Sleek Modern Bathroom by Susie Mae Design

When we bought our 1960s house in January of 2017, we knew we had a lot of work to do. There were a lot of things that took priority like a new roof, HVAC system, insulation, and water mitigation. Naturally we wanted to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms immediately, but that just wasn't in the cards. Now, a year and a half later, the kitchen and both bathrooms have been renovated and IT IS SO GREAT! 

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Before we started any work the to the house, this was the view in the dining room, looking at the front door and the closet that was once in the dining room. 

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Next, we painted the walls white, Sherwin Williams Alabaster to be exact. The door and windows were replaced and that closet had to go! The closet backs up to the end of the master bathroom. If you were to knock on the back wall of the closet, you'd be knocking on the end wall of the bathroom/shower. We didn't want a closet in the dining room and we really did want some room to move around in our bathroom, so we decided to close up that closet and take it for the shower. We made plans to move the plumbing down so that the shower could take over that closet space. 

 Dining room, looking through the demo'd closet and into the master bathroom. You can see the master bedroom drapes just beyond the bathroom doorway. 

Dining room, looking through the demo'd closet and into the master bathroom. You can see the master bedroom drapes just beyond the bathroom doorway. 

 The wall gets framed and then drywall goes up. 

The wall gets framed and then drywall goes up. 

 Sanded and painted to look like a regular wall.

Sanded and painted to look like a regular wall.

Here are the BEFORE photos. The bathroom was small and cramped and had haphazard storage "solutions" that were not really working for us. The toilets in our house also had tanks about 2xs the size of the bowl. Wasting water is not something we're into, so we opted for a dual flush water saving option instead along with other more green solutions. 

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It's unclear if the bathroom had ever been updated, but from what we could tell, the only real change since the house was built was adding new layers of floral wallpaper, and then painting over that in recent years. Frankly, I'd have preferred the wallpaper to the paint job in there. Paint all over the tiles, toilet, and ceiling...what a mess. There was nothing we wanted to salvage about this bathroom, so the sledgehammer and Victor got to work smashing and trashing. I had to be at a baby shower that morning, so I got to skip some of the demo labor. But really, demo can be fun so I would have liked to help more.

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 A cast iron tub doesn't move easily. The best choice is often to break it up with a sledgehammer. It's messy and LOUD work, but it's effective. 

A cast iron tub doesn't move easily. The best choice is often to break it up with a sledgehammer. It's messy and LOUD work, but it's effective. 

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As with the other bathroom in our house, there had been a slow, continuous leak for who knows how long in the pipes between the bathrooms. Some patching had been done, but nobody had actually fixed the issue in years past. We don't want to do any project half-assed so to speak, so we made sure to replace all of the pipes that needed replacing, and replaced joists and sub flooring. This was the subfloor when the tile flooring came up. Shocking that we didn't just fall through to the crawl space--it was paper thin and crumbly with some areas of no sub flooring at all. 

Now that everything is out, let's look at the design plan. 

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This was the original plan which did change a little, but it started here. We knew we wanted a wall hung vanity in a warm wood tone, a dual flush/modern toilet, round black frame mirror with black sconces, herringbone stone tiles, black ceiling, white walls, and large white body tiles on the sides of the shower, black faucet, chrome shower fixture and towel bars. 

Here's a look at how things would lay out once we took over that closet and where the different tiles and colors will go. 

 The Sketup plan. 

The Sketup plan. 

The first step after demo was pocket door installation. Even after we expanded into the closet, the bathroom was still only 10ft long x 5ft wide, we needed to save as much space as we possibly could. When Victor and I are both brushing our teeth or getting ready at the sink, the door being in the way just doesn't work. So, this in-swing door gets the boot. 

We went to an outlet for building supplies in our area and found this solid wood, unfinished pretty 5-light door with ribbed glass. Most bathrooms would not benefit from a glass panel door, but this bathroom in our master bedroom, and you can't see through the ribbed glass so it's still very private for us and that extra light coming in makes the bathroom feel larger, too. 

I sanded, stained, and finished the door with Sherwin Williams English Chestnut and a clear satin varnish. It's so nice to have the extra space this door gives us! In the 1960s houses, pocket doors were everywhere. I'm not sure why they fell out of favor, but I'm a fan and love to use them in tight spaces in particular. They're a great solution for small spaces and are often a much better choice than the super popular barn door, depending on the location and architectural style.  

Next up: the plumbing gets moved. I was working in my office as the plumber was sawing into the new subfloor to relocate the shower drain and pulling the new pipes to the correct heights for the new fixtures. All of a sudden I see Weezy out of the corner of my eye. 

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I guess she thought the new subfloor smelled good so she sneaked in behind the plumber and got this disc of wood to play with. It was so cute! I let her play with it for a little bit but eventually it started to splinter so I had to take it away from her :( This is not design related, but it is incredibly cute so I figure everyone should see it. I love it when she acts like a puppy still, even in her gray-faced years. 

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New drywall and durarock went up, and then the entire shower got thoroughly waterproofed. This is an essential step! If there is a void in the grout, or a crack ever occurs, water can wreak havoc but with proper waterproofing, it wont be so tragic. 

The other side of the pocket door wall in the bedroom needed some drywall patching at the same time to make it smooth and as if the pocket door had always been there. While we had the wall opened up, Victor moved the electrical so that the TV which hangs on this wall can be plugged in without any dangling, ugly cords. He's good. 

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I wanted the tile to flow from the entry up the back wall, and then up onto the ceiling of the shower with the remaining ceiling area finished with black paint (Sherwin Williams Iron Ore, which you can see on my bedroom walls below). Ideally, we would have had no shower curb and a linear drain so I could have had this herringbone pattern on the shower floor as well, but that is $$$ soooo we selected a different shape tile in the same stone for the shower floor. 

 Pattern time!

Pattern time!

 Painted ceiling in Sherwin Williams Iron Ore, semi-gloss finish

Painted ceiling in Sherwin Williams Iron Ore, semi-gloss finish

 Side walls get large format white body tiles, stack bond pattern. Stack bond is straight up and down, not in a brick pattern.

Side walls get large format white body tiles, stack bond pattern. Stack bond is straight up and down, not in a brick pattern.

The reason we had to go with a pebble style tile for the floor is because of the angle of a shower floor. A 3" x 3" tile is the largest you should go in a traditional shower pan so that the pitch to the drain can be achieved without risk of cracking tiles or sharp corners sticking up. We did use the same tiles from the herringbone pattern on the curb and rounded by sanding to keep the corners from being sharp. This is another important thing to remember in bathroom remodeling. Either use a bullnose trim tile if available, a trim like Schluter systems to cap the end of tiles with no pencil or bullnose option, or, if it is a natural stone, have it rounded by a professional tile installer. 

 The sconce boxes shown here. The mirror will go centered between them. 

The sconce boxes shown here. The mirror will go centered between them. 

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I selected Pewter Gray grout so that the pattern would show up, but it would not feel too stark and high contrast. We had enough contrast with the white walls and black ceiling and floors. The same grout was used for all the of the tile. You can see in the above photo that we had 3 niches built into the end wall. I did not want shampoo bottles to show when you look into the bathroom. The showstopper tile wall would be interrupted with bottles and it just wouldn't be right. The bottom niche is perfect for leg propping and shaving. It's really great because it works just like a step without creating a break in the herringbone design.

 Vanity is hung, toilet is in, almost all of the shower fixtures are in.

Vanity is hung, toilet is in, almost all of the shower fixtures are in.

Finally, we hung the mirror, lights, and the shower glass is installed. We selected just one piece of frameless glass from floor to ceiling with a comfortable 24in opening. Since we are using a rain shower head, this works really well. I wouldn't recommend this same arrangement for someone using a traditional shower head as the amount of overspray could get out of hand in that situation. 

The finished bathroom feels serene, modern, clean, and super functional. It feels so much more high end and spacious, even though we added only 24 additional inches to the length of the space. 

Someday soon I hope to have Christina Wedge photograph this space to really do it justice. I am so happy with it! We have SO MUCH more space, and the function all around is exactly what we need. It's amazing when storage and function is considered in a design, how easy it is to keep it organized and clean :)

Tell us, what's your favorite part of this renovation? What does your dream bathroom look like?