DIY budget elegant bathroom, almost done: pics...

staceyneilFebruary 2, 2011

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your support and advice along the way with our latest project... we're ALMOST done but sort of stalled. We just need to add the door threshold and some pretty natural wood shelves above the toilet, but DH has moved on to other woodworking projects, so those little projects have been shoved down the list of priorities. Since it may be months before I get those shelves (and art/decor) up, I thought I'd at least post some pics of the room as it is now. Forgive the crappy lighting: it's snowing hard so there's no natural light :(

Project scope:

1956 bathroom with 1980's/90's tile, vanity, toilet. Tub was original but sadly unsalvageable: the enale was totally wrecked and stained and impossible to clean.

Suspected some subfloor issues due to leaks.

Budget: $2,500. (final total was a bit under $3,000... so we didn't do too badly :))

The layout was awkward, the door swing used so much of the floor space and only allowed a very small vanity. Since this is the hall/guest bath as well as the primary bath for my teenage daughter, we really needed to maximize storage and vanity space. I drew a new plan which involved moving the doorway to the perpendicular wall. As much as my DH balked at adding additional work, he admitted it was TOTALLY the right thing to do once we finished. The room feels SO much bigger now.

OLD BATHROOM and layout:

Some photos from during the renovation... which was planned to take 4 weekends and ended up taking about 6 or 7.....

DD sledge-hammering the old tile down

lots of rot in the subfloor

Self-leveling-compound poured over the radiant floor heat cables in the floor

The shower area waterproofed with Hydroban (LOVE LOVE LOVE that stuff!)

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NEW BATHROOM and layout plan:


Since our budget was soooo tight, and we wanted to use quality materials and get a unique, custom bathroom, we had to get creative!!!


I had a small amount (it was mostly random pieces and offcuts) of very $$$ calacatta marble mosaic tiles left over from a previous project that I knew I wanted to use. The other materials were chosen around that starting point. I designed niches to use that tile in, as accent, based on the quantity I had. I used inexpensive white marble baseboard pieces from Home Depot for the shelves.

For the rest of the tile, I needed to use super-cheap stuff (the entire room is tiled to chair-rail height), but I didn't want it to look cheap or ubiquitous. I would have used subways, but DD emphatically vetoed them. It's her bathroom, and we let her have a LOT of design input. Since we have other areas in the house that use square tile in a running-bond pattern, I decided to use 4x4s, which are the cheapest anyway, but in a running bond rather than stacked pattern. After bringing home samples of the big-box cheapies, I decided to "splurge" (20 cents more per tile, I think, it was about $2.35 per sf after sales and discounts)) on Lowes next-step-up American Olean Ice White, which has a slight rippled surface that catches the light and adds a layer of interest that the flat, cheaper Gloss White doesn't have.

For the floor, we used American Olean 12 x 18 Pietra Bianco, a limestone-look ceramic tile that I'm surprisingly happy with :) Underneath the tile is radiant-heat cable, so the floor is wonderfully cozy and warm.

Floor grout is Latapoxy epoxy.

Wall/shower grout is Tec Accucolor XT, a super-modified grout that supposed to be a lot more stain-resistant (PITA to work with, though!)


DD wanted girly, vintage-looking stuff, a big departure from DH and my modern aesthetic. We narrowed down the style range, then I started watching eBay for deals. We scored about $750 worth of valves and faucets and stuff for about $275.

Vanity faucet: Moen Monticello

Shower faucet valve, trim, tub spout: Moen Monticello with Thermostatic valve

Shower head: Grohe Relexa Ultra on slide bar (LOVE!)

(after working with a bunch of faucets recently, I can say that the Moen monticello stuff is pretty cruddy compared to the Grohe RElexa, Kohler Purist, and HansGrohe stuff I've used recently.)

Towel bars and tissue holder are Ginger Hotelier.

Curved shower rod is the Crescent Rod. I tried some expandable ones they had locally, but this one (ordered on line for the same price) is SO much sturdier and nicer-looking. It also makes the shower space much larger.


Toto Carolina that we got at a yard sale for $150 including the Washlet seat (which we removed). We were driving down the street and DD -who professes to HATE anything renovation-related- said, "Hey, look, Mom... isn;t that one of those skirted toilets you like?" SCORE.


American Standard Princeton ~$300 at Lowes. yeah, we chipped it right away by dropping a tool on it while installing the faucets; luckily there's a repair kit that actually does a pretty amazing job :) We used the American Standard "Deep Soak" drain, which adds a couple inches water depth for baths. I wanted DD to use her OWN bathtub rather than my new one in the master bath :)


an old dresser. We bought it on Craigslist for $40, and DH reworked the drawers to fit the plumbing. He also added modern drawer slides so that they work easily. We bought fabulous vintage glass knobs on eBay (if you're looking for vintage knobs, check out this seller: billybobbosen.)

I painted it BM Dove Wing.

We totally went over budget on the vanity top. I'd intended to bet a remnant of granite... but of course couldn't find one DD and I liked. Then we found this little slab of Vermont White quartzite in the "exotics" bone pile at a local yard. It was over budget but we loved it. Then, of course, we decided that rather than a plain square front, it had to be cut to fit the curvy front of the dresser... which added about $100. So the vanity top was our biggest expense at $480.

Medicine cabinet:

A salvaged cabinet we got at the local Habitat for Humanity REStore about 2 years ago. We framed it into the wall (where the old door used to be), painted it, and I tiled the little shelf area with my calacatta mosaic accent tiles and marble baseboard pieces from Home Depot.


Pottery Barn wall fixture from eBay

Ikea ceiling fixture (like $8 each and rated for bathrooms!)

Fan/showerlight combo is a recessed, can-style fixture by Broan/NuTone. It's AWESOME. Quiet, unobtrusive.

That's all I can think of right now. I think once we have the natural wood shelves up over the toilet, with DD's shell collection and a plant on them, it will give a little but of softness/naturalness which the room needs. It's a little TOO "elegant" right now :)

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what a GREAT're soooo handy! i would think all your friends and family are wanting to hire you!!!
your daughter must be THRILLED!

you decided not to do a pocket door? (weren't you debating that at one time??) looks like there's plenty of room for the door swing...

i am amazed how effective and quiet the broan/nutone fans are---and inexpensive compared to others!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:38AM
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It looks wonderful. I like how well you thought everything out. Look your budget. Your DD must be so proud. The vanity is so elegant! Good Job!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:40AM
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Awesome job staceyneil!!! You guys really put together such nice bathrooms!

Isn't amazing how moving just one thing (in your case, the door) makes such a tremendous difference? Genius!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:22AM
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staceyneil - I commented on your thread in home decorating, but wanted to thank you here for all the extra pictures and details. I have 2 bathroom to figure out and it is so helpful to have all this info. You did such a wonderful job!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:33AM
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I LOVE your vanity and especially the quartzite top - perfect! I also love your vanity mirror with the calcutta mosaic shelf. The floor is lovely as well. The colors are so calming...

I have a guest bath that is the mirror image of yours and I am going to file this away as an example of the look I want. Thanks for posting!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:43AM
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That vanity is SO sweet, and your use of tile is ingenious. Gorgeous!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:52AM
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Nice work, Staceyneil! I like how you tiled the bottom of the medicine cabinet. I also like the look of the Grohe Relexa Ultra shower head on the slide bar. I'm thinking of buying the same one. Can you angle the shower head on the slide bar so that it points down rather than out & use it as if it were a fixed shower head when you don't need to use it as a hand shower head?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for your kind words, everyone :)

Eliza, one of the main reasons we chose the Relexa ultra is that we wanted to use it as a main showerhead. There's no other showerhead in this bath. I have a Kohler Purist in my master bath (along with a regular showerhead) that's fairly pivot-able but the Relexa is much better. I went and saw one in a showroom before I bid on it on ebay. The mechanism that attaches to the slide bar slides up and down, swivels side to side, AND has a rotating holder on the handset end, so it's pretty much infinitely adjustable. I was nervous about it working as we wanted it to, but it's perfect. I mounted the slide bar pretty high up, AND I mounted the bar's supports at the very ends of the bar, rather than in a few inches the way it's usually pictured, so that there's more range and the showerhead could be high enough for tall people. If you have the choice, and intend a set-up like this, you might want to get the longer slide bar. Mine is the shorter one, but since I paid less than 1/3 retail for it, I couldn't be too picky :) But that would give you even more showerhead location options, good if you have little kids or whatever.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Using that vanity top and the touches of marble mosaic makes the whole room look more expen$ive.

How long did it take you to accumulate all the bits?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:40PM
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Well, we got the medicine cabinet a couple of years ago, when we first moved into the house, just because it was such a great deal and we knew we'd use it sometime ($40, I think?)

Then, I saved the marble mosaic pieces from the master bath reno we did last winter.

I think I found the toilet around August of last year, and around that time I started looking for a dresser for the vanity. In September I got the dresser and started watching eBay for the plumbing bits. I'd say I spent several hours a day for a good part of two months on the planning/sourcing. We started the reno in November, and finished the bulk of it before Christmas.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:20PM
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Absolutely stunning! You did an amazing job. One would never know you restricted yourself on budget. I absolutely love the combination of tile. I have rarely seen an installation of 4x4s that I liked, but yours looks fantastic. The accent tiles are perfect and I love your niche shelves. The vanity is beautiful. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your amazing bathroom.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:40PM
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So pretty! You're to be congratulated! Love the marble, quartzite and that running bond of 4 x 4s is certainly a refreshing look!

May I ask, does the crescent rod come with instructions/suggestions for placement? How did you decide exactly where to screw it into the wall (how far in from the edge)? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 4:19PM
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I can answer your question catkin since we also installed Crescent Rods in two of our bathrooms just this past year. Included in or on (I forget which) the pkg there is a recommended range of inches within which to install the rod.

We had to hang the rod in our MB in a little further than suggested because our toilet is pretty close to the tub (just at NKBA guidelines), and I didn't want the shower curtain draped over my lap while sitting on the toilet! Even at that, it feels nice and roomy standing in the tub while showering. So, you do have a fair am't of leeway.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 5:51PM
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Thanks catmom, I'll be sure to look for that important information. :~)

The back of the bathroom door opens on to the long side of the tub so I'm hoping it won't hit the rod! By the looks of stacyneil's, it's set in quite a distance.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:06PM
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You created a very lovely bathroom - I'll bet your daughter is thrilled to pieces. The way you used the left over tile is beautiful - I'd love to see pictures of it in your master bath.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Staceyneil- You rock! That does not look like a budget bathroom. I think we'll see a resurgence of 4x4 tile being used more often in bathrooms posted on this board because of you. The marble mosaic goes so well with the floor. But, the jewel in the crown is the vanity/curved vanity top. It makes the whole space look custom, warm and inviting.

Why did you decide against the pocket door? I'm thinking about installing a pocket door in my MB remodel but everyone keeps trying to talking me out of it. Our MB is only about 6x8 and moving the door is not an option. The door as it is now swings into the room and once opened may interfere with the shower glass doors we are planning to install.

Anyway, another beautiful and functional bathroom. Your daughter must be thrilled. I also like the fact that she was involved in not only the "fun" parts (picking out the finishes) but also in the dirty work.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:13PM
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Great job as always, staceyneil! Question for you about the quartzite--does it etch at all, or is it one of the bullet-proof stones?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:24AM
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Wow that is beautiful! I would have no idea that you were on a budget. The vanity and calacatta really make the space. I'm taking notes as we're starting two bathroom remodels this year!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:26AM
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Thanks everyone :)

Answers to questions:
catkin, as cat mom mentioned, you do have some leeway in where to mount the crescent rod. Note that the various curved rods are designed differently. Some bow more in the middle, some more on the ends, some more than others. I chose my mounting place based on grout lines (easier to drill through grout lines than in the middle of the tile) and the center, curved part protrudes past the edge of the tub about three+ inches. In your case, that probably wouldn't interfere too much with the door, since it's only in the very center that it overhangs...

dazedandconfused, we decided that the door swing, in our case, wouldn't be that big a deal. Plus, I originally thought I wanted to put a recessed niche or shelving in that wall to the right of the sink, which of course the door pocket would preclude. And, our doors are 5-panel and I thought it would be more money to have them make a special one with a wider stile on one side... a whole bunch of things made us decide to do a normal door. I was worried that someone opening the door might smash into someone crushing their teeth at the sink, but once the space was gutted we laid it out on the floor, and it seemed like it would work. As it turns out, it's fine.

writersblock, I got a small piece of the quartzite and took it home and tried various things on it: wine, vinegar, ketchup, sharpie marker, eyeliner, nail polish, nail polish remover, and acne treatment. I left them on overnight. The only thing that made ANY mark was the acne stuff (salicylic acid) which left a slight etch. I felt that was pretty good (especially compared to my carrara kitchen counters!) plus I sealed the top well with Porous Plus. My understanding is that quartzite is denser and harder than marble, although of the same family of stone. Several people on the kitchen forum have very white quartzites in their kitchens and love them. Another good thing about mine is that it has so much variation and different coloration in it, even if it does get stains, they won't show much :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 7:46AM
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It turned out just amazing, Stacey!

You guys are obviously extremely proficient DIYers who know a deal when they see one. And that quartzite top is unbelievable.

I love it all and I'm more than a little envious!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:49AM
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Great job...wonderful choices, great layout...I can see all the work you all did for sure. If it wasn't you, I wouldn't believe it was really only $3k. But you seem to be a magician with the DIY. Big big thumb's up!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Stacyneil, thanks for that explanation!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:04PM
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Oh my goodness, this is just the prettiest redo on a budget I've ever seen. And lots prettier than many with a HUGE budget! I agree with all that's been posted about the highlights, but my very favorite thing is your daughter doing demo in fuzzy pink slippers.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Stacyneil, seriously my bathroom hero. So many of these things were ideas that my wife or I threw out to each other but backed off because we weren't sure how they might work. But you did it, and they look great!

I love the marble on the shelf under the medicine cabinet. We were actually thinking of building our own to get that look (but found Van Dyke's version without it too affordable to resist). I love it! The calcatta as an accent with the white is exactly what my wife wants. She always thinks of white marble as cool and gray and was really excited to see the warm gold and white.

I loved seeing the smaller format tile in the running bond pattern as my wife is anti-subway as well and I thought it might be a good compromise (it looks great!)

The tall shelf with the marble thresholds for dividers is exactly what we're planning for our master shower and now I have an example to show my wife.

And of course the dresser to vanity project. It's ridiculous how nice that turned out. If ours turn out half as nice we'd be thrilled.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:20AM
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Wow! What an amazing job you guys did!! Your design choices are splendid!! And you are very proficient DIYers I can tell. I wish we were...our small bath update, with just tiling and fixture changes took more than your entire budget, and on labor only! And we are being swindled by our GC..can not believe our bad luck:(
ANyway, thank you so much for sharing your great project with details, it is such an inspiration!!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 10:00AM
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Thanks, staceyneil. I'm definitely going to get the Grohe Relexa Ultra shower head on a longer slide bar. Does using the Moen Monticello with Thermostatic valve turns it into a thermostatic shower? I want a thermostatic shower, too!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 11:28PM
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Mick Mick

Very pretty! Such an inspiration! Congrats!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 8:26AM
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Yes, totally. The valve is what determines whether its thermostatic or pressure balanced. The output things like showerheads, tub spots, etc have nothing to do with it. Just find a thermostatic valve with trim you like and you're all set. One tip: when I was shopping on eBay it was easier and cheaper to find the standard tub/shower "sets" (which include a tub spout, the valve trim, and a showerhead; sometimes the valve is included but usually you have to order it separately) rather than buying the tub spout separate from the trim and valve. So I bought one, and simply didn;t use the showerhead. We plumbed the top output from the valve to the handheld's drop ell hose connection instead.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 8:29AM
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Thanks, again, staceyneil!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Wow, amazing! The use of the beautiful marble in such a great way as accents, and the extra money you paid for the curved vanity top really was worth it! Thrilled to see the 4 x 4" tiles, too.

I am blown away!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 7:09PM
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fantastic transformation. I love your choices of tiles. all details are well done! it's hard to believe it's budget. enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Thanks for all the details. I'm expanding a half bath into an adjacent closet to make a full bath. The resulting layout will end up the same as yours, but I think I'm a bit short in the long direction.

What is the long dimension of your bathroom?


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Hi Gary,
This bath is 5' x 8'3".... but this layout is usually/often seen in 8' long bathrooms. You just might have to use a 30" vanity rather than the 35" I have in there.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 7:13AM
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I am super impressed. Its absolutely beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 2:37PM
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This is absolutely stunning and similar to ideas we are trying to use for 2 bathroom do-overs. How difficult is it to install the radiant heat cables? We're considering using tile on a floor over a crawl space and really would appreciate the heat!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 4:26PM
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WOW. Amazing what you can do with a lot of sweat and good taste! Congratulations!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Thanks, marcolo :)

Julie, it's not hard to install the radiant heat cables. I did it on my master bath last year (which is also over a crawl space.)

Basically, you first need to figure out how much cable you need (by square footage, keeping it out from under furniture and fixtures.) Start with a clean, properly stable subfloor. Lay out and attach cable to floor (see below). Run the temp probe(s). You'll need to chisel out a little recess for the probe tips. I use two probes for redundancy since that is what fails most often. Hook one up to the thermostat and leave the other's wires behind the box "just in case"... You'll also need to chisel/drill a place in the sole plate for the wires to run up into the wall. You have to be quite careful with the wires. After the cable is laid, pour self-levelling compound over it (see linked post for more tips on that!) and then you tile over that.

I learned some lessons which made this project easier. Namely, not to rely on the aluminum tape provided by the cable dealer to stick it to the floor. When I poured self-leveling compound over it, it became unstuck and some parts floated up to the surface and protruded. Since the whole point of using the SLC is to protect the wires from getting nicked during tiling, I had to pour another layer. This time, I used a hot-glue gun and it worked SO much better. I posted about the process in the link below....

This is by far the best bang-for-the-buck we added on both bathroom renovations! It's soooooo wonderful to have cozy warm tile underfoot :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Self levelling compoiund & radiant heat: what I learned...

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:23AM
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Stacey... Amazing job. Wanna come over?
Really, what a great project with your daughter.

Did you say what color you painted the walls?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Thanks, Prill!
The walls are Ben Moore "Balboa Mist". It's a warm neutral grey with a hint of lavender in it in some light. Very pretty!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Stacey, you're amazing. What a great job. It's inspiring to see how you did it.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 1:17PM
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You are quite the bargain shopper and an amazing decorator. The classy, elegant style is beautiful. You do make me want to call my daughter and tell her I want my sideboard back that I gave her. It is almost identical to yours. I want to use it in my bath renovation. Thanks for sharing so much information. It helps to have paint colors and all the other details. Your DD is one lucky young lady! Bravo!!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Wonderfull, love the vanity.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 2:42PM
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Thanks for the kind words. I'm happy that our experience can help or inspire other renovators!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 7:16AM
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Beautiful bathroom! I came looking for a bathroom to inspire our redo, and this is the one!

Stacey, I have a few questions if you don't mind.

1)How large are your mosaic tiles? Would you mind sharing your source? I've looked at samples of calacatta mosaic, and none seem to have the color variation yours does that I like so much.

2) Do you have a shade on your window, or is it some kind of film to make it translucent?

Thanks in advance, if you see this!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:07AM
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Hi lamki,
I'm glad our bath could help you!

1) My mosaic tiles are about 1-1/8". If I recall correctly they are from Architectural Collections and I think they were called "Calacatta Gold Broken Joint Mosaic" by my retailer, but I do not think that's the actual proper name. I got them at Distinctive Tile in Maine; they may be able to help you track them down. Ask for Theresa:

2) The window has a VERY simple flat panel of cloth on a cafe tension rod. The cloth is cotton with a tone-on-tone embroidery. The pattern makes it hard to see through -even at night- but still lets light in. And it only covers the bottom pane so we can still see trees, sky and weather outside :) I considered using the window film on the bottom sash only (I used it on a 5-panel glass door for my master bath) but then, in summer, that would be open, or we'd have to slide down the top sash, which would look odd as that one has grids.
Here's a slightly closer view:

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:47PM
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Fori is not pleased

You guys do such nice work!

I do love the idea of getting a kid in fuzzy pink slippers to do the heavy demo.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Hi stacyneil,
I love the bathroom and the vanity! And that countertop is so beautiful. I want to find a remnant like that for our basement bath.

I have a question about the pottery barn light. Is that the mercer triple fixture? Does it give off a nice clear white light? In the catalog picture the lights looks like they give off a warm umber light, and that's not what I want. In your picture the lights look pretty white when on.
Any feedback you can give would be great!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 7:53AM
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Hi Paula-
The Pottery Barn Mercer gives a warm white light. it's not umber, but not super clear white either. The other light in there is an Ikea frosted glass globe and it gives the same type of light. I'd say it is a typical white-cased-glass shade light effect... if that helps. Not any browner or yellower than you'd expect. Of course the bulb affects the quality of the light as well.
I actually bring my makeup in there when I apply any, because the lights in my own master bathroom (Restoration Hardware sconces) just suck. I have the max bulb wattage in them, but they are a funny type of bulb and they are way, way, way too dim for makeup application! The Mercer is so much better.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Thanks Stacey!
That helps a lot, I appreciate you taking the time to answer me!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:21AM
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Stacey: you are wonderful to provide your experience to us. Can I ask you about grout? Basically, for porcelain, ceramic or glass, I want to put down the most stain resistant grout looks like you've learned quite a bit with your 2 renovations!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Stacey, do you have your other bathroom posted on here? I would love to see some of the other renovation's you have done in your home. I know you are great with decorating to make everything looks Great. Terri

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 11:55PM
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onelady1dog2girls, I used "regular" grout in my master bathroom and kitchen. I'm really disappointed with the floor grout in the master bath. It stained immediately. In the second bath that I just did, I used epoxy grout on the floor (Spectralock) and it's fabulous. But it was a bit hard to work with, and I didn't want to have to do it on the walls and shower area. There, I used Tec Accucolor XT (the "XT" is important if you're looking for it) which is a highly modified grout. More modified than other modified grouts, if I understand right. It's alos a little harder to work with, but not too bad. And so far, it's been a breeze to keep clean.

Of course, white grout is harder to keep clean than darker colors. I used regular grey grout in my master shower floor and it hasn't been too bad, although that awful pink stuff does grow in it. That pink stuff hasn't touched any of the grout in my daughters bath (with the two grouts listed above) and they get the same amount of use and cleaning.

Terri, there are some photos of my master bath during the renovation here:

and here:

and here (this one has the most finished photos, at the top and halfway down the thread):

Here is a link that might be useful: staceyneil's master bathroom

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:56AM
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Awesome job! I love the calacatta marble mosaics and it really shows that you don't need to go all high end - a touch here and there really makes a huge difference and draws the eye to it even more, I think.

What's really interesting to me is that your old layout is exactly the same as my current layout except:
-my door is on the side of where your vanity was, and swings toward the toilet.
- I have a really awkward (and too big for such a small room, IMO) radiator in front of the really small space for the vanity - which means the vanity has to be both narrow enough to fit in between the door and the wall and shallow enough so that the doors don't hit the radiator.
-my "before" is worse cosmetically - old 1945 peach tile with black accents, and this is my ONLY full bath in the house!

I've always thought there was nothing that could be done about it except expanding out over the kitchen which had been previously bumped out. So it was really interesting to see what you did with it and it's given me something to think about.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 4:21PM
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This ranks up there with probably the 5 most helpful things I've learned from these gardenweb forums. Grout is huge and one of the most likely (in my opinion) areas where the contractor could suggest anything and you wouldn't know it was a bad idea until it was too late. Thank you!!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 4:32PM
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Thank you so much for responding with the details, I really appreciate it!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:04PM
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Stacey, you did such an amazing job! I am just drooling over your vanity with that gorgeous quartzite!


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Glad I could help! and, thanks :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 8:24AM
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Stacey, your bathroom is so beautiful. We're in the middle of a DIY bathroom reno and would like to make a multi-shelved tall shower niche like yours. How did you attach the shelves to the sides of the niche? It looks like you framed and hydrobanned one large rectangle without any recesses to support the shelves. If you could describe your method, I would be very appreciative.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:18PM
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Hi wolfgang,

The niches are pretty easy to do. Your'e correct, the whole thing is hydrobanned with just a smooth rectangle for each niche.
I cut the shelves (marble baseboard pieces from home Depot) to just shy of the width of the niche opening. Measure each one separately and carefully because the hydroban can lump a little bit here and there, so it's not a totally smooth and square space.
I started tiling at the bottom. I installed the first shelf, making sure it had a bit of a pitch forward. (I'd pitched the cement board underneath just a tad.) Then, using spacers, install the side and back tile. The fist row of my side/back pieces are cut on a very slight angle to match the slight pitch of the shelf. Tile up to the level of the next shelf.
Now your're ready for the next shelf. It is simply supported by the tops of the side and back wall tile. There's plenty of depth in the tile to support it. Once it's all grouted it's super sturdy :)

(For what it's worth, we had GW tile guru Bill Vincent tile our master shower and I just copied his method! I'm pretty sure this is the correct, pro-approved way to do it, so, no worries...)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 8:47AM
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Thanks Stacey. I really appreciate your response.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 1:51PM
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Hi Stacey,
First of all, what a fabulous job and what a beautiful space! Congrats!! I recall your master bath and this one is very classic in style, yet both are breathtaking!!

I know you've answered many questions so far (take it as a direct reflection of how inspirational your work has been!) -- but I have one more (hope you do not mind): did you put your bathroom heating mat on a separate electrical circuit? Or does it share its circuit with rest of the bathroom or with rest of the house?

Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:29AM
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Hi homey bird,


I can't remember whether this small bath has two circuits or one (are you familiar with the code? If I remember correctly, you can have either one dedicated bath circuit, or a dedicated GFCI circuit and then the lighting can be on another circuit that shares with other rooms.)

Anyway- the floor heat is on the GFCI circuit (which may be the only circuit in there, since the room is so small.) SOME floor heat installations do require their own circuit. But we added up the load and it is tiny, so it didn't need its own circuit. It's a tiny room! It DOES need to be GFCI protected though.

I remember debating whether the master bath floor needed its own circuit or not, and I cant remember what we decided there. I can double-check my DH, who did the wiring, if you want.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:58AM
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Hi Stacyneil,
Thanks a lot for the information.

It would be great to know about your master bath as well. We remodelled our hall bath couple of years back and our heating mat company does recommend a separate circuit for itself. However, the load is not very high in here too. What I and DH thought (DH is an electrical engineer) - was that we could share the load with rest of the bath but not place the whole bathroom on the main house circuit.

We're planning a new addition (hopefully some time soon) and this information will be useful over there.

Thanks again! I just cannot tire of looking at your bathroom -- if I had the skills and the means, this is exactly how I'd do a Princess Bath (although, our princess is currently a preschooler).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Hi Stacey,
I just love this bathroom. Is there any chance you remember any more about the calacatta marble mosaic? I just spent a couple hours in a tile store and didn't see anything that beautiful.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 4:56PM
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I see I missed it earlier:

"1) My mosaic tiles are about 1-1/8". If I recall correctly they are from Architectural Collections and I think they were called "Calacatta Gold Broken Joint Mosaic" by my retailer, but I do not think that's the actual proper name. I got them at Distinctive Tile in Maine; they may be able to help you track them down. Ask for Theresa: "


    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Glad you found it! The tiles seem to be fairly unique. I looked on line for them when I was sourcing materials and did not see them anywhere else. I absolutely love them. Funny enough, my installer did not "get" them, I think. He didn't like that they had the chipped corners and unevenness, I think. That they were purposely "broken". I love it, since it adds a warmer, more organic feeling to what sometimes is a fairly formal material (marble.)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Stacy, thank you so much for posting this. It's so beautiful, I'm using it for the inspiration for my children's bath. You pulled off the neat trick of making a small bath look opulent, yet restrained and tasteful.

I love the way you made the most of your marble. It's just enough to give the feel of richness, without going overboard and doing the whole thing in marble and actually spending a fortune.

It's just lovely. And I'm so impressed and envious that you got Bill Vincent to do your tiling!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Beautiful, beautiful space!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:47AM
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I just love when this thread gets a bump so I have an excuse to look at it again. :)

Staceyneil, now that you've had it a while, how is the americast tub doing? Am I right in thinking you have an archer in your master bath? Which would you prefer if you could only have one?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 1:38PM
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Thanks, folks!

rosieo: Actually, Bill did the fabulous tiling in my master bathroom... but I did this one all myself :)

writersblock- yes, I have the Kohler Archer in the master bathroom. I had an Americast in my previous house, and in this bath as well. It is the nicest "budget" tub I could find. I'm sure you know that you can get one at Lowes for a lot less than they are listed for most places on line. Americast is known for chipping easily, and we did chip it before it was even commissioned (dropped a screwdriver while installing faucet trim.) Luckily they sell a chip repair kit which is a PERFECT match and you really can barely tell now. In our last house we did not set the tub in mortar nor insulate it. We did both to this Americast and to the ARcher as well. It makes a HUGE difference in how solid the tubs feel. Just installed with the nominal required cleats, the tub will flex a bit when used (in our last house.) I suspect the ARcher would do the same. Set in a mud bed and with insulation all around, they're both very solid, not noisy, and keep the water warm.

The Archer is significantly deeper, which makes it a better soaking tub bit would not be as good a dual use tub for showering...

I find the Americast finish easier to clean and it doesn't scratch. My Archer tub has a big scratch from the cat's claw (No, she didn't fall in while it was filled! She likes to hop up to the open window above it in summertime.)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 8:36PM
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Thank you very much for all the details, staceyneil. Incidentally, were you aware that American Standard has their own version of the deeper overflow drain? It wouldn't make the Princeton anywhere near as deep as the archer, but the cambridge would come close:

Here is a link that might be useful: AS deep soak drain

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 9:12PM
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Hi writersblock. That is the drain we used!! I wanted my daughter to be able to take nice long baths in her OWN tub (rather than always using mine!)
I will say that it's not a very pretty drain in person. The overflow cap is plastic, and it's quite large and glommy-looking. Not horrible, but nowhere near as elegant as the Archer one. Still- it does what it's supposed to do and definitely increases the soaking depth of the tub.
If I only had one bathroom and it had a tub/shower combo, I would probably choose the Americast Princeton over the Archer because showering in it would be much easier, and we shower more than take occasional baths.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 8:05AM
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Yeah, you can tell even from the photos that it's not an elegant drain. In our situation, there's another bath with shower-only, so easy showering isn't such an issue. I've got another question about the tubs, but I'll start a new thread so as not to hijack this one.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 8:34AM
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I meant to say "from the photos on their website"--I don't think it's very noticeable in any of your pics.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 9:57AM
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That is fantastic! I love the way you used the mosaic remnants and they and that vanity top just make the room look so end. Just beautiful.

Definitely keeping your ideas in mind for future projects!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 3:40PM
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Thank you, birdgardener. It was a rewarding project! Every time I go in there I think, "What a nice space..." :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:19AM
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Searching for my own bathroom inspiration and love what you've done! Great job! I just started looking here, but you should post your pics here - I would def. add your project to my Inspiration book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Share your pics here!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 2:43PM
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Thanks, ellen. I love houzz and I keep meaning to do that but never have the time. Always on to the next renovating project!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 9:41AM
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I love everything about this bathroom. Please come and redo my daugthers bathroom exactly like this! Congratulations!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 9:52AM
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I always love it when this thread gets a bump. You did such a terrific job.

Staceyneil, is the fan the Broan 744?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Hi writersblock-
yes, that looks like the one we used. We've been happy with it. Quiet, very visually unobtrusive. We have it on a timer.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:30AM
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    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:54AM
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Stacyneil, can I ask what you think of the vintage-dresser-as-vanity now that your daughter's been using it for a while? any problems with the drawers, or with cracking or chipping paint? I'm thinking of doing something similar, but most contractors have balked at the idea, and other posters here have raised concerns about the shellac on old furniture not standing up well to the heat and moisture of a bathroom.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:14AM
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bump, hopimg to catch stacyneil's eye!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 12:16AM
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I haven't even gotten through your post or pictures, but I just had to say I'm so excited to see a bathroom with the exact same layout and small size as mine! I'm completely stymied as how to get more room without stealing it from the bedroom next to it, so I'm eager to see your changes.

The only difference is my door swings open towards the toilet instead of towards the vanity. And we have the same teeny vanity, but a regular radiator where your heat register is, so that cuts down on the depth of the vanity we can have. Where you moved your door to, I have a linen closet outside the bathroom, and I don't know if I'm prepared to give that up!

Love the marble mosaic tile you used.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:17PM
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oops, on second glance, the layout isn't exactly the same. My door is currently on the same wall as the vanity. just to the right side of the wall, closer to the toilet.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:22PM
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Are you still happy with the "epoxy" grouts and using white? I am considering it, and my aunt thinks that is the worst thing I could do (put white grout in a shower area). Any tips on keeping it white?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Stacyneil, this thread has popped up again via a GW BR link and I'm just amazed at your families knowledge and work! Wonderful.

I wish to ask if your original 1956 bathroom was wall tiles over cement? Many baths were done like that at that time. If so, how hard was the demolition? I have been advised it's tres difficile, although anything is possible if so desired. My old 1946 baths are classic black and white in pretty good shape (tile over cement) but the half bath needs fixing. Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:30PM
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