Next stop on the home tour: our upstairs bathroom. It’s a beautiful, functional space now, but it wasn’t always that way, and getting it to this point took far more work than we ever bargained for. Come take a look.
When we bought our house 13 years ago, it came complete with a lavender bathroom upstairs. Not my style. And not a good layout either. The small space was broken up by a bunch of walls that forced you to wind your way through the bathroom. And since it’s the only full bath in the house, it was a space that we used often.
Here’s what the floor plan looked like back then. See how tight and awkward the space was? It was begging for a makeover, something that would better reflect the character of our 1920 house. But we were young and broke, so we painted over the lavender walls and called it good.
Fast forward eight years and we finally had the money saved up to redo the bathroom. I was set to order the materials the next day … and then our neighbor’s tree fell on the house, and we suddenly found ourselves thrown into a total renovation of our house that lasted 17 months. It was a tough time for us. Around ever turn we discovered new problems with the house that had to be addressed, and the upstairs bathroom was no exception.
When our contractors lifted the sub floor in the bathroom to do some plumbing work, they discovered that a previous homeowner had cut through many of the floor joists when he replumbed the bathroom. While the floor felt sturdy underfoot, it was only being held up by the plaster ceiling in the dining room!
So, our bathroom renovation suddenly included reframing the floor. Our contractor built a chase for the new plumbing, so everything would be properly supported.
To open up the bathroom, we removed the small wall by the toilet. The plumbing stack was located in that wall, so it was moved to the unfinished attic space that sits behind the bathroom.
We also had the ceiling restored to its original height. When the HVAC systems were added to the house, someone dropped the bathroom ceiling to run the ductwork. That cut the top of the windows off from view, and created an awkward pocket where steam got trapped. It was also completely unnecessary. We tore out all the bathroom ductwork, and now the vent comes in above the door.
The windows look so much nicer without a wall and ceiling getting in the way.
To further open up the space, I also opted to replace the tub/shower combo with a curbless shower. There are no shower doors, and there’s nothing to step over. When the shower isn’t in use, we slide the curtain out of the way, and gain all of that floor space.
We sloped the floor, so that the water stays in the shower, and waterproofed the entire bathroom floor as an extra precaution. There’s a rubber membrane that runs under the tile. With two kids in the house, it’s nice not to have to worry about where the water ends up.
Here’s the view from the shower, looking out towards the bathroom sink.
This is our forever house, so we tried to design the bathroom to work for the long haul. That meant choosing durable and timeless materials (like slate and marble). It also meant including features, like the curbless shower. It works well for us now, but it will continue to work well for us as we get older. It’s an accessible shower, without the look of an accessible shower.
And it’s tricked out with lots of fun features …
We had two showerheads installed, which allows my husband and I to get ready at the same time. My mom finds this scandalous, but it’s a nice time-saver, and it gives us a few minutes to talk away from the kids.
That light fixture above the shower is a bathroom fan in disguise.
It’s operated by this timer. You just select how many minutes you want it to stay on when you walk in the bathroom, and it automatically shuts itself off after the allotted time. This means you don’t have to remember to come back to cut off the fan, so it’s an energy-saver (and a sanity-saver for parents).
Our shower drain is a bit unusual, too. Since we opted for a curbless shower with a sloped floor, we decided to install a linear drain. It runs the full length of shower, along the back wall. It does a brilliant job of catching the water.
And it’s pretty, too.
Since we chose slate for the floor, we installed radiant heat flooring underneath it. I thought we’d only run it in the winter to take the chill off the floor, but we actually use it year-round. It feels wonderful on bare feet, and costs pennies a day to run. And a nice bonus that we hadn’t anticipated: it dries the floor after your shower, so mildew isn’t an issue.
We also tucked a cubby at each end of the shower to corral everyone’s soaps and shampoos.
I chose this mission-style vanity to go with our craftsman house. It’s another timeless choice and well-built, so it should be with us for the long haul.
It has a sturdy marble top …
and plenty of storage space underneath. We keep open toiletries here as well as my stash of shampoos and conditioners.
The vintage medicine cabinet that hangs above it was a lucky yard sale find. It’s recessed into the wall.
The inside is mostly my husband’s domain.
Check out the cool spot in the back for inserting used razor blades. I’d never seen that feature in a medicine cabinet before.
The scissors and tweezers were constantly disappearing from the cabinet, so I recently added some magnets to the back of the door for them. This seems to be helping, but as you can see a pair is missing at the moment. #teenagers
And just to give you an overall view of what the bathroom looks like now. Here’s the new floor plan. It’s amazing what removing a couple walls can do.
It was a hard-earned space, but it suits us perfectly and it should continue to suit us for a long time to come.
Curious about the wall color? We used Smokey Topaz by Sherwin Williams.
Want to Tour the Rest of Our Home?
Here are all the parts of our home that I’ve shared so far.