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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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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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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