small bathrooms

Small Bathrooms, Part II

After our recent posts on renovating small bathrooms, we received a question about critically limited bathrooms--the kind of bathroom that is so fundamentally challenging, you just have to make the best of the circumstances. Below is a description of how we tried to crack one of these tough puzzles by renovating the only full bath in the house. Let's start by taking a look at the "before" pictures below:

The first thing you'll notice is that this bathroom is tricky because the roof line cuts into the space dramatically, and the bath placement does not allow an adult of average height to stand upright without suffering a head injury. Second, notice how the old radiator crams the 36" vanity between it and the toilet. Finally, you can see how drab the bathroom appears since the last update 30 or 40 years ago.  A linen closet behind the plumbing wall of the bathtub further shrinks the space. This was a bathroom in desperate need of new life, especially because it was the only full bath in this three bedroom home!

Re-working the roof line was out of the question. Stealing space from the adjacent bedroom was also out of the question because the bedroom was already compact. What to do?

The only way to gain a few extra valuable square feet was to demo the linen closet and reposition the tub to the window wall so that the new owners could wash their hair without getting a concussion. We installed a 60" double vanity where the tub once sat. The radiator disappeared when we upgraded the HVAC system on the second floor. We installed new ventilation, lighting, tile, toilet, and fixtures to complete renovation. Below is the "after" picture:

We like to "go big" in a small bathroom; we like the outcome best when we stretch for maximum utility and memorable form. This bathroom was true to our approach with a blend of classic materials such as hex marble floor tile and chrome Grohe fixtures to modernize the space. 

Finally, some property therapy for everybody considering a bathroom renovation: remember you purchased this particular home for good reason, this bathroom has been on your to-do list for some time, and now this important part of your home is going to sparkle. It's a big deal, a frog-to-prince transformation, something to look forward to. Getting rid of all the frustration, disappointment, and other negative feelings is healthy. That's all the head-shrinking we can manage today ;) Back to demolition . . .    

Small Bathrooms, Part I

Overhauling a small bathroom can be exciting, maddening, and bewildering all at once. Like many projects, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin, how the finished space will look, and whether the list of individual decisions will total a good result.

In this instance, we were presented with a full bathroom next to the kitchen. Both were born 30 years ago and had not been updated since. Our first question was whether the home needed a full bathroom in this location, or whether a powder room would suffice.

We decided that removing the tub and shower would still leave us with enough space for a powder room without encroaching on the kitchen or other rooms that also needed our attention. The home would have four full bathrooms in addition to this new powder room, so eliminating the functionality of the shower tub would not be a significant loss.  

Now we were left with a 5' x 5' box by process of reduction. We upgraded and kept the plumbing in place for the sink and toilet, demolished the existing tub, tile, etc., and added electrical. Next came drywall and new tile on which the new fixtures would sit.

Here is what the finished powder room looks like:

The tile is cut from pale limestone from Bedrosians and the chair rail lends a bit of formality. A white shaker-style vanity, Kohler Bancroft toilet, and chrome accessories from the the Restoration Hardware Dillon line complete the look--understated and classic materials paired with polished chrome for an updated take on the traditional powder room. 

Make no small plans, even in small bathrooms

There is something exciting about the challenge of a small bathroom. Limited square footage demands precision and an economy of form and function that is sometimes lost in the scale of large bathrooms. A small bathroom distills your plans. 

A nice overview of bathroom priorities was recently set out by Becky Harris at Houzz, and there is no shortage of good ideas there. 

Below are pictures of a recently completed small bathroom (6' x 8') attached to a bedroom. We think it contains the necessities: a vanity with storage, recessed medicine cabinet, toilet, and shower. The marble floor adds dimension and complements other features seen in the next photo.

Remodeling and Home Design