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Our Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation – Complete!

2018 June 13
by Becky

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Herringbone Tile Wall

It took two full months and still needs a couple small finishing touches, but our master bathroom is fully functioning. It’s beautiful. We are so happy with the result! And we’re so glad we outsourced this one…wow was it a ton of work.

And now for a little peek at the before…

Tiny Ugly Master Bath


It’s the exact same size, same layout, but looks so different, so much more open. I’d talked a bit about our high hopes to rearrange everything and how those plans were quickly scrapped since we weren’t interested in tripling our already hefty costs. For the most part, we’ve always tried to do our home improvements ourselves, only reaching out to the pros for the really serious stuff. These days our only real time to tackle projects is on the weekends, but we fill those up pretty quick, meaning the parts we could have handled in this renovation would have taken us no less than 15 months to complete.

And it’s SO much more fun to watch it all happen from the sidelines.

It’s SO pretty.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Round Mirror Vanity

I think we can all agree the show stopper is the floor tile. I’ve never loved a tile more than I love this gorgeous concrete patterned hex tile. We’ve never used concrete tile before, but we’re digging the look and smooth, no-slip feel on our toes. The gorgeous blue tone in this tile assured the space wouldn’t be “too white”, as so many bathrooms are.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Blue Hex Starburst Floor Tile

We chose this particular vanity for it’s warm wood tones and sleek look, originally planning to mount it to the wall. At the very last minute everyone got kind of nervous about the stability of this plan, so we ordered the very cool legs to go with it. We absolutely wanted whatever vanity we chose to be off the floor, maximizing the open feeling and view of that lovely floor tile.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Vanity


Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Exposed Brick Wall

I saw this gorgeous faucet set months ago and couldn’t wait to get it in this space. While double sinks would have been fantastic, there just wasn’t room. And for one last touch of texture, we exposed that exterior wall. My dreams of exposed brick have come true several times over in this house, so we figured why not add a bit more? Our contractor definitely thought we were nuts for this request, warning us the bricks might be in bad shape, but I assured them, we were prepared to accept whatever condition we found. It’s glorious.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Exposed Pipes

We also exposed all the pipes along the floor. Before, the pipes had these wonky soffits built around them and once removed, we loved the look. So open and industrial, just exactly what we wanted. It runs under then vanity too (see photo above) and in this dark grey color it’s just barely noticeable in the best way. Luckily we were able to move the vanity legs out a bit to avoid the pipe.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Sconce

In addition to some recessed lighting, we replaced those god-awful vanity lights with some lovely new fixtures. I’m so glad my first choice was massively backordered because these second choice brass sconces are perfect for this space. We like that the globes are frosted—no blazing glare in your face while flossing—and they can be installed up or down. Good thing, because I chose the height before seeing how they worked. If we’d put them in the “up” position at this height, it would have been impossible to take off the globes to replace the bulbs.

Now let’s turn around in this tiny space and talk shower.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Glass Shower Herringbone Tile

This is, hands down, the best shower I’ve ever owned.

I think our hygiene habits have increased since this puppy was installed. I even enjoy cleaning this shower, it’s just so pretty. Those little shelves are very convenient and functional! No more hanging of the wire caddy on the shower head necessary.

While the space is still tight, we gained a few inches in front of the vanity by making the new shower a few inches narrower, but we gained that space back by extending the half wall side out a few inches.

Here’s a before.

So. Gross.

The old shower door never opened all the way and the new one still doesn’t. The glass installers agreed with our plan to use a little rubber stopper on the vanity top, which you can barely see in the picture below. We don’t usually need to open the door this far, but like knowing the marble is protected if we do.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Glass Shower Door

We’re new to this glass shower situation, everything right there on “display” (we even had a chat with the boys about boundaries since finishing this room), so we made sure to include a hidden nook in the half wall. It perfectly conceals our giant shampoo bottles, Stu’s loofah (yep, not mine), and our shiny new squeegee.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Shower Nook

The nook ended up a tad bigger than we’d wanted, but it works!

Our incredible rain shower was Stu’s only “demand”, one I had no problem fulfilling. The fixture had to be pieced together with Kohler parts—they don’t sell one exactly like what we wanted.

And it’s life-changing.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Rain Shower Head

Taking a shower under this is like a mini-vacation. It’s the best. We heard really mixed reviews about rain shower heads, but agree it was a most excellent decision. Plus there’s the hand held option for quick spray-downs of the kids or any tropcial-jungle-style-shower haters.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Towel Bars

There was even some wall space left empty for towel bars…whew. They fit perfectly behind the door and are easily reached from the shower.

The last piece of this puzzle is the little “dressing room” area, located right outside the bathroom. It has a window, letting in plenty of light, plus a linen closet and another large closet where Stu keeps his clothes. He has SO many clothes and needs more space than me. Plus, he gets up SO EARLY and likes not having to go in and out of the bedroom where I’m still sound asleep. It’s a great little spot! So we included it in the renovation because it needed a little love in the form of fresh paint, a new sconce, and a pretty plant friend.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Cozy Corner Sconce

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Dressing Area

Here’s the view from the top of the stairs looking into the dressing area and bathroom beyond that. All the storage in this house still shocks me…these old houses are notorious for offering very little if any and here we have cabinet space to burn.

Something else we did, which might seem super small, was replace all the hinges on the cabinet doors. After years and years of being painted over and over, they were in really bad shape. It’s amazing the difference such a little update can make.

I mentioned there were still a couple finishing touches to be made, so here is one of them.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Wall Heater

That lovely wall heater seemed like an easy thing to fix. We were going to replace it, but then decided to just get new caps for the ends—the old ones were in bad shape. Here’s where I offer a tip: Don’t throw any old parts away until the new ones are IN your hands. Ours were tossed in the demo mess and new ones don’t exist. Right now our contractor is planning to have a wood cover made, but we shall see how that goes. We may just repair that gap at the top and leave it. It’s crooked and off center but it is what it is.

So there it is! I’m posting sources below and may have updated shots soon, this was a tricky space to photograph. Let me know what you think! Anyone have ideas to fix that wall heater?

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Simply White
Floor Tile: Cle Tile
Door/Drawer Pulls: Kohler
Shower Fixture: Kohler
Mirror: Target
Vanity Wall Sconces: Cedar & Moss
Hand towel bar: Kohler
Dressing Room Wall Sconce: Restoration Hardware
Plant Pot: Target
Vanity Faucet Handles: Kohler
Vanity: Kohler
Toilet Tissue Holder: Kohler
Towel Bars: Kohler

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!