Andrew knew exactly what he wanted for his bathroom – a luxurious retreat where he could relax and unwind. But with the bathroom’s small footprint and awkward layout, he wasn’t sure how to make it work. So Andrew handed off his wishlist to Scott McGillivray and his team, and let them take the lead on turning his spa vision into a reality.
A soft palette of watery greys was the perfect choice for creating a serene and calming environment. “Since Andrew wanted this room to feel like an escape, we looked to hotel-style for inspiration,” says designer Jacqueline Kay. With the relaxing palette and luxurious features, taking a shower in this bathroom is like taking a mini vacation.
“Neutral color palettes are great for longevity and return on investment, but you never want a space to feel boring,” says Scott. At the same time, you have to be cautious about being too trendy. “We decided on a custom tile pattern in the chosen colors to add a little personality.” A simple geometric shape adds contrast, but because the colors are neutral it’s still a safe investment.
A bowling alley shape presented some unique challenges in this room. “The shape of the room made a tub virtually impossible, but since there’s already one elsewhere in the house it wasn’t a problem,” says Scott. “We let it go and instead focused on making the most out of the shower.” That meant adding custom features such as a tiled bench, custom niche, rain shower and steam vent. Andrew was pleased with the results. “I wanted this space to feel luxurious so I was happy to do away with the tub and spend a little extra money making the shower exactly the way I wanted.”
Since the bathroom is only 94 square feet and doesn’t have a window, some clever solutions were needed to make it feel more open and airy. Using light colors was key in making the space feel bigger, but so were the additions of the curbless shower, linear drain, and glass shower enclosure. “Eliminating a shower curb means eliminating visual clutter,” says Scott. “Even though it’s small it makes the space feel cleaner and more open.” Same goes for the linear drain. It disappears into the tile and contributes to the spacious feeling.
Andrew wanted a luxurious retreat but he didn’t want to go broke in order to get it. His dream was to have a full steam shower but a steam generator was not in the budget. Instead he opted to bring the glass shower enclosure all the way to the ceiling and include a swiveling vent. The vent can be closed when he wants steam to accumulate, and opened when he doesn’t.
“Everything that you touch in your house should feel good,” says Scott, “so when choosing fixtures make sure they don’t just look good, but feel good too – for everyone.” While traditional knob handles require twisting and turning to use, lever handles like these ones are far friendlier to those with limited dexterity. With the likelihood of Andrew’s aging mother using it at some point in the future, lever handles were a simple choice, and just one of the many universal design principles featured throughout the space.
One thing Andrew’s bathroom ran the risk of lacking was storage. Shelving would ruin the clean look he was after, and the closet was reserved for the washer and dryer. So the team decided on a 42” wide vanity with plenty of interior storage. “One of my biggest pet peeves is vanities with no storage,” says Andrew “They’re just not practical.” This one can hold plenty of extra towels and toiletries. Above it he installed a 21”x32” mirror and two hanging pendants. While sconces are the more traditional option, pendants give the space a more 3-dimensional look. “You don’t always have to have everything attached to the walls” says Jacqueline. “Pulling the lights away creates a more robust look”. When installing vanity lights just remember that they should be beside the mirror rather than above it in order to eliminate shadows being cast on the face. If this isn’t possible due to size restrictions hang a fixture over the mirror but try to make sure it’s at least 75” to 80” above the floor.
Space saving tricks are a must in small rooms, and here Scott incorporated two of his favorites. “I love installing pocket doors in small bathrooms because they save so much floor space.” Because of the long, narrow shape of the room, the clearance needed for a regular door would have impacted the size and placement of the vanity – thus reducing the counter space and storage. “It was a no-brainer.” The other major space-saver was to put the washer and dryer in the closet. “You always want to tie into existing plumbing if you can, so the machines need to be close to the bathroom or kitchen.” The bathroom is usually preferable from a lifestyle and design perspective, and it was definitely Andrew’s first choice. “When and if I decide to rent this space it will most likely be to a single person or possibly a couple (because it’s a one-bedroom it can’t accommodate a family), so a laundry room with a lot of space isn’t necessary.”
For a complete list of construction and design materials, services, and trades used in Andrew’s bathroom please visit the source guide.
1. Essex Mini-Pendant, DVI Lighting / Paint: OverExposed – P5243-24, Para 2. Vale Mirror, Renwil 3. Ditra-Heat Floor Warming & programmable touchscreen thermostat, Schluter Systems 4. Purist widespread bathroom sink faucet, Kohler 5. Décor Accessories and Bath Products, Homesense 6. Jute Vanity, Kohler/Emco 7. Rainshower Head and Handshower Kit with Purist Valve Trim, Kohler 8. Glass Shower Enclosure with Steam Vent, Timeless Glass and Mirror 9. Tile, Ceragres / Trendline Tile Profiles, Schluter 10. Kerdi-Line Linear floor drain, Schluter 11. Persuade Circ comfort dual flush toilet, Kohler.
The planning stage is arguably the most important part of any renovation. Remember, If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.