My post Master Bathroom Remodel Part 1 covers how Chris and I came up with our plan to convert our small half bath into a full master bathroom, and how we found a great contractor.
This posting picks up where the fun really starts – the actual remodel process. We were going to cut a huge hole in the roof of our 1920’s house and add a dormer for a full master bathroom. So when I say “fun,” I mean the homeowner’s version of skydiving, rollercoaster, point-of-no-return fun.
But other than possibly destroying the look of the house if things went sideways, we really didn’t have much to lose. The tiny half bath, which was actually a converted closet, would not be missed.
The master bathroom remodel finally begins!
Once I met the project lead, Bruce, I knew we were going to be okay. He knew his stuff, and his easygoing manner had no doubt brought many nervous homeowners down from their ledges.
Every morning, he and his crew would come upstairs and work in the hole they had cut in our roof.
Every evening, I would come home from work and check out the progress. I would enjoy the view from the new hole and brainstorm on finish materials with Chris.
Chris came up with some great ideas: a cathedral ceiling, an in-floor heating system. He also wanted a separate shower and tub, an idea I loved because that meant we could get a free-standing claw foot tub.
Choosing our finish materials and fixtures
Our goal was to use materials and moldings that were similar to what we had elsewhere in our house. We wanted the new master bath to blend into the original design.
A claw foot tub
Claw foot tubs were more commonly used in houses older than ours, but they were still sometimes used in the 1920’s, so we felt that it was a safe choice.
We didn’t like the look of the reproduction claw foot tubs. After much hunting, we found an old one at a savage shop in surprisingly good original condition and at a great price. We bought it on the spot, hurried home, and Chris jumped in his truck to pick it up before they accidentally sold it again to someone else!
Carrara marble flooring and countertops
We loved the clean and timeless look of Carrara marble. We’d seen it in remodels of other older homes.
There were so many Carrara marble flooring options. Some of them, like the mosaic marble tiles, were so gorgeous. But with the amount of flooring we needed, that was little cost-prohibitive so we went with simple 12 X 12 marble floor tiles.
We got the sink vanity from Pottery Barn and it came with its own Carrara countertop. But we had to have a marble countertop custom cut for the little vanity desk.
We were lucky to find the little wainscoted vanity on closeout at Pottery Barn for under $800. It included a Carrara marble countertop and a sink.
Subway tile in the shower stall
There was white subway tile in our main floor bathroom. So we used subway tile in the new shower stall with a black marble liner tile to add interest. The marble liner is in a classic Greek-inspired pattern that was popular in the 1920’s.
Nickel finish fixtures
We liked the warm glow of nickel over other finishes that might be popular at the moment but later would go out of style. We decided to keep it classic and go with nickel finish towel bars, faucets, and light fixtures.
We considered using subway tile as wainscoting for the walls, like we have in our main floor bathroom. But for this remodel, that would have been a heck of a lot of tile – maybe to the point of overkill. So we opted for beadboard wainscoting, still very much in keeping with a 1920’s house.
Hexagonal glass cabinet knobs
These are pretty common and still widely available. But they look nice with white cabinetry and they were used in the house’s original built-in cabinets.
Wood framed leaded glass windows
The original leaded glass windows in the house are of course single-paned and the new bathroom window would be double-paned. It’s difficult if not impossible to get double-paned leaded glass windows.
So we had to find a work-around. We ordered plain wood-framed double-paned windows. Then we had strips of leading added over the glass by an artist who specializes in stained glass windows. The windows were then framed with molding that matched the original windows.
On either side of the footprint of the new dormer, we had little sloping areas that followed the original roofline. We wanted to put these little spaces to work.
So we decided to tuck a linen closet in on one side,
a vanity desk on the other.
They would be very specific sizes and had to be custom built. Bruce worked with a cabinet-maker who built them with inset drawers to match the original built-ins elsewhere in the house.
Once the dormer was built, it was time to match it with the original stucco siding. We didn’t want to use stucco panels on the dormer, knowing the texture wouldn’t quite match that of the house. Bruce found a contractor who specialized in real old-world stucco to come and work his magic.
Cost Cutting Measures
Besides our bargain finds – the clawfoot tub and the vanity, we did a few other things to save money:
- Chris did the demo work himself, saving around $1,000.
- We did the interior painting ourselves.
- We hired our own electrician. He had done great work for us before and he charged a reasonable rate.
In Part 3, we take a closer look at some of the fun little details of our master bathroom remodel.
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