The first floor bathroom is finally underway! We’ve been in our Chicago home nearly 6 years and the last ‘untouched’ room in the house is in the midst of being renovated. Our contractors are hard at work, and they’ve made made a ton of progress already, so we need to catch you up!
We worked with a local designer (who also helped with our second floor bathroom) for architectural drawings, space planning, and code-compliance help. We knew right away that we’d need to reconfigure the space, and we feel much safer drafting up plans with someone who is an expert in this area. It also ensures that the vision that we had in our heads matched up with what was realistic, comfortable and safe.
We knew the existing floorplan, above, would never allow for more shower space than the old phone-booth-sized corner unit, so the layout had to change. Because we’ve been noodling on this renovation for, oh, 6 years(!), it was an easy decision at this point to steal a few feet of space from our little indoor workshop. Several options were discussed, but we ended up sticking with our gut and narrowing it down to the two below. The first layout represents the current (now former) floorplan, and option 1 and 2 are simple variations on a theme. You can see that the only real difference between 1 and 2 is the placement of the vanity and toilet:
Current Layout | Option 1 | Option 2
In order to keep the future glass shower wall from being blocked by the vanity, option 2 was selected (after also nixing a handful of other ideas and theories), and we were off and running! The new layout allows for a full size walk-in shower and swaps the locations of the toilet and vanity from what we had previously, and we’ll be adding a number of elements that will greatly improve the form and function of the room.
Transom + Stone
One of the changes we’re most excited about? The addition of a frosted transom window along the back shower wall! The workshop has an exterior window that is much larger than that of the bathroom, so the design will allow light to pass from one room to the other without sacrificing privacy. At the base of the transom, we’ll integrate a solid stone ledge that will provide the perfect perch for a couple of small potted plants.
That same stone from the transom ledge will also continue throughout the shower and above the toilet in the form of a narrow ledge for art (and likely more plants). We’ll also be adding a board & batten treatment to the bottom half of the room as well as multiple different lighting options that will improve on the previous scenario – which was nothing more than the dim light integrated into the bathroom vent fan, ha!
Above, you can see the elevation of the ‘wet’ wall, which also backs up to the sink wall in the kitchen. Hopefully this gives a great visual of how this will turn out in the end. A happy surprise that was brought to our attention on demo day was that with a couple of small HVAC duct changes, we were able to completely remove the existing soffit that spanned the length of the room! This will not only raise the ceiling height above the sink and toilet by almost 18″, but it will also allow the transom window to span the entire width of the room. This discovery also provides enough height above the recessed medicine cabinet mirror for an additional light fixture, which makes us so, so happy. It was a very pleasant surprise!
The window wall elevation (below, left) will see one small change in that the shower niche will no longer be located on the back wall of the shower. Since the wall is exterior, there was no safe way to integrate it into the space without comprimising the insulation and integrity of the wall, or without creating an additional bumpout that would cut further into the shower space. We ultimately decided that the niche will now be located directly under the shower controls on the ‘wet’ wall.
The elevation that faces the door (middle) will remain the same with the exception of the elimination of the recessed medicine cabinet flanking the door. Initially, we thought we might need some additional storage, but the mirrored medicine cabinet and vanity should handle our needs nicely.
The elevation showing the back wall of the workshop (far right) will see the vent in the upper right hand corner shift to a floor vent directly below where it sits currently. Again, this will allow the transom to span the entire width of the room!
We drew a LOT of inspiration from Dabito at Old Brand New! Dabito tends to work with a much bolder color palette than we do (we’re scaredy cats tbh), but we love the continuation of the flooring into the shower and the ledge that unifies the main space and shower space. Our layout will end up nearly identical to Dabito’s (including sconce placement above the toilet), with one slight change – the center stack of our home runs direclty behind the vanity mirror, so in order to recess the vanity, we’ll run the ledge ‘bump-out’ vertically above the sink as well. This will allow for a recessed medicine cabinet and draw the eye toward the newly raised ceiling. As the renovation progresses in the bathroom, we think this will make more sense.
Throughout the design process, we referenced Dabito’s bathroom more times than we can count. It was so helpful to see a similarly sized space with a near-identical layout. When we were in doubt, we turned to Dabito!
Week 1 Progress
The current view of the bathroom is juuust a touch different than where we started. (You know, just a wee bit.) The wall that seperates the space from the workshop is gone, and all of the plumbing that it housed has now been relocated:
The flooring surfaces in our home are often not quite level (read: very, very unlevel), and the bathroom was no exception. Over the years, multiple layers of flooring and subfloor had been stacked on top of each other, resulting in a few inches of lost ceiling height! The construction team will sister in some extra joists to correct the uneven floor and bring things back to nice and level – at least, as close as possible. #oldhousecharm
Whle we had the wall opened up, we made the decision to replace the old window that never stayed open quite properly. We usually try to ‘future-proof’ our home and replace and upgrade things like windows, electrical and plumbing while the walls are open in order to avoid costly repairs down the road. This type of work is much easier and cleaner than doing it after all of your finishes are in place.
The First Obstacle
Another example of ‘future-proofing’ that we weren’t planning on was the discovery that our main plumbing stack was corroded and in need of replacement. While the wall was open, the project took an extra day and a half and ended up increasing our renovation bottom line by 5-10%. Oof.Had the job become necessary down the road, it would have involved destroying existing finish work and would likely have cost double or even triple what it did when the access was free and clear of obstacles. With this upgrade, we can now state that all of the plumbing in our entire home has been upgraded. Yay?!
While the down and dirty guts of the room are fun to share, the mood board is what will likely give a better idea of what the finished product will look like. (Hint: there’s pink. And flowers.) Stay tuned for more progress updates and a few spoilers of things to come!