A Stress Free Bathroom Renovation? Is It Even Possible?

The Bathroom.

The most hotly contested room in the house during the most stressful time of the day. For such a tiny room, it certainly creates a lot of strife. In a pinch, several people can use it while at other times ........ well.......it’s strictly off limits. You know what I mean.

On a daily basis, you convince yourself that demolishing the disaster you call a bathroom is the ideal solution for everyone. Then, you remember your last renovation and so begin the heart palpitations. You break out in a cold sweat simply imagining what a bathroom renovation would look like. The construction dust, the expense, the inconvenience……nooooooo!

You start thinking, maybe the existing bathroom isn’t so bad after all. It still works. Everyone can use it. You don't need to do anything. Plus you've got one thousand other things you need to worry about. 

That’s all well and good, but one day, you might just find yourself in the midst of a renovation. The scope will depend entirely on you. And so will the decision making process. 

Toronto design build home - exterior during build phase.jpeg

bathroom renovation - working with a team

If you’re building custom you need to start thinking and planning out the space. You’ve got three (3) options: the architect decides, the general contractor decides or you decide. Not building custom, but renovating?

Same options apply. Decisions are required. You’re familiar with the daily jockeying for position like it's the Indy 500 and you need to be in the pole position. Your voice is important. The architect will draw what he thinks you need. Your builder will recommend materials and finishes based on previous client experience. 

Have you had that all important conversation with the family to determine the 'must haves' and the 'nice to have'? 

bathroom renovation - working it out on paper

Custom build doesn't necessarily mean unlimited space. Unless you’re planning on building the rest of the house around the bathroom, you may find that bathroom size is sometimes sacrificed for the greater good of other rooms. How square footage is allocated really depends on your priorities and what's important to you. 

Existing bathroom? The space is what it is unless you plan on expanding. However, this doesn’t mean it needs to remain as dysfunctional as before. Before, you rip anything out only to realize you're now without a shower - get creative. Plan out a couple of options on paper.  Tech savvy? Hundred of online programs allow you to do that! 

In either case, you don’t always need more space.  Sometimes, you need to get creative with what’s available. 

Toronto design build home - architect drawings - family bathroom.jpeg

Ok, so this isn't exactly a free online program. These are the upper level architectural drawings for our custom build. A far cry from the original proposed floor plan. The client was insistent that the house meet their needs not the other way around. A good chunk of time was spent reviewing the drawings and suggesting alternatives.

bathroom renovation - working out the basics

The house was finally designed with 4.5 bathrooms; two en-suites, one family, one in the basement and one powder room.  The most talked about bathroom during the planning and design stage? The master en-suite? Nope. The ageing in place with walk in shower? Nope.

The family bathroom and the kids dominated the discussion.

Why? The client did not want two teenagers fighting over something as inconsequential as vanity counter space. Especially in a new home. A girly girl and a sporty brother got on famously well at the old house. That is until the makeup brushes and deodorant began to mix & mingle and then it was anyone's guess what might happen.

If they had to share a bathroom again, at least give each one their own space. The location, configuration and size was challenging. The builder was proposing and insisting on a traditional layout with a double vanity. Even on paper, this created a tight and clunky space. Then again, the client didn't want that.   

We proposed this set up right from the get go.

Toronto design build home - family bathroom with glass shower - design concept.jpeg

The client loved the concept. It took advantage of the entire space and respected the design brief - individual vanities, a shower and a free standing tub.  Unfortunately, we lost the battle for the herringbone pattern on the floor. Despite the 3D image, the client wasn't convinced.  Nonetheless, the end result was a successful interpretation of the design concept.

bathroom renovation - a layered look

With the room layout in place, it was time to start sourcing for materials and finishes. We spent one Sunday afternoon choosing a bathtub, toilets, water fixtures and vanities. I then spent weeks selecting tiles. Weeks? Yes – weeks!

It wasn’t about scouring the city for the best deals. Instead it was about sourcing tiles from different suppliers and creating a story for each bathroom. A mood, if you will. We wanted each bathroom to have a distinct personality yet still flow with the rest of the home.

The kid’s bathroom had a total of 5 – count ‘em…..5 different tiles + the shower jamb.

Toronto design build home - family bathroom finishes - tile.jpeg

Five sounds just a tad excessive - doesn't it? Well.....not really. If you're anything like me, you like to shop at different clothing stores.  You have your own style and like to express your individuality. I prefer not to be a walking/talking advertisement for one particular store or brand.  

I apply the same philosophy when sourcing materials for clients. Now you're wondering about the budget. How could you not? Despite using multiple suppliers and anywhere from 3-5 tile options in each  bathroom......drum roll please.......under budget for the builder’s overall tile allowance! Insert happy dance here.

Why mention the shower base jamb? I'm not a fan of pulling the tile all the way up the base. Depending on the tile size,  you get too many grout lines. It looks chaotic and unfinished and I really dislike that look. Finally, a jamb will lessen the probability of water leaks/issues in the future.   

Bathroom Renovation - a final word

Eight months earlier, Kalli George Interiors had helped this professional couple redesign their home for sale. When they bought a new house only to realize it was too small, they called us back to help them through the custom build process.

During the build, they continued to focus on their careers while Kalli George Interiors sweated out the details. The family bathroom was one of many experiences throughout the eight months it took to build this custom home.

Although the daily briefings have stopped, I still keep in touch. It's been 2 years; they've yet to tell me we should have done something different. 

Are we meant to work together? Let's talk and see if we're right for each other.