When my husband and I purchased our current home, we were more concerned with finding an affordable home in a neighborhood that was appropriate for children within an excellent school district. We purchased a house in the perfect location and neighborhood, with nice bedrooms, a great yard and room to grow with an unfinished basement. We liked just about everything about this house except for one major flaw. The master bathroom was tiny.
In the design world of today, lush and luxurious master baths with separate showers, whirlpool tubs and wonderful sinks and vanities are the standard. Our bathroom was so small only one of us could be in there at a time. One step inside the door brought you to the small vanity with its single sink, bounded on its right side by the back wall of the house and on its left by the toilet. The door rested against the bedroom wall, as it had to swing out when opened, thus eliminating the wall space for a nightstand on one side of our bed. The tub and shower unit completely filled the left end of the room from front to back wall, less than a foot from the toilet. Bounded on the front by our bedroom and the back wall by the hall bath, there was no way to add additional space. It was cramped with heavy dark tile and dated wallpaper. Our challenge was to make the most of the small space available.
With several home improvement projects already under our belts, we felt we could handle our own small bathroom remodeling. We would be replacing some of the plumbing fixtures, but not moving them. We chose to use a shower unit without a tub and selected one with clear glass, as privacy was not an issue since only one of us fit in the room at a time. My husband could handle that, saving us the cost of a plumber. We did want to add some lighting, so we contracted with an electrician for those changes. The demolition was up to us. We removed the old plumbing fixtures and the vanity cabinet, stripped out the old tile, took down all the accessories and the strip light fixture that was over the medicine cabinet, and got rid of the old drywall. We keep the toilet to put back in the new design, saving some money. When all construction debris was hauled off in the rented dumpster we had placed on our driveway for the demolition, we had a room with exposed studs and the bare subflooring visible. This was the foundation on which we would build our “new” (but still small) bath.
By doing the demolition, drywall, tiling, and painting ourselves we saved a great deal of money, which we use for the plumbing and electrical work we needed and the new shower, sink, lights and shelving we installed. There are many interesting small bathroom design ideas on a budget like ours, and we enjoyed studying these and making our choices. We learned we could replace that inconvenient bathroom door with a pocket door, sliding into the wall between the bedroom and bath to eliminate wasted wall and floor space. We made much better use of the right side window’s natural light by installing a mini blind that could remain raised when the room was empty and allow light through when lowered for privacy. In fact, we went for a lot of light, in many different ways. Since cool and pale colors reflect light, we used tiles in a soft white and beige mosaic on the shower walls and the bathroom floor, and painted the drywall and all trim a light glowing beige. The tub was replaced with a frameless shower, providing a little more space between it and the toilet and really opening up the look of the room through its clear glass doors. We reinstalled the old toilet.
A white pedestal sink replaced the vanity and sink, allowing much more floor room but cutting down on storage. My husband very cleverly built replacement storage with shelving that was recessed into the wall over the toilet, with clear shelves that seem to disappear and widen the space further. A large gold-framed oval mirror now hangs over the sink and reflects all the light, enlarging the look of the space. Wall sconces mounted on either side of it and a ceiling light in the shower really brighten this formerly dark space. Someday, when our budget will allow, we can add even more light by installing a skylight. Our bathroom is still the same size in square footage, but looks and feels so much bigger with its open floor, recessed storage, reflective mirror, natural light and light enhancing colors and fixtures. A final great advantage to all the clear glass and neutral color tones is the chance to add dazzle with colorful towels and bath accessories.