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Tiny primary bathroom reno help

last month

I tried. I really tried to love this. It’s vintage! Charming! “Cinderella tub” - what a cute name! Nope. Nope. Nope.

The only good thing is that I’m the only one who uses it as hubs uses his own bathroom upstairs.

Problems - it’s tiny, I hate the layout, no storage, but I love relaxing in a tub. While there’s a tub in the hall bathroom - something about walking to that tub instead of bathing in the primary takes away the relaxing “Calgon, take me away” experience. Yeah, I’m oldish.

Would you gut, lose the tub, get over it, and just use the hall one? Is there something I’m missing here that I could do? I don’t want to take away space from the primary bedroom as the symmetry makes the room and home beautiful.

The dream - but I think it’s only possible if I win Powerball - is to take some space from the outdoor terrace - which I thought I’d use all the time. I don’t - and when I do - I just need a small space to read and have coffee.

Ideas?

Comments (74)

  • last month

    Find a bold wallpaper that you love with the colors. Probably a floral to match the vintage look. Find a vanity that you can paint to match a color from the wallpaper. Get a larger mirror and some sconces with more light capability. And towels, towels, towels. And a fluffy robe.


    Everything is so hard in there right now, it's needs softening to be a comforting refuge. You don't have to gut it - you just need to help it welcome you.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Looking at the floor plan, I wonder, could you steal 3-4’ from the bedroom, you’d still have plenty of room in the bedroom, and extend the sink area that direction? Perhaps you could keep the window, depends on how you position the sink, You’d have a nice vanity space then, wouldn’t disrupt the plumbing too much. I was imagining the sink and vanity along the new wall, backing up to the bedroom, but I’m not sure the plumbing would allow that.

    If you move the door over, further from the tub, then the tub is a little more private.

    Unfortunately, you would lose the tile on that side, and it’s pretty, and probably not salvageable.

    Maybe something like this, and where the old sink was, have freestanding or built-in storage to cover up the old plumbing holes. I’d kinda want to keep the soap niches, just because!


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  • last month

    Basic bones are very much art deco. What went wrong is the floral wall paper border, the towel bar by the toilet and both of the medicine cabinets. I would either replace those items, leaning hard into art deco style (with an art deco style print on the wall next to the toilet and complementary shower curtain?) or gut it.

    ?? is if the shower is water tight? Mold & caulk makes that questionable. You could clean that up & cap off the shower and be good for the next 30 years. And remove the shower curtain rod.


  • last month

    People seem real nervous about some simple mildew in the corner— this is clearly a well-maintained home built with quality materials, so the likelihood of “mold” (outside of a basement) would be exceedingly low.

    Bpath’s idea is interesting, practical, minimally disruptive, and would definitely solve a few of your problems if willing to give up a window and some sq ft in the bedroom.

  • last month

    Thanks Everyone!

    @ptreckel Thanks! Love the wallpaper and will visit the retro renovation site. I hadn’t thought of wallpaper as that border turned me off! But that wallpaper isn’t that! lol.

    @ Connecticut Yankeeeee Thanks again for the kind words. It’s interesting to see how others perceive this bathroom!

  • last month

    @P.D, Schlitz and @bpath - There is something about the symmetry of the master bedroom that was so calming to me that I was looking for other ways than to take a window away from the bedroom. The front windows face a national park, the back window and door to terrace face the back yard - photo above. I can rethink that though.

  • last month

    Oh - here’s the old listing photo that shows the wall shared by the bedroom and to left of the sink.

  • last month

    People seem real nervous about some simple mildew in the corner

    Hardly. I'm saying that the presence of fungi growing in an 84 year old bathroom warrants further investigation for signs that the shower is leaking (as well as all of the other behind the walls & under the floor plumbing).


  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Oh, that is a charming bedroom! I hear you. So, here was another thought. I extended the bathroom only deep enough for a vanity on the wall backing up to the bedroom. Then, to maintain symmetry, the two closets are combined into one walk-in, more of a ”step-in“ I think judging from guessed measurements. Basically, that closet by the balcony door absorbs the other. You can lay out the interior in a variety of ways to work for the two of you. (Oh, the bathroom door is where it was before, but hinge it on the other side, by the bedroom door.)

    Edit: darn, I just saw the air return vent by the closets. Well, maybe it can be moved over a bit?

  • last month

    I adore your beautiful vanity in your bedroom! GORGEOUS! (So much for my suggestion that you get one! Or, should I say…”great minds?”). Your bedroom is stunning. Love it!

  • last month

    @ci_lantro Yeah. I’ve dismissed the terrace as a potential new bathroom space - using any of it. “Pipe dream” - pun intended? Haha

    And @kendrah - think you’re right about how much reno work is worth taking on when it’s hard to find time just to take a shower! And @bpath this may be useless but here’s a photo of some old architectural drawings we found! I attached the relevant one here. I’m not home but I recall that the window in the primary bedroom that is shared with the bathroom wall near the sink is practically right at that wall - almost like the window is trim
    Is on the wall or just inches away - so if you move that shared wall into the bedroom, you’ve narrowed the window. Maybe you can see it if you zoom into that corner? Hope I’m explaining that correctly.

    It does seem like most of you think this can be a very aesthetically pleasing, inviting, more functional bathroom without breaking the bank? Assuming to @ci_lantro’s point that there’s no major issues. (Don’t think there is but would check).

  • last month

    “Pipe dream” - I appreciate your humor.


    Use just a sliver of the money you would spend on a bathroom renovation for weekly massages from now long in to the future. Serious Calgon moment.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Wow! What a gorgeous house and yard. I peeked at the real estate listing and was surprised the house was built in 1941. I thought is was an 1800 ish one. I would keep the tile and the cast iron tub. Nothing keeps the water warmer than cast iron.

    What could solve the door issue. Can't do a pocket door because of the electricity in that wall.

    Could it be made to swing out into the hallway?

    How about a French door?



    You could wallpaper in the time (ivy, flowers, fruit).




    Or you could go with an Art Deco look:




  • last month

    Dunno if this makes sense but could you squeeze a vanity in if you moved the door to the bathroom towards the tub? Not sure what the code requirements are but if you moved the door and maybe made it a pocket door you could squeeze a vanity in against the shared wall to the bedroom in the alcove where the sink is currently located.

  • last month

    Also Elcieg love that strawberry wallpaper!

  • PRO
    last month
    last modified: last month

    what if you exchanged out a few elements and bumbed up the look? would that suffice?

    new bulbs so that the tile looks white instead of yellow.

    how about a diff console vanity?


    I like these because they give you some countertop space. a full vanity might not fit there, but this would. you could bring in some baskets to place under the sink for other storage.

    or find a vintage table to put to the left

    they did use them back in the day.


    You could have something like this custom made to fit. (notice the white light. no yellow)


    diff art deco lights?


    I like the gold w/the red tones. and this wallpaper mentioned above is perfect! Even if you just do the toilet area and tub surround. paint the other parts white.


    the marble console in the brass/gold looks great too. you could also upgrade your mirror to something a little longer, (c-photo above)

    don't forge tteh faucet too.


    maybe one of these glass shelves for storage?


    or one w/the lower shelf


    these built-ins were very common in the 40's


    diff color I know, but love how they did the ceiling! you could do that burg color on the ceiling with that wall paper. (have them color match it) and get a new ceiling light




    If you're tired of the floor, you could do some other vintage looking tile.


  • last month

    Love these ideas. So I think I could live with this. I go back and forth on the yellow. It’s not a “yellow-yellow” more of a creamy yellow. Would a white be too stark or could I maw that yellow work? @Beth H - that marble brass gold vanity and ceiling photos are beautiful. This allows me to imagine a marriage of vintage charm with something a luxurious look - not one or the other.

    @elcieg - that wallpaper!

    @Beth Perot I can look into moving that door and what that entails!

    I’m excited and what this can become now! Thanks Houzzers! And weekly massages - @kendrah - don’t have to think about that one! 😄

  • last month

    Oops. Could I *MAKE” that yellow work. Sorry!

  • PRO
    last month

    if going w/that marble console and gold, i'd choose more of a white.


    try Simply white by BM,,,its a neutral that leans a bit warmer. but there are plenty of others to try.

    Aren't the tiles white? or an off white? but not yellow,

  • last month

    @Beth H hmmmm. If I didn’t think hard about it I’d call the tile color an evaporated milk color.

  • last month

    If you update the sink console, use one of the two dark burgundy papers posted and paint the ceiling the background color of the wallpaper, you would have a dream Deco bathroom. It’s too perfect to rip out.

    I’ll help buy the lifetime Calgon supply!

  • last month

    @RedRyder - got you in writing! 😉Thanks for the idea!

  • last month

    Thoughts on this? Or more like something LIKE this? Marble top. Handsome. Hidden storage. I think the only things I’d want to see are a candle, one bud flower vase, pretty perfume bottle or two, and attractive soap/lotion pair. Could paint. I’m still rapidly blinking re: the price though - but this was from my initial Google search.

    https://www.frontgate.com/regency-bow-front-36-single-bath-vanity/1695356

  • last month

    1941? I can see that. So much like my grandparents’ house finished in 1947, vanity, cinderella tub, balcony over porch. I know the next owners expanded the bedroom over the porch, so I’m sure they expanded the bath and closet-dressing room. Kept the fireplace in the original bedroom for a sitting and reading room!

  • last month

    These are closer to some of Beth’s ideas - freestanding console sink on legs. Way less money than that regency vanity.

  • last month

    Or get an unfinished vanity in the right size and style, and custom paint it -either to match the “condensed milk” tiles, or the color of the future wallpaper.

  • last month

    I suggest that you buy a vanity and paint it a color that pleases you. However, I also suggest that you put the original sink in the basement or attic so that some later owner could use it if they wished. Alternatively, offer that sink for sale--people redoing vintage houses are on the lookout for such fixtures.

  • last month

    Have you thought about making a skirt for your sink and having a small shelf or bin beneath it? The skirt could be of a fabric that matches your wallpaper or compliments it. Or even in a cream fabric with burgundy trim to match your tiles..The small towel/washcloth bar on the right side of the sink is, I believe , removable. The skirt could be adhered using Velcro.

  • last month

    Thanks @ptreckel! That’s a great idea. And the great suggestions I’ve received make me think I can get a beautiful and functional bathroom. The photo Beth H posted shows the towel bar like I have at my sink. Not sure if it’s removal or not. If it is I like that idea of the skirt - softens things up and hides the storage. The one area I’m struggling with is the wall around the toilet. I like the mirror there only because it reflects a beautiful tree outside that window. I like looking at that when I’m at the sink. Not a “must” just nice. I do feel that area could be much better utilized - that old cabinet would go.

  • last month

    I see where the towel rod is attached to your wall. Mine was attached above the legs, between the sink and the leg, on both sides. You could make a skirt fit around the support coming off the leg. Perhaps a tailored, flat skirt with pleats at the angled corner of the sink. That way any gathers wouldn’t interfere with using the rod for towels and a wash cloth. Just a thought. Your tile is in beautiful condition! ❤️

  • 26 days ago

    I’m back! Anyone have any thoughts as to whether the tub area could be made into a steam shower? That would check almost - if not every box. Did some preliminary research - have to enclose it, tile the ceiling, pros/cons etc. I have seen some Cinderella tubs enclosed but that may be a minor to-do - given everything that may have to be done. Pipe dream? 😬

  • PRO
    26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    it's more than just tiling the ceiling. it requires more plumbing and extensive water proofing. Also floor to ceiling doors that just about seal shut. Retrofitting what's there to a steam shower, I don't believe can be done. I could be wrong, so call in a steam shower professional. don't be shocked at the price. If you have the cash, anything can be done!

  • 25 days ago

    Thank you @Beth H. Yes, I’ll definitely have the input of a pro. Cash?? Money?? Buckeroos? Details, details…🤣🤣. Thanks again for those great ideas above.

  • 25 days ago

    Steam showers need beyond just waterproofing; you're getting into vapor proofing territory. You need to know what perm rating that you need for a steam shower (in your case, occasional use residential steam shower). That likely means that the tile has to go and the new build will start from the studs.


  • 25 days ago

    @ci_lantro Thank you. Any idea if this means the Cinderella tub has to go or any tub? I’d like to have a tub. And the “new build” means the entire bathroom or just that tub/shower area. I’ll seek a pro of course - just wanted to get an initial sense whether it was even possible. But like Beth H says - ca-Ching!!

  • PRO
    24 days ago

    ceebee, it would prob be cheaper and less hassle to 'add on' to that space and make a steam shower from scratch! (I mean, as long as we're burning hundys ;) trying to retrofit one in that room would be a money pit.

  • 24 days ago

    Thanks @Beth H. I’m beginning to think you’re right. “Cheaper” and “less hassle” sound pretty good. 😜

  • 12 days ago

    If anyone is still around…😬. Pro poo-pooed (no pun intended 😀) the steam shower bathroom idea - the tight space offers no room to place and hide the mechanicals needed. As most of you suggested - he recommended expanding storage space at vanity, toilet area, and reglazing the tub. A steam shower can go in the upstairs bathroom or he suggested putting in a dry sauna in the basement where I have my gym. BUT THEN - I had one more idea I forgot to ask - if measurements work - could I switch the placement of the sink and toilet - giving me the natural light from the sink and not having to see the toilet immediately upon entry?? Thanks again!

  • 12 days ago

    Would you have enough clearance room with the door for the toilet? Measure how far it sticks out from the wall to the lip of the seat. Do you want to see the toilet immediately on entry? Do you know how your joists run in the floor? Where is your vent for the toilet? These are things that need to be figured out for that move. I do think that good lighting will make up for the lack of light at the sink area. And…you will be able to keep your floors, the wall tile, the tile accessory pieces in place. Yes…I am still around because I love your existing bathroom and hope it can be made to “work” for you!

  • 12 days ago

    @ptreckel - Thank you! I’ll check the measurements and know nothing about the joists nor vent - yet! Hmmm. I think more improved lighting at the current sink area would help for sure - but the view from that window is so pretty with the east facing morning sun it seems wasted by the toilet - which I rather not see from the entry. Not a big thing just a lil annoying aesthetically. Thank you for the kind comment about the current state of the bathroom!

  • 12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    "he suggested putting in a dry sauna in the basement where I have my gym"

    There is no such thing as a 'dry sauna'. This is one of many common misunderstandings of sauna in America.

    Sauna by definition has considerable steam, either from throwing water on the stones to create bursts of steam in a Finnish sauna or via a constant drip in a bio-sauna.

    If you do put in a sauna then learn a bit more about it, especially if you want to gain any workout/recovery benefits.

    Trumpkins Sauna Notes and the book 'Secrets of Finnish Sauna Design' are the two better references in English.

  • 12 days ago

    I love your bathroom and the many ideas that others have posted. Your bathroom would also be beautiful if you added molding to the walls above the tile. I’d suggest removing all of the towel bars (with the exception of course the one on your vanity) and add three hooks instead to the wall left of vanity (behind door).

  • 12 days ago

    You could also do this pink color above tile with the molding. Here’s a similar style but with a black and white tile.

  • 12 days ago

    This is a pretty color scheme using your existing tile colors.

  • 12 days ago

    Oooh Emily. Thanks for the ideas. The molding (moulding??) makes the bathroom look so Parisian. Like the color scheme. Just found this - not quite?

  • 12 days ago

    Good thought, but not quite . If it were me I’d want to use real molding, not wallpaper for the look.

  • 11 days ago

    Thanks @Emily. Yeah - something was missing - just wasn’t sure what.

  • 11 days ago

    @Cee Bee - Keep in mind your tile comes up very high so there is less wall space for moulding. I don’t think it will add anything to your particular bathroom.

    Wallpaper will do the trick. We just need to find the perfect wallpaper for you!

  • 10 days ago

    Thanks @RedRyder! I’m sure we will! Thoughts about the toilet/sink switch?

  • 10 days ago

    I wouldn’t do it. Messing with the layout can end up ruining the tiles (which are irreplaceable). I think you’re bathroom is Fabulous Retro and we should LEAN IN!

    I’m scouring Art Deco wallpaper sites. Maybe Spoonflower has something interesting we can use in this amazing bathroom.