Saturday, November 5, 2011

Before & After - Master Bath

I am going to start the before and after posting with the master bath. After such a long and stressful renovation process, I've had to slow down a bit on the "decorating" part. So all of that "fun" stuff will happen at a much slower pace. The master bath is basically ready for a before and after because aside from my desire to install a window treatment of some sort and to add bath linens and perhaps a piece of art above the tub, it's complete. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the master bath was a very poor use of space. As you can see from these before and after plans, the space is challenging. It's only about 7' x 16'. It's very long and very narrow.  There are times when I would really like the name of the architect that created the late 1980s addition just so I can ask, "What were you thinking?" This second floor addition was a blank canvas of a huge 20' x 30' space and this drawing below is what he came up with for a master bath.

I'm sure we could have gone to a lot of extra time and expense and we could have completely reconfigured the entire area; however, our main focus was the first floor. The master bath was a last minute "add-on" because when moving around plumbing it's better to do both floors at once. So we decided to keep the master bath contained to it's original space. Below is the new plan.

In the former bath, most of the space was taken up by the ENORMOUS garden tub...

And then as you can tell from the "before" plan, there is a huge amount of wasted floor space in between the tub and the two tiny vanities across from each other.

There is also a very narrow shower, a toilet and a bidet in that separate little room off to the left.

In the new space, a large proportion of the space has been given to the ample 25 square foot shower.

On my quest for a marble mosaic tile, I found this Calacatta tile. It was a great alternative to the very expensive New Ravenna Cloud Nine mosaic found at Ann Sacks and Waterworks. Because we were trying to keep the focus on the main floor and kitchen, $50 per square foot for mosaic tile was not in the cards! You can find very gray and cool toned mosaics for much less, but I wanted a warm toned tile to go with the green I wanted to paint the walls. There are two mosaic insets on the front and back of the shower. The floor of the shower is the same mosaic as the floor in the bath. Because it is such a small space, I opted not to have a border on the bathroom floor...keep it simple. It's so beautiful all on it's own. I used a matching "pillowed" subway tile on the walls of the shower.

The edges are slightly lower than the middle of the tile. The subway tile is honed while the mosaic is polished for a little more contrast.

We love the addition of the hand held shower head...all plumbing fixures are from The Country Bath Collection by Rohl except for the Newport Brass sink faucets. Newport Brass faucets seemed a little more delicate for the vanity area. Don't be afraid to mix brands AND finishes. It's okay to have a mixture of nickel, brass and bronze in a space.

The once large tub space is now a wonderful and luxurious shower that is used by both of us everyday. Although my bath design firm tried to convince me to forego a tub in the master, I decided we should have a tub, not only for resale, but because in this large house of 4 1/2 baths, there is only one other tub. I opted for this space saving yet beautiful cast iron bathtub.

The tub is made by Cheviot Regal. It's the Finely Frugal approach to bathtubs. The tub of my dreams costs $10,000 at Waterworks. I am happy for a third of the cost. I've used it twice in 2 months! I did, however, insist on the true cast iron version. Those sensible male showroom people are not to be trusted on matters of style! You can see how shiny and cast iron it looks. No special effects on fiberglass can mimic the look and feel of the real thing. I apologize to the four very strong men it took to carry it up to the bathroom!

Instead of having 2 small separate vanities directly across from each other as in the original bathroom, we now have a nine foot long double vanity making for a much better use of space!

I chose an Imperial Danby white marble for the countertop and the shower bench and niches. It is a nice compliment to the Calacatta mosaic marble.  You can see how it's mostly white with a very subtle gray and green veining. It's a much warmer toned alternative to the now very popular Carrara marble. Carrara has become very gray because of over mining. The miners are now harvesting deeper and deeper and the marble is darker. It's amazing what a renovation can teach you! You can see the subtle warm veining below in this picture of my delicate Newport Brass polished nickel faucet.

For the bath hardware, I selected crystal knobs with polished nickel backplates.

However, I chose antique brass backplates for the matching crystal doorknobs because my light fixtures and other hardware in the adjacent bedroom are all brass. Again, it's preferable to not have all the same finishes.

Last but not least, for the lighting I chose these polished nickel and crystal sconces from Restoration Hardware.

We also have a vaulted ceiling in this one room so I had some fun selecting the Amphora Bell Jar pendants by Visual Comfort.

This reconfiguration of the same space has added such functionality to our bathroom. We have a small tub and a large shower and ample vanity space, the exact opposite of the previous configuration. Always think about how you will use the space when planning. As I said before, I've used the tub twice. We use the shower and the vanity several times a day.

So now for the finishing touches...

At some point, I will dress the window with an airy and light functional london shade like this one below.

For the blank wall to the left of the window, I've had my eye on the series of Beslers from Trowbridge Gallery. I think the silver leaf frame with a subtle gold border compliments both the cool and warm elements of the tile and fixtures. Placing one of these large prints on the blank wall will balance out the window. When we were planning out the renovated space, it so happened that the best and most efficient use of space would result in the bathtub not being centered with the window. We debated this issue for awhile, but in the end it became clear that in this process of give and take, we could work with that blank wall by adding a decorative element...and if I had not just mentioned it in  my blog, I bet no one would ever notice. So many times we fret about things that are totally unnoticed by most people!

Below are the Aubusson textiles based on the Besler prints. I like the softness of the framed textile in the bath. I've long admired both of these Trowbridge offerings so that's how I know they belong in my home and they're not just something to fill a space. Always take your time. A blank wall or missing light fixture is far better than a space filler.

With that being said, I am dreaming of Leontine Linens for the master bath and bedroom linens. The artistry is exquisite and unmatched and so I will wait patiently...

This one below is my personal favorite. I love the simplicity of the one large rectangular pillow. I love the monogram style....very unique!

And how precious for a girl's room...

 I usually take my time when designing my own spaces because I can. I'm the only one growing impatient with myself! It's much easier to design for a client where the space is not so personal and there is always an imposed deadline. So I'll have those $3 paper accordion window shades until I decide on just the right window treatments in just the right fabric. I'll be sleeping on the same old sheets and under my uncovered down duvet from Bed Bath & Beyond until I settle on and can afford just the right Leontine!

Recently, I've been reminded of what happens when I rush. You may remember my post about lighting. Well I've made a huge mistake and I'm going to be asking for opinions on possible remedies in my next post....

Until then,
~Finely Frugal


  1. feathering the nestNovember 5, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    beautiful master bath! so excited to see it all!

  2. Michelle, your master bathroom looks beautiful! It's great that you had the vision to see beyond the bad 1980s renovation to the possibility of the space. It's also reassuring to read that you are taking your time on the decor - we are doing the same thing - get the fundamentals in place, and the other parts can come over time!

    Interesting what you noted about different finishes. A mutual friend of ours saw my house, and commented in the master bathroom on the different finishes in the room - polished nickel for the faucets and cabinet knobs, unlaquered brass for the door hardware, aged brass in the overhead light fixture, polished nickel on the sconces. I told her that my designer and architect prefer for the door knobs throughout the house to be relatively consistent, and like for the cabinet knobs to match the plumbing if they are metal, but they both preferred not to be too 'matchy matchy' with finishes throughout the house.

    Looking forward to your next installment!

  3. I personally like calacatta marble for bath areas. Cheviot Regal tub is really so nice.

    - Herman Swan

  4. It is nice to read about the facelift of a 150 years old house. interesting.

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  5. I love the pillowed subway tile. We have worked with a lot of Carrara tiles, I wish we have the pillowed or wide beveled 3x6" to work with.

  6. I love the subway tiles you used! Do you mind sharing the brand and color name? I've been searching everywhere for something similar.

  7. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Thanks...
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