Bathroom 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. We both agreed that a master bathroom renovation should be our first priority.

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. We edged the niche with quartz.

walk-in shower with custom built wall niche in bathroom renovation

Walk in shower | Stool Crate & Barrel

Bathroom renovation walk in shower

Walk in shower with rolling glass door

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 Stand footprint cause 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 bathroom renovation story

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.

Bathroom renovation: Modern lights mounted on mirror

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 renovation are the curbless walk-in shower and how bright this room feels, even though it is a narrow space.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)      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.

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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