Our small house is tight on bathrooms, and when we moved in we knew we would do a master bath remodel. A master bathroom remodel was really necessary because the existing bathroom had been gutted to the studs.
Our en suite bathroom is tiny by today’s standards, but we’re pretty sure that when the house was built, our master bath was the cat’s meow. I mean seriously, it was pretty rare to have any sort of bedroom attached bathroom in a home like ours.
Anyway, we’ve lived with the new master bathroom for over a year now, and are still really happy with it!
Today I’m sharing our master bathroom before and after and spilling all the bathroom design ideas we considered, including our sleek walk in shower and one trick we used to maximize the shower space. Read on for the details.
Master Bath Remodel: Demo
As shocking as it sounds, we bought our house with a gutted master bath. Yep, the bathroom finishes were gone and just the studs, sub floor, vanity and toilet were remaining. We knew about a bit of water damage in that bathroom based on some staining under the sub floor, but we confirmed with our inspector and bathroom contractor that there were no structural issues. It was all just cosmetic.
Having the bathroom gutted by the precious owners saved us some demo cost. There was very little labor involved in the demo, and very few materials to dispose of.
The biggest portion of demo for this project was the water heater vent running right through our future walk in shower. Here’s a pic for context:
The water heater vent is the silver pipe running up the left corner of the photo.
After a ton of back and forth on our master bathroom design, we decided it was worth the splurge to replace our existing water heater with a direct vent water heater. That allowed us to eliminate the water heater vent running through the walk in shower and maximize our shower space. We were even able to sell our other water heater on Craigs List for about $200 and buffer some of the new unit’s cost.
Did I mention this bathroom is small?? Our main goal with this remodel was to make our small bathroom space suuuuper efficient and functional. And I think we achieved just that. Check out the master bath after remodel:
Master Bath Remodel: Walk in Shower
With the bathroom demo complete, we moved on to choosing our master bath finishes. We knew we wanted to keep the finishes light and classic, and our biggest debate was between a tiled walk in shower and a shower insert.
After multiple remodel quotes to compare the pros and cons of getting a tiled shower vs an insert, we found the cost difference between the two was really non-existent. Here’s why:
- The shower insert costs more, but requires less labor.
- Tiling a shower is labor intensive, but depending on your tile selection, the materials usually cost less.
Unfortunately, we were kind of hoping the shower insert cost much less than a tile shower, because that would make our decision easy. We are budget conscious people, after all!
When we found out that the costs would be similar, we started looking at other factors to help us decide.
We ultimately went with a clean tiled shower. Here’s the why;
First: the aesthetics. Our bathroom contractor was truly an artist with tile, and we knew the tiled walk in shower would give us a beautiful spa look.
Second: the size. A bathroom shower insert cuts into the size of a shower a bit more than tile. We are talking inches here, but since it’s a small space, it was a worthwhile consideration.
We also thought about the durability of tile versus an insert. There isn’t a huge difference between the two. Tile, installed properly, lasts a very long time. The same goes for inserts. They are built really well and made to last.
One thing our contractor told us about shower inserts was interesting. Rental properties generally choose shower inserts. Tile requires a bit more upkeep, so inserts are a cost-effective remodel option.
In addition, shower inserts are quicker to install, so it interferes less with 1) ability to maximize your rental profit between remodel and 2) your tenants time and privacy. So, if you are considering shower options for a rental, definitely consider a shower insert.
Master Bath Shower Tile
One of my favorite parts of the bathroom remodel was choosing the tile. And there were so many things to choose! We ended up picking five tiles for our space including:
- Main shower tile
- Shower feature wall tile
- Shower floor tile
- Shower entry tile
- Bathroom floor tile
Main Shower Tile
Let’s start with the main shower tile. We chose a large classic white subway tile for the shower, tiling vertically instead of horizontally. The shower tile goes all the way up to the ceiling to add the perception of height to the space. The white subway tile was contrasted with a grey grout to make the tile stand out.
Practically speaking, grey grout is a good alternative to white grout. We have white grout in our other (original) bathroom and it is much harder to keep clean. In fact, it tends to look dirty even when it’s clean. Grey is the way y’all.
Shower Feature Walls
For the shower feature walls, we added a waterfall tile pattern on two of the shower walls. We went back and forth on the tile choice for the feature. We chose a long, grey marble mosaic tile to help make the shower appear taller.
Our marble mosaic tile was also a bit less expensive to install than the grey marble penny round tile we were considering. The rectangle mosaic required less cuts (which means less labor cost!). We put the marble penny round tile on the shower floor instead, so we got the best of both worlds.
Recessed Shower Niche
We also installed a shower niche on the wall opposite the shower head. The walk in shower niche is amazing because it holds all our shampoo, conditioner and soaps. It is a large shower niche, and let me tell you: it is in charge!
This is the most functional shower niche I’ve ever seen because of its generous size and depth (it is tall enough to fit the massive salon style shampoo bottles). The shower niche was our contractor’s idea! The best part is that it’s recessed into the tile shower so it doesn’t take away from our precious shower space.
Shower Floor Tile
When choosing shower floor tile, our contractor encouraged us to choose a smaller tile because of the sloped shower floor design. You can’t tell when you are standing in it, but every shower has a slight slope down to the shower drain. Smaller tile is easier to shape into the slope. Makes sense, right?
We chose a grey marble waterfall design on the shower entry. The tile goes from the shower threshold all the way up the shower’s half wall. I love how it makes the shower entry flow.
Another design decision we chose was a doorless walk in shower. It sounds like a risky design choice, but it really wasn’t. We knew that if we lived with it for a while and decided we wanted to add a shower door, we could. But we really love it without!
Our main concern was water splashing and spraying out of the shower. But since our shower is deep, that hasn’t been an issue.
So why did we go doorless? Two big reasons: space and cleaning. The shower door’s swing would really make our bathroom space tight. And on top of that, a shower with no door allows the bathroom more air flow, which in turn reduces mold and mildew.
I have a mold allergy, so anything we can do to reduce that allergen is important. And last but not least: no shower door means one less glass surface to clean! I’m definitely not upset about that.
Bathroom Floor Tile
Our last tile selection was the bathroom floor tile. We debated between a dark grey and light grey tile. Here you can see our two choices laid side by side with our subway tile and shower floor tile (in a larger pattern than what we ultimately chose):
We ultimately chose the darker grey tile to make our walk in shower tile really pop. We’re really happy with the choice.
We laid the floor tile horizontally to draw your eye towards the shower. It also saved us a few cuts (and again, labor cost) and we’re really happy with the decision.
We also put bathroom floor tile as our baseboards in the bathroom, and our finished the edge off with a really nice grouted angle. The tile is a better option than typical baseboard because it is more mold and mildew resistant. The perfect choice for a bathroom!
Master Bath Finishes
With the tile installed, the rest of the finishes were ready to move in. Our vanity was a prefabricated Home Depot vanity, and we still really love it. It’s a white vanity with marble top, but the sink is a white porcelain material. The sink is deep and slopes well to the drain, which I love. It helps the sink stay nice and clean.
I had no idea that there were MULTIPLE toilet feature to consider whens electing a toilet. My goodness! I couldn’t even tell you why we specifically chose the toilet we did, but my husband really drove that decision. And we are still pleased with our selection.
We went with a pretty classic shower fixture set from Home Depot. It has about 8 different shower head settings that we never change. But we really like it.
We first chose brushed finishes only to return them for stainless steel. I’m happy we did the swap because I think the bathroom fixtures give us a little extra bling factor. It is a master bath, after all.
Master Bath Remodel Budget
At the end of the day, remodeling a bathroom isn’t cheap. We put about ten grand into finishing this bathroom, and we were pretty economical with our tile and finish selections. The biggest cost for our project was the plumbing (namely, moving the water heater vent and installing a new water heater).
Could we have saved costs on this project? Sure. We could have saved by doing some or all of it ourselves. However, tiling and plumbing are not in our wheelhouse of skill sets. And frankly, when it comes to plumbing projects, we leave it to the experts.
However, if you have a built ins project, we will gladly jump right in! In fact, the amount of money we saved by doing our own built ins around the fireplace totally make up for the money we spent in our master bath remodel.
Now back to you. What are your must haves in a bathroom? Tell me in the comments.