This bathroom renovation from interior designer Lori Pepe-Lunché is the most dramatic transformation to come our way in a long time. The dark, heavy, cavelike “before” is my idea of a bathroom nightmare. Even if this room were spic n’ span, it would feel unpleasant. Now that doesn’t mean a bathroom needs to be white and light to be appealing, but there’s just no denying that this is a vast improvement.
I love the open layout and the exposed, seamless shower design; not only does it make the room feel spacious and airy, but it also prevents any chance for clutter (which is my biggest obstacle in the bathroom). Make no mistake: a large renovation with marble tile is an investment. But results like these seem well worth it. Amazing work, Lori! — Kate
More images and basic steps after the jump . . .
Time: The renovation took about five weeks from start to finish. I had all of my materials (tile, plumbing fixtures, vanity, mirror) already purchased and ready to go. The only item that required an additional wait of about one week was the special-order window.
Basic Steps: To achieve the clean, calm, spa-like look, I kept the amount of materials used to a minimum: Carrara marble (tile and vanity), clear glass (as the shower partition), and white porcelain (for the toilet and sink). I purposely did not use any bull nose or trim on the tile edges; the tiles are 12″ x 12″, which actually give a smaller room the illusion of being larger. The only place I used 1″ x 1″ Carrara tiles is on the floor area of the shower to prevent it from being slippery. With two built-in cabinets (which are really disguised niches) behind the mirror and over the toilet, I was able to avoid bulky storage as well as avoid using a sink cabinet. This also keeps the lines clean, the floor completely open (even under the sink) and everything can get wet (even though it really does not)!
My advice for keeping costs down and keeping things simple is to try and use the current plumbing placement (as I did). It can be an extra $2,000 to move a waste pipe if you change the toilet placement, less for sink and shower fixtures. However, just changing plumbing placement can also add up to a week in labor. I would also suggest having all of your materials ready to go when construction starts. This eliminates any waiting period, and your project is completed much faster. Niches are a great source of newfound space. They eliminate the need for sometimes-unnecessary cabinetry and take advantage of lots of space that you might have in the walls in between the studs. Do as much as you can yourself (like creative cabinet doors). You can even do the demolition (as I did) yourself if you can devote a couple of nights and a weekend to it. It will certainly save some money. Lastly, choose your materials wisely.
There are many grades of Carrara marble tile and even porcelain tile. Make sure the tile you choose is strong, doesn’t chip at the drop of a hat, and is the color you are looking for. I would go see samples of the batch yourself to make sure it is exactly what you are looking for. The tile contractor you use is of equal importance, especially if you are planning to do a “wet room.” This requires an extensive knowledge of waterproofing, the materials that are specifically for your type of tile, and waterproofing techniques. Some tilers are well versed in the art of tiling and laying out the design, but are not so knowledgeable about the different reactions the waterproofing materials have with regular tile glues and mastic. This could ruin your whole project. — Lori
- 12″ x 12″ honed Carrara Marble tiles are from Import Tile in Berkeley
- 1″ x 1″ honed Carrara Marble tiles just in the direct shower area are from Import Tile in Berkeley
- Vanity Sink is from Signature Hardware (very high-quality vanities at one-third the price of any others)
- Manzanita Bronze Sconces are my own design
- Toilet is Toto
- Plumbing fixtures are all Grohe from e-faucets.com (great pricing and customer service)
- Window is by Bonelli
- Mirror above sink is used and my own DIY finish
- Door above toilet for hidden cabinet is painted plywood with mounted driftwood DIY
- Paint color is Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa Waterborne Interior Paint #2137-70