Design Process, Part One: The Master Bathroom

Over the past few weeks, we’ve completely demolished our master bathroom and walk in closet. I know most people find this part of the process terrifying (and it IS scary to see something that was livable become completely uninhabitable), but this is the most exciting part for me: starting with a clean slate, where the possibilities are endless.

Since designing any space can be daunting, but a bathroom especially, I’m going to take you through my process. Hopefully this is helpful for any future projects you have upcoming. I find it easiest to break everything down into digestible steps.

Step One: Identify the current friction points for the space and compile a wishlist for the new space.

Some questions I ask in this phase are below.

Q1. How is the room currently functioning for us? Where is there friction in the space?

The room is not functioning well for us: the single sink makes getting ready together on the weekends difficult, we never use the tub in here, the layout feels really tight and claustrophobic, the lighting is very aggressive, and we don’t have enough storage so our products are always on the counter. We often find ourselves trying to navigate around each other when one person is standing at the sink. Oh, and we don’t have a heat source in this room so it’s very cold.

Q2. Given what isn’t working in the space, what’s our list of essentials?

  • A double vanity to allow us to each have our own space to make getting ready together more efficient
  • A walk in shower that feels luxurious and grown-up
  • A more open layout that allows the space to breathe and facilitates flow throughout the room
  • Thoughtful lighting throughout the space that’s zoned (e.g. flattering sconces at the vanity, recessed lighting in the shower and dimmable lighting throughout)
  • Storage designed to hide away all our toiletries, hair tools, and towels
  • The addition of a radiator to keep the room comfortable in the winter

Q3. What are the upgrades that would make this room feel really special, but that aren’t necessities?

  • Radiant flooring to add some extra warmth to the space
  • A freestanding soaking tub for the occasional bath
  • A rain shower head in addition to a standard shower head
  • A towel warmer for toasty towels when you step out of the shower
  • Wall-mounted faucets that add a touch of glamour

Step Two: Figure out the floorplan.

You really can’t make any of the fun decisions before determining how the space is going to lay out. Once you’ve got the floorplan and detailed measurements, you can make informed and realistic decisions. Here, you need to think through how you’re going to use the space and how it’s going to flow with the other rooms surrounding.

In order to determine the floorplan, prioritize your list of essentials (Q2 above) and then start thinking through if any of the nice to have items (Q3 above) are viable without compromising your essential needs for the space.

I have a detailed post over here on how we thought through the floorplan for the space. And below is where we finally landed. The area where the shower is located, we stole from the original walk-in-closet, which allowed us to gain a double vanity where the original shower/tub combination lived. Note that in the floorplan below, we haven’t decided yet how the doors are going to open up and will likely invert them so they open towards the master bedroom and not towards the bathroom.

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One more note, some floorplan changes are admittedly more costly than others. But, from my perspective, if you’re taking the time and money to remodel a space, the layout is the single thing that can revolutionize the space and make a room work that much better. Plus, once you’ve spent the money to lay pretty new tile, you’re not able to go back and reconfigure a space. This may be a byproduct of lots of small-space living, but if you nail the floorplan, everything else will work so much better.

For instance, our guest bedroom is a space that gets a lot of internet and IRL love, and we also adore the space. But, we made some big changes to the layout in this room (e.g. narrowing a closet door, removing built-ins to free up floor space) that makes us also LOVE living in this space. Without a doubt, we could have skipped over that construction phase, but the room never would have worked properly and the design wouldn’t have flowed so well from my ideas into reality if we were constantly fighting an awkward floorplan.

When you’re thinking through the floorplan, also think about the smaller details that tie back to the functionality of the space. Sometimes the answers will mean small tweaks to the layout and may have a domino effect of changes. But, these details are critical to how you’re going to use the space. The questions I asked for the bathroom include:

  • Where are the towels going to be hanging when I exit the shower? In my case, I need to shorten the depth of the shower slightly to create enough space to mount a towel hook on the wall between the shower and the window.
  • Where’s the toilet paper going to be mounted? If we’re doing edge to edge glass on the shower, I’m going to have to get a freestanding toilet paper holder. Or potentially it can be mounted on the wall beside/behind the toilet. If we aren’t doing edge to edge glass, then I can mount it on the wall that contains the shower.
  • Where am I going to flip the switches for the room? They should be the first thing you access when entering the room, so they will need to go above the toilet, to the left of the doorway. This means we can’t have the doorway swing to the left, and should just have it open into the closet.
  • Which way is the door going to swing? See above.
  • Where are the outlets going to be when I’m at the vanity (and are they in compliance with code)? We need one in the vanity itself for hair tools and other small electronics, and another one to the left of the vanity on the adjacent wall, and likely one near the right sink. Code requires you to have one outlet per sink, within 3 feet of the sink and either on the same wall as the sink or on an adjacent one (but not an opposite wall).
  • Where am I going to charge small devices (e.g. electronic toothbrush or razor)? We’re going to add an outlet inside a vanity drawer for charging those devices and keeping them out of sight.
  • Where are the toiletries going to live in the shower? We’ll add a niche with a shelf in the shower on the same wall as the shower head.
  • Where are you going to turn on the shower? Ideally, we’d like the control for the shower to be on the wall where you enter the shower so you can let it warm up before stepping into the water.

Step Three: Determine the vibe for the room.

What words come to mind when you describe the room? For our master bathroom it was: calming and glamorous. And combining that with the overall bones and vibe of our house, for cohesiveness I added in classic with a modern edge. So the goal is now for the finished room to be described as: A glamorous retreat that’s classic with a modern edge.

Step Four: Determine a color scheme for the space.

Make sure to consider how this room is going to interact with the adjacent spaces, and any other similar rooms in the house. For bathrooms, I like to repeat colors and materials within the same home where possible for cohesiveness. Don’t feel the need to make them twins, but they should feel related.

So, in our case, I want to repeat the marble, matte black, white and brass. But, unlike the guest bathroom that feels more playful, this should be more grown-up and adult. Also, knowing that I’m going to be painting the walk in closet blue all-over, which is how you access the master bathroom, going neutral in the finishes and then layering in more colourful textiles and accessories that relate to the walk in closet will be crucial. Additionally, I’m going to repeat the same hardware in the closet as in the bathroom to further link the two rooms together.

Step Five: Gather inspiration

To be fair, you should start gathering inspiration from the start, but make sure that before you’re finalizing finishes that you’ve edited that inspiration down to your absolute favourites and that they tell a cohesive and tight story.

This is my inspiration and some of the things that really speak to me about the images and how it relates to my own space, in addition to the trends I’m seeing across the photos:

The location of this shower is identical to our bathroom and I love how open it feels with the glass running edge to edge. I love that the floor is seamless and how the curbless shower makes the bathroom feel so much more expansive. I also love the black floors, but I worry about how masculine they read in the bathroom and how that might impact resale and potentially make the bathroom feel smaller.

I love how the herringbone pattern continues up the wall in this bathroom, but I worry that it might not look quite as classic and true to our house’s 1940s bones. There’s that cubrless shower floor again and I still love it.

Clearly I’m loving oversized herringbone floors. How bright this bathroom feels and the trimwork on the left wall feel really true to the rest of our house. I’m loving how timeless this design feels.

I love how luxe this shower looks in Danielle Moss’s bathroom – the niche is gorgeous, the lack of a door is also similar to what we were thinking, as is the control on the opposite side of the shower head. The marble elongated subway tile is really speaking to me. I also love that rectangular drain and that she sunk the shower instead of adding the curb to keep water out of the bathroom. These floors are also a showstopper.

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And here’s the second half of this monster post, including the design board.

The 2018 Project List

To kick-start the new year, I love sitting down and creating a (mostly realistic) list of projects I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. You can check out last year’s list here, and an end of year recap here. I expect priorities may shift, but it’s always nice to have a roadmap to guide the year. Here goes…

1. Master bathroom

As I’ve shared previously, we’ve already started tackling the Master suite. I’m breaking up these spaces since each one is going to be a heavy lift and we’ll be tackling them one at a time, for the most part.

2. Refinishing the upstairs floors

We’re breaking up refinishing the floors into two stages (upstairs and downstairs), so we can shuffle furniture around and minimize the time we need to move out of the house (I hear the fumes can be awful). Before starting on the walk in closet, we’re going to need to feather some additional hardwood in since we’re stealing some width from the master bathroom, so it feels like the right time to complete all the floors upstairs at once.

3. Master walk in closet

This is going to be our first feat in woodworking and I’m pretty excited. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with organization and despise clutter, so planning out a closet that’s incredibly functional but also beautiful is a very rewarding project.

4. Master bedroom

Now that we’ve moved into our fully decorated guest room, I realize how amazing it feels to wake up in a space that makes you feel happy. I’m so excited to recreate that feeling in our master bedroom, and to design a space that starts every day off right.

5. Office

Since this is the final space to tackle upstairs, it’s about time I gave it an overhaul. All the changes in here will be cosmetic: new lighting, paint, crown moulding and new furniture. We also need to figure out some creative storage solutions for this little space, since it’s pretty dire. Right now, it’s become my husband’s interim closet, so it’s feeling even more cluttered and claustrophobic than ever. Here are some sad photos of the space for reference. Just imagine a large hanging rack and lots of clothing bins in here now. And about 5 lamps on the floor. Yeah, no bueno.

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6. Main beam and upgrading joists

One project that we meant to tackle last year, but just didn’t get around to was replacing the main beam with a steel beam. Currently, it’s wood and supported by many semi-permanent lolly columns, but installing  a permanent solution will give us peace of mind.

7. Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room

The first time we toured our house, we recognized that while there’s a lot of open space downstairs, the real game changer would be opening the kitchen up to the dining and living room. Bundling installing the steel header beam in the kitchen with the main beam will save us some engineering costs, so we’re planning on doing them all at once.

8. Widening the doorway to the sunroom

After a lot of debate, we’ve decided that the most economical but also high impact way to integrate the sunroom into the main floor is by opening up the doorway into the sunroom by about 2 feet and running the same hardwoods into the space as the rest of the main floor. We went back and forth on this one a lot (widening the doorway v. completely opening up the sunroom into the living and dining spaces with a beam that stretches the width of the house), but sometimes you have to do what’s right for your real estate market and bank account. There’s a lot of value in having a bonus space that can serve as an office space or playroom, so we’re sticking with that.

For reference, you can see how narrow the doorway to the sunroom is currently in the below shot. Please excuse the not great quality shot, it’s the only one I have on hand of this angle. The dining room is to the right of that door frame, and the width of that wall is 25 feet for reference.

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9. Kitchen

This is a controversial one. The previous owners redid our kitchen just under a decade ago and it’s nice. But… it isn’t exactly the most functionally laid out and it feels different from the rest of the house. A lot of the finishes that were used (read cheap MDF cabinets) haven’t held up terribly well, aren’t our style, and detract from the house aesthetically. We love cooking and the kitchen is a super important place in our home, so creating a space that brings us joy and unifies the house visually is a priority. We don’t expect to finish the kitchen by the end of next year, but definitely have the plans ready to go and be in the initial phases.

For reference, here’s our current kitchen (looking about as good as it’s ever looked). I don’t yet know if we’ll be painting the cabinets, refacing them or going down another route. The cabinets are definitely not high quality and they haven’t weathered daily use super well, so TBD on what’s going to happen in here. What I do know, is that I’ve mapped out a new layout that’s pretty different from what we have now, so we’ll be figuring out how to achieve that plan. Also, did I mention the revious owners laid engineered wood over what I assume is tile so there’s a step up into this space from the dining room? Our plans may change once the wall is down, so we’re going to keep our plans in here fluid. Regardless, it’s going to be all about making this space cohesive, functional and beautiful, no matter how the plans shape up.

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Here you can see the wall that will be coming down.

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There may be some other projects that sneak onto this list (e.g. the laundry room) or that aren’t big enough to warrant being a major project (e.g. finally getting around to painting our window frames black), but I’m excited to see how much we can accomplish in the coming 365 days. And on another note, I’m also going to hold myself more accountable to posting here more regularly, so stay tuned for more content.

Let’s do this, 2018!

2017 Projects Recap

At the start of the year, I made a list of all the projects on the docket for 2017 in this post. Let’s take a look back at what we accomplished and where I was perhaps overly ambitious.

1. Finish the guest bedroom

This one we absolutely finished (and are obsessed with the final result). We’ve actually just moved into this room while we work on our master suite (#7 below), so I couldn’t be more appreciative of how this room turned out. You can check out the final reveal post here.

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2. The sunroom (phase 1)

I’m giving this room’s completion a B+. We made some big changes to one side of the room, creating a window bench nook with a diy French mattress (that got featured on Domino!) and replaced the carpet with inexpensive stick on tiles. We also painted and upgraded all the light fixtures. What we haven’t finished though, is reupholstering the vintage rattan chair, and styling out the other half of the room.

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3. The guest bathroom

This one we also totally knocked out. This bathroom was completely gutted and remodeled for the One Room Challenge and I couldn’t be happier with the result. There are a few outstanding items needed for this room, though, that we’ll be knocking out in the next week or two. Those include a custom shower curtain that’s in progress, a toilet paper holder, building a radiator cover and ordering Roman Shades. Regardless, at 95% done, I’m thrilled with this room.

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4. Replacing the main beam

This is something we didn’t get around to doing, but will likely happen in 2018 at the same time as installing a beam in our kitchen to replace the wall that separates the dining room from the kitchen.

5. Designing our outdoor patio

This one we did for the most part by building a 10 foot long dining table, installing twinkle lights and sourcing lounge furniture. We’re so happy to have this space and will continue to make upgrades to the space in the coming year, including reupholstering the cushions for the vintage patio furniture and adding a furniture piece to serve as a serving station.

 

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6. Miscellaneous projects

At the start of the year I wrote: “Widening the doorway from the front hallway to the living room, hanging window coverings, painting the windows, upgrading our exterior lighting, recovering our brass dining chairs, creating a storage solution for our coat closet, fencing off the propane tank in our backyard, etc.”

And looking back, we did a lot of miscellaneous projects including replacing our exterior lighting, reupholstering our Louis chair and many others. But definitely not everything on that list, by any means.

 

And the projects that were on the ‘if we get to it list’ (but likely the 2018 project list)

7. Creating a master suite

We’re actually doing demo on the bathroom and walk in closet today, so we’re just sneaking the start of this project into 2017, though the bulk of the work will be happening in 2018. The most recent update on this project is here. Where we’ve nailed down the floorplan and can’t wait to start in on the work.

8. Decorating my office

This one definitely did not happen. My office is now serving as our overflow storage as we prepare to work on the master suite. This will be a 2018 project for sure.

9. The laundry room

We didn’t make it to this one either, so it’s getting added to the 2018 list.

Welp, not bad for 12 months of work! Can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in another year’s worth of work.

Master Suite: Updated Plans

Thank you all so much for your feedback on our master suite layout. Over the past week, we made some tweaks to the plan, but feel really good about the direction:

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  1. We reduced the width of the bathroom from 5”6 to 5”, which is a standard width for a long and narrow bathroom like this one. Since the space is laid out with all the fixtures on one wall, the 3 feet of egress will definitely still work and not feel too cramped. That large window also helps to keep the room feeling bright and spacious.
  2. We moved the door from the closet to allow for a double vanity. This part of the plan is very dependent on how the joists run in the bathroom once we’ve pulled up the subfloor and is liable to change.
  3. We stole the 6” in width from the bathroom for the closet to allow for hanging on both sides. Since we’re using our original hardwoods, we’re going to have to feather some of the boards we’re pulling up in the original closet to make up the 6” of floor currently tiled in the bathroom.
  4. The dressing area became a bit larger  and we have updated the closed storage for everyday essentials and hampers to be deeper for greater storage capacity.
  5. In the bedroom, I reoriented the bed to be on the right wall so we can center it under the window. In order to do so, we’re going to have to cap the radiator there and move it over to the top wall so that we don’t end up trapping all the heat under the bed.
  6. I’m also strongly considering adding a mantle to the bedroom on the wall you enter on to bring some more character to the space. Crossing my fingers I can find a vintage marble one on Craigslist in the coming months.

We feel really good about this plan and are super excited to start demo next week.

And, some inspiration for the direction of the master suite: traditional architectural details meets fun, modern elements with punches of colour.

We’re loving this wallpaper on the ceiling and the blue walls, which we’re going to be doing both in the walk in closet.

Another pop of blue with a built in bench, also inspiration for the closet.

I desperately want to add a (non-functioning) fireplace mantel to the bedroom and replicate that herringbone marble in both the mantel and shower.

Introducing: The Master Suite

One of the huge selling points for us on this house was that it had a master suite (not one other house we viewed had a proper ensuite and walk in closet), but we knew from the get-go that there’s huge potential to make the master suite fabulous. In the existing layout, there’s a ton of dead space, which makes for an unnecessarily enormous bedroom space and a cramped bathroom and walk-in-closet. As part of our plans for the remodel of this space is a complete redistribution of the space to allow for a sizable bathroom, much larger walk-in-closet and more efficient bedroom area. If you want to see photos of our current bedroom, it’s over here.

Below is the current layout:

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As you can see, the master suite is large (by northeast standards). The footprint is actually the combined space of the living room and dining room directly beneath it, for some perspective.

Some of the challenges we ran into in rethinking the layout are:

  1. Fixed window placement on the front of the house. That large window in the bathroom can’t be changed, since it matches the others on the facade. All of our plans to split the bathroom and closet on this side of the room ran into the challenging width of the window.
  2. Radiator placement. We didn’t want to lose the heat sources in the bedroom. We do still need to investigate having the plumbers run another radiator into the bathroom, since there isn’t a heat source in there and it gets cold in the winter! Our planned in-floor heating may be sufficient here though. It’s not in the rendering, but the radiators are beneath the window in that right side of the bedroom and under the left window on the top of the rendering.
  3. Current duct work that routes AC to the sunroom and living room presently goes through two corners in the existing closet.
  4. Key dimensions for the closet: while our walk in closet is large right now, it’s awkward, tight and it feels silly that we only have hanging space on one side and no space for anything else. But to gain hanging space on both sides, we’d need at least 6’ in width, which we can’t find in the room.
  5. The existing plumbing lines. Yes, moving the bathroom and closet to the opposite side of the master suite would absolutely allow us to have side by side closet and bathroom BUT the plumbing stack cannot be relocated 18’ across the space without a very high price tag, ripping up the floors and whole host of headaches. So that’s a no-go.

As of last week, this is the plan we had in place:

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Some things we liked about this plan:

  1. The bathroom feels a lot less cramped with the addition of space stolen from the old closet.
  2. The bedroom layout feels clean and simple
  3. The closet has a huge amount of hanging space (the left wall) and drawer and shelf space (on the right side.
  4. In the closet, we’d create a window seat that would hide the radiator and create a moment in the closet.

Some things we dislike about this plan:

  1. We don’t love splitting the bathroom from the closet, since Cory wakes up much earlier than me and would need to walk across the room twice to get out of the house in the morning without waking me up.
  2. The walkway in the closet is tight at 2′ wide. It would feel very narrow in here.
  3. We want to create a little dressing space in the closet with a hook for clothes, a large mirror and a spot to put on shoes.
  4. We lose the double exposures in the bedroom by losing the right window to the closet.

And then, on a whim, I remeasured the current distance from the bathroom to the end of the closet and realized we could get more width out of the closet if we moved it to the other side of the room.

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What we like about this plan:

  1. The bathroom and closet are right next to one another, so getting dressed is much simpler.
  2. We gain an extra few inches of walkway space in the closet that will help it feel less claustrophobic.
  3. We still get double exposures in the bedroom with light coming in from the East and South sides.
  4. We get a nicely sized dressing area in the top of the closet in the above floorplan, where we’d add a built in window bench under the window to enclose the radiator. Plus a full length mirror and built in storage for hampers and daily essentials.

What we don’t love about this plan:

  1. We’re a bit up in the air on our feelings about splitting up the double sinks (I have some good inspiration shots below).
  2. Is it strange to walk through the closet? If so, do we need to turn this into a hallway and put doors on both sides of the walk in closet?
  3. We’re losing some hanging space, but we still think we can make it more efficient than what we have now.
  4. The bedroom is laying out a bit strange with the window offset on the wall. I can solve this with a wall of curtains behind the bed or we can move the bed to the right wall, but need to figure out a plan for putting a bed in front of the radiator – any ideas here?

So that’s where we landed! Let me know if you have any thoughts on alternate floorplan ideas – it’s very much appreciated. We’re still not 100% committed.

And some great bathrooms with double vanities:

And walk through closets:

Looking at these, I’m thinking maybe we add a pocket door to the bigger hanging section and leave the right side open to showcase some very pretty built-ins, the mirror and the window seat.

One other note, we debated long and hard how to fit a freestanding tub in the bathroom in addition to the shower and just couldn’t make it work without sacrificing the vanity size (SO important) or shower (also important). What are your thoughts on forgoing the tub?

 

One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, The Reveal!

For those of you who are new here – I’ve been documenting the process of remodeling our 1940’s Colonial home in coastal Connecticut into a space that’s modern, fresh and layered but still maintains its traditional roots. You can check out past week updates here: week oneweek twoweek threeweek fourweek five and week six.

Welcome to the final week of the One Room Challenge™, where we’ve spent the past six weeks completely renovating our guest bathroom from 80’s basic to a modern take on the old-school European hotel bath. This bathroom pairs with our guest room, so keeping a consistent thread from room to room was critical. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure we’d complete this project in time because we bit off A LOT with this one (thank goodness for that extra week!).

During the course of this challenge, my husband and I took our bathroom down to the studs, laid new level subfloor, installed radiant in-floor heating, framed out the new tub, ran all new electrical and lighting, hung our first ceiling, installed cement board walls, installed our first tiled floor, completely tiled all four walls in the room, painted the ceiling and trimwork, grouted everything, hung crown moulding, installed all new lighting, installed the shower curtain track, and more. It was insanely busy and a very ambitious project for the two of us to tackle (plumbers handled all the pipes, rough in and fixture installation).

So, without further ado, let’s get on to the photos:

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And a quick reminder of how far this bathroom has come:

The tile is the star of the room. I knew that I wanted to use classic materials for the tiles, since they’re permanent fixtures that we never intend to change (and hope that buyers feel the same way if we ever choose to sell the house too). Starting with the floors, after a lot of debate, we opted for marble since it’s a nice upgrade and truly makes me happy. We also installed radiant coils, so these floors are nice and toasty (another upgrade). For the walls, I’m a huge fan of going big, so we used the basic subway tile that’s historically relevant to our home and applied to over all the walls. It was no doubt a lot more work but it completely elevates the space.

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The tub that previously was in this bathroom was extremely shallow and was really non-functional for baths. After spending a lot of time at the Kohler showroom, we narrowed our choice to the Underscore soaking tub, since it’s great for baths but also comfortable to step into for showers and looks awesome. Since we took down the wall that closed in this shower, I was adamant about using a tub that didn’t require us to put walls back up to keep the space feeling nice and open.

The faucets were finds at the Restoration Hardware outlet that perfectly merge the clean, modern lines I love, with the vintage details like knobs labeled ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ that elevate the space and create a more custom feel. The brass hardware helps to bring some warmth into the room, which contrasts nicely with the all white subway tile.

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The vanity was a last-minute decision when our first choice became out of stock and also allowed us to be opportunistic when we discovered we’d gained an extra few square feet of floor space. We swapped out the hardware for nice, heavy brass hardware from Rejuvenation that make this vanity look much more expensive and custom. I wasn’t sure how the stock marble countertop would look, since it can be hit or miss with pre-cut marble, but this countertop is actually a pretty gorgeous piece of stone with great movement and veining.

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I’m a huge fan of having a lot of light sources in every room, and I make sure that as many of them as possible are on dimmers for instant ambiance. In here we added some extra lights including the pair of pendants flanking the mirror, the recessed light in the shower and relocated the overhead light so it was centered on the doorway. The pendants were super budget-friendly scores we found at Homesense but were in a shiny chrome. A few coats of matte black spray paint later and they totally fit in. The overhead light was a last minute swap (literally at 11P last night), where this CB2 light replaced a vintage find that we had sprayed black, but featured four more globes, which competed for your attention with the pendants. Using a simpler, lower key flushmount allows your focus to land on the pendants.

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We added the crown moulding to keep the room cohesive with the rest of our house. It’s a nice traditional element that keeps this room from floating too far into the modern end of the spectrum. We gave all the trimwork a fresh coat of paint, including the windows and door, which went Onyx by Benjamin Moore for an instant dose of chic. We spray painted all the window hardware a matte black to blend in. I’ve been debating this paint treatment on the windows for a while now, and seeing it in this bathroom has cemented that I need to do it on our main floor too. The ceiling and trim are painted in Benjamin Moore Decorators White, as in the other spaces we’ve completed in this house.

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The shower curtain track was a DIY inspired by Kristin Jackson at The Hunted Interior, where we didn’t want to rush ourselves into a glassed in tub (which I don’t love for baths and is pretty pricy), until we’d tried out this budget-friendly solution. Apologies that the shower curtain looks a bit droopy – we ran out of ball chain and of course weren’t able to secure more in time. The rug is a vintage find from eBay, as is the lion’s head towel ring (which also matches the one in our main floor bathroom).

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All in all we definitely pushed ourselves to create a bathroom that we’re completely smitten with and made sure not to sacrifice the design or any details for the sake of completing this room on time. Taking a step back and looking at how this bathroom works hand in hand with the guest bedroom it accompanies, I couldn’t be happier with the shared elements (crown moulding, ceiling medallion paired with black light fixtures, brass accents and vintage details), but they also both definitely have their own personalities and identities, mainly represented in the use of all-over immersive walls in totally different materials and colours. In short, we’re smitten.

Sources:

Marble Hex Tile | Subway Tile | Grout | Bathtub | Vanity | Vanity Pulls | Mirror | Toilet | Faucet | Shower Head | Tub Spout and Control | Shower Curtain Track | Hand Towel | Flushmount Light | Ceiling Medallion

And don’t forget to check out all the other awesome reveals by other One Room Challenge participants here.

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One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Six

Week Six of the One Room Challenge™ has been all about tiling the walls. (You can check out past week updates here: week one, week two, week three, week four, week five). Because I’m an overachiever, or maybe just really confident in our skills to figure out how to accomplish the look I’m going for, I ambitiously opted to tile our entire bathroom. That includes the tub surround and all four walls. And did I mention we’d never tiled before?

Excuse the mess in all these photos – this isn’t glamorous work.

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The all-over tile really helps to elevate the subway tile. And, I’m very particular about my tile transitions and wasn’t entirely certain of a way to end the tile around our tub, given it’s location in the room in a way that felt elegant.

We have been tiling non-stop since Friday night and since taking these photos knocked out most of the final wall.  Serious props to my husband, Cory, who kept us going on tiling, despite me nearly throwing in the towel more than a few times.

In the original room, the window trim butted right up against the wall, which would make tiling around it really awkward. We ended up sourcing new trim that was 2 1/4” wide instead of 2 1/2” wide that allows for just enough space to slide the tiles behind the window trim for a much cleaner and more intentional look. They don’t, however, make rosettes that are 2 1/4” square, so we ended up using the table saw to slice 1/8” off each side of the rosettes to line everything up nicely. This whole issue gave me some anxiety, but I’m so happy with how we managed to make it work.

For the tile, these are some of the things we’ve learned:

  • Subway tile comes with built in spacers (called lugged tiles), but I really wanted the grout lines to be more visible, so we used 1/16th inch spacers on the built in spacers, achieving essentially a 1/8th inch grout line.
  • Start with a super level first row, otherwise you’re going to be fighting to keep your lines straight up the wall. We nailed straight ledges into the wall using whatever we had around (leftover drywall edges, old door trim, etc.) to support our first row. We also started with our second row and are going back to add the real first row after all the tile work is done.
  • We have an old house and our walls aren’t perfectly straight and that’s a bit visible in the corners. Given that, to start each new row of tile, we marked the center of a new tile with a China pencil and placed that dead even between two tiles below it and then worked out from the middle of the wall to the edges. This means our edge tiles aren’t all consistently sized from row to row, but our grout lines are running straight.
  • Don’t assume that if you use your spacers that all your corner tiles are going to match up. We did and were surprised when we got to the shower head wall and started tiling from the bottom up, staying in line with the tiles on the front of the tub when the row above the apron of the tub just didn’t line up with the tiles running across the tub. Hard to explain, but constantly be measuring that all your corners and edges are indeed lining up.
  • If you don’t want to chip your tiles on the tile saw, make an initial 1” cut on one side of the tile, then flip it over and make the full cut through the tile. We learned this fast when we were chipping tiles left and right.
  • We used both thinset and tile adhesive in this room. Make sure you’re using the right adhesive for the right surface. Thinset is messy and since we were mixing it ourselves (instead of buying premixed) you had some wait time to let it set, etc. On the drywall we used tile adhesive, which comes premixed and goes a long way. We found the tile adhesive to be a lot easier and tidier to work with. Just make sure you wipe down the tiles fast, because it’s hard to remove the adhesive off the tile edges and face.

All in all, while this was an insanely huge task, I’m so happy we stayed on the path to tile all the walls. Given how inexpensive subway tile is, the cost to do all the walls is still very low (I think we spent ~$350 on subway tile) but the impact is huge. I know it’s a tile that’s everywhere, but given it’s historical roots, I do believe it will stand the test of time. Especially applied in a way that is so immersive and detail oriented, it really takes the room to the next level.

What’s really going to finish off these walls is the grout (we’re going with a medium grey) and crown moulding. I know crown moulding is an unusual choice in the bathroom, but I believe it’s going to pull together all the rooms we’ve completed in the house as a cohesive story. Plus it really blends the traditional with the modern in this room.

In addition to tiling, we also painted the door, replaced the door trim, replaced the window trim and painted the crown moulding.

Lest we forget that we have to reveal this room NEXT WEEK. Which means we have a ton to accomplish before then:

  • Build the niches (which requires a last minute trip to Floor & Decor in NJ, ugh.)
  • Run the final row of tile along the bottom edge (we’re about halfway done)
  • Grout all the walls
  • Caulk all the edges
  • Install the crown moulding
  • Seal the grout
  • Install the light fixtures and fan
  • Hang the mirror
  • Install the shower curtain track
  • Install the vanity and hardware
  • Plumbers are coming Monday to install all the fixtures
  • Style the space

Well, this is going to be a sprint to the finish line!

Don’t forget to check out all the other participants here.

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One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Five

Welcome back to our One Room Challenge™ status update (check out past weeks here), where we have taken our guest bathroom down to the studs (we’re overachievers, I know) and are working on building it back up. My husband, Cory, and I have done nearly all the work on our own, excluding the plumbing.

Week Five was without a doubt our most challenging week. It started out easy enough: we primed and painted the ceiling, primed the fresh drywall (apparently it helps with tile adhesion) and painted a waterproof membrane over the tub walls and any floor that might become wet.

Saturday, we dedicated to tiling the floor. We spent 5 hours dry-fitting the marble hex tile for the floor, making all the cuts in advance of laying the tile and making sure there weren’t any clusters of marble tones that would make the room feel imbalanced. We numbered every sheet that needed to be laid and relocated them to our bedroom floor for later. While Cory was prepping some of the final tiles, I went on an expedition to track down a marble threshold to replace the one we cracked while demo-ing the tile. Three stores later, and I found a lucky threshold that exactly fit my dimensions and had been cut custom for someone else who never picked it up from this local marble shop in Fairfield County. A 20% discount later since it was pre-cut for someone else and I took that baby home with me. We also had the vanity delivered and now have all the big pieces ready for install, waiting in the garage.

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A not-so-glamourous iPhone photo of us dry-fitting the marble hex tile.

We then spent the afternoon laying the radiant coils for the in-floor heating and got started on laying the tile. Ok guys, I had been so excited to tile and the actual tiling process was the closest to divorce we’ve experienced yet ha. It was really difficult for a perfectionist like myself. The combination of the in-floor heating plus the small mosaic tiles made it so difficult to get the tiles to lay flat and level. We ripped up the tiles multiple times before getting into a groove. 15 hours later on Saturday and we finally had our tiles laid.

We had planned to grout on Sunday but that morning we noticed a handful of tiles that just weren’t sitting quite right and we chiseled them out and replaced them. Again, we did the same thing on Monday night while cleaning out any remaining thinset from between the tiles.

Tuesday night we finally grouted the floors and it was a turning point – the tiles looked great and we got into a really good system for grouting and wiping down the tiles. We finished up by 10P, our earliest night yet working on the One Room Challenge bathroom and relished in having a little bit of time to relax.

Wednesday night we allowed the grout to dry. We chose Polyblend’s Custom Delorean Grey grout and it’s such a nice complement to tones in the carrera marble tiles. We’re planning on using the same grout on the subway tiled walls to tie both surfaces together. I’m going to dive into our decisions for how we’re laying the subway tile in the room next week, once we’ve got it all up on the walls.

This coming week is going to be a big push so we can get the room ready for the plumbers to return to install the vanity and tub. Where we’re planning on:

  • Sealing the marble floors
  • Laying subway tile on all four walls
  • Grouting the walls
  • Installing the recessed shower light
  • Painting and installing the ceiling medallion

And apologies, but pretty photos are pretty lacking this week, these are some shots of our new floors:

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And a tile decision that we’ve been debating for the walls is how to finish the tiles at the floor, since our cove finish moulding isn’t lining up with the outside corners of our tub.

Either finish the walls off in the standard, but totally modern way:

Or soldiering the tiles at the floor:

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To be completely honest, looking at these photos again, I’m pretty certain we’re going to be going with the former option. But totally let me know what you think! There’s still time to sway the vote before the tiles start to go up on Friday.

Check out the other participants here.
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One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Four

Here we are at the week four recap of our One Room Challenge™ featuring our guest bathroom (check out Week OneWeek Two, and Week Three). I’m calling Week Four, the week we got sh*t done. After a few slow weeks of waiting on plumbing and other progress-halting stuff, we made a lot of visible progress. Here’s how the week went down:

On Thursday morning the plumbers showed up to make a few adjustments and add some nail plates… all before I finished my breakfast and morning coffee. Thursday night, we laid the plywood subfloor in anticipation of the plumbers coming Friday to set the drains.

On Friday, the plumbers pushed back their start time, until ultimately saying they’ll be postponing to 8A on Saturday morning. We spent Friday night hanging the drywall on the ceiling… wow, that’s an arm and shoulders workout.

Saturday morning we get up at 8A to let the plumbers in. After asking half a dozen times about whether we needed to frame out our tub before setting the drains and being told no… they check out our tub and tell us we need to frame it in first. Cue to me having a panic attack over the timing implications to them not setting the tub that day. We end up agreeing to build the frame within the subsequent hour and a half, so they could return that afternoon. Then we ran around like crazy people building a frame for the drop-in tub that was 100% level and took into consideration the number of tiles we wanted running up the tub enclosure + grout lines + floor tile height, etc in order to get the frame just the right size. It was pretty much like the SATs meets an overdramatized speed decorating HGTV series. We were nailing the last side of the frame in place as the plumbers showed up. They worked at the house all afternoon and I took a break from the chaos to source accessories at Anthropologie. That evening we laid the cement board on the floors with thinset and screws in preparation for tile.

Sunday morning we awoke early again, to tackle the walls. We clad two of the walls and the tub frame in cement backerboard and hung drywall on the other walls. The entire installation process was a giant game of Tetris. Again, lots of math.

Monday evening was dedicated to hanging the last of the drywall. Tuesday night we set about mudding and taping the seams. Wednesday we mudded the drywall and hooked up the radiant flooring electrical.

Whew, I’m exhausted just reading that recap.

Here are the not so sexy photos of the current state of our bathroom.

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I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s a huge leap forward from where we were just a week ago.

And one pretty photo of our vanity hardware that arrived from Rejuvenation this week, swoon!

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This week, we’re priming the ceiling and walls in preparation for tile, as well as applying a waterproof membrane on the tub walls. And then it’s on to finally laying the radiant floors and marble hex tiles. We have the vanity arriving this weekend and we’re planning on spending the full weekend laying tile.

As a heads up, the One Room Challenge has been extended by a week, so I expect it might just be possible that we can pull this transformation off. Maybe.

Here’s to hoping next week’s photos include our pretty tiles…

Check out the other participants here.
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ONE ROOM CHALLENGE: GUEST BATHROOM, WEEK THREE

Welcome to the week three recap of our One Room Challenge™ featuring our guest bathroom (check out Week One and Week Two). A lot has happened in the last week and there were definitely a few curve-balls. We’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m not going to lie – I’m very much stressing about how we’re going to get everything done in time for Week Six. Please send good vibes! And if anyone wants to spend some time tiling with us, I wouldn’t turn you down…

First, we had the plumbers come in for two days last week (one day more than expected) and they fully reconfigured the bathroom. We’ve got all the fresh new pipes in place AND surprisingly, they were able to hide all the pipes in the wall, so we no longer have a weird bump out. Losing the bump-out and the built-in shelving we had planned to compensate for that weird corner means we have an extra 11″ of wall space where the vanity is going.

With the additional wall space, I started to realize that the vanity we had painstakingly ordered wasn’t going to be maximizing the available space…

And then, that afternoon Rejuvenation emailed me to say that the sink for the vanity was on back-order until mid-December. Cue to me freaking out over the vanity clearly not arriving in time and even if we weren’t in the midst of The One Room Challenge, we have plumbers mid-project that I really can’t halt. So I went back to the drawing board and started searching for larger vanities. The one we had originally ordered was 36″, so I set my sights on 42″ and 48″ vanities. My husband was concerned that while we just barely had the space, a 48″ vanity would overwhelm the room. 42″ vanities aren’t super common, but fortuitously, I was re-reading Jenny Komenda’s girls’ bathroom remodel and the vanity she used actually came in a 42″ width. We tracked it down on Wayfair, sourced some pretty Rejuvenation campaign hardware to make it feel more luxe and we were back in business.

For reference, this is Jenny’s fabulous bathroom project:

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And the revised layout for the bathroom:

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Where we’re adding some very cool (and crazy inexpensive) globe pendants on either side of the mirror for the below look. Imagine our pretty vintage meets modern brass faucet, some distinguished brass campaign-style drawer pulls, baskets on the lower shelf and that the globe pendants have black rods with some cool French bistro-style details.

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Also this week, we picked up all the tile at Floor & Decor, which we were just barely able to drive home in our car and we set up all the electrical.

We have the plumbers coming today and tomorrow to finish setting the drains, and the subfloor is going down this evening. Then we’re building the frame for the tub, installing drywall, putting cement board down, laying radiant flooring coils and installing the marble hex floors. We’re dedicating all of next week to subway tiling the walls.

Hopefully by next week we’ll have the tile mostly done (and lots of much prettier photos to accompany the post). If you have any tips on subway tiling a drop-in tub and getting clean edges on the bottom of the subway tiled walls, please send them my way!

Check out the other participants here.
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