This “builder basic, circa 1980” bathroom is about to get a total head-to-toe makeover, in which nothing is where it was and everything is as far from builder basic as it’s possible to get.
Let’s learn a bit more about the bathroom pre-makeover:
We were so excited to find a home in our neighborhood with a master bathroom, but not only was the layout of the space awkward, the finishes were extremely builder basic, circa 1980 and not in keeping with the classic bones of our 1940s Colonial home. The tub was especially shallow and the bathroom was lacking in a heat source, so it was very chilly during the winter months.
We wanted a master bathroom that was more functional for our needs, included a double vanity, and could be warm during the long winters. We also had a lot of extra dead space in our master bedroom that we knew we could be better used by a master bathroom.
Confused? This bathroom was completely rearranged and reconfigured, so nothing is where it was. (In these situations, my advice is to keep track of the windows if you want to keep your bearings.) Where there was once a nondescript tub, now stands a stunning robin’s egg blue vanity topped with luxurious marble. A commissioned painting hangs over where the (frozen) toilet once was. The orange-red rug is the perfect counterpoint to the blue, and it provides coziness underfoot without covering up too much of the marble floor tiles.
Here’s more of the builder’s-standard fixtures and finishes Erin mentioned; they all seem fine but like they could use a refresh. Erin describes what all was (and wasn’t) done in that tight timeframe:
We tackled this bathroom as part of the One Room Challenge, so we did it on a tight six-week timeline—plus an extra few weeks to take the space down to the studs, frame out new walls, and have our plumbers run new lines to all the fixtures and add a radiator into the space. We tackled nearly all the work ourselves, including tiling the entire shower and floors. We tried to do the entire project on a budget, but since we were doing the labor ourselves, we splurged on higher-end materials, like the marble on the floors and walls.
The vanity was a Craigslist find, that we completely refinished. We splurged on the shower glass and custom cut mirror (though, the mirror was actually very affordable for the size). The fixtures we found at the Restoration Hardware outlet store for a steal.
I love how the lustrous brass hardware with the blue paint and serves as the jewelry of the already glamorous room. I’m also intrigued by the mirror. We see a lot of these oversized, flush, rectangular mirrors in ’80s and ’90s pre-renovation bathrooms, and they always get replaced, but this one looks fresh. Is it because it’s framed by molding, or because the light is incorporated, or because it’s a higher quality than those ubiquitous mirrors? Whatever the reason, it reflects a ton of light and looks great, as does the rest of the room. I’m happy to hear Erin agrees:
We are obsessed with the final space. We adore how bright, fresh, and classic the bathroom feels and appreciate some of the splurges, like the in-floor heating, that we knew we only had one chance to install. We love having a double vanity and the options in the shower for either a rain or wall-mounted option are so nice for a couple with differing preferences. We also worked with an incredibly talented New York artist, Thomas Hammer, on a commissioned painting for the space that is an unexpected focal point in the room.
We put so much thought into the details, like adding trimwork to elevate the walls, and the placement of the shower controls, so you can set the temperature before entering the shower, that we don’t have anything we would do differently.
This is nice and clean and white, and that medicine cabinet is adorably tiny. But perhaps this part of the room could be so much more…
Holy wow. This shower takes the luxury of the marble counter and floor and turns it up to the max. The brass fixtures continue, adding warmth to the gray and white space. The rain shower looks like it must feel amazing, and the cubby in the shower is a nice size. The glass walls are totally luxe, and they let the space flow into the shower area, as does the continuation of the floor tiles.
If any of you are even considering tackling a project this involved, definitely consider Erin’s hard-earned insight:
Spend the most time on the planning process and live with your space for a little while. We went through many, many different floorplans for this bathroom over the course of a year that by the time we were ready to start the project, we were very confident that we had a solid plan of attack. Also, spend a lot of time thinking through how you’re going to use the space so you don’t forget small details that make a big difference, like the placement of towel hooks and toilet paper holders.
Finally, detailed tilework is no joke. We had no idea how many hours tiling this bathroom would take, and while we love the finished project so much, we would have loved to have tackled the tile alone over the course of a month, and not a week and a half.
Thank you, Erin Kestenbaum!