After, Bathrooms, Before

Upstairs part 3 – Master Suite

It has been several weeks since I posted.  I have had several house guests throughout September and October, and haven’t spent much time here on the blog.   So, as a refresher, here are photos of the weird bathroom remodel that was in our house when we bought it.

sink  showerbathroomconnector

Ever since my kids were little, I dreamed of a laundry room on the bedroom level.  That is where ninety-five percent of the dirty laundry is generated.  With a laundry room on the bedroom level, traipsing up and down two flights of stairs with baskets of laundry is a thing of the past.  So our first design for the Master Suite included a walk-in closet, and a laundry room, built over the existing laundry room, which is adjacent to he kitchen.   I really liked this design, but the more I thought about it,  I decided that the sound of the washer and dryer while trying to sleep, isn’t super appealing (especially the spin cycle!).  Also, house guests would have to schlep their laundry through our bedroom, not good.   And, it would cost a lot more to build out over the balcony, including walls insulation, and roof, plumbing, electric, etc.  So we went with plan B, and decided to keep the laundry room where it is, on the main floor, next to the kitchen.

Plan B looks like this.  It also includes, not shown, putting a new roof on, and adding deck flooring and railing over the old, slanting roof , that was pretending to be a balcony.  Thus making it a usable balcony, accessible through the existing door.

upstairsbath    revised floor plan

This plan takes a minimally usable extension to the main bath, and makes a very nice master bath, with two sinks, a toilet, a tub and a shower.  A complete separate room from the hall bath.

The existing shower and sink (the only fixtures that were in this room) were removed, and the closet (the original one from when the room was a bedroom) was cut down to half its  size.   In moving the shower to the opposite corner of the room, we uncovered a window, which we replaced with glass block.  This allows light to come into the bathroom, but the bathtub next to the window has privacy.

The tub is a Kohler bubble tub, not a whirlpool.  There are tiny holes in the sides, near the bottom, where warm air is shot into the water, creating the massage effect.   There are no jets to clean, no worries about mildew or sediment build up.   It also has chromatherapy,  led lights that change color.  It is a lovely wide rectangle, very modern looking. The space available was wide but not long, but the tub is very spacious, and I use it almost every day.

This vanity light bar unfortunately doesn’t photograph well when lit.  Maybe I’ll try to photograph it in the daytime with the door open to allow outside light inside.

This room allowed me to put to use all of the design ideas and wishes I have had for the past 20 years or so, but haven’t had the funds to realize until now.  I wanted cork flooring, and so we have that.  I love glass block, and we not only put it in the existing window opening, but also put the little partition wall between the toilet and vanity cabinet.  The cabinet, by the way, is not from Ikea, because they didn’t have a size that would work in this space.  We had this custom-made, and I absolutely love it.   I wanted this bathroom to be a very quiet restful room.  The cork flooring is amazing.  It is quiet, and warm, the polar opposite of a ceramic tile floor.   Simplicity and clean lines are the main design features.  And since this room is accessable only through the master bedroom (via pocket door) it doesn’t need to look historically accurate.   That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  Living in a historic home should not be museum like, it should be usable for the 21st century, and pay respect to the original build.  Plus I have my historical bathroom in the hall bath.

We found some nice porcelain ceramic tiles in neutral greys with black and white.  Dennis from Culligan Construction in Arvada, Colorado helped me with the design surrounding the bathtub, shower and vanity backsplash.  The large tiles are 12×12 inch, mostly white.  The tiles in the shower and surrounding the tub are the same color, but appear different in the photos because of the lighting.  If I were a better photographer, I would know how to and have more motivation to fix this, but . . .   Another interesting tidbit about this bathroom that I finished 10 months ago —  Last weekend I went to an open house with Roxanne.  This was a very modern new house built on a city lot in an older neighborhood.   The very modern, brand new house had the exact same tiles in the bathroom.  Different configurations, but the same product, nonetheless.  And my vanity light was also in the powder room in that house.   This just proves how cool I really am.

tub .shower mastersinks  IMG_3046 IMG_3047  IMG_3043  IMG_2280 IMG_2287

After, Bathrooms

Upstairs part 2 – Hall bathroom

The plan below, takes one weird, poorly planned bathroom, and creates two separate bathrooms, with two very different identities.  A full bath in the hall for guests (or children of future owners), and master bedroom/ bathroom suite and balcony (with railings).  The hall bath is the lower part of the second drawing.

As we found it

As we found it

This is the revised floor plan for the bathrooms

What we did with it

Stylewise, I wanted the hall bathroom to be close historically to the time the house was built in 1904.   I found a great book  Bungalow Bathrooms, which became my bible for the design of that room.  It is a great history of bathrooms and plumbing, which sounds completely weird, but it is entertaining, and informative.

So, I came up with a general early 20th century style, leaning toward the 1930s.  I found these light fixtures from


I love that they are porcelain,  not plastic, with cool white glass skyscraper shades.  Very Art Deco.  So Art Deco became the theme.  No bathroom vanity, but a pedestal sink.  A strong color for the walls,  small hexagonal tiles for the floor.  Vintage inspired medicine cabinet.   I wanted subway tile on the walls,  but something more interesting than plain white throughout the room.    I had seen some very cool little border tiles with fish or flowers or geometric designs in the book, but found very few in modern tile stores.  We came up with a black beaded border pencil tile, and a top chair rail style tile in black to finish off the tile wainscot.


I forgot to mention what we did with the reclaimed window.


 I didn’t want a clear window in the shower, duh!   I thought stained glass  would be cool.  I found an artist on Etsy in Grand Junction Colorado.  I liked a lot of their designs, and was able to have them custom make one for my bathroom.  I wanted the window to be functional.  So it became a fixed stained glass panel for the bottom two-thirds of the space, and a functional hinged window in the top third.  Building code dictates that windows in a bathroom renovation need to be tempered glass, so the stained glass was sandwiched between two pieces of tempered glass.  Here is the finished result.


Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it justice.  It is just gorgeous.  There is a lovely rosey purple color in the moon, that I picked out for the walls.

The floor needed something other than white hexagon tiles.  I saw lots of designs and decided I wanted a  border design in black with random black hexagons throughout.  Almost like there was a rug there.  Here is what it ended up looking like.


Here is a close up showing the hex and square tiles used in the floor


We had space leftover at the end of the tub, where my contractor built a shelf / bench and some recessed boxes for shampoo and stuff.


So – with the stained glass window, the pedestal sink, the black toilet seat and lid, the subway wall  tile and hex floor tile, my lovely art deco style bathroom took shape, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The finishing touch – we installed a cute little original light fixture on the ceiling, that was hanging in one of the bedrooms.


Here is a list of what we did:

  • Closed  the opening to other room, and installed a vintage looking, new  pedestal sink creating a complete bathroom
  • Removed the ceiling lowering arch above the tub, and uninspiring wall and floor tiles
  • Replaced the old shallow painted bathtub with a beautiful, deep, Kohler cast iron porcelain tub with nice period  details
  • Replaced the toilet with a newer, nicer, more efficient one that matches the style
  • Installed subway tile with black pencil  border and top cap to enhance the art deco look
  • Uncovered the window, allowing natural light and fresh Colorado air to come into the room
  • Created a lovely tile rug design on the floor.  The tile, I learned, is made by the same company that has made it for over 100 years.

Powder room

When buying a home that has living space on three levels, it is nice to have a bathroom on each level.  This was the one on the main floor.


This room is tiny.  The wall color of choice for all of the bathrooms in the house was of course Williamsburg blue.  Don’t ask me why, it was probably on sale.  In this room it was high gloss, and heavily textured.  Below the blue walls, the wainscoting that looks like wallpaper is, unfortunately, panelling.  It looked like this:


The trim around this charming paneling  was the fakest plastic wood ever created.  The vanity cabinet was just odd (let’s not make a corner cabinet, lets take it to the next corner for all that extra storage we’ll need, who cares what it looks like?)  The light was bottom of the line hardware store stock.  I called this room the “gas station”  because it reminded me of a gas station bathroom from the 1970s.    I would leave the light off while in there  to minimize the assault on my eyeballs.


I knew that this powder room and the other bathrooms in the house would need re-doing.  So I started haunting tile stores, kitchen and bath showrooms, and home improvement stores.  I took home tile and paint samples.  I looked at Architectural Digest, and Old House Journal, and Colorado Homes  for ideas.  Online I found Bradbury and Bradbury, a company that specializes in historical wallpapers and fell in love.  I ordered a bunch of wallpaper samples from them.

Here are some of wallpaper and tile samples I collected.

samples   IMG_0688IMG_0687

Obviously I wanted something botanical, soothing, cool, and un-gas station-like.   I had lots of ideas, but knew no one that I could trust to make the transformation.  I had done some minor remodeling projects in the past, replaced light fixtures, toilets, hung wallpaper, installed new flooring, and painted many, many walls and ceilings. That was a while ago, I’m older,  and I wanted someone with specific expertise in this area.   I needed someone to keep me from going overboard, which, as a creative person, I tend to do.

On one of my trips to Broadway Tile in Denver, I  heard a customer talking with the owner about a project he was working on.  The customer  seemed aware of aesthetics, and not just the nuts and bolts of remodeling.  After eavesdropping for a few minutes,  I asked him if he was a contractor.  He turned out to Dennis Culligan, owner of Culligan Construction in Arvada, Colorado.  (I found out later that he is also an artist)

Dennis and his head project guy, Jim, came over to see the house.   They both were very chatty, and we spent about two hours looking at, and laughing at all the weird stuff that had been done to this house.  They seemed genuinely interested in working on a vintage home and not just anxious to make a lot of money.   I was still nervous about jumping into a huge remodeling project, which the upstairs project would be.  So Howard and I decided that we would have Culligan do the powder room.  If we liked how it came out,  we would talk about the upstairs.

Here is a photo of some cute Japanese inspired wallpaper, found during demolition, hiding under the blue walls.  I love it.


The cabinet door knobs came from a box of stuff from my parents house.  Not sure where they were originally, but I was happy to put them to use.


I found this doorknob in a drawer in the dining room hutch. Happily, it works as beautifully as it looks.


 Lovely lights from Justice Lighting


Mossy green penny round ceramic tile on the floor.  I love the look of these,


actually liked them so much that we included them in the vanity countertop.


Bradbury & Bradbury’s Idylwild frieze.  At 18 inches, it is too tall to be called a border.  Though the room is tiny, the ceiling is quite high.  So this frieze worked perfectly.


I originally wanted a pedestal sink, but the pipes are located on the wall below the window, and it would have been a much bigger job to move them.  So we went with a vanity cabinet.  Which we had custom made to fit the space.  Still cheaper than moving the plumbing.


So this job was finished in June 2013.  And we love it.