Renovation & Design

Remodel improves look, functionality

New shower stall design visually doubles bathroom

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

A dividing wall was removed to reveal the shower stall location, updated with a glass enclosure that elongates the entire space.

Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

Tiles were used throughout, and the matching mosaic along the shower base follows the gentle slope towards the centre drain.

The remodelling of an existing four-piece bathroom can often be a daunting task, especially when the services need to be relocated within the space.

Sometimes, however, the remodel only entails slight modifications that will greatly improve the room’s look and functionality.

This fairly large ensuite was truncated by a wall that separated the built-in tub and sink-vanity from the water-closet and tiny one-piece Fiberglas upright shower stall. A pocket door provided access to the shower, but the small quarters were not at all inviting. My clients wanted to upgrade their space — could the wall be removed to introduce a nicer shower?

After a lengthy discussion, it was determined the best solution was a shower stall design that, once the water-closet wall was removed, elongates the room to showcase its true depth at all times. This could be achieved by introducing a glass shower enclosure, set in place adjacent the existing tub frame and the far wall. The key would be to determine what size and type of shower stall enclosure would best suit the project, given the set dimensions between the tub and the wall, which were, unfortunately, not a standard width and depth — a custom-cut glass shower enclosure would be very pricey.

In addition to replacing the shower stall, the clients requested the old tub frame and floor be completely re-tiled. And because the floor would be stripped down to the subfloor, heated flooring was also endorsed. This got me thinking — because the tile was being removed from the tub frame, why not re-frame the tub to a specification that would allow for a pre-fab size of glass shower enclosure? After a bit of research, I came across a MAAX ModulR 36x36-inch corner glass shower enclosure that nearly satisfied every requirement for this project. It was now a matter of building out the tub frame in such a way that, once the drywall and tiling was completed on all walls, the glass unit would simply fit, exactly (well, within the plus or minus deemed by the installation instructions, which I studied closely before the preparation process began).

The new tub frame was completed, and the old tub Roman faucet was replaced before the closed in with drywall. The new shower drain was prepped, and the rough plumbing for the new shower column was set within the wall. Once the drywall was installed, the shower base was waterproofed and the heated floor coil was mapped along the entire bathroom floor, the tiling could begin. A beige marble-esque 24x12-inch tile was chosen for the entire project, other than a matching 2x2-inch mosaic tile used to follow the gentle slope to the drain in the shower base. Brushed nickel edging borders all visible outer tiled corners, which matches both the shower column and the MAAX glass shower enclosure hardware.

The installation of the corner glass shower unit was straightforward enough — the distance between the finished and tiled tub frame and the opposing shower column wall was exactly 36 inches (as planned), and fell on the outer limit of the installation allowance for the enclosure. Slight adjustments during the installation provide a snug fit between the static wall (adjacent the tub) and the shower door (which opens out and toward the water-closet tucked behind a small section of the old wall, kept for privacy on the other side of the existing vanity). A small custom gasket was fitted along the exposed edge of the tub frame and the static glass panel of the shower stall, to prevent water from finding its way into the gap. From within the shower stall, the corner glass enclosure is continuous from floor to near ceiling height, allowing for easy maintenance and cleaning.

By removing the wall and permanently revealing the shower area with a corner glass enclosure, the room seems to have doubled in size, even though it truly only gained about three feet of visible depth. The new tile and fixtures complete the facelift, worthy of the quartz vanity top that had been updated a short while ago. The clients’ vision has come to fruition, and I’m very happy the design came together as it did.


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