A New Old Master Bathroom

The houses that inspire me are old, character-soaked, architecturally interesting and warmed with wood grains and vintage textures.

Yet I live in a house that was built in the 90s, featuring this terracotta tile master bathroom:

Bathroom Before 1

Bathroom Before 2

So when the time came to update the master bathroom I designed it with the features of age but the materials of today.


In an earlier post this year I blogged the mood board that I used to visualize the design elements of this bathroom and remarkably the final renovation stayed pretty true to that original design.


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One of the main objectives of this renovation was to make the bathroom feel as spacious as possible. The key to “enlarging” a room without increasing its size is to eliminate anything that stops your eye and visually chops up the room into compartments. We eliminated eye stoppers by:

1. Taking the tile all the way to the ceiling. This gives your eye an unbroken vertical plane to the tallest point in the room and causes the eye to perceive a taller room proportion. We did this around the shower and also the sink backsplash wall.

2. Installing a frameless glass shower. This allows your line of sight to pass through the glass and go to the farthest corner of the room without breaking the visual horizaontal plane.

3. Using the same tile in the shower floor as the rest of the bathroom floor. The continuity of the floor pattern stretches your line of sight to the entire horizontal plane of the floor, rather than boxing out the shower to a tiny compartmentalized square. This causes your eye to perceive a larger footprint of the room overall.

(Note: You need a skilled tile professional to work through the details of how to lay out and in some cases where to cut larger tiles to accommodate drainage and the floor gradation. I can highly recommend J. Spell Enterprises for this work. Jesse Spell was extraordinarily thorough in considering the layout of my patterned tile and the flow of water for best drain placement. He is also an outstanding tiler and we were absolutely pleased with the final outcome!)

4. Installing a freestanding tub. A tub that is dropped into a big tile surround box will visually remove a ton of square footage from your bathroom. Instead, take the tile all the way to the floor and install a soaking tub with a size scaled to allow peeks of the tile floor and tile wall behind it. This carries your eye all the way to the walls and corners behind your tub and makes the space look bigger. I installed a slightly smaller than normal soaking tub since I am the only one who uses it (daily!) and that size works well for me. This helped greatly to create a sensation of spaciousness around the tub.

5. Select a vanity that doesn’t touch the walls on its left and right sides. By leaving a few inches of space on either side of the vanity it creates the illusion of spaciousness. The tiled wall behind it peeks out and the tile floor beneath it is visible on those sides as well. These again carry your eye to the farthest point in the plane rather than stopping it at the front of the vanity.

IMG_4338 IMG_4331 IMG_4323 IMG_4321 IMG_4361I took the photos in this post on two different days and by the second shoot I had painted the ceiling to match the walls (another way to not break the plane visually), and I added a cotton blossom wreath above the tub and a warm wood towel rack with hooks deep enough to accommodate my thickest bath towels.

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Here are some of the product details…

Round mirrors over the sink:
Target Threshold Decorative Mirror

Wood vanity:
James Martin (But I can NOT recommend that you order from this company as their pictures did NOT match the product they shipped me and then refused to make right when the drawers could not accommodate my sink plumbing. Their customer service is terrible and we had to saw into the drawers to make them work. Also the product photos on their website did not show a distressed finished but when I received the vanity it was distressed in a fake and uniform way that was quite unconvincingly vintage.)

Soaking Tub:
Home Depot’s Ren-Wil Coral freestanding bathtub

Tub Faucet:
Signature Hardware’s Exira Deck Mount Tub faucet

Floor Tile:
Home Depot’s Merola Tile Twenties Classic 

Wall and Ceiling Color:
Sherwin-Williams’ Light French Gray

Sink Faucets & Shower Hardware:
It’s a matching set but I cannot remember from where or locate the receipt! Will update this post when I find it.

But the best thing about this bathroom, like any room in my house, is this…


I hope this gives you some ideas and some confidence that you CAN invest in the home you already have and make it a place to enjoy for a long long time.

































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