I remember well the day when it was finally time to take a warm soak in my brand-new master bath. You see, I was exhausted. We were wrapping up a nearly nine-month extensive home renovation, and I had a newborn and a toddler to boot. I put on some Enya, grabbed a book, lit a candle, threw in some bath salts, and waited for that steaming water to pour into my sparkling cast-iron tub. And I waited. And waited. And waited.
The plumber had forgotten to hook up the hot water. And, they would have to rip out the brand-new drywall in the kitchen below to fix it. Welcome to remodeling my friends. Blood. Sweat. Tears. More Tears. And a few Choice Words.
As I mentioned in this previous post, in 2015 my husband and I embarked on a major remodeling project. Most notably we tore down and then rebuilt a third of our home’s structure, which housed the kitchen and master bedroom overhead. One of the upsides of completely rebuilding this portion of the home, (believe me there were many downsides…..cost, permitting issues, and schedule increases) was that we were able to add an en suite bathroom.
Here’s a little tour of the finished space, and yes, it does in fact now have hot water:
Paint. I wanted the master bath to evoke a spa-like feel of luxury and relaxation, so I chose to paint the walls Benjamin Moore’s Pleasant Valley. I’m a big fan of this calming, and well, pleasant color, which can also be found in our guestroom. Interestingly, in our bathroom the color appears rather green (in a good way), yet in the guest room it looks blue as it does in the afternoon corner pic below; a little testament to how different lighting can change color perception. I found this out the hard way a few remodels ago when I painted our living room a lovely shade of yellow, which that ended up looking green (in a bad way) due to the low levels of natural light.
Tub. I love old houses, and I too love old cast-iron tubs. Although we bought this tub new, it still has the old-fashioned charm and weight of antique fixtures. We purchased it from Vintage Tub & Bath, an online supplier of reproduction bathroom fixtures, accessories and faucets that I have used many times. Although acrylic tubs are trendy these days, I’m happy we stuck with the more natural and traditional feel of cast iron, even if our contractor had to rent a lift to get it in the room! If I had to do it over again, I would go with once size smaller (this version is 66 inches) since I prefer the cozy feel of smaller tubs, not to mention they use less water. My husband convinced me to go bigger so two people could comfortably take a soak. Three-years later the only tubbing duo has been my two small children 😉.
Vanity and Medicine Cabinets. Our bathroom furniture, including the vanity and medicine cabinets are from Pottery Barn. We had originally planned to install a custom vanity unit, but our budget thought otherwise. I’ve been pretty happy with the Pottery Barn vanity and storage units. They do, in fact provide lots of storage, which even a minimalist like me seems to need when it comes to bath provisions, especially if one of the main decorative goals of a space is to create a calming atmosphere (there is nothing calming about bottles of lotion, hairspray, and the-like cluttering up your counters). The honed Italian Carrara marble vanity top has proven to be both durable and lovely. One thing to note when buying Pottery Barn items with a white finish is that their standard white is very cream-toned, which doesn’t completely vibe with the crisper Benjamin Moore Simply White used on our trim work throughout the home. It wasn’t enough to warrant a return, but reminded me to be thoughtful of the wide spectrum of whites out there.
Tile. While I would have loved to splurge on high-end tile, our budget led us to the big-box store route. The good news is that Home Depot and Lowes have really great options these days that don’t look or feel contractor grade. Wanting to pull in the gray/black/white color trio found throughout the rest of the home, we chose standard subway-sized porcelain marble tiles to line the shower enclosure, and a smaller pattern in the same finish for the shower walls. I adore hexagonal floor tiles, but they didn’t feel quite right in this home with is crisp lines and transitional finishes. I ended up settling on a white and black marble basket weave pattern that had a similar feel to hex, but with a slightly more angular and modern pattern.
Finishes. We opted for a brushed nickel finish on all plumbing fixtures, lighting, and vanity hardware in the master bath, and for the most part, throughout the rest of the home. I not only prefer the matte look of brushed nickel, but also appreciate that it’s easy to clean and tends to hides water spots and fingerprints.
Decorative Accents. I like to keep artwork cohesive, or within the same theme in each room of a home. For instance, in the main, open-floorplan part of our house, all the artwork is water themed (we do live on Island), the guest room has a botanical theme, and our master bedroom has a map theme. For the master bath I chose to decorate with simple and calming black and white photography, with architectural subjects. Weekly cutting of eucalyptus in an antique milk glass vase give a spa-like scent to the space, and pretty, yet functional items such as candles, fancy nail polish and perfume, make for a charming display.
That wraps it up for our relaxing, yet functional master bath. We are about to embark on two bathroom remodels this winter (when our house takes a break from the frequent summer and holiday guests), fixing up our current guest bath and adding a new bathroom for the kids to share in a current office space. Stay tuned!
All photos by Marla Smith Photography