the edge, and I think that makes a huge impact - I love it!

The old vanity. Note that there are cabinets, but no drawers. Tall cabinets are not an efficient use of space, especially when there is plumbing blocking much of it. Also note the carpeted floor.

The new vanity. Ah, perfection. I love the "floating" vanity style and all the modern elements. Finally, sinks with only one handle each! Whenever I see a two-handled sink I want to scream, "Yes, God damn it, the Parthenon!" and then launch into a monologue about how ridiculous it is to follow old rules that were used before we had new materials and methods of construction. Come on, one handle is objectively better! We picked this vanity from a web site and got very lucky that it goes so well with the tile. It was probably our riskiest decision. It's good quality, too. All the drawers and cabinets have that "no-slam" feature so you can just tap them closed. It feels solid. Also, this vanity is a whole foot shorter than the old one, but it feels like it has more storage, because of the drawers. The basin sinks also create a nice definition of space for stuff on the counter. Of course, the whole vanity is installed higher than the old one, so we don't have to lean down so far. I'll have to wait until I lose my pregnant belly before I can appreciate that, though. For now, I have to stand sideways to lean over the sink.

I can't believe I used this sink for almost three years. Yuk! Cracked, stained, impossible to clean, impossible to get your hands fully under the faucet because it's so close to the back of the sink, and impossible to change the water pressure or temperature with soapy hands not just because of the two handles, but because they were goddamn cylinders with very little grip. This was bad design, even for the 80s. Oh, I could go on.

Another view of the new vanity showing the matching medicine cabinets with shelving (great storage!). You can also see a bit of the awesome light fixtures above. You can see in the reflection in the left mirror that we also installed two recessed halogen lights in the ceiling in the vanity area, so we don't have to put super high-wattage glaring bulbs everywhere. The recessed lights are also on a dimmer. I'm a firm believer in dimmers for almost every light fixture. (Sorry, federal government, that rules out your CFL garbage.) We plan to install towel racks for the hand towels on either side of the vanity (love the efficiency of that!), but we need to wait to see exactly how the glass shower door will work before we decide on those, since they'll need to match whatever towel racks we use in the bathing area.

Before, the ugly tub and shelving. I detest shower curtains. They always blow in and touch you. It's creepy. We don't mind losing the tub because it was so small and shallow it was really useless for an adult. We didn't have space for a real tub. No big sacrifice for me. Also, who in their right mind would choose shelving that allows everything to fall through the cracks? I get the idea that this is a bathroom and you don't want standing water on a shelf, but there are other options, people! And if you're so concerned about standing water, why is the shelving made of metal that gets rusty? Again, I can't believe I lived with this for so long.

Even in this shot, it's hard to see the reflective glass tile in the niche, but I was trying to capture the contrast between the matte finish on the wall tile and the iridescense of the glass. This was taken before they had cleaned all the grout off the tile, so it's a bit murky. But imagine the difference between being surrounded by this, versus standing in a squeaky, cheap tub with boring white tile, getting touched by a shower curtain. I'm happy!

I also have a couple of videos of the construction process and the finished result, but I haven't gotten them up on YouTube yet. I'll try to get that done when I take photos of the other two bathrooms.


  1. I love it! I really, really love that tile. I was going to do something very similar in my downstairs bathroom but ended up with a square tile--I might have done the original if I'd seen how yours came out! Beautiful vanity! I like the floating design. Congrats on such a well done space! Looking forward to seeing it in person.

  2. This is gorgeous! You had me at those awesome vessel sinks :)

  3. Hey that glass tile in the shower looks very familiar! The remodel looks great. We survived ours and now it's time to attack the kitchen. Excited for you, Adam and Sam that the babies will be here soon.

  4. Oh, and Linda, did I win the ugly "before" contest? I think so. :)

  5. Thanks, y'all. We're going to have to have the contractor re-do the shower floor for the second time next week. They can't seem to get the slope right and we have pooling water. Luckily, they have always fixed everything that is not perfect, so I don't anticipate any problems in the end, but it does feel like this is going to go on forever. Linda, I'm impressed that you're going to do the kitchen after all the surprises in the bathroom! But I suppose in some ways, bathrooms can be even harder than kitchens, even if smaller. I guess it depends on whether you are moving plumbing, electrical, or gas lines. Please do pictures on Facebook again!

  6. Omg I love your style. Your choices are all wonderful.