Renovation & Design

Sticking with what’s familiar goes a long way

No need to reinvent the wheel with this classy bathroom reno

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

A corner shower stall with rounded base and sliding glass shower door replaces the old unit, which was grungy and dated

The linen cabinet was ordered through and closely matches the new sink and vanity.

The new MOEN chrome shower faucet and head are mounted once the marble-esk porcelain tile was grouted.

All along, the homeowner had heeded my advice to reposition, reorient and enlarge the shower stall for an impending main floor bathroom remodel. During demolition, it soon became clear that our intended design layout may fall short of expectations. As such, a quick revisit of the design revealed that an enhancement of the existing may better suit. Luckily, this spontaneous decision did prove to be the best route to take.

When initially discussing the homeowner’s bathroom facelift desires, a few aspects of the remodel were essential; the floor would be stripped down to sub-floor and releveled to meet the hallway elevation, the toilet which was still in great condition was worthy of being recycled, and the placement of the sink and vanity would shift slightly towards the doorway to provide more space (possibly for storage) nearer to the shower stall area. Further suggestions included a replacement exhaust fan motor (as the old one had recently failed), new venetian blinds for the window above the toilet, an updated linen cabinet, a larger medicine cabinet with full mirror, new vanity light and a larger walk-in shower stall that would fill the entire back wall, in place of the existing corner shower stall which had an outdated look, and tiny door set on a 45-degree.

While performing the necessary demolition tasks, the existing rough plumbing for the sink and vanity was easily moved approximately 16 inches left of its original position. Once the old corner shower stall was disassembled and removed, as well as the pre-fab shower base, it became clear that the planned rectangular walk-in was ill-conceived. To orient the rectangular stall along the back wall, between the exterior wall and the build-out that houses the chimney stack, the existing plumbing would also need to shift into the exterior wall – although this is sometimes workable, it was not advisable in this instance. The house built prior to 1950 was never properly insulated with adequate vapour barrier – breaching the exterior wall to introduce plumbing may incur the potential for freezing pipes in future. And although creating a built-out cavity to house the plumbing was suggested, the length of the shower was already smaller than standard – a build-out would only shorten the stall even more. The volume of work clearly outweighed the resulting potential. As such, it was decided to install a new rounded corner shower stall, with full clear glass sliding door.

With the sub-floor recalibrated and rigid, the new rounded shower base was set into position and the drain tied-in to the existing plumbing below. The new shower valve was secured to the back wall before aqua board was affixed to the existing studs. The entire space was primed and painted once the areas that required a few coats of mud were sanded. The new vanity light was installed, as was the wall-mount medicine cabinet below it. The vinyl flooring was then completed, continued from the kitchen and hallway respectively, allowing for the toilet to be mounted as was the new sink and vanity. The sink drain and new MOEN faucet were then tied-into the rough plumbing and tested.

With two-thirds of the service amenities functional, the shower stall was then finished with a white porcelain marble-esk tile set on the horizontal, for better aesthetics. Once grouted, and shower base siliconed, the new MOEN shower faucet and head were installed and tested. The rounded shower door unit was then set atop the shower base, affixed to each wall, and sealed along every edge.

Although most of the amenities had been chosen “off-the-rack” for this project, the one item that eluded us was a tall and narrow white linen cabinet which would be placed on the far side of the vanity. Fortunately, while browsing through such items on the App, a sleek and stylish cabinet with workable dimensions was located for a very reasonable price. Moreover, nearly matched the shaker style cabinet doors of the newly installed sink vanity. Wayfair’s anticipated delivery date did not disappoint — the item would arrive during the last week of the project, a couple of days earlier than expected. Although it took a couple of hours to assemble the unit, the linen cabinet fit perfectly between the sink and chimney build-out, as intended.

The few remaining tasks took this project to the finish line; the vent cover was affixed along the back wall, the exhaust fan cover was mounted under the newly introduced motor and housing, the casings and baseboards were installed around the window and door, and along the floor respectively. And once the towel racks and toilet paper dispenser were affixed to the walls, the last task was mounting the white, two-inch PVC Venetian blinds, inset within the window cavity. Overall, quite a beautiful improvement.

Our intentions can sometimes blur the obvious — the location and orientation of the shower needed to stay the same. As long as there remains a willingness to accept that sometimes, things may not always work out as planned, the compromise can often be as fulfilling if not more fulfilling than the original design. In this case, the updated look throughout compliments so well the stylish curvature of the rounded glass shower door the corner shower stall. Everything about this bathroom is classy and enticing. And although the shower stall itself may not have gotten any bigger, the space as a whole surely looks as though it did.


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