Red House Remodeling Blog

August 22, 2013

Project Profile: Master Bath Transformation – From Bland Beginning to Elegant End

People choose to remodel for several reasons, most typically because they want the space to look nicer. That was the case with this family who decided to stay in their home and invest in making it attractive and enjoyable.  While we had worked with the family on some minor home improvement projects, we were extra excited to work with them on their first major remodeling project.

Before
These before pictures (above) show a very typical 1990s West Des Moines master bath with golden oak vanity, laminate countertop with drop-in sinks, smallish fiberglass shower, large jetted tub, and square floor tile. While not very inspiring compared to the myriad of finishes available today, they were completely acceptable when the home was built. This space, you’ll see, has lots of potential.

A Pull-and-Replace Project
Because the homeowners were fine with the size and layout of the master bath, the remodel is what we consider a pull-and-replace project. In a pull-and-replace remodel everything in the space is removed and replaced with new in basically the same place. While that sounds fairly simple, there is still considerable planning and design that goes into this type of project along with lots of details to sort out. The homeowners worked with a Red House Remodeling project designer to select and coordinate every finish (flooring; vanity; vanity options; countertop; sinks; plumbing fixtures for the sinks, tub and shower; shower doors and options; tile and tile layout for the shower, tub deck and skirt, and vanity backsplash; toilet; paint; cabinet hardware).

Planning
Our project designer incorporated the selections into detailed drawings so the homeowners were comfortable with how the room would come together. Once the homeowners signed off on the drawings, they became the construction documents for the remodeling specialists, tile installer, plumber and electrician.

You’ll see papers taped to the wall in some pictures below … that’s not temporary décor, it’s the installation details for every fixture and finish item in the room. From where to set the toilet, to how to lay out the tile, to how high to hang the light fixtures, anyone who works on this room knows to refer to these documents for instructions. Careful planning reduces the number of questions and eliminates errors.

Day 1 – Protect & Demolish
At the start of every project we set up and install dust protection to minimize the amount of dust and debris throughout the rest of the home. Once dust protection was in place, we demo’d the bath. Not demolished, exactly, but removed everything from the room creating a blank slate. This pictures show the bath after everything had been removed and hauled away: the vanity, countertop, sinks, faucets, mirror, light fixtures, base trim, tile floor and underlayment, shower doors, shower surround, shower valve and fixtures, the tub, tub deck and surround, the partial wall between the tub and shower and the toilet. There’s not even any mess! (wink)

Day 2 – Plumbing & Electric
Our blank slate needed plumbing and electrical work before we could begin putting it back together. Our plumber replaced the shower mixing valves with new valves, and moved the shower arm approximately four inches so that it’s at a more comfortable height for the homeowners. He also installed a new tub valve.

Our electrician relocated the electrical that was in the tub/shower and installed an additional outlet near the vanity. He also modified the height of the light boxes above the vanity to accommodate the dimensions of the new light fixtures and custom mirrors. You can see in the drawing shown above that the placement of the light boxes and outlet are clearly marked for the electrician.

Days 3 & 4 – Framing
On Days 3 & 4 of the bath remodel we reframed the tub deck for the new tub. We also built a half wall between the tub and shower, replaced some framing in the shower, and framed the shower seat. Originally, a 10″ thick wall separated the tub and shower. By replacing this wall with a half wall and glass enclosure, we were able to enlarge the shower and let in more light.

Days 5 & 6 – Drywall
Wall work! Obviously part of the existing drywall was damaged during the demo, and we completely removed the cement board around the shower. On Days 5 & 6 we taped, mudded, sanded, finished and textured all walls and ceilings to paint ready condition. While this was happening, our plumber was working on setting the shower drain.

Day 7 – Building the Shower
To start the day, we poured a sloped mortar bed shower pan with a new drain assembly. Beneath the mortar bed is a waterproof membrane that extends up the walls and over the corner seat. This membrane is an extra step that insures the shower doesn’t leak. The shower walls are made of special moisture proof cement board. All joints are taped and the entire shower is coated with a moisture barrier.

Days 8 & 9 – Tile
Days 8 & 9 of the project included lots of tile work. Once all the prep work was done, we laid 12”x24” tile in an offset pattern on the floor. The homeowners chose to have us install bull-nose wall base throughout the bathroom, instead of wood base trim, which is a great choice in bathrooms.

In the shower, we installed 2”x2” travertine tiles on the floor and up one wall. The other surfaces in the shower were tiled with 12”x24” tile in an offset pattern to match the tile used on the tub deck and floor. The document above was provided to the tile installer so that he knew exactly how the tile should look. Once the tile was complete, we were able to do the final measure for the shower doors and panels, which were custom built for the shower.

Day 10 – Grout
All that tile needs grout, and overnight dry time. The travertine will be sealed in three days per manufacturers instructions.

Day 11 – Tub Installation
The homeowners chose to replace their jetted tub, and today the new Kohler Devonshire soaker tub was placed. The tub has the Kohler Kelston roman tub filler and trim set, which were partially installed at the time of this picture.

Day 12 – Cabinets
It’s time for cabinets! We installed cherry cabinetry that has a coffee finish with a black glaze. You’ll notice that the new vanity design includes additional vertical storage with convenient roll-out trays. The vertical cabinetry also provides a visual divider between the vanity and toilet. Day 12 also saw various other trim work.

Day 13 – Countertop Measure
The cabinets were measured for granite counter tops that will be installed in five business days. Why the wait? The countertops are manufactured, from the granite slab the homeowners chose, to fit the space precisely. While waiting for the countertops, the homeowners painted the bathroom. And, I’m guessing, enjoyed not having anyone from our team at their house for a few days!

Day 18 – Countertops Arrive
The granite countertops with under mount sinks were installed. Looking good!

Day 19 – Backsplash & Fixtures
Once the countertops were on, the backsplash for the vanity was installed. The accent tile used for the backsplash (and tub surround) incorporates travertine pieces that coordinate with the 2″x2″ travertine used in the shower. The light and plumbing fixtures were also installed. You’ll notice the fixtures for the sinks and tub match.

Day 20 – The End Is Here!
Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for! It’s the final day of the project and the glass company installed the shower panels and the vanity mirrors. We framed the mirrors with trim from the cabinet company that matches the vanity.

After installing the bath accessories (towel bars, etc.) we cleaned up and moved out. Time for the homeowners to enjoy their beautiful new master bath.

2 Comments

  1. Lynn A May 20, 2014

    This pretty much looks like my current master bath. We are looking to update ours as well. Could you tell me if the shower head is located on an outside wall? Ours is currently on the wall between the shower and the tub. I’d like to move it to the other wall but I’m concerned having it on the outside wall. We are in Oregon, so it doesn’t get too cold here. Finally, do you know the base dimensions of the bathroom? Thanks for your help and for sharing!

    • steph.trannel
      steph.trannel June 17, 2014

      My sincere apologies for not seeing this sooner! The shower head in this project is not located on an outside wall, though we do occasionally do that. The dimensions of the bath are 111″ x 129″. The 129″ wall is the width (the shower/tub wall or the vanity/toilet wall). Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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