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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Q&A: How to Cover Angle-Shaped Windows Without Blocking all the Light.

As a certified window covering dealer for over 15 years, I get asked to help find the right window covering for many types of specialty shaped windows. And I will be the first to say that I can find the perfect window covering because I have a very talented and skilled window covering installer backing me up. His knowledge and experience compliment my product knowledge and design aesthetic and together we measure (sometimes re-measure) to ensure a perfect end result for the client.

That experience led us to be involved with a colleague’s client who needed to replace the blinds on their 3 angled windows.

Question: I have 3 angle-shaped windows and I need a window treatment for them. What type of blinds can fit these windows without blocking all the light?

Angled top shaped windows need new window covering

Before

Answer:  Blinds for angled windows are not items you can buy off the shelf at your local hardware or home decor store. They need to be custom made from a template that is sent to the manufacturer. An experienced window coverings installer would make the template and install the custom made blind.

There are a surprising number of custom window treatments for your angled windows. Here are my top five specialty shaped blinds for angled windows:

1. Woven wood shades

Woven wood shades are made from natural grasses and reeds which add a unique natural style to your windows. Made to order for a perfect fit for the rectangle and angled-shaped windows. On a specialty angle-shaped window, they will only raise up to the bottom point of the angle. The angled part will be covered with an extra-long valance.

Woven woods angle top shades

Woven woods angle top shades. Photo from Hunter Douglas

2. Roman Shades

Roman shade blinds are a classic style of window covering. The soft fabric fold fabrics are available in a wide range of patterns, textures, and colours. The fabric can be lined to be light filtering or blackout. In an angle-shaped window, they would be made as a stationary covering.  The same would be true for other specialty shaped blinds such as hexagon, octagon, oval and arch.

Angle windows roman shade

Vignette roman shade by Hunter Douglas

3. Shutters

Polyvinyl or wood shutters are a perfect fit for triangle windows.  Durable louvers move individually inside the custom built frame, offering the most custom light control of any of the specialty shaped window treatment options. If the louvers are made stationary because of the size of the window, they would be placed in an open or closed position. Shutters can be custom built for most specialty shaped windows.

Shutter custom for triangle windows

Shutter custom built for triangle windows

4. Cellular Shades

Cellular shades made for angled windows can be stand-alone stationary shades or mounted over any rectangular shade.  They are lightweight and do not have a large head rail or bottom rail.

They are energy efficient because the fabric is a honeycomb shape. This traps the air coming through the window, which insulates the room from outdoor heat and cold air. The honeycomb fabric can be light filtering or opaque. The latter is typically preferable for sleeping quarters and media rooms. In the photo below, another client chose this type of blind for their large specialty shaped windows because they needed sun protection without blocking too much of their view and daylight.

Duette by Hunter Douglas angled top and triangle shades

Duette by Hunter Douglas angled top and triangle shades. Photo by Nancy DeVries

5. Sheer horizontal shades

Different manufacturers will have different design styles for this product in a specialty shape window. One manufacturer will have only a bottom rail and clear clips holding the fabric at the top of the window. This option is preferred by those who do not want raised trim around their window frames.

Another manufacturer builds a custom shutter frame, inserting the sheer fabric inside. You can choose to have the fabric vanes in an open or closed position.

This is what the client who asked the above question decided to go with.

A template is made for the manufacturer to ensure a picture-perfect fit.

template for custom window covering. Do-Rite Installations

The end result. Sheer shades in a custom built frame, providing privacy and light control for the client’s over height angled windows.

Custom sheer horizontal shades by Maxxmar

Sheer horizontal shades by Maxxmar. Photo by Nancy DeVries

If you have a window that is not a standard size window and you would like to learn more about custom window coverings, call or email Nancy to find out what your options are.

Here are the links to the window covering manufacturers that I use:

Hunter Douglas 

Maxxmar

Elite Window Fashions

 

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Seven Stylish Treatments for your Kitchen Sink Window

In my childhood house, the kitchen sink had no window over it, only a mirror. Even at a young age, I imagined how much better it would be to have a window with a view, providing distraction from the daily drudgery that is dish washing.

Clients usually ask me for ideas for their kitchen window coverings that have unpleasant aspects or a lack of privacy. Happily, the house I live in now does have a window over the sink and I love looking out to my back garden. This window doesn’t need a covering for sun protection or privacy, but I sometimes find myself thinking of how I would dress it if I needed to.

Here are seven stylish treatments for your kitchen sink window to make it not only functional, but stylish:

1. Valances: padded, awning and swag styles.

A valance is a window dressing that covers the top portion of the window. Styles range from fabric-covered padded boards to dressy swags to flat straight-cut valances. A valance is usually mounted on the outside frame of the window, allowing for a privacy blind or shade to be mounted underneath.

 

Valance photo collage

Pinterest and Urban Aesthetics

2. Roman shades

Roman shades can be made as a valance (decorative) or as an operable shade. This classic design works well in both traditional and modern kitchens. Custom Roman shades can be made with your choice of fabric to bring colour and elegance to your kitchen.

Maria Killam's roman shade

Maria Killam’s roman shade

3. Bamboo/woven grass shades

This is a great way to add a natural woven texture to your kitchen décor. A bamboo or woven grass shade filters the light and provides privacy. It can roll up under a valance or fold up like a Roman shade. Made from natural woods, reeds, bamboo and grasses, they are unique in that over time they attain a one-of-a-kind finish, like other wood features in your home.

Hunter Douglas Woven Woods

Woven woods roller shades

graber-woven woods

Roman shade woven woods

 

4. Stained glass window panel

This idea is practical and beautiful.  Stained glass windows have been used as decorative accents for hundreds of years. Choose the panel in a size to cover as much or as little of the window as required to hide the view or provide privacy, and in a design that provides the colour and style that complements your kitchen. As my friend who provided this photo of her window says, “While I love the view of my neighbour’s yard, this allows them some privacy. I don’t feel like a Peeping Tom, and I still get beauty and natural light.”

Photo by Sheilah H.

Photo by Sheilah H.

5. Shutters

Vinyl shutters are one the best options for window coverings in high moisture areas. They can be wiped clean and are incredibly durable in a kitchen environment. The second image below shows how this style of shutter can provide privacy when the bottom half is left closed, while still allowing light in by leaving the top half open.

shutters on kitchen sink window

Hunter Douglas Palm Beach shutters

 

Luxaflex shutters

Luxaflex shutters

6. Light filtering shades

While you may want privacy, you likely don’t want to block out all the light that comes through the kitchen window. This is where I recommend a light filtering polyester roller shade or honeycomb shade. They are easy to clean, easy to operate, and the honeycomb shades can be ordered with the top down/bottom up feature so you can lower just the top of the shade, allowing you still to see out your window.

Top down/ bottom up honeycomb shades

Top down/ bottom up shades

Sheer screen roller shade

Sheer screen roller shade

7. Shelves and plants

What I like about this option is that you can have plants do what they do best: grow in a moist area, provide shade and give you nourishment. Glass shelves secured to ledges in the window frame give you the perfect area to grow herbs or your plant of choice. And the best part is that you won’t forget to water them!

 kitchen-window-herb-garden orchids as window dressing

What is YOUR kitchen window wearing?

If you would like more information or even an free estimate regarding a treatment for your kitchen sink window, give me a call.

For more inspiration, check out my pinterest board.

 

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PowerView Motorization – coming soon to a window near you

The next step in window covering motorization technology is coming soon to a window near you. It’s called PowerView by Hunter Douglas and it’s all about two-way communication between you and your window coverings.

More details will come in July when it launches in Canada, but yesterday I, along with other authorized dealers, got a preview of how it works and how the new features, like the Pebble Remote and the Scene Controller, will transform how light and privacy can be controlled in our homes.

PowerView Motorization - coming soon to a window near you

PowerView Pebble remote is available in seven colours

The new remote is ergonomically shaped and is very user-friendly, with buttons for group of shades operation, shade up/down, vanes open/closed, and my favourite, a STOP button. Previous remotes had only an up or down button, and in order to stop the shade, you had to press the button that was the opposite of the direction of the way the shade was moving.

The Scene Controller lets the user create scenes to balance different lighting and privacy needs throughout the day. The user can create a scene that is called Good Night which can make the shades lower and close at a certain time or whenever it suits the mood.

PowerView motorization

Another great feature is the new PowerView App, (which is available for Apple, iOS and Android, where you can personalize how your blinds will work with your lifestyle. For example, you leave your house for work in the morning when its grey and rainy, you turn your lights off but forget to open your blinds are still closed from the night before. Around noon you see that the sun is out, and you want to make sure that your house plants don’t die from light starvation because your blinds are closed all day. You can go into the PowerView App via your mobile device and open your blinds from wherever you are.

Or, say it’s a Saturday afternoon and you are out doing your errands. Your teenager is at home still sleeping and you want the lawn to be cut before you get home. Use the App on your phone to open up the blinds in your teenager’s room! Now how have you lived without that powerful feature? LOL.

PowerView Motorization - coming soon to a window near you

For the energy conscious homeowner, you can schedule the operation of your window shades to optimize your home’s energy efficiency. So when the sun is beaming through your living room window during the afternoon, you can set the time for your blinds to close so you can reduce your solar heat gain, which then reduces the amount of time that your cooling fixtures will need to be running.

This technology is unique and innovative, as well as fashion forward, for you and how your live.

If you would like PowerView motorized window shades for your home, contact me at info@urbanaesthetics.ca to set up an in home consultation.

 

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Hire a professional to help you deal with an unexpected mishap in your home

There’s no such thing as a good time for a burst pipe or any other unexpected disastrous mishap in your home, but when you hire a professional decorator to help and assist in the recovery process, you can save time and stress! Let me give you an example:

Recently, a long-time client of mine woke up to flooding caused by a burst water pipe in an upstairs guest room. Although much of the damage was confined to the guest room, water also flooded into the rooms below, affecting family room, living room, dining room and kitchen.

Before_during

Family Room before and during the restoration process

I have worked with this client since 2005, assisting her to choose paint colours for her whole home, and select and purchase custom furniture, window treatments, light fixtures and other décor accents. Our professional relationship proved very useful during this stressful event.

Below is the redecorated family room with new silver drapery hardware from JF Fabrics, drapery panels made with fabric from Maxwell Fabrics, and new wall colour from Benjamin Moore Paints CSP 830 Peaceful Garden.

Drapery panels on FR windows

Drapery panels and window bench cushion after renovation. Photo by Tracey Ayton Photography

Insurance and restoration companies often aren’t staffed with decorators who are experts in design, fabric, paint, and how to oversee the making of custom pieces that reflect a homeowner’s style. My client suggested to her restoration company that they bring me on board because she knew I could make sure that the items that needed to be replaced would be of the same quality as those we had originally installed. She also knew I had her information on hand, had her style in mind, and could supply the original purchase paperwork to make this process faster and smoother.

For example, years earlier we had chosen a beautiful light fixture with a lovely amber shade, and my client wanted to replace it when it was ruined in the flood. I still had the product code and contacted the light company to reorder the same style and the same colour. The salesperson confirmed the product via catalog photo and model number. I was assured the same fixture was on its way.

However, after almost six weeks of waiting, the fixture arrived and the “amber” shade was actually a reddish colour! Also, the size of the crystals was different (see photo below – original crystals on the right). The numbers matched, but the product had been revised and the original amber colour was no longer available.

chandelier mismatch crystals

I handled the situation by returning the fixture and taking my client shopping to find a new light that she loves.

Chandelier

 

Situations such as the light fixture can be hard to for a homeowner to handle on their own. It can be difficult and stressful to deal with wholesale companies or manufacturers when something goes wrong. I can handle the stress and deal with the bumps in the road for the homeowner.

I have professional relationships with furniture and design companies and their salespeople. I’ll visit the workrooms, check on the fabric, re-order and re-do things on behalf of my client. I can help speed the restoration and redecoration process so that a client isn’t living with dust and grime for what can feel like forever. It comes down to having a history of experience with my clients and connections in the decorating business that representatives from a restoration or insurance company just won’t have.

Working with the same professional decorator over time also assures that when something is redesigned, due to a change in preference or an unexpected problem such as a burst pipe, it’s easy to keep elements of the previous design and refresh other parts, such as paint colours or window treatments, to update a room. We were able to do that in the guest bedroom. Originally the walls were yellow and had no drapery panels. Now the walls are BM AF 515 Exhale (ironic don’t you think?) and match the drapery panels that were moved there from the master bedroom.

Drapery by UA1

When designs are classic and true to the style of the home, updating here and there is much simpler. And it’s exciting for me as a decorator to see how a client’s style can change over time.

If mishap does happen, be sure you know your insurance contacts, and consider hiring a professional like myself to save you time and stress in the recovery period.

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2015, and may all your renovations be planned!

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