We are all inspired by different things, especially when it comes to design. My personal favorite sources for design inspiration happen to be various decorating shows (Hel-lo Sarah Richardson!), Pinterest, and a slew of home design magazines, blogs, and other online publications. I also tend to be inspired by architecture and culture while on vacation (like when we took trips to Scandinavia and New Orleans) or even when I find a unique or interesting object at a flea market, salvage yard, or antiques store. As useful as all of these sources are, my recent source of inspiration happened to be the combination of good friends and good wine. Yep, you read that right, but before I get into that, let's take a quick step back.

Alex and I hate our master bathroom. I actually think hate may be a bit mild of a word. In fact, this room is a dirty little secret we rarely discuss here at Old Town Home. You may remember that, right after committing to begin the renovation of this room, our dog Oliver was diagnosed with cancer. Thus the project was put on hold while we enjoyed our final months with him and helped him through his brave battle.

Now that life has returned to "normal" and the vestibule project we got a little bit sidetracked on is now complete, it's time to turn our attention back to the space that the Golden Girls, in all their 1980s glory, would feel quite at home in.

Is that really...

  • Duct tape on a hideous HVAC bump out? You bet. 
  • An impossible to clean and non-standard height DIYed vanity? Unfortunately. 
  • A ginormous Jacuzzi tub...without jets but with a broken stopper? Good God, yes.
  • Hideously cracked and out of level cheap-o white tiles that were installed when Knightrider was a hit series? David Hasselhoff and K.I.T.T. think so. 
  • A mysteriously absent 5 pound ceramic T.P. holder where holes in the wall act as evidence in the spot it once clung for dear life? Embarrassingly enough, yes it is.
  • A DIY attempt by the current owners (yes, that's us) to create a shower curtain rod out of surplus copper pipe, because the house was purchased as a bath-only master? <I'm nodding my head, but hiding my face in shame.>
  • An original, but extremely drafty old window that lets blustery winter winds pour in as you stand naked and shivering, cursing the day you inked your name on the mortgage that put you in this hell hole each and every morning? FML. Yes.
  • The most hideous 1980s backstage-at-an-off-Broadway-production monstrocity of a light fixture? We didn't install it, but we've also lived with it for nine years. Good grief.
  • And last, but certainly not least...a strange piece of plastic affixed to the ceiling, with a long tampon-esque string hanging from it? That's affirmative. I have no idea why it's still there and we have no idea what it's purpose is..was...could have been. In case you need a closer look, here it is, and we'd love to hear your ideas.

Whew. So there's my breakdown of our dirty little secret. Does anyone need more convincing that this room must die? 

Through our many brainstorming sessions and conversations Alex and I can't seem to agree on the future layout of the space. In the "old" master bathroom, you actually passed through a narrow hallway with a his and her closet on either side. (As seen in the terrible dark photo below that I snapped during our home inspection.)

When we renovated our bedroom two years ago, we actually built closets on the wall opposite our bed so that we could free up this space in the bathroom. (The bathroom is the door with the transom on the left.)

In addition to getting a ton more space, we've also presented ourselves with a design dilemma. It seems the new bathroom space is just too big at a whopping 9' by 13' feet! It's like we don't know what to do with ourselves. As a result we've spent countless hours measuring, dreaming, pinning, bickering, and changing our minds. Until recently.

Which brings us back to my earlier point about good friends and good wine providing inspiration. Over dinner and drinks with friends we shamelessly pumped for their fresh perspective, I sketched our bathroom plan on a restaurant napkin. Here's the result of my alcohol induced vision of what the vanity wall will look like, complete with custom shelving thanks to my husband's mad carpentry skills.

Our goal is simple, create a classic, comfortable, elegant, and house appropriate space while we keep plumbing and major fixture locations intact (such as the location of the toilet). This will keep the overall simplicity of the project in check and will keep us from needing to move the toilet (which may have end up requiring us to ad an unsightly bump out in the dining room ceiling below). To accomplish these goals and to give us the most functional and versatile space we settled on the following floor plan for the new and improved master bathroom.

As Alex discussed in yesterday's post, we're planning on installing Eurofase recessed lighting (as noted by the "x's" in the sketch) down the center of the ceiling. These lights will add a bit of dynamic lighting depth and will shine on the vanity and custom shelving. We'll also place a light over the salvaged claw foot tub as well as within the shower. 

Right now, aside from my sketch, the plan is largely in my head. I'll soon be putting together details I can share with all of you on some of the design choices we'll be making in the space, like the beautiful marble hexagon tile I've had my eye on for years. I still have plenty of questions and decisions to make, and I'll absolutely want all of your input...if you're willing to indulge me with it.

So what do you think of the new space? Is there anything we've overlooked? Is there a layout that would make more sense? What do you think the weird plastic thing with string on the ceiling was? (Well, is. It's actually still up there.) We'd love to get your two cents.

Comments 7


3/29/2012 at 2:26 PM
I like it! I can identify the vanity area, toilet and tub, but what's the spot in front of the tub, a closet?

If it were me and I was designing my dreamgirl watercloset and had your space, I'd put in a sit-down makeup vanity. oh gawd that would be awesome.

And or a dual-headed shower. with a bench. two benches. and radiant floor heat.

But that's just me because right now my bathroom is alive in the 70s. That's right, imagine DARK CHOCOLATE Ogee tile (which would be beautiful if it wasn't brown) and the most disgusting brown tub ever. Throw in red faux marble vinyl floor and a fluorescent garage-style light and you have my dirty secret gross bathroom. Barf.
Kelly, it's funny you mention those dream items. We're thinking along those same dual-headed and radiant floor heat lines.

The area in front of the tub is the shower, and to the left of that, a small storage closet.

Our bathroom may be gross, but we don't have crazy awful colors (just bad craftsmanship and unfortunate material selections). Your bath sounds pretty spectacular. :-)
3/29/2012 at 10:36 PM
I like your plan for the sink area with flanking tall cupboards. It's similar to what I've been envisioning for our master bath (much smaller than yours) -- but the pathetic truth is that we've lived with our junky bathroom for 25 years! It has a hideous ornate mirror hung at the right height for previous owners (husband about 6'5" and wife about 6'; I'm 5'5") framed by overheating strips of makeup bulbs, ugly dirt-magnet integrated textured vinyl tub and surround (likely replacing a clawfoot or at least a cast iron tub), crumbling ceiling plaster, and out-of-square walls.

There is a WHOLE lot to do in that room and I'm very interested to see what you come up with.

My decorating style isn't very feminine but for some reason I'm lusting to use a small jet black glass chandelier in there, in addition to recessed and task lighting.
Oooh, a jet black glass chandelier sounds amazing.

Isn't it crazy how we learn to ignore some of the most hideous areas of our homes for years at a time? Here's to 2012 being the year to seize the day for bathroom renos! :-)
4/1/2012 at 6:56 AM
It sure looks like you have a good plan. At least you won't have about 2000 pounds of Pepto-Bismol pink tile you have to figure out what to do with! :) Also, we really hope you don't find any bad surprises once all of these monstrosities are gone.

Do you have an idea of what the plumbing looks like? That's one of the things that has taken us so long on our second floor bath. The existing plumbing was a nightmare that resembled a patchwork quilt made of cast iron, galvanized, brass, copper, and PVC, and we have run into hundreds of obstacles in running new lines, so we've had to get creative here and there. Laying a new floor has also been an interesting process. We hope to have some pictures of it later this spring.

Good luck! Bathroom projects are fun and can be some of the most rewarding in the home (and also the most time consuming!).
4/2/2012 at 7:26 PM
I highly suggest the heated floors. My spouses mother bought a 3 season cottage as her primary residence (in Canada!), but she re did the bathroom and now the heated floor is the favourite place to warm up when we visit.
Granted, your place is already so much nicer, but even in a cottage, the heated floor brings a feeling of luxury that I don't think could be matched by any other design choice.
9/22/2013 at 10:24 PM
Thank you! I laughed so hard while reading this my toddlers had to come see WTH. You are spot on so many ways about how I feel toward our own bathroom. We're currently finishing a new master bath and I'm on the same quest for a sideboard buffet vanity (except we live about 200 miles from civilization). Aahhh, just the right piece...but my husband/master builder's clock is ticking. Thanks for your great insights and pictures to help the rest of us with good taste! Kudos to you.
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