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Bathroom Renovation #3:
Our Ugly, Tiny Master Bathroom

2018 March 19
by Becky

Tiny Ugly Master Bath

Here it is, in all it’s glory, Bathroom #3.

Doesn’t look all that bad, right? Nice little white bathroom?

Wrong. It’s pretty bad. We’re talking tiles-poppin-off-the-floor, mold-growing-in-mountains-of-caulk, leaky-rusty-faucets, nasty-dirty-grout bad.

Tiny Ugly Master Bath

We call it the “Master Bathroom” but it’s not, it’s just the only bathroom on the second floor, and it’s technically across the house from our bedroom and pretty tiny so there’s really very little “master” about it. You don’t see a lot of ensuites in Old Town.

I’ve been worried about what to do with this wreck of a space since we made an offer on this house. I’ve been embarrassed to have guests use it because no amount of bleach can make it look clean, even though they have all graciously insisted that it’s “not that bad!” And really, it’s worked out just fine for the most part, I just try not to look.

Tiny Ugly Master Bath

That toilet uses a million gallons of water to flush.

Now, after all these months of dreaming about taking a sledge hammer to the dingy tile, official demolition is slated to begin in one week! Yes, we’ve been putting a lot of money into bathrooms around here, the powder room was completed just a couple weeks ago, but we want to be able to enjoy our home improvements for as long as possible so, from the get-go, we decided to do them all right away. Past experience has us leaving too many houses saying, “we should have done x, y, and z.”

In our planning, we’ve drawn up multiple layouts, some that included knocking down walls and/or moving all the plumbing. The sound of a cash register, “Cha-ching!”, rang in my ears with every floor plan I edited…renovations don’t come cheap in this little city we call home. The more stuff we moved, the more dollar signs haunted my dreams.

Tiny Ugly Master Bath

In the end, mostly due to floor joists and exterior plumbing—yes, to my surprise, some of our plumbing runs on the EXTERIOR of our house—we decided to keep the basic layout the same, just make it all much prettier and more functional. I especially had trouble getting my head around this toilet-front-and-center layout, something we’d wanted to change but have now come to terms with.

We’ll just get a really pretty toilet.

Design Inspirations

From the start I knew we’d want white subway tile with grey grout and a stand-alone vanity in a medium stain, I love the way wood warms up bathrooms. The butcher block we used in our last master bathroom turned out gorgeous. And all these design choices seemed to fit the house, nothing too crazy.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovationsource


Oh those wood beams in the ceiling!? Wishing we had another couple feet of clearance to justify something cool above our heads, but alas we only have about 7 feet. Good thing we’re not tall.

Next, I just had to jump on the patterned tile bandwagon. I mean sure, it can be really busy and trendy, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and wanted to find a way to incorporate pattern and maybe a little color too.



Oh that last one has exposed brick! Which is another wish on my list, to rip off some wall covering and see what that old brick looks like underneath. We’re hoping this will happen around the window.

After months of collecting ideas, it was time to try to pare down all the options I’d fallen in love with. We decided the color would go on the floor, the metal would be brass/bronze (everyone calls it something different), and the shower would be glass. Taking down the shower walls will make this room feel twice as big. It all started coming together quick when we had a start date on the books and I’m really excited about our choices.

Here’s what we’re planning…

Tiny Ugly Master Bathmirror, sconcetissue holder, faucet, vanity, floor tile

  1. Take everything to the studs. Nothing stays except those tall cabinets by the door, though they too will get all shined up with new hardware, paint, and will be repaired so they actually close.
  2. Open up those floor soffits to see if they can be reduced. There’s plumbing running around the toilet and along the window wall, but we’re hoping they can be taken down a little, adding precious millimeters to the tiny room.
  3. New radiator cover. That baseboard heater is a mighty eye-sore on the whole wall, so we’ll be covering it with something much prettier. We considered taking it out completely, but there’s no other radiator nearby and it would be pretty darn cold in there without it. So it stays.
  4. Tile wall. We’ll make the back wall a feature with 3×12 subway tile in a herringbone pattern.
  5. New glass shower. The shower walls will come down of course, and we’ll be replacing them with glass. We will continue the subway tile on the walls and grey penny tile on the floor and nook. The shower head will move to a different wall (since the current placement will be glass). 
  6. New vanity. While the current layout gives us the most counter space, it looks cramped and that corner just collects dust, we don’t need it. A freestanding mid-century-style vanity will be the replacement, with a white quartz top and brass faucet.
  7. Floor tiles. I’m completely in love with our new floor tile, it’s a cement hex tile in a lovely shade of blue with a subtle starburst pattern in white. Here’s where we’ll bring in some color!
  8. Exposed brick. My hope is to expose the brick on the window wall, so fingers crossed it’s not too damaged to work! I thought it would add great texture to the space.
  9. Frost windows. I did a quick hack job at this when we moved in, but we’ll have a pro frost the windows. This way we can take down the bamboo shades and maximize all that lovely sunlight. The houses here are too close together to be having bathroom windows uncovered!!
  10. New mirror and lighting. The mirror won’t be a cabinet because there’s brick behind that sheetrock, no room to recess, which is why the current one sticks out so far. And the lighting will be simple, frosted globe sconces on each side of the mirror.

In addition to this list, we’ll be improving a few things in the “dressing area” just out side the bathroom, it’s a little connector hallway with a linen closet and large hanging. Sounds like a pretty big job and we’re so glad it’s in someone else’s hands!

Tiny Ugly Master Bath

I cannot wait to see the current space crumble to the ground. Reduced to rubble. Nasty shower, be gone!

I almost didn’t unpack in this bathroom. I didn’t want to put anything on the walls, didn’t want to even open those tiny drawers, and really didn’t want to use that shower. But I guess it’s not THAT bad, because Stu and I have been using this as our main bathroom for the last eight months. I’m just so happy that in a few short weeks we’ll be excited every time we walk in this room!

Here’s hoping it all comes together! Until then we’ll be sharing our first renovation, the small bathroom on the 3rd floor—AKA the Toothpaste Tower—with the boys. Wish us luck!

4 Responses
  1. March 19, 2018

    Can’t wait to see the result!
    Julie recently posted..Saturday Like A SundayMy Profile

  2. Linda Johnson permalink
    March 20, 2018

    I too cannot wait to see the end results!

  3. April 28, 2018

    I think we have the same bathroom size and oh my gosh, I didn’t know it could look that good! Congrats on your renovation! Hoping to start ours soon too. Cheers! :)
    Karen Ching recently posted..5 Electrical Tools and Equipment Everyone Should HaveMy Profile

  4. June 10, 2018

    Hi Becky! I honestly love an exposed brick wall! I’m looking for an inspiration for a bathroom renovation we’ve always wanted. I can’t wait to see your new bathroom :)

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