Renovation Story: How My Husband and I Transformed our Vintage 60’s Bathroom into a Modern Spa

My husband and I moved into our rancher home 8 years ago—and while it had good bones and character, it was in need of some serious updates and modernization.

Before the Reno: A Tired and Out-of-Style Bathroom

The original 56 square foot ensuite built in the 60’s included a lilac coloured sink, bathtub and toilet. The grout and tiles on the countertop were stained and loose. The overhead lighting was inadequate and the bathroom lacked a door, making it completely open to the attached closet.

Ensuite before bathroom renovation on a budget

Shower/tub before

60's bathroom cabinet and lilac sink

Ensuite before reno

The dated tile in tub/shower enclosure desperately needed to be replaced, and not just for reasons of style. The dropped ceiling above the tub made the space dark and small.

The existing layout of the fixtures worked for us but instead of a bathtub, we preferred a barrier-free, (or curbless) walk-in shower with sliding glass doors.

During: The Process of Learning Where to Save

Putting in our own sweat equity for our renovations really helps with the budget, and an added bonus is that my husband is a carpenter. Our budget for this project was around $10,000 and I knew that was going to be tight.

The first savings that we had was purchasing our luxury shower kit on sale at Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware. Even before we had started the renovation we had purchased these pieces. I realize that not everyone is able to do this if you don’t know what the design is going to be, but since we were going to be tearing down to the studs in this bathroom, we could make this kit work in whatever configuration we came up with. Because we bought these items when we saw them on sale, the significant savings allowed us to purchase luxury pieces that we normally could not have afforded.

Dornbracht shower fixtures

Dornbracht rain shower and hand shower

The second savings I had was with the floor tile. Again, I purchased these tiles before we had started the renovation. I had received an email from a tile showroom that they were having a sale. Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for but I had a feeling that I would know what I wanted when I saw it. I went to the sale knowing the square footage of the bathroom floor so that when I found something, I could confirm there would be enough tiles— an important tip to remember when buying tiles on sale. There’s a reason why they are on sale; stock may be low and they want to move the remaining tiles out of the warehouse.

shower floor porcelain linear tile

A third savings was that I was able to keep my Hunter Douglas Vignette Roman Shade blind in the bathroom window since we did not change the window. I love that the blind operates by holding the handle on the bottom rail, eliminating the use of pull cords. This type of blind is energy efficient by keeping the cold out and blocking the afternoon heat in the summer.

Vignette Shade from Hunter Douglas

Vignette Roman Shade from Hunter Douglas

And finally, we saved by doing the labour ourselves—from the demolition to the final coat of paint.

After: The Reveal and Finishing Custom Touches

I fell in love with the wall tile right away when I saw it at another tile showroom. They are a porcelain tile that look like marble, but at a fraction of the price of marble—and without the long-term maintenance.

The custom-made wall niche was designed and built, keeping in mind the size of personal hygiene bottles. It’s very important to review the size and number of bottles that you will use every day to ensure you have enough space on the shelf for them all. You don’t want to be picking up bottles from the floor when you could have them right beside you.

Budget saving - build your own shower niche and edge with quartz

tiling the shower niche

walk-in shower with custom built wall niche

Walk in shower

The shower controls are conveniently positioned by the shower entry for ease of use. It does not have to be right under the rain shower. A hand-held showerhead is perfect for cleaning the shower and for when you just want to wash off your feet. The slightly sloping floor in the shower directs the water flow to the trough drain located along the side wall. We chose a sliding glass shower door from RONA since it is a narrow bathroom and every bit of room counts.

In-floor heating was my personal request because my feet are always cold in the winter. I wanted warmth and comfort wherever I’m standing in the bathroom, including the floor of the walk-in shower. We used the Nuheat Cable System in this bathroom because of the larger area that we needed to cover and we didn’t want to wait for a custom built mat. When we renovated our main bathroom, we used the Nuheat Standard Mat because it was a smaller foot print that was the same size as a standard mat.

My husband had the idea to have the wall-to-wall custom floating cabinets and I loved the idea. I chose a walnut laminate for the cabinets. I love the mid-tone colour of walnut and I find it adds warmth to the space. The doors and drawers are touch-to-open for a clean, minimalist look. The upper cabinet offers additional storage for toiletries.

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights in newly renovated bathroom

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights below

Underneath the floating cabinet is a motion sensor light, with an optional colour changing feature which is useful as a night light or for ambient lighting when using the shower.

The white quartz countertop with a rectangular under mount sink and single lever faucet add to the minimalist style of this spa-like bathroom.

Dornbract single lever faucet, undermount sink

Single lever Dornbracht faucet

As a supplement to the recessed ceiling lights, the mirror mounted linear lights from Sonneman frame the single under mount sink, allowing the light to land where it is needed most. Luxe chrome bathroom fixtures add sparkle and functional style.

Modern lights mounted on mirror in renovated bathroom

Contemporary linear lights mounted on the mirror

Bathroom renovation by Urban Aesthetics

And a final detail worth noting is that a pocket door now separates the ensuite from the master walk-in closet.

space saving pocket door in bathroom renovation

New pocket door. A great space saving feature.

My favourite features of this bathroom are the curbless walk-in shower and how bright this room feels, even though it is a narrow space.

Walk-in shower of new bathroom renovation

Walk in shower

 

Have you renovated your out-dated bathroom? What was your best cost saving purchase?

If you are struggling with selecting materials and products for your bathroom renovation, book a consult with a professional who can give you tips and ideas that could save you time and money.

 

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Use wallpaper to add style to your home

Wallpaper today is not your grandma’s wallpaper. It’s now trendy to use wallpaper as a way to add style to your home in a way that’s unique and pretty cool.

Add style to your plain white walls

Recently I helped a client find wallpaper for their downtown condo. The boring builder’s white walls did nothing for this modern space. We looked through several wallpaper books and our final selection was quick and decisive because they just seemed perfect for the space; a zig zag pattern in metallic soft gold for the bathroom and a wide horizontal stripe for the hallway and living room.  Once we selected the wallpaper, we matched up a paint colour for the other walls.

 

wallpaper and matching paint colour

Wallpaper final choices with paint sample

Wallpaper has been ordered, received and ready for installation!

 Wallpaper adds style and changes the look of any room

JF Fabrics Wallcoverings – Calligraphy Collection

Create a feature wall

In the living room we decided to do a feature wall and chose the wall behind the sofa to be wallpapered.

wallpaper adds style, horizontal stripe wallpaper

Before & After Living room wall

Define your spaces

In the bathroom all the walls were wallpapered to give it a dose of oomph. And the long wall in the hallway needed some drama which is exactly what the wide horizontal stripe wallpaper does to this space.

use wallpaper to add style

Before & After Bathroom and Hallway

The client really liked how the wallpaper transformed the look and feel of the condo. The wallpaper defines the various areas in the small condo and personalized them.

What do you think? Are you looking to add some style to your condo? Check out our Instant Aesthetics e-design package where you hire us to help you do up one room in your home. It’s that simple.

 

Related links:

Small space condo furnishing

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Smaller With Style – A Bathroom Renovation

For the last year, my husband and I have been immersed in a large-scale renovation on our ranch-style home. It all started with the removal of our carport, and it progressed into the addition of an attached two-car garage, mudroom/laundry room, kitchen addition and bathroom renovation. In this post I will share with you the progress and completion of the bathroom renovation, and in future posts I will describe other parts of the project.

The plan

Our plans to create a larger, well laid out kitchen involved making this bathroom smaller as they shared a common wall.  We moved the wall between the two rooms 16 inches into the bathroom space, meaning the bathtub was moved to the end wall by the window. That left the space for a vanity/countertop to became about 1/3 of its original size.

Figure 1 Layout: before on the left and after on the right. Not to scale

Figure 1 Layout: before on the left and after on the right. Not to scale

We already had a BainUltra therapy bathtub, which was purchased at a clearance sale years ago at CANTU Bathrooms and Hardware and let’s just say, I’ve been waiting a very long time to use this bathtub.

For the new floor tile, I really had no idea what style, shape or colour I wanted, but I knew that when I saw it I would know. Isn’t that true for a lot of our decorating decisions? My clients are way better at telling me what they don’t like than what they do like.

I went to Tierra Sol in Burnaby to start my search for tile inspiration and there’s where I found both the floor tile and the wall tile for the shower. I couldn’t believe that I found what I wanted the first time out! Honestly, that rarely happens.

Floor tile – Candia di Cava hex tile with the shower wall tile and Godmorgen IKEA cabinet door.

Floor tile – Candia di Cava hex tile with the shower wall tile and Godmorgen IKEA cabinet door.

Tiling Process

Here is a progress photo after the hexagon floor tile was installed.

Floor tiles not grouted

Once all the tile was installed we had to pick the grout colour. Here’s a tip to remember when selecting grout for your next tiling project: when grout is installed and dried, it ends up looking lighter than the grout sample.

tile and grout

 

Once the shower walls were grouted, we had the tiler finish off the bottom of the niche and window sill with a custom cut piece of quartz. Using quartz for your ledge allows you to customize  depth/width of your sill. We opted for a slightly deeper surface, great for the larger size shampoo/conditioner bottles that we tend to buy.    

niche with blue accent

 

Door or no door

Another decision we had to make was whether we wanted shower doors or a shower curtain. The tub is used mostly for relaxing and soaking, and many styles of doors can make an awkward configuration. We didn’t want to go with a frameless glass door as this would mean that there would be a stationary panel on the edge where the controls are. With that configuration, we wouldn’t be able to reach around it to turn on the water to fill the tub without having to step into the tub. Also, I just wasn’t feeling the love for the bi-pass shower door systems because that would mean there would be a frame on the edge of the tub. So we opted for a shower curtain and I love how the fabric of the curtain adds softness to the bathroom.

The choice of going with a self-assembly flat-pack vanity instead of a custom one was based on budget for the most part; and, if I’m being truthful, that other part was because I was tired of making decisions. When you are renovating, the amount of decisions you have to make is exhausting isn’t it? I can see why people hire interior decorators/designers when they renovate their homes. 😉

We decided on the Ikea Godmorgen sink vanity in the walnut finish. What this piece lacks in size relative to our old vanity, it makes up for in simplicity and ease of assembly and installation.

Floating vanity cabinet from IKEA

Floating vanity from IKEA

The Aquabrass hand shower/tub filler set was another item purchased at CANTU.  Since the tub was mostly going to be used for soaking in, I wanted a hand shower (instead of a stationary rain shower) which makes for easy tub cleaning.

shower rail set

 Bathroom renovation completed

Bathroom renovation completed

We are very happy with this bathroom renovation. As intended, the new tub is wonderful for long, relaxing soaks. The space feels fresh and modern, while still fitting with the style of our 60’s rancher-style home.

Are you dreaming of a bathroom renovation or bathroom makeover? A great way to start is to book a consultation with a design professional and an idea book of bathroom photos and products that you love.

For more inspiration, check out my bathroom inspiration ideabook on Houzz or my dream Bathroom board on Pinterest.

 

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7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

When it comes to our bathrooms, most of us have a pretty good idea of what we would like our bathrooms to look like, but in reality that dream doesn’t just happen overnight. Whether you are renovating or cosmetically updating your bathroom, making a plan is the first step to ensuring you will get the look you want, the function of the space you need, and the emotional reaction you’ve been dreaming of. An important part of this process is knowing how to implement your personal style into your bathroom that will help take the look from store vignette to private home spa.

Here are my ideas for creating that presence:

1)      Create a soothing atmosphere. This can be done to fit anyone’s budget by painting your walls a soothing colour – one that you love and find relaxing. It might be a sky blue like Benjamin Moore’s Whispering Spring 2136-70. Complete the look by painting your cabinet and trim in a soft white or linen colour like Ivory White CC 130.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

Source

2)      Take it up a notch. Upgrade your counter top to a white quartz or marble for a clean, opulent look.  An added upgrade that can be DIY is to change up your cabinet hardware with a new style ranging from whimsical, to round glass knobs to shiny chrome square pulls.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

3)      Trade up. Replacing your taps and faucet can bring your bathroom from the late 90’s to the current decade. A bathroom fixture manufacturer like Dornbracht has clean, soft geometrical shaped fixtures that will certainly make your bathroom feel stylized with luxury in mind.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

Dornbracht

4)       Introduce texture. If you are doing a complete renovation in your bathroom, I recommend spending a decent amount of your budget on quality, neutral materials that will not date in style or durability. Within that neutral palette, allow yourself some play with texture and pattern when planning your floor and wall tile layout.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

Avalon Interiors

5)      Personalize your reflection by customizing your vanity mirror or mirrors. You can frame your existing mirror with crown moulding or replace it with a mirror in a decorative frame. A designer tip is to go tall and narrow with the mirror shape so you heighten the look of the room.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

6)      Light it up. Add LED strip lighting on the toe kick of your bathroom cabinet so you can have ambient lighting while soaking in the bath.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

 

7)      Accessorize! If you have space, add a furniture item like a chair or a stool to bring softness and comfort into your hard surfaced bathroom. And other accoutrements like candles, framed art, matching baskets, potted plants and window dressings will add finishing touches to transform your bathroom from blah and boring to a personalized charming retreat.

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

Following these decorator tips will make the function of your bathroom be the highlight of your home with it’s appearance of comfort, style and calming emotion.

If you are thinking of renovating your bathroom and are feeling overwhelmed with the multitude of choices, consider hiring a professional to help you with your planning and design.

Contact us here for our fee schedule and design services.

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