Bathroom renewalPublished on October 2, 2009

  • Removing an existing radiator and extending the bathroom into the hall created more space. Installing radiant heating under the floor added functional luxury. Creating a custom wall niche to display figurines is an innovative idea. Photo by Etienne Ranger.

  • A large wall-to-wall mirror over the vanity makes the room appear much more spacious. Dimmer switches for the pot lighting add ambience. Fan with convenient timer controls humidity. Photo by Markus Holmes.

  • Out with the ugly avocado tub and in with the new shiny white bath and bathwall. Regrouting and glazing renews existing floor tiles for a quick and easy update. Photo by Jane Whiting.

Ageing bathrooms need help. Whether it's customized work by an experienced professional, a handyman/do-it-yourself treatment or a quick make-over, the investment is always worthwhile.

Here, three relatively small bathrooms undergo a new look with remodelling solutions that range from high to low in terms of cost, time and domestic disruption!

Custom Reno - From ?Functional to Fabulous:

An early 1940s cottage-style home in the Island Park area oozes with character. But, after living in the house for 13 years the homeowners - a veteran real estate couple - got tired of sharing their small ensuite. It was time for separate bathrooms and that required a complete manly make-over of the cramped main bathroom. Choosing a reputable custom contractor, they gutted and expanded the area, replaced the tub with a fully-loaded, oversized shower and installed all new fixtures and plumbing. The extensive renovation work spread over three months and costs were in the $20-25,000 range.

Now, the luxurious new bathroom fits perfectly into the structural design and highlights the sloping ceilings. It even introduces a few unique and innovative features. Moving the door back into the hallway added approximately another 16 square feet to the bathroom and opened it up. This gave the homeowners the opportunity to indulge their love of art and have a custom niche created in the reclaimed wall space to slip in a boxed painting. It works so well, that another niche was made with a recessed marble shelf to display a few treasured figurines, plus a third one in the shower to hold toiletries. From the little touches to the big changes, the large open shower with full length glass doors is the crowning glory. Favouring a nature-inspired theme, it's completely encased in earth-toned porcelain tiles and teamed with a rain-shower faucet. A wide marble-covered seat, sturdy grab bar on the wall, and the low-maintenance tiles from Euro Ceramics all provide improved practicality. The smaller octagonal shaped tiles on the shower base are repeated on the bathroom floor for a seamless appeal. To complement the creamy-beige tiles, the walls are painted in a light olive toned "Timothy Straw" colour by Benjamin Moore. A white pedestal sink harmonizes with the bathroom's character style, and a low-flush white toilet, exhaust fan, new medicine cabinet and art deco light fixture complete the fabulous renovation.

The Do-it-Yourself Family Special - From Bland ?to Beautiful:

A young artistic couple living in a 30 year-old bungalow in Orleans have proudly completed a bland to beautiful bathroom renovation for around $5,000. Surprisingly, it's not impossible with a handy husband and his multi-talented, firefighter brother!

The efficient demolition was done by the off-duty firefighter who also installed a full new bathroom within an allotted one week of vacation time. Taking care of all the electrical, plumbing, drywall and tiling work, he transformed the main floor bathroom with the help of a four-piece Kohler bath and shower insert, a sleek two-flush Caroma toilet and a "Dark Espresso" vanity with a white-veined marble countertop.

Creativity was added by the couple who have a good eye for colour and detail. They opted for a strong and modern statement with brushed nickel faucets and shower fixtures, pot lights, a wall-to-wall vanity mirror, dark grey walls painted in SICO's "Peppery Taste" and large charcoal coloured porcelain floor tiles. The husband contributed to the finishing touches by applying base molding, as well as wood trim around the new window and bulk-head area to carefully blend the new lines.

Utilizing family skills, taking advantage of trade discounts and special orders from BMR, a locally-owned home improvement store, in addition to doing as much of the work themselves as possible, enabled the homeowners to invest more of their money into higher quality materials and finishes. Without making too many sacrifices, they were able to emulate a high-end look on a lower-end budget and kept the disruption time to a minimum.

The end result is a beautiful bathroom that not only looks like a million bucks, but the large wall-to-wall mirror over the vanity also makes it appear much more spacious.

The Quick Fix - From Old and Ugly to Shiny New:

With house-guests due to arrive in just over a month, a bathroom in a 35 year-old family home in east Ottawa needed a new bath in a hurry. The ugly, avocado tub had remained in the partly renovated bathroom because it was difficult to remove without causing expensive repair work to the original mini-floor tiles. But, something had to be done and the time and budget was limited. After obtaining similar quotes of around $3,000 from companies who specialize in the one-day bath installation over an existing bath, only one promised to install within the deadline date. With a 50 percent down-payment, they returned two days later to measure up. The shipping order consisted of a standard white bathtub in anti-bacterial acrylic and the six-inch-tile bathwall with a corner wall shelf, together with a towel bar, curved chrome rod and a new pressure-controlled chrome faucet set. Weeks later, the installation day was booked. It involved two guys working non-stop for eight long hours with a short visit from a plumber. After much measuring and sawing outside on the driveway to make the bathwall fit, everything was finished except for a missing pop-up drain, curtain rod screws and extra caulking. With no work on the weekend, they had to return the following Monday. After a thorough clean-up, the new bathtub was gloriously white and shiny - just hours before the guests appeared. Although this solution may not be the most inexpensive, the process was quick and effective with little inconvenience. Later on, the floor tiles were regrouted and glazed to conclude the easy bathroom update. ó Written by Jane Whiting

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