Our Bathroom Transformation

Last week, we shared some glimpses of our master bathroom pre-rennovation and the inspiration that influenced our design decisions for the space. Today we’re walking you through the whole transformation process from start to finish. As a reminder, this is what the space looked like when we purchased the home.

It could have been worse, yes, but it could have also been much better. In many ways, we were relieved that it looked as it did. It wasn’t newly updated, which meant we didn’t feel guilty for wanting to make changes and put our own stamp on it. It also left us with a pretty good framework from which to build. The layout was small but simple, it was already connected to the master bedroom (a major plus for an older home), and it had a great source of natural light in the original window. Immediately, we knew this would be a major project of the home and that we wanted to change most everything. Since there were no original features to save, we moved forward with gutting the space the same day we got the keys to the house.


Through demo, we realized that the bathroom had likely been reconfigured from a bedroom closet and hall bathroom into one en-suite bath. Thank you previous owners! Because of this, the dimensions were a bit odd. It wasn’t particularly long or wide but was more like a condensed square, which made fitting the tub we knew we wanted along with the other bathroom necessities tight to say the least.

We played around with the idea of moving back the wall the vanity was on to be flush with the shower wall. However, ductwork sat immediately behind that wall, and it just didn’t feel worth the money and effort to gain and extra 1.5 feet. We’d have to get creative and make the most of the space we had. Our biggest concern was fitting in a tub while still meeting code requirements for clearance around each fixture (tub, toilet, and sink) and not feeling overly cramped. Luckily, we were able to remove the small wall to the left of the vanity and push back the outlet within it.

Being visual people, we put one of our favorite tools, a roll of paper, to use. We cut out pieces the size of the fixtures we were considering along with the clearance requirements needed for the toilet. This allowed us to play around with various layout options and tub sizes.

While a few of these options may have worked, it was pretty obvious that keeping the sink in its current location and switching the shower placement with the toilet (photo 3) made the most sense and didn’t require an inordinate amount of plumbing reconfiguration. This also meant, that the toilet would be tucked away in the nook for extra privacy and would provide greater space for storage. Up to this point, we’d thought it might be possible to squeeze in a vanity, but this exercise made it pretty clear that a wall-mount sink was the only way to go for openness and space. We love the look of wall-mount sinks but had been hesitant to commit given the compromise on convenience and resale value. When the decision was basically made for us, we were pretty excited!


Now that the layout was decided, it was time for the fun stuff! We knew the tile stood the chance to make a big impact not only on the design but also the cost. There are so many great options out there, but at the end of the day, we kept coming back to classic black and white tiles with a subtle pattern and clean feel, which we outlined in our inspiration post. To bring in more contrast and boldness, we went with black hexagonal tiles with white accents for the floor rather than vice versa. It seemed only fitting given the classic look we were going for, to choose simple, white subway tile for the wall. Ultimately, the tile was pretty inexpensive and gave off the exact clean, sophisticated vibe we were going for. My father is responsible for the pristinely completed floor design. Given that our air had gone out the week he installed the flooring and that we wanted a straight white boarder with very slanted walls, I think it’s a project he’d rather forget.


Onto the big stuff. We knew that we wanted to create a space fitting with the era of the home. We both love baths and had been without a tub for a number of years. This was the perfect chance to pick out the clawfoot tub of our dreams. We spent HOURS looking at clawfoot tub options and decided a few things. One, we definitely wanted cast iron for the durability, look, and historical feel. Second, while there are a variety of shapes, the classic roll rim was right for us given that the faucet would be located on the foot end of the tub rather than the center. We wanted 60″ in length and good depth. Vintage Tub and Bath has a variety of options and detailed spec sheets that allowed us to compare water depths, lengths, faucet drillings, etc. We went with this tub, shower enclosure and faucet, supply lines, and drain.

After all of that research, thought, and consideration, what could go wrong? How could we overlook something? Remember when I said the space used to be a closet? Well, that means a closet size bathroom door much narrower than the rest of the doors in our house. Remember when I said we went on the hunt for one of the deepest tubs we could find? Well, that means a taller than average tub. A narrow door and tall tub are not a good match. After much maneuvering of this 350 lb giant, it was clear it wasn’t getting through the door, which meant the legs had to come off. Our floors were being refinished the next day, and the tub had to make it into the bathroom that night. As luck would have it, our wrench somehow became perfectly wedged in the curves of the tub and legs while trying to remove the bolts. One hour and some late-night aggression later, the wrench was finally pried loose. With the help of friends, the tub was in the bathroom and out of the way hours before the floors were to be refinished.

For the other fixtures, we kept it simple and classic. We love the look and quality of Kohler’s products and went with this toiletsink, and faucet. Since space was limited we chose a single-hole sink and faucet rather than a double hole to provide at least a few more inches of sink space. Another bonus to nixing the vanity and choosing a wall-mount sink was the cost we saved. $75 for a sink, not so bad. The light above the sink is no longer offered by West Elm, but this one is similar. We wanted a window treament that could handle moisture and seamlessly blend in. This white roller shade from The Shade Store fit that bill. We’ve were very impressed with the quality, customization, and ease of installation.


Paint Colors

To paint the trim or not to paint? While the door and window were original, the baseboards were not and were a different wood. The window was also already painted, and given that we were already knee deep in refinishing woodwork upstairs, it made sense design and time-wise to keep with painted trim. We went with Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, which has all the elements of a soft, warm gray we were after. We left the door in it’s original state to bring in another layer of warmth. For the walls, we continued with Distant Gray that we’d used in other rooms of the house. Clean, classic, and bright.

Storage and Accessories

Storage in this space was at a premium, and we tried to maximize as much as possible. These shower baskets from Restoration Hardware are perfect for shampoo, soap, etc. and great for tucking in the corner by the tub, and they hold a lot more than you’d think. At the end of the tub, we thrifted a small end table that we painted Light Blue for subtle color pop. It’s great for towels, and odds and ends we use on a daily basis. We wanted the toiletries we use most often within easy reach. This glass shelving unit fit in the space to the right of the sink without 1/8″ to spare. The remainder of our storage space is found in the shelves above the toilet. We used these cast-iron brackets from Rejuvenation that mirror the black in the floor and natural cherry shelves my dad cut for us at about 10″ deep. We can easily conceal less-attractive items that we need less often in baskets like these from Crate and Barrel. We debated a medicine cabinet above the sink but felt it would feel too bulky. The streamlined oval mirror we chose softens the space and has great visibility. I really love the vintage feel the beveling bring in.

Pottery Barn has a great selection of classic chrome accessories that we chose for our towel bar, paper holder, towel ring, and glass shelving unit mentioned above. Uniformity in a small space helps to make it feel a bit larger and more cohesive.

We saw styling as a way to bring in color and keep the space feeling fresh. This Lulie Wallace floral piece and Inslee nude painting add a bit of whimsy and complement the pinks, blues, and greens we have in the neighboring master bedroom. Sadly, the Serena and Lilly shower curtain we used from our old apartment is no longer available. We love the subtle black stripe, and will hunt for something similar when we have to replace it. Since we chose a clawfoot tub,we need two curtains in order to cover the full boarder of the tub. Since we haven’t gotten around to replacing this curtain and adding a second, we’ve actually never taken a shower in here, but I’m not complaining. We love baths and have a shower upstairs.

This bathroom is such an oasis for us, and despite its size is, it’s actually very functional. We love the classic look, luxurious feel the clawfoot tub provides, and having everything within easy reach. This room was definitely one of the most rewarding in the whole home to design and pull together.







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