The Evolution + Challenges Of Our Main Bathroom Renovation

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Often in the process of remodeling a room, I start with one design vision and then that vision pivots a number of times before the end result. I thought we might dive a little deeper into that, and walk through one of the best examples…our master bathroom.

This is the vision I had for our bathroom. I created this mood board to show to my very visual husband (like seriously he can’t envision a thing until I literally show it to him in a picture). I’m going to cover how I create mood boards in a few posts so check back!

I still love this bathroom design. Black hexagon tile has been big for a while now and I loved this elongated update to it (I learned that is called picket fence tile!). The floor to ceiling tile was chosen to accentuate the tall ceilings and make the room feel bigger and brighter. We wanted a curbless shower and I love these gridded fixed shower panels. I also love the two mirrored design over vanities.

This was how I dreamed up our perfect master bathroom.

This was the bathroom before and the things we knew we wanted to change about it that lead to the design above.

Changes We Wanted to Make:

  • Tear down the water closet walls – there were three doors within a few feet of space making it very crowded and hard to move around. The water closet also cut majorly into the space. Removing the walls would open the space and eliminate one of the doors.
  • Widen the main door & Install Barn Door – The current door was only a 24″ door so we planned to widen it and install a barn door which would also eliminate a second swinging door.
  • Tear down the wall between the shower and tub – The wall between the shower and tub was floor to ceiling and tiled in. There was no light in the shower, and the light from the window was blocked by the wall. So we knew at minimum we would take it to a half wall, but ideal was to take it all the way out.
  • Replace the soaking tub with a freestanding tub and move the plumbing to one of the main walls.
  • Replace the mirror with two single mirrors.
  • Replace the 72″ vanity with something a little smaller.
  • Update the light fixtures.
  • Replace the small short toilet with a comfort height option.
  • Tile the floor and possibly the walls.

So with our plan and vision in place we began to work. Demo came first. The walls came down, the fixtures came out along with the old tiling. When we tore out the vanity we found a huge spot of water damage and black mold behind it, so that had to be repaired, and at that point we had to pause to consider plumbing placement and a few other challenges popped up.


  • There wasn’t enough room to place the tub in the same direction as the old tub if we put a permanent glass panel where the previous shower entry was. It would only leave a very small space to squeeze by the tub to get into the shower. That meant we either had to place the tub kitty cornered, or flush against the vanity wall.
  • With the tub in those positions it meant we had a smaller area to work with for a new vanity. We ultimately decided the tub needed to go flush against the vanity wall to allow the maximum amount of space to enter the shower, which only left 58″ for a vanity.
  • There are not many vanity options smaller than 60″ but bigger than 48″, and even fewer in that range that house two sinks. So we had to make a decision about whether to fight for two sinks or go down to one. We made the decision that a large amount of counter space was more important than two sinks. 100% do not regret this decision.
  • Changing to a single sink, 48″ vanity meant the existing plumbing would need to be moved to fit.
  • The vanity light was then not centered to the new vanity so that light box also had to be moved.
  • Once we began to cut the subfloor to create the shower we realized we could not lower the floor enough to create a curbless shower – unless we wanted to bring in an engineer to sign off on cutting the floor trusses – which we did not. So we had to go with a curb. We made the curb and shower footprint as large as we could for the space since it would no longer be open.
  • Because we put in a curb, we realized we would not be able to just do a fixed glass panel, but instead would have to fully enclose the shower to prevent water from splashing outside of the curb and not having a place to drain into. This was by far our most expensive issue. We had to have a custom shower enclosure made.

Most of these challenges were small, but the custom shower enclosure cost us over $1000 more. I am going to discuss the cost breakdown in a separate post, but that was a major learning experience that I will not forget on future projects. During the renovation process we also took our 10 year anniversary trip to Bali and I came back with a light fixture I had found for an unbelievable price, busted luggage from carrying it all the way back, and a load of new inspiration for our bathroom. This is where the design took a big pivot that wasn’t necessarily related to logistical or structural issues.

I felt like the design needed some warm. It needed a little more dimension. I wanted to work in some vintage feeling but with a slight nod to the island style we had loved on our trip. We needed to make the space more of a reflection of us and our style. So it morphed.

I got our new light fixture in place, pulled in some vintage art given to us by my husband’s grandmother – I sat them on the window sill to provide a constant reminder of the mood I was going for.

Up till that point I was having a horrible time finding a vanity I loved. All of them were just too basic. Too overdone. Not the right wood tone. So many things, until one day I finally found THE one. It’s nod to vintage style was perfect. The hint of mid century modern style fit with the rest of our house. And it checked a lot of the boxes I had. Once it was in place I knew we were headed in the right direction.

Here is what we ended up with. It’s not totally finished. We are still planning to install wood toned crown molding, add a linen cabinet over the toilet, and we still have to re-case the main door and install the new outlets. But it turned out beautifully and sooo much better than I had originally designed it.

By the way the owl lamp is just a temporary place holder. It has since been replaced. Art has been hung and some other finishes have happened, but alas, I STILL have not gotten the other half of these pulls replaced. One day at a time.

The moral of this story is to go with your gut. To purchase things that you truly love, even as they evolve and change in a project. Understand that every project has its challenges and that may mean major design changes. It is all part of the fun. Finding solutions, and pulling it all together for a unique vision that even you couldn’t have seen from the beginning. This friends, is why the addiction is so real when it comes to home renovations.

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