At long last, my bathroom renovation is complete.
And before I dive into pretty pictures, I have to give big ups to my patient sponsors: Delta Faucet, Lowe’s Canada, Creekside Tile and Unison Home. (I’ve linked to all products below). If you haven’t followed along so far, take a pause and check out the whole series here first.
If I’m being real, my bathroom has been three years in the making. Upon moving in, this is what my bathroom looked like (above). Right away, I made a mini-update which mainly included stripping the wallpaper and painting. I liked the retro wall tiles, actually—still do—which made removing them bitter-sweet. But some were cracked, some were chipping and an update was inevitable. But I digress! Back to the first update I made:
Robin’s egg blue paint and some accessories brought the space into this century, but a year after that, I was still itching for change so I went pink and laid some black peel-and-stick tiles (And hey! No hate for these tiles. They did the job just fine, plus they were $5 and I knew it was just temporary.) And for a time, this worked just fine. But after three years, the tiny Ikea wall cabinet that could hold a total of eight rolls of toilet paper wasn’t cutting it for storage in the entire bathroom. If you forgot to bring a towel with you or needed a fresh one, getting one meant playing a game of naked chicken across the hall.
Another aspect that made the update inevitable was the window. The glass block had a cool throwback vibe, but it was framed in wood which was starting to rot and show its age. So I finally bit the bullet and did it up right. And without further ado, here’s the space as it stands today:
My favorite aspect has to be how it feels: airy, clean and bright. I was worried that the addition of furniture pieces that weren’t there before would make it feel even smaller, but instead it feels bigger which is a testament to some smart design choices. And despite how modern and light it is, there’s still a warmth and a lack of preciousness that comes from the wood elements and the Creekside cement tiles.
Without making my bathroom larger and moving plumbing around, I managed to gain tons of storage and function simply by moving the wall housing the “built-in” by 6″ (space which I stole from my front closet). I then recessed Ikeas’s Godmorgon high cabinet into the wall and I chose to leave the door off. Because you’re able to see into its depth, it gives the illusion that the narrow entry is much wider than it is. Plus, it not only keeps everything accessible—my towels are in the bathroom for once, how novel!—but it allows an opportunity to accessorize and add visual interest, texture and decor.
It’s the small things after all, like the $6 coconut water facial spray which I ritualistically spray every time I leave. Or Ness Lee‘s nudie cutie that becomes home to my jewelry. Or the Lowe’s standing mirror which reflects the light and pretty chotchkies. These little inexpensive touches make it feel like a spa when, in reality, most of the larger pieces like the storage unit, vanity mirrors and vanity itself were inexpensive. [Floor mirror, black wire baskets, glass jars, white towels, face masques, binchotan face cloths]
Now can we talk about the Creekside wall tiles?! I hummed and hawed over the choice to go floor-to-ceiling with the elongated subway and am so glad I did. It has such high impact and the glossy finish bounces light around the room beautifully. And equally as brilliant—although arguably cuter—are the bird hooks I installed onto the tile. I didn’t have the heart to screw them in, so for the time being I simply had my dad cut up an old broom which I screwed the birds into which I then glued to the tile using E6000 glue. And they’re not going anywhere. After all, they’re only ever going to be used to hold towels, and even then, 3/4 of them are purely decorative. Form meets function. [4×12 subway tiles, Arto cement hex tiles, wood bird hooks]
When it came to deciding what to do in the bathing department, I went back and forth. I debated installing a freestanding tub. I also toyed with omitting a bathtub and just having a walk-in shower with a linear floor drain. In the end, I’m so glad I kept it a tub-shower combination—both for practicality (the shower glass would have been much more expensive and would have required more floor and wall tile) and function (hello resale, oh, and baths).
And hey, if it’s wrong to be in love with my Lowe’s bathtub and Delta shower fixtures, I don’t want to be right. The clean-lined acrylic tub is low-profile but offers a slanted back for comfort, which I didn’t have before. And fixture-wise, the rain-head is nothing short of magnificent. But what I love most is that you don’t have to fuss with the temperature each time you turn the shower/bath on. The control remains set at the temperature you like, so all you have to do is turn one knob.
Another huge upgrade is having a handheld sprayer (which Piper is not pleased about because it means easier baths which means more frequent baths for her). And the diverter (that square control above the on/off knob) allows you to control where the water comes from: the rain-head, the handheld, or even both at the same time which is pretty stellar. [Bathtub, Vero bath/shower fixtures, mirror, corner combo basket, planter]
One of the compromises I made with this bathroom was forgoing a shower niche. Initially, I planned to install one right below where this squeegee lies, and am so glad I didn’t. Not only is my window ledge large enough to hold all the bottles and plants I like, but a pretty shampoo and soap dispenser far outweighs a jungle of ugly bottles. Sure, it means spending 5 minutes each month filling them, but it looks better, saved me money, and I won’t ever have to worry about water pooling in the niche.
Which bring me to the squeegee: a little tool which has become a close friend, quickly. Another compromise for the sake of pretty is having to squeegee the shower glass each time I use it. Once again, it’s a task I’m willing to take on for the payoff of the look. Plus, the glass serves a functional purpose of allowing the natural light from the window to bathe the rest of the space. [shampoo dispenser, squeegee]
An update I made that I’ve enjoy more than I thought I would was to the lighting. Installing pot lights (two, to be exact) was an add-on that I initially regretted. Right after I signed off on them, I feared they might be unnecessary—but boy, was I wrong. Even with a large vanity light, the space would be dim without them. Plus, the pot light in the entry illuminates into the cabinet which is pretty dope. That said, I upgraded to a dimmer switch which I make use of daily. At night I can dim the lights for ambiance and, in the morning, I can crank them for putting on makeup (which I can now actually do in the bathroom and not in my closet—rejoice)!
Another game-changer is my door—my sweet, lovely Masonite Lincoln Park door from Metrie. It’s 1-3/4″ thick and I opted for the Safe ‘N Sound upgrade which is a huge privacy upgrade from my previous thin, hollow panel door. And I can’t tell you enough how appreciative I was that it came primed, smooth and ready to be hung and painted! And what better way to complement a door than with beefy hardware. I’m normally one to mix and match, but every metal in the space is polished chrome, including the door levers (which I carried throughout my main floor). I also carried chrome trim throughout: on tiled corners, framing the mirrors, and framing the doorway. [vanity, vanity mirrors, vanity light, Metrie door, door hardware, toilet caddy]
Elsewhere, little pops of functional objects can be found, such as on the vanity tray that rests on the back of the toilet. I also tucked the hand towel between the shower and the vanity so it’s out of sight until you need to use it. It also allowed me to drill it into the vanity rather than the wall tile. [toilet, faucet, towel ring, foam soap dispenser, vase, vanity tray, binchotan charcoal soap, bathtub caddy tray]
All in, I spent around $10k which was well worth it seeing as I hired the job out (thanks Elite)! Other than tackling the design, sourcing and decision-making, I didn’t do any of the build (and likely never will in a bathroom for multiple reasons) and leaving it to the pros was worth every penny. If this bathroom project was a motto, it’d be: “You DIY some, you hire some.”