I often see the phrase “Throwback Thursday” on social media. And since this blog began its practice of regular postings on Wednesdays, I’m going to use the term “Way Back When Wednesday.” So, grab a seat because I want to take you on a little trip down memory lane with me.
Sometimes my opportunity to work with a customer begins with the very first telephone conversation. Nancy called me in the autumn of 2009, right after she received my business card from a previous customer. Nancy and her husband, Ray, had contemplated remodeling their full bathroom for some time. But they had no clue as to how to begin this remodel journey. Although Nancy didn’t consider herself a procrastinator, she did delay remodeling her master bath— even as she was redoing the other rooms in her condo. “It was one of the last rooms I tackled because I knew it needed the most work,” the Perrysburg, Ohio homeowner said.
It finally got to the point the homeowners could no longer stand the narrow linen closet, fluorescent lighting, unwieldy tub and acrylic wall surround, and turquoise color scheme. So, they requested my help in creating a spa-like retreat in their bathroom. Nancy had combed through countless magazines with beautiful, inspiring bathroom pictures with warm wood tones and calming, relaxing atmospheres. Nancy loved the earthy tones of brown and green hues. She desired more storage like the various magazine layouts offered. During this initial telephone conversation, I was intrigued. I wanted to meet Nancy and to see their existing bathroom. So, we scheduled a consultation appointment for me to visit her in their home.
Upon my arrival to the homeowner’s beautiful home, I saw that every room in their home had been updated, with the exception to this particular bathroom. As I was assessing the current bathroom situation, I immediately noticed that the color scheme, wallpaper, painted vanities, mirrors, and overhead lighting were outdated. The existing linen closet had narrow shelves and countless items and bottles were neatly lined up and stacked 10 deep. The only ambient illumination in this room came from an overhead soffit that housed florescent lighting. Everything in this room was an era long gone.
The bathtub/shower was no longer used for soaking or bathing, it was strictly used as a shower. That meant every time Nancy or Ray wanted to take a shower, they had to step over the acrylic rim and into the bathtub. As with anyone who attempts to step in and out of a bathtub, it can be an annoying hindrance especially when you become older. Nancy longed to replace the 3-piece acrylic wall surround with decorative tiles. We talked about the importance of installing a grab bar and providing a seat in the shower. We also discussed accessible design features: 34 ½”-high vanity versus 30 ½”-high, and changing the 15”-high toilet to the ADA height (18”-high). Nancy wanted to change her current door swing to a pocket door in the event one of the homeowners would need the ease of getting into and from this most used bathroom using a wheelchair or walker.
Limited by the existing plumbing— which couldn’t be changed without incurring lots of expense— the homeowners decided not to tinker with the overall configuration. But they were willing to have the soffit removed over the vanities. I also suggested we remove a portion of the wall between the vanities and toilet and install a partial wall topped off with glass blocks. This would still provide privacy, but yet allow light to enter the commode area and help ease the closed-in feeling.
Nancy showed me some pictures from magazines that she had been thumbing through. She described how she was drawn toward the Mission-style. She liked the oil-rubbed bronze color for all the plumbing fixtures. Last but not least, Nancy wanted to replace her integrated vanity sinks with under-mounted sinks.
After I returned to my desk, at Blue Creek Cabinet Company, I designed a new floorplan for the homeowners. I removed the narrow, built-in wall closet and replaced it with two tall linen cabinets. I placed them side-by-side to create the look of one cabinet. One of the tall cabinets would have five roll out trays so that the homeowners could easily retrieve and replace items. I then added a gorgeous Georgian pediment which would sit on top of both of the cabinets. I designed the linen cabinets with a flush toe kick so that the entire cabinet would stand out like a grand piece of furniture.
In my design, I used a warm hue on the walls. In fact, I planned to encourage the homeowners to have their new room painted with a suede technique that would produce the supple hand of brushed suede with a rich, authentic character. In my designs I used a stone vanity top with two under-mounted oval sinks. I used glass blocks on the top half of the partial wall that separated the vanities and toilet. This would help lighten up the space. I replaced the existing 2″ x 2″ ceramic floor tiles with 13″ x 13″ porcelain tiles.
Although my clients were unhappy with the complicity of the current door swing and had considered installing a pocket door, they discovered that this would require an unexpected expense, because it required tearing out an existing wall that affected another room. To reduce the cost, but provide them with a similar outcome, we decided to use the present door frame, but install a pair of narrow French doors. Both door panels would contain obscured tempered decorative glass. This would provide privacy without cutting off light transmission from the outside of the bathroom.
The homeowners were thrilled with the presentation of my design ideas. I wanted to update Nancy’s and Ray’s master bath with a soothing, neutral palette. The loved the all the samples: cabinet, countertop, sinks, faucets, tiles, paint, hardware, and paint. Being the room had no windows or other natural light, I suggested we use glass in the bathroom doors, the shower doors, and the toilet compartment wall. Because of the limited space between the shower and vanity, I recommended that we swing the shower door inward.
It took four weeks for the cabinetry to be manufactured and delivered. Then it took another 7-10 days for the makeover project to be completed. By looking at the “before” and “after” pictures, you can see that everything my clients had wished for, hoped for, and longed for had succeeded beyond their expectations.
“There’s just something about glass that is so clean and fresh and sparkling,” Nancy said. Nancy also remarked, “Now my husband can shave without the door hitting him when I exit the shower.” The homeowners were thrilled with their updated bathroom. “It definitely was worth the wait,” Nancy said.
Incidentally, Nancy liked my suggestion to have her walls and ceiling with the look of texture. So the homeowners hired my late son, Andrew Rose, to do the work. It can be an easy two-coat DIY project for anyone. Here’s how to do it: Get rolling: apply the first coat of paint using a fully saturated 9-inch finish roller. Roll randomly. (Note: you’re not trying to get the paint to look smooth. It should appear very uneven). Let dry for four hours. Round two: for the second coat, use a 3-inch flat paint brush and the same paint to make overlapping, 1-inch X’s on the entire surface, working in small sections.
When I wrapped up this beautiful bathroom, my next goal was to get this project published. The first step was to draft a great pitch. According to editors at some of the industry’s top magazines, websites, and blogs, how you present your work is as critical as the projects in your portfolio. I was over the moon when my work was selected! This beautiful room was published in the summer 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, Kitchen + Makeovers!