The Master Bathroom: Time to Get Real

I’ve been talking about how we really, really need to do something about our master bathroom….well, since before we moved in to the house. But it’s kind of a daunting task, so we’ve always found some excuse to put if off a little longer. Also, it’s been awhile since we’ve had a full fledged room reveal with exciting before and after pics around here. I’m ready for a new one! Plus, really? Seriously? We really, really need to do something about our master bathroom.

Eventually the master bath needs a complete overhaul involving fancy tile and a bigger shower and a prettier bathtub. But for right any and all discretionary house funds are earmarked for more urgent projects, so this is going to need to be an interim (and by “interim” I might well mean at least 5-10 years, and I’m fine with that), as cheap as possible, kind of makeover. There’s no way to avoid spending some money on new light and plumbing fixtures and that sort of thing, but aside from that things are going to be super DIY and super cheap.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about bathrooms the past few days, trying to formulate some initial thoughts on where to go with our cheap makeover. One thing I keep thinking about is that I’m always seeing these photo house tours where the whole house is all eclectic and quirky and full of vintage stuff…until you get to the kitchens and bathrooms, and then suddenly they’re really…..nice. And not particularly interesting.

I don’t want to be the person who has a squirrel wall in my foyer and then just a plain old bathroom. So there’s nothing else for it: I’m going to make a squirrel wall in my bathroom, too!

I’m just kidding.

But I do want something a little different, a little fun in the bathroom. Exactly what has not yet been determined.

I’ll do an inspiration photos round-up in another post. For now….the before pictures and some initial thoughts and plans.

master bath before1

Here’s the view looking in from the master bedroom. As you can see, and as I’ve mentioned before, our bathroom is stupidly big. It’s also right over the garage, which makes it very, very cold in winter. This is one of the things that’s made us keep putting off ripping up the carpet; we’re not really sure what to put down instead that won’t make things even chillier than they already are. Going back to that whole long term plan, we need an expensive sort of solution, I think. Insulating the ceiling above the garage and/or underfloor heating. For awhile we thought about putting down relatively cheap and relatively not freezing cold vinyl planks (the kind that look like wood) as our interim solution and then eventually doing actual wood or tile (the part between the shower and the toilet is already tiled with white hex tile, which I like pretty well).

But then we thought that if we’re going with a cheap interim solution, we might as well go with a really cheap interim solution. So the new plan is pulling up the carpet and painting the plywood subfloor. As bloggers do. I’ve seen lots of really nice examples of this, so I’m hoping ours will be also nice. We’re thinking of some kind of fun stencil or pattern, but we’re also thinking of just painting a solid color and then putting down some throw rugs with fun patterns instead to make the floor warmer.

Two boob lights! Changing those out equals one opportunity for fun! Well, two opportunities.

Let’s see: on the right there is our ginormous closet, which is a whole other mess. Someday! On the left is a linen closet immediately as you come in, and then the double vanity and sinks. Here’s a look at those:

master bath before6


I would say we should probably just frame out the mirror, except that it has a bunch of messed up spotty places in the middle that I don’t think anything can be done about. So two new mirrors. More lights! Whoever did this bathroom before was a big fan of mixing metals: we have chrome on the faucets and this light, shiny 80’s brass on the towel racks, and the boob lights are a sort of antique brass I think.

All the trim in the house was already white when we moved in, which is nice, but all the bathroom counters are this cream color, which drives me a little crazy. (I just realized the other day that our bathroom is, mysteriously, the only upstairs room with crown molding. So that’s nice anyway). The cabinets will get painted somehow or another, probably not white so that the cream doesn’t stand out so much. Long term this will all be new–new cabinets and sinks and maybe tile on the wall?–but for now it’s all just getting a face lift. New faucets!

Venturing further, we get to the big old builder grade (also beige instead of white) tub that we absolutely never use. I should probably start taking baths, because, I mean, we have that big tub.

master bath before5


I’m not sure if there’s any reasonable way to make this tub look prettier short of ripping it out. But we’ll see. The main thing to deal with here then is that big old window. Most of our windows came with nice white wooden blinds, but this one is still the beige vinyl (I’m assuming because the window is so big and irregularly sized). Some kind of window covering is needed, this being a bathroom and all, but the blinds need to go. So we’ll have the challenge of trying to figure out an affordable and attractive window treatment for a huge window.

And then we have the already tiled area with the toilet and shower:

master bath before4


master bath before3


One of the things that makes me tear my hair out, shake my fists, and yell, “WHY?!” is that, in such an obscenely big bathroom, there’s such a teeny tiny shower. But a bigger shower is definitely not part of the interim plan. Taking down that gross door that doesn’t work very well totally is, though. And, again, new plumbing fixtures. I’m excited about getting a fancy shower head; that might be something we splurge on a bit.

The toilet is already BRAND NEW. Well, a year and a half old. Because we had to replace the old, broken one as soon as we moved in. And then there’s one moreΒ window to figure out what do to with.

And, to fully orient you, here’s the view looking back the other way, toward the bedroom:

master bath before2


Note bins of outgrown/not yet grown into baby clothes. In our grand mini makeover, we’ll be finding somewhere else to put those. Like maybe in the closet. Oh! More shiny brass in the form of doorknobs! Those have to go, too.

So I’ll talk more about this when I do the inspiration photos post, but I’m thinking a lot of black and white right now and kind of a vintage/retro vibe. Tentatively.

I have, incidentally, started to think of the existing paint color as not completely horrible. Like in the right context, it could actually be nice. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s not in good shape and has to be repainted anyway. A long time ago I was thinking beadboard in here, but now I think that, with the board and batten in the bedroom, it might be overkill.

Anyway! It’s a start! Now to actually DO some of these things.


The Master Bathroom: Time to Get Real — 18 Comments

    • Yeah, I like it, too….particularly given that it’s original to the (early 80’s) house, we could have done a whole lot worse ;). I just wish it they’d used it in the whole bathroom instead of the carpet!

  1. Our last master bath was so daunting. Pretty large size…terrible layout and finish out. It’s hard because you use the space every day, so you want something amazing but you also don’t want to be undertaking a huge project that puts your bathroom out of commission for a long time. I know you will make this space into something amazing. I mean I have seen a pretty sweet IKEA mood board by you!

    • Thanks, Amber–I’ll definitely be referring to said mood board…I’m not sure I have a good spot for that little green cabinet I love, though πŸ™

    • It’s really crazy. I’m not sure what the builders were thinking. It’s like they finished all the other rooms and then said, “well. All we have left is this space over the garage. bathroom?”

  2. Ah yes the master bath. I am right there with you. I went down to the city this week to check on a couple of things for some plumbing we want to move around. My next move is to draw up plant – maybe this weekend and they told me that approval is immediate for the small changes I want to make. yay. I am so excited to follow along with you on our master bath remodels. I love the plans you have laid out. They sound fab. Can’t wait to see the stenciled floor. πŸ™‚

    • That’s right: we’re going to be master bath makeover buddies this winter, right? πŸ™‚ Yours sounds a lot more involved than mine, though–no one except me and Dave have to approve our changes πŸ˜‰

  3. Your bathroom is awesome big!!! Mine is the size of your shower…HA! No… it really is!! You will rock out this space…there are so many possibilities and how nice to have counter space there! And I just wanted to say that I LOVE your new blog design! You did a great job friend!

    • Thanks so much Nicole!! It is nice to have so much space to work with, but I wouldn’t mind a normal sized bathroom and a fifth bedroom instead! But I feel whiny even saying that, so I’ll try to just enjoy ridiculously big bathroom instead πŸ™‚

  4. I like the hex tile, too! Can’t wait to see what short-term-ish solutions you come up with! The house we are moving to will require some updates to our bathrooms also (they have lovely 1960’s blue & yellow tile) but the kitchen is so bad, that it has to be the priority. So, short term it will have to be for awhile in the bathrooms until we can save up some money after the kitchen.
    – Lora

  5. for your long-term fixes adding insulation is always good, and I would recommend adding heat under your tiles for a nice toasty warm floor. We’ve done it in three houses now – believe me when I say you will not regret it! This HUGE bathroom could be a lovely retreat for you.

    • I would LOVE to add the under floor heating–I’ve never had it, but it sounds heavenly! I’m scared to think about how expensive it’s going to be in such a big room, though–downside to giant bathroom….but someday!

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