I know, I know, it’s technically “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” but I am not a fan of the word stupid except for the drunks who end up face down on Bourbon and wonder why.
And a few politicians, but that’s a whole other bag of worms.
When we first moved into the house in Baton Rouge, the master bathroom was, hands down, the ugliest room that had the most potential. It was a shockingly large room for an en suite bathroom due to the U-shape of the house. The master bathroom was at the very tip of the left-hand side of that U, with the master bedroom right in front of it, and it spanned the entire width of that leg of the U. Since we had come from a one-bathroom home that was drafty and horrible, where there were space heaters that sort of laughed and spit at you, a nice big master bath should have been the crowning jewel.
Except… you remember the ugly dragon faucets that I mentioned here? I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of them before we started to do the remodel, because in the master, they had them everywhere. Two sinks, the bathtub and the shower. Those people loved them some dragons, baby, and I still shudder to think of them. I tried to find some on the internet, and even with googling the ugliest damned faucets ever, didn’t even come close. That’s how bad.
Somewhere, on my oldest computer, are the original photos of the house with the best “before” photos. I got to the remodel a day after the demo started, having forgotten to take newer “before” photos, so I apologize. You’ll have to trust me that it was kinda awful. The cabinets were falling apart, as was the big (plastic-y faux marble-ish) tub:
That tub was kinda hideous, and was stained like you see it before we’d ever moved in. It was also really BIG, which was a plus, and we had had dreams all along to make the whole room really spa-like.
::::cue knob theory music::::
It got worse, much worse, before it got better and spa-like. What bogged us down was having big dreams and no budget. Not for a long long long long time did we have any money to spend on that house, and when we did, there were other things that were much higher priorities than having a fancy master bath. But that didn’t stop us from dreaming and scheming and trying to figure out what we wanted.
The problem was, we wanted it all. Every time we’d see some cool design, we’d step back there and step it off to see if we could make it so. A fireplace in the master bath? Of course we can! We just have to move this wall here and that tub there and then…oh, wait, no room for the toilet if we do that, oops. No problem, just move this vanity over there and do this L-shaped vanity and then… oh. No way to get through the door. And it kinda lessens the impact of the fireplace if you can’t enjoy it while in the bathtub itself… and wouldn’t it be really really awesome if we could also use the fireplace when we’re in the bedroom. (Never mind the little itty bitty insignificant detail that we live in south Louisiana and have winters that barely dip below 40 degrees, if we’re lucky, and would use a fireplace about…. um… two times, and that’s if we turn the air conditioner on so it’s cool enough.)
Then some new fad would come out and we’d decide that’s what we wanted, and go try to figure it out, only to realize that we’d essentially have to chop off the back side of the house and start over for many many thousands of dollars we did not have. Kinda like the kitchen problem in the Knob Theory version, only this time, Carl was more the culprit than I was, because he was convinced he could redesign that room to make much better use of the space. And really, this was a man who managed to hide an entire tub under a chair, so I don’t doubt him one bit.
The room is roughly 17′ x 10 1/2′, big enough really to be a bedroom. The downside to the room is that it’s almost all hallways, so a lot of space is sort of wasted. The upside–everything has its own private space.
When we finally got to the point where we realized we were going to sell the house, all the crazy fancy ideas went out the window. What we needed to create was a sort of classic space that (a) went with the other bathroom and (b) fit the house without being too crazy and off-putting to buyers. We didn’t want to have our own equivalent of the dragon faucets.
Here’s a couple more mid-demo before photos:
That entrance on the right is the hallway coming from the bedroom. Our two clothes closets (unseen here) face each other in that hallway. I’m standing in front of the bathtub above, looking across the length of the room. There are three doors to my left in this photo. The first one is the main (deep) linen closet. The second is the entrance to the toilet / shower area. The toilet is right behind that closet, facing the shower, which is right behind that third door nearest the window. That third door was a very shallow closet that I cannot, for the life of me, understand why they installed it. It forced the shower to be this tiny, dark, cell of a place. I’m 5’2″ and even I felt like it was too small of a room. Plus, the walls were make of a really cheap grade of faux yellow marble that had cracked when someone fell against it at some point. Hideous little room.
A close-up of that closet after it was demo’d. The wall in there that you see (the back wall of the closet) is the outer wall of the shower. I kept making the argument for years that we should just lose this closet and open up the shower and make it bigger. The one negative was that the shower pan (what the shower was built on) could not be enlarged without re-routing a lot of plumbing, and that would be expensive because we have concrete floors. (More on this in a bit.)
And here’s the ugly shower after it had been demo’d:
I really really wish you could see the original “before” because someone (probably the original contractor, but I’m not sure) had decided at some point to build a corner “seat” in this shower. Not that there was any room for it, but it was there–a tiny triangle an elf would have a hard time fitting on, and it had broken off at some point. I’m not surprised, since the material was very flimsy, but some genius had gotten the bright idea to glue it back on, and they did manage to stick it… but they didn’t realize that the glue would drip, turn orange and then blackish-orange with age, and never, ever, ever come off that marble. It also didn’t help that they’d glued it in crooked. I was thrilled to see it gone.
So now, the after — completely without staging. I didn’t think to put the towels, decorations up before taking these. Keep in mind we wanted to match the sort of classic look in the other bathroom. Here’s a view of the room from right in front of the window seen in a photo above:
The color on the walls is a silver-gray, and it’s one of those colors that’s very flattering to the skin. It also goes with just about anything, including the soft yellow I have in the master bedroom. I needed something not too girly, not too masculine, and not too strong of a color.
The tile is a fairly cheap Home Depot tile that has the look of the more expensive hex tile we put in the other bathroom, without actually being expensive. We did learn a hard lesson here, though. These tiles come in one foot squares with the little tiles attached to a grid-like web backing. You’d think all of the tiles in the same box would match, but every once-in-a-while, one whole square of tiles would have a pink cast to them, instead of being fully white. I don’t know why–nor why they were mixed in sealed boxes, but we ended up having to pull up some of the tiles and replace them because of the mis-matched color. Home Depot replaced them for free, but it didn’t compensate us for the lost time. Next time, I won’t trust that they’ll match–I’m going to pull everything out and make sure before we start the installation.
A close-up of the new tub:
The tub is slightly smaller than the original (which was rectangular as you can see in the first photo above), but we made use of that extra corner by bringing the frame for the tub, and therefore a small seating area, flush with the wall there to the right. Originally, they had hung big honking mirrors both on that back wall and opposite it, so that you saw yourself in your infinite glory in multiple versions. Hated those mirrors.
I’d always wanted a chandelier above the tub, so we put one. Those globes are glass, so easy to wipe off and keep clean. Carl put all of the lights in the bathroom on dimmers, so you can adjust how much light you want at all times.
We kept the tile simple, and I like it… but it isn’t the easiest to clean. Next bathroom will have some sort of solid surface surrounding any tubs that we put in, because the grout + dirty water or soap = mess. I’ve realized that this remodel taught me a lot about looking at the object to be installed not only for its potential beauty, but how to keep it up and how hard would that be on a daily/weekly basis.
Here’s the toilet area:
That white door on the left is my clothes closet. Carl’s faces mine and they’re big–6′ deep. That little hallway leads to our bedroom.
Those cabinets were super cheap. That granite as well, but both were because we had discovered that my husband’s younger cousin had gotten into the cabinet business with his delightful new wife, and the cabinets were made by the same manufacturer as KraftMaid, but without the logo. Solid wood (maple) cabinets, but they arrive flat in a box and you have to have someone who knows what they’re doing install them, or have them installed by a pro. We chose the pros because it was a lot of tedious steps and they were fast and very good. And seriously cheap. These cabinets were about 1/3rd of the price of those you can find at Home Depot (and the same quality). You can find these types of stores all over — IKEA has them, but there are places like my cousin’s wife’s shop in Metairie, LA (http://www.united-kitchen.com/Cabinets.html) or other places, like Cabinets To Go.
The entrance into the toilet / shower area. Behind that door, the other closet door is gone and it’s been sheetrocked /painted. No one who goes in there now would ever know it had once had a weird, shallow closet there.
Here’s the shower:
Where that seat is on the right was the original wall of the shower. The height of it stopped right about where the top of the door frame is. When we gutted it, we discovered no reason at all for it to have been made so short, so we opened it up. That seat covers where the original piping came into the slab, and so it turned out not to be a problem–even an advantage, in fact. We have a nice deep seat there, and we didn’t have to move plumbing.
There are two soap dishes / shampoo recesses built into the shower walls and that door swings in or out. I made two mistakes here. I should have put the door opening from the left side (where the shower head is) and I should have put the handle to turn on the water under the faucet instead of the far wall. I was thinking about stepping in, sitting down (if you wanted) and turning on the water. Didn’t think about the fact that the water would be cold at first. Also didn’t think about just reaching in to start the water… because your head will be under the faucet and bam, cold water. Duh. Dumb rookie mistake, and by the time I realized it, it was too late to change. However, it reminded me to walk through each room in the building and think about how we’re going to use that room. I’ve been going over to that project every week, visualizing all of the set up, where the furniture will go, where I will need outlets, how I will be using the space, and already this has saved me a ton of money and time and mistakes. I doubt I catch them all, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Finally, my favorite thing in the room:
I found a high-priced version of this and groaned. It was exactly the look I wanted, but at over a thousand dollars, it was ridiculously out of reach. I found something okay-but-not-great at Lowe’s, and then discovered efaucets.com — same as the fancy high-priced faucet and a tiny fraction of the price. Comes in other finishes, too. No more crusty, impossible-to-clean dragon inlays.
And then we moved. (sigh)
But it’s pretty. I’m hoping it’ll help sell the house.
Next time, I’ll have before and after photos of the kitchen remodel, and possibly the master bedroom. I’ll be spending time over there doing some of the final stuff we need to do to get it on the market. Finally. After a year of not getting finished, I will be thrilled to have this off my plate.
So there you go–keeping it simple (simple colors, simple tile choices, simple floor-plan changes) enabled us to do this big bathroom cheaper than the other one. (I think we spent around $7K on this one, since it was gutted and redone from the floor up.)
Okay, that’s it for this time… how are your construction / remodel / redecorate plans going?