Walk-in shower or soaker tub? Which bathroom personality are you? I find that most of us fall into one category or the other. You either like a relaxing bath every day or you prefer a quick shower.

At Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas in February, we saw all of the latest bathroom products from manufacturers large and small. Luxurious showers and sculptural free-standing tubs are still going strong. There’s no question that the bathroom is becoming more important in everyone’s home. It makes sense, as it’s the room where most of us start and end our days.

Our recent renovation involved two bathrooms, one on the main floor, and one in the basement. As you will see, this month and next, they turned out very differently from one another, because they serve very different purposes.

I designed the basement bathroom first, in a very clean, crisp style suited to users of different genders, ages and stages. Because this bathroom may be used by guests or as part of a secondary suite, I had to be sure it would suit a variety of different possible users. I loved the idea of a glass shower door on a rail, and had it added to our generous shower. We gave it a trial run during the renovation of our main floor bathroom, and it served us very well. However, I realized that the glass that I thought I would love, is very high-maintenance. When I suggested to hubby that people with glass showers used a squeegy to clean the spots off the glass after every shower, he thought I was joking. Clearly, that was not going to happen!  Now, our adult son is using the basement bathroom while he’s on a 4-month work term and it may take me another four months to get it clean again. When it is clean, I love it!

I had originally planned for another glass door with the tub in the main-floor bathroom. However, upon realizing that no one in our house was going to help me keep the glass clean, I nixed that plan.Luckily, I was able to adapt my upstairs bathroom plans as we went along, without delaying the renovation. The upstairs bathroom was the last piece of the renovation puzzle to fall into place, and the last workman left on December 21. More about that next month. Read on for the story of our basement bathroom makeover.

This is one of those rooms that we are embarrassed to share! How did we put up with this for so long?!  The shower was too small for most people to use without banging their elbows on the walls. Not to mention the tight squeeze to get around the sink and into the shower. Did I mention the harvest gold sink and toilet? All in all, it was a pretty depressing space that barely functioned as a second powder room.

BEFORE –– It doesn’t get much uglier than this, thanks to a very bad, very amateur ’70’s renovation.
BEFORE — looking toward the bathroom. The new bathroom will be larger and take up part of this space. Laundry, furnace and water heater moved to the other side of the basement.

The plan was to expand into the old laundry room, with enough space for a larger shower and a proper vanity.

IN PROCESS – framing the new bathroom; water heater will be removed
IN PROCESS — New tile going into the shower
IN PROCESS — Custom vanity and quartz countertop in place
IN PROCESS —  During one of my many trips to Habitat for Humanity Restore in Woodbridge, I spotted these brand new American Standard toilets for $65 each, and snapped one up for  the basement bathroom. I also scored a new basin for $35.

For continuity, I carried the same charcoal gray flooring from the laundry room into the bathroom. This dictated the dark gray quartz countertops. To balance all the dark gray, I opted for a white vanity. Siberian blue wall tiles add fresh colour that’s light, bright and gender-neutral.

AFTER: The custom vanity has tons of storage. I prefer drawers to doors for keeping toiletries organized. Under the sink is a pull-out garbage & recycling bin. Countertops are Caesarstone. Faucet is from Costco.  Wall colour is Wickham Gray from Benjamin Moore. The tile floors are heated for extra warmth during colder months, and the matte finish hides everything. 
AFTER:  The shower stall has ample space for our 6’4″ tall son, likely the tallest person who will use this bathroom. Should his grandmother be our guest, she can easily get in and out of the shower, and there’s a bench seat should she need to sit down. We added two towel bars inside the shower, plus the integrated bar on the shower door. A wall hook is a handy spot to hang a bathrobe or extra towel. Bench seat matches the vanity top. 
AFTER: The In2ition shower head from Delta features an outer ring that provides a rain-shower effect, with a removable hand-held inner showerhead. This allows us to have a rainshower head without dropping it from the ceiling. It also gives us a handheld sprayer for cleaning the shower, or for seated bathing. A handy niche keeps soap and shampoo neatly within reach. Shower floor tiles match the main floor tiles.

This bathroom functioned extremely well for us while we were waiting for the main floor bathroom to be completed. It is now functioning for our adult son. Had we made the shower a foot shorter in length, the seat would have been a better distance from the shower head, should anyone need to bathe while seated. We also would have had a larger storage niche beyond the shower. As it is, the niche we ended up with is too narrow for shelving of any kind. Live and learn!

Jeanne Grier is an award-winning interior decorator and owner of Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors. With over 25 years’ experience in the Toronto area, she has completed hundreds of makeovers. Her expertise extends to fireplaces, and she is an NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialist. She and her husband Colin operate a retail showroom in the Toronto area, featuring over 50 electric fireplaces, as well as wall coverings and fireplace accessories. 

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