Completed small bath reno

jw34October 13, 2012

GW has been a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas for those of us doing renovations; it is *so* helpful to see choices and end results. So, in that spirit, photos of a small bath renovation....

It wasn't possible to expand the 5'x9' room or really to do much with the layout. Adding a window was at the top of my list along with replacing the sad and tired mid-80s builder grade cabinetry, tile, mirror.

I didn't set out to do B&W, but did fall in love with the Crossville Bluestone 'Pennsylvania Blue' tile; alas, by the time this project finally got off the ground, it was not available and I had to chose something else, last minute. The new tile, somewhat darker, sorta pushed me into a B&W scheme.

I like a modern, unfussy look so opted for a simple tile pattern, no decorative borders etc, simple chrome fixtures. The small room seemed to dictate a minimalist approach.

The whole project took too long (contractor and I are no longer speaking -- don't ask!) and cost too much but, in the end, is a nice improvement. Thank you all for your knowledge and advice!


- tile: Daltile City View 'Urban Evening' 12x12; shower floor is Daltile Continental Slate 'Asian Black' 3x3 (no mosaic for the City View)

- vanity top, sill: Absolute Black granite

- vanity: Kraftmaid, in 'Canvas' color, purchased via eBay

- sink: Kohler Ladena

- faucet: Grohe Essence

- medicine cabinet: Kohler (Although framed mirrors are lovely, I went with a traditional mirrored medicine cabinet because there just isn't enough storage.)

- vanity light: George Kovac

- shower trim: Grohe Atrio

- shower doors: custom (local glass shop), Starphire, Hydroshield; these were ridiculously expensive but I didn't want to use sliders as the top 'bar' would partially block the window

- fan: Panasonic FV-11VH2 WhisperWarm

- toilet: Toto Aquia III

- wall color: BM 'Silver Mist' (a pale blue/gray)

ugh, before; (blue tape marks approximate window position):

Wanted to use 12x24 tiles but larger sizes require more carefully prepared floor, i.e cost more; so finally went with 12x12. This photo shows the old floor with 12x24 marked in tape and the original (unavailable) Crossville tile.

In progress, window installed:


Vanity, sink, faucet, medicine chest, light:

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So nice!!! Love the look of your shower! I am not usually a fan of windows in the tub or shower walls, but really like how yours "works" in your bathroom.

Our MB has a similar color scheme; greyed-blue walls, black, and white. Our vanity is the reverse, white sinktop, black vanity, and we have a white tub with white tile on the tub surround, but the effect is the same. I find it to be very soothing and spa-like in look and feel, as I am sure you probably do as well. Enjoy!!!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Thx, cat_mom -- in this case the only outside wall is that shower wall. I actually thought about doing an 'interior' window, a glass pane of some sort, perhaps clerestory into the adjoining bedroom but I was persuaded that moisture from the shower wouldn't be a problem with a quality vinyl window. (I guess time will tell but I sure hope that was good advice.) The house is positioned in such a way that privacy wasn't an issue and I love the clear glass, looking at the sky while showering in the sunlight. I now wonder why I waited so long to add a window!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Wow! This looks really nice! How big did your shower end up being? It looks really large. I have a bathroom about that size and you are giving me some really good ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:44AM
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petuniablossom: The shower is 5'x3', spanning the width of the room. It is almost exactly the same size as the old one-piece fiberglass tub/shower it replaced, but does appear bigger, I think because the clear glass doors are so much visually 'lighter' than those old brass sliders. FYI, the vanity is 36".

It would have been nice to expand the room but there wasn't any way to do so without taking space from the adjoining rooms which aren't all that big to begin with -- it's a small house!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:50AM
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It's beautiful and elegant! I think you made optimum use of the space; to me, a medicine cabinet is a no-brainer when you don't have oodles of storage, and it looks great too. The window in the shower transforms the room, and it sounds like it will make you happy every day. Way to go!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Very sleek - well done!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 1:26PM
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It looks really great!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 2:32PM
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It's stunning! I love your tile, granite and especially the window! Nicely done, enjoy.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Wow, that looks so much better now. Great job! The glass on the shower really makes it look bigger, I think it was money well spent. I bet you walk in there and smile when you walk by, just like I do :-)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:17PM
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Gorgeous! I really like it. Does your window crank out?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Amazing job! Could you tell me about the shower head? What is it? Cost? And is it a separate hand shower?? Thx

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Great looking bathroom, congratulations!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Thanks for all the does make me smile when I pass by.

The awning window, from Matthews Bros., does open -- a little extra ventilation never hurts. For those interested, we used a single piece of granite for the sill but bullnose to trim the side and top of the window opening.

The shower head is from Symmons as is the handshower. The showerhead is of the 'rain' variety, that is, it produces a gentle stream; the handshower is more forceful. As to why Symmons, therein lies a tale. If you've priced any of these bath trinkets you know that the valves and trim can be quite expensive. I'd read of Symmons on GW and the reputation seemed quite good on the quality/cost/value scale, if perhaps not quite as stylish as other oft-mentioned manufacturers. So I ordered a complete Symmons trim kit -- only to find when it came time to install that the somewhat awkwardly designed diverter value required a wall 6" deep to mount properly, instead of the typical household 4". The plumber speculated that as Symmons is typically used in commercial installations, where 6" is the norm, the design failed to take into account the typical narrower house construction. So...a big mistake on my part. I retreated to the more typical (and much more expensive) Grohe values and trim but kept the Symmons showerhead and handshower since I already had them. I see that HD lists the showerhead online for $99.

There's a pressure-balanced Grohe valve (Grohe 19 724) and a diverter (Grohe 19 166) that selects either the main or handshower. I chose to use a combo supply/mount (Grohe 28 629) for the hand shower, that is, the wall outlet is also the mounting bracket for the handshower.

I purchased the tile and partially used Symmons from HD online, the vanity from eBay and everything else from; the selection and prices are very good, with prompt service. They even replaced at no cost my toilet tank when it was discovered to be cracked some 2.5 months after it arrived. (This project took forever...)

Hope this info helps.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Really nice. The window adds so much.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Love what you did - looks fabulous ~ ! Love your choice of tile, toilet [we went with Toto Drake....] and sink. Is the shower floor tiled? If so, how did the tile get finished off around the drain. Would love to see a pic of that. We're finishing remodel, and I'm not liking how our drain sets with the tile. Don't know if that's 'standard' - will be discussing with contractor.
Yout shower wall tiles also look like there's no 'lippage' issues. Lucky you ~~ :)
Enjoy - you did a great job...!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:16AM
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Really nice. The window is definitely the ultimate 'accent strip' : ) With that beautiful view and sunlight, who needs to see a different kind of tile?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:06PM
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Thanks so much for the shower head answer. Could I ask a silly question? When I shop for a rain shower head and hand shower what else do I need to purchase?? Are the combo ones like Hansgrohe offer a good value? (I know they aren't cheap but getting a combo do you save a little rather than purchasing separately?? I hope these questions make sense because I am a real newbie and I'm trying to educate myself. Thx.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:38PM
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anajane: Yes, the shower floor is tiled; I think the tile man simply (well it was probably complicated!) cut the tile to fit around the drain -- you can see this in the photo below.

twingle: The business of picking shower components is somewhat complicated in part because there are *so* many options. I am far from an expert but perhaps my experience will help a little. First one learns that there are two basic parts - the 'rough-in' valves, which are buried in the wall, and then the trim kits, the visible knobs, handles and decorative plates. These generally have to be matched within a single manufacturer, that is, you can't use Grohe valves with Hansgrohe trim or vice versa. One nice thing about shopping at faucetdirect is that the website does a pretty good job of explaining what you need to go with what. For example, if you look at my pressure balance trim, you'll see that it notes you also need to order the matching rough-in valve.

For the main control value you have to decide between pressure-balanced and temperature balanced -- at least as I understand it, those are the choices. Pressure balanced means that the 'knob' adjusts the temperature but the pressure is constant; the valve is built in such a way that even if someone flushes a toilet elsewhere in the house, you won't get scalded. A temperature-balanced valve typically has 2 knobs, one for pressure and one for temperature; with this kind of valve, you can leave the temperature control at your preferred setting, ready for your next shower. Temperature controlled valves are (generally) more expensive than pressure-balanced.

On top of that, you need to decide how to configure the shower itself and again there are many options. Perhaps the simplest is to use a single handheld shower that mounts on an adjustable bar, functioning as a fixed showerhead when mounted, or a handshower when removed. If you choose to have a separate fixed showerhead and handshower you'll need a diverter valve to switch the water between them; again there are various options, depending on whether you want to use both at the same time or not. You'll also need a 'wall supply elbow' -- the pipe that connects to the handshower and some way to fasten the handshower to the wall.

Most manufacturers seem to have complete packages of various options; for example, I found this Grohe trim set complete with temperature-balanced, diverter, showerhead, elbow, handshower hose and handshower (whew!). (Don't forget the rough-in valves too!)

You can see these things are quite expensive.

FWIW, as I noted above, I went with a simple pressure-balanced valve, a single diverter (meaning I can have water from the showerhead or handheld but not both at once) and a 'elbow' that also serves as the mounting for the handheld.

I don't know the Hansgrohe product line but here's a example of a trim set.

BTW, for the record, I have no affiliation with either Grohe or faucetdirect, just reporting my experiences. :)

Sorry to drone on so long...

Detail photo of shower floor, not quite complete at this point:

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:19PM
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jw34 - Re: shower drain tiling - is the drain set lower than the surrounding tile? Or is it flush with the cut tile?
Thx ~

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:58PM
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anajane: The drain is very slightly lower than the surface of the tile, perhaps 1/16". I hadn't particularly noticed this until I checked for you this morning.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:42AM
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Very nice. I'm getting the larger sized Ladena sinks also. Is the Kovacs light fixture LED?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Gina: The light uses Xenon bulbs; comes in various sizes, see this link

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:16AM
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Great job, love the window, and the overall look and feel. Who needs bigger when small looks this good!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:32AM
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It is great to see an elegant example of what I think of as a "realistic" sized bathroom. We are downsizing in our new construction and trying to make it just what we need and no more, so this is very helpful. You did a great job! It is harder than it looks to keep things simple!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:17AM
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I love this. So much so that I'm rethinking my own choices now. :) Can I ask how long your vanity is and the measurement between the shower glass and the end of the vanity? My room is a little shorter and I'm wondering if I can get away with this layout without it feeling too crammed. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:53PM
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vitaminjd: Glad you are finding the photos useful.

The vanity is a std 36", with a 3" filler strip against the wall (to allow for opening the door). That is actually a mistake, it was supposed to be only a 1" filler strip but the contractor goofed....sigh....

From the glass to the edge of the granite measures 33". The granite overhangs the vanity by 3/4". Down low, the granite sill extends past the glass by 2 1/2 inches so the 'foot clearance' is a bit less.

I think there are std code requirements for the space around the toilet but I don't know any details.

Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Great idea to have a horizontal window. My parents had a 'regular' vertical window in their's, and it leaked something awful. This would at least keep most of the water from hitting it while getting the light. I will be filing your idea in my 'future idea folder.'

Great job with your bathroom. It looks amazing.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:30PM
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Great. Thanks so much for the info! Two more questions, if you don't mind...

Do you think the shower would still work without the door? We've been thinking that we might just have a walk in with an opening and no door. Do you think you'd have water everywhere if you didn't have one?

And can you tell me about what was used for the built in shower shelf? Is this some kind of pre-fab insert or is it done with tile.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 1:16AM
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vitmainjd: No door? Well, it might depends I think on how wide your shower will be, how vigorous the showerhead spray is. My 'rain' showerhead doesn't splash as far as the door; of course there's some splash as one moves around. And if you're using a handheld, well....all bets are off.

As for the niche, it was built by the tile man with edges and shelves of the same granite as the shower curb and vanity top (Absolute Blank). A piece of granite was also used for the window ledge but the window sides and top are bullnose tile cut to fit.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:12AM
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vitmainjd: (pushed send a bit too quickly...)

My thought is that you'll be unhappy w/o a door in a shower only 5' wide; there'll be too much water on the floor.

FWIW, my door is 29" wide.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:15AM
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vitaminjd: Since you asked about the's a better photo

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 12:13PM
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