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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From concept to completion: How custom drapes for a nursery meets the due date.

Back in the fall of last year, I received a call from a new client (a referral from a past client – the best compliment!) who was looking for help with decorating the spare bedroom with custom drapes and wall paint colour to become a nursery for her yet-to-be-born baby. How exciting!

We started with looking at her existing furniture and area rug to see what she thought she would keep in the room and what she should remove. Loveseat – remove; desk – remove; chair – remove; area rug – keep; bookcase – keep. As it was a white painted bookcase, we knew we could work with that. From this point, she would purchase the nursery furniture that would coordinate with the style of the bookcase.

That left the area rug as our jumping off palette for colour and pattern design style.

Wall paint colour

We started looking at paint colours to see what colours she liked with the rug and we settled on a fresh green Benjamin Moore’s AF 455 Croquet. Since we still needed to select the fabric for the drapery, this was just a tentative colour. I always suggest that the final wall colour be chosen after you have selected all of other materials with colour and pattern on them. It’s easier to change the paint colour than it is to find the right fabric or bedding to match one particular colour.

colours

 Fabrics for custom drapes

Our next consultation was to look at fabrics for the drapes. I brought over two bags of fabric books and we looked at all the fabrics, bookmarking the ones that we liked on the first flip through. Once we went through all the books, we reviewed our bookmarked options and narrowed down our preferences.

From concept to completion:  How custom drapes for a nursery meets the due date.

Next, I ordered larger fabric samples so we could see the individual swatches and then review our choices again. However, once the samples arrived a few days later, we still felt like we were missing our statement fabric.

The client went to various fabric stores and found a few options, but again, nothing was really speaking to her. We then met up at Fabricland in Richmond and went through what felt like every bolt of fabric only to come up with an option that was a sample of a fabric that needed to be ordered. When we asked for the information and a sample, we found out that it had just been discontinued! How disappointing!

A week or so later, I was at a “to-the-trade” furniture and fabric showroom to see a new furniture line that they were showcasing. While I was waiting to speak with the visiting furniture sales rep,  I thought I would ask the showroom staff to show me some fabrics that might work for my client. In about 10 minutes, we had found the fabric that I thought would be perfect! I got a sample, snapped a photo of it and emailed it to the client.

From concept to completion:  How custom drapes for a nursery meets the due date.

She instantly loved it! I then found coordinating solid coloured fabrics that we wanted to use as banding and we finalized our decision.

Here is the “Before” photo of the window:

From concept to completion:  How custom drapes for a nursery meets the due date.

And here are the curtains on the area carpet, waiting for the rod to be installed:

From concept to completion:  How custom drapes for a nursery meets the due date.

  And here are the curtains installed:

custom nursery drapes

custom colour banded nursery drapes

Colour banded drapes using 3 different fabrics

Custom baseboard heater cover

Underneath the window was a baseboard heater, so for safety reasons we couldn’t have the length of the drapes go to the floor and rest on the heater. The only option was for the bottom of the curtains to go to line up with the bottom of the window ledge, which in the end made the window look like it was wearing a dress that was too short. This look really bothered me, so I mentioned to the client that I would like to come up with a design for a baseboard cover that would the cover the heater and match the width of the curtain panels. Instead of having a wooden cover made — again not a safe choice when covering a heater — I found the company Arsco Manufacturing in Cincinnati, Ohio that manufactures steel baseboard covers. I immediately called them to see if they would ship to Canada, and was so excited to know that they could — plus they would be able to have it made in about 2.5 weeks. We were working with a “deadline” after all! My issues were solved and the end result is fantastic.

custom nursery drapes

Close up of custom baseboard heater cover

 

custom nursery drapes

 Photos by Nancy DeVries

Is there a room in your home that needs a custom touch?

Related posts:

A Fresh Update for a Client’s Master Bedroom

7 Tips to personalize your bathroom

If you have a room in your home that needs window coverings and are feeling overwhelmed with the multitude of choices, consider hiring a professional to help you with your planning and design.

Contact me here for my fee schedule and design services.

 

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