Saturday, March 3, 2012

691. Design Weekend 2-- Bathroom Remodel

I'm going a little out of chronological order here and showing you the bathroom of our current house.  We also gutted our California bathroom, but I will have to dig out the photo discs for that later.  For now, let's focus on this, our basement half bath.

BEFORE:  As you can see, no one would ever want to use this bathroom because they would recoil in fear and horror.  Our younger son (three years old at the time) said, "Please do not buy this house.  Who knows what lives in that bathroom?"  I can see where he was coming from.  The bathroom earned the nickname "The Chevron Station Bathroom."  Luckily, or unluckily, our house was diagnosed with mold before we ever moved in (we knew this upfront when we bid), so that meant the entire (100%) basement had to be demolished before we could move in.  Oh, believe me, I was so so sad to see that bathroom go (not!).

No murders happened here (that we know of).
What a sad little bathroom.  At this point, I should let you know that we changed the footprint of the space slightly.  Here, I will draw you a little floorplan so you can see what I am talking about.

As you can see from the top drawing, the bathroom was so teeny tiny because of all the wasted space of that hallway.  To be fair, the hallway was necessary to get you from the main large space of the basement to the other side and out the basement side door.  However, I put a ton of thought into it and decided to re-route traffic through the basement guest bedroom to get to the outside.  Also, this meant that (unfortunately) you would have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.  So, it is a little inconvenient if you are in the basement that you have to walk around, go through a bedroom, and then there is the bathroom.

Why I did it:  it was driving me insane to think that the bathroom would stay that tiny due to that stupid hall.  Now there is no hallway in the basement whatsoever.  The next photo gives you the image of how the bathroom was framed out.  This is right when we ran out of money in our remodeling budget (due to that fun mold), so we had to live with just framework for about a year.  Boo.

We ended up storing plastic bins full of junk in here for a while.
What you are seeing on the other side of the space is the back of our laundry room.  That diagonal line on the floor is (I think) where the wall of the bathroom had been.  You can see the same white pipes in the first pic (the Before) and here.  The blue painter's tape I put down to show where the new toilet and sink would go.

Getting closer to done!   
Finally we had the funds to move forward.  Here is the same space all drywalled. 

As you can see from the photo, there is an indented space on the right above where a sink would go.  I designed this.  I thought it would be neat to have a little extra ledge to put make-up or a hairbrush or soap or whatever.  I had stayed in a nice hotel in New York once that had a built-in ledge above the sink like this, so that is where I got the idea.  (The hotel was the Helmsley, by the way.  United used to put us up there.)

Okay, on to the big reveal.

Ta da!
Finished!  Let me tell you about the specifics.  I had gone to this beautiful tile store, I think the name was "Overpriced And Lustworthy Tile" or something like that, and looked at many gorgeous tiles that we could not afford.  The Husband, being the practical man that he is, said, "MOV, we cannot have the basement bathroom looking nicer than the main floor bathroom.  Come on."  As usual, he was right.  I ended up going to Lowe's and buying ALL the floor and wall tiles for under $600.  We did not have enough money to tile all four walls, so I decided to get the most "bang for the buck" and have our contractor tile halfway up the sink wall since that would have the most impact visually (it is the first thing you see when you walk in). 

As for the floor tile, it is simple black and white checkerboard tiles that we had the contractor lay on the diagonal, with the alternating random squares of black or aqua.  This pattern of laying tiles is (I believe) called "pinwheel." 

The paint color is by Benjamin Moore and is named "Gray Cashmere."  It is not really that gray in real life, it is more of a muted aqua green color.  The toilet is new, and I think we got it at Home Depot (Kohler).  The sink is (ready for this) from Craig's List!  I had seen one like it at Lowe's, but I decided to check Craig's List just in case.  THE EXACT SAME SINK, in my town!  The reason the people were selling it is they bought it for their bathroom, installed it, then decided it was too big.  They had already put their faucet in (not the one in the photo), and Lowe's will NOT return a sink that was already installed!  The people ended up selling it to me for half of the original price.  Yay!  The sink is made of two pieces, the basin and the pedestal base.

The mirror is from Target.  The frame looks like Zebra wood, dark brown with black streaks, pretty.

The ledge is Carrera marble. 

The sconces and faucet were ordered online.  I think of them as the jewelry for the little black dress of a bathroom.  The sconces I just love because they are glass (even the part that looks like a fabric shade is really glass).

Like a fancy hotel bathroom, right?
I like this picture because you can really see everything well here.  Above the sink (on the wall) is decorative tile.  Every single detail has to be planned and measured in advance.  Do you see how it just "worked out" that the mirror recessed area is the right size for the mirror and how it just "worked out" that the decorative tile and ledge are the correct height above the sink?  None of that is an accident.  I had bought the mirror before we even framed the space.  I had the sink before we tiled (remember that the sink is installed LAST), so our contractor measured from the floor up to the height the sink would be so the tile would hit the right spot.

When I am subbing for 4th grade and the kids say that math is "hard" and why do they have to learn this because they will never use it, I want to show them photos of this bathroom and explain how my contractor and I planned and measured all of this so the end result would look "effortless." 

Now, I would like to draw your attention to the little arched alcove indented thing on the right.  Again, this was not there in the original house, it is an architectural detail that I added.  I drew it, designed and planned it, figured out the size it would be and how the tiles would go.  (Tip:  always buy 10% extra tile in case you have a plumbing issue in the future and tile has to be removed.  Usually when it is removed, it breaks, so it is good to have the exact tile on hand in case the store has discontinued it.)  That ledge is the same Carrera marble.  It was fairly inexpensive because I needed so little.  I think I bought a remmant for this. 

Another detail I would like to point out to you:  the bathroom has three lights, one is overhead and then the matching pair of sconces.  My electrician could put the light switches wherever I wanted, so I had him put the main one by the door, and then the switch for the two sconces (they are wired to be turned on and off together) next to the sink.  I also had the electrician put an electrical outlet there for a hair dryer and curling iron. 

You cannot see it, but on the other side of the bathroom near the window on the left, we have a small piece of furniture, a tiny little Bombay chest with drawers.  It is very European-looking.  Anyway, again I measured in advance and had the electrician put a plug above the little cabinet, to plug in hot rollers or whatever.

The whole point is:  you have to visualize the bathroom 100% complete before you ever start.  See yourself in the space and imagine where you will need plugs or extra counter space to set things. 

I know it is a cliche, but think outside the box.  Our bathroom would have been tiny if I had not stolen that adjacent hallway to work with. 

I hope you enjoyed Design Weekend 2!  Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to your comments.



  1. This is absolutely fantastic, and I would gladly walk a few extra steps to get to this lovely room! Here I am pondering having our bathroom painted (nope, I don't want to ruin it myself). It has needed a second coat since the last painter left it (1- 1/2 years ago) and there are some slightly damaged spots to contend with. This might just be the final kick I needed to get that taken care of! (It will still lack in charm by comparison, but bot seem neglected)

    1. ha! I'm glad if I was able to inspire you, andrea!

  2. Yes it sounds weird that one has to walk through a bedroom to get to the door and bathroom however that room could be used as a rec room, family room, or game room so it's not so bad.
    I love the tile you picked out! I am thinking of redoing a bathroom this summer that ALWAYS has pee on the wall even though all the males in my house are grown. I think tile might be easier to clean then drywall.

    1. Yes, so far it has been easy to clean. Mostly because I make The Husband do it while I drink my glass of chardonnay and watch Top Chef or House Hunters.

  3. Beautiful tile. I love it. The finished product is beautiful. Now get thee to Target and buy a towel bar for your hand towels!

    As I write this, I'm listening to my husband frame in a new laundry room and cold storage room in our basement. Bathroom comes next! Can't wait. You've inspired me.

    1. amanda, I can't believe you totally called me out for no towel rack! It's true! that is the one thing that did not get done, and it truly has been nagging at my Virgo brain. I even picked out a really nice one from the Rejuvenation catalog, but then could not decide if I wanted black, clear, or white. The towel rack is supposed to go under that little arch thing, which is why the niche is up so high, to give room for the (future) towel rack. I even had the contractor put in extra wood framing in that spot underneath the drywall so that if you pulled on the towel rack really hard, the screws would be braced securely in the wood so it would stay put.

      *sigh* still not 100% finished..........

  4. Beautiful job MOV. love the tiles, they remind me of a federation house I shared in Sydney...when I was single...earning money I could spend all on myself...wild dinner

    1. thank you! and yes, I remember days of being able to spend all my money on myself and never have to explain it or ask anyone if that was ok...........

  5. Replies
    1. thank you! (to be honest, it was better even in the framework stage.............)

  6. I actually made several notes while reading this. I keep an ongoing file of things that would be good ideas when we (eventually, someday, 50 years from now) build a home of our own. (My favorite: ledge above the sink! Brilliant! I hate having the soap right next to the faucet crowding everything.) I would totally read a design book by you. Just sayin'.

  7. fantastic! can you come to my house and re-do my bedroom please?

    1. uh, you DO live in england, right?

  8. Yes. Well done there, wot wot. I think your advice for full visualization of end result is key. And it shows! I could happily eat a curry takeaway in that bathroom. So comfortable!

    1. thank you, mollie! never thought about relaxing in there with some take-away curry, but I shall add it to my list now. :)

  9. I don't think love quite covers my feelings for your bathroom. Covet? Yes, I think that's closer.

    1. I'll be honest with you, couse: I *did* want to sleep down there the first few nights.

      And there were times, times when I did not even have to (ahem) "go" that I went down there anyway to the lovely basement powder room specifically to pet the sink. And then if I was certain the kids were not looking, I did my happy design dance, which is very John Travolta-ish.


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