Maximizing Bathroom Space

Today I’m showing you a renovation we recently completed in my Mom’s house. As we showed you in a previous bathroom transformation, renovating a bathroom gives you the ideal opportunity to maximize the space you already have. Mom’s bathroom had never been updated in the 30 years she’s owned the house so it was high time for a reno. For us, it was just as important to make the sure the space was as functional for Mom as it was beautiful.

Mom didn’t want another beige coloured bathroom yet she was insistent on keeping the old beige bathtub which gave us a narrow focus on our tile selections.

Moms Reno 050_bof

I was happy with her decision: if something is still functional, I always try to keep it and work around it because it’s the sustainable thing to do!  Keeping the beige tub in mind, I managed to pull together a nice palette to make the bathroom look fresh.

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I was able to make the beige bathtub work by by finding a neutral floor tile in an off white with a slight streak of beige running through it. Although it reads more like a white, the slight streak of beige really ties in the old beige tub and pulls it all together.

Below you can see the floor tile against the field and accent tile we used for the tile surround. We’ll use the colour of the blue accent tile to paint the existing vanity, which was the only other original element of the bathroom, besides the tub, that we kept.

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Two inch tile for the shower floor is an ideal size to accommodate the curve of the floor toward the drain, but can I tell you how hard it was to find a decent variety of tiles in that size? At the 11th hour, we finally found a dark grey hexagon pattern which helps to ground the starkness of the light-toned tile on the floor and shower walls.

Tiles 001_shower floor


Here’s a closer look at the installed floor:

A tip that I gave you in my last bathroom makeover that I’ll give you again is to get rid of any bulkheads above the bathtub and shower areas. You can see how removing them really opens up the space!

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Here’s another before and after comparison of the bath area that demonstrates how much more expansive it looks without the bulkhead:

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A lighter colour scheme also helps make the bathroom appear larger. An important consideration in making a space appear larger is paint colour; a light colour is reflective and will help bounce light around the room.



Here’s how the paint looks up against the tile carried through to the shower area:

We chose a Benjamin Moore paint colour called Gray Cloud:

Gray Cloud

Another useful tip to open up the space if you have one of those ‘corner’ showers, is to knock down the back wall and go deep. Originally there was a tiny little cubicle of a shower stall; Mom was in real trouble if she dropped the soap! Below you can see that we removed the original back wall and made it flush to the wall of the tub. We also opened up a ‘window’ between the shower and tub to let the light flood in (which will be fitted out with glass when the shower door gets installed).

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Increasing the size of the shower allowed us to add a bench seat for Mom (and of course a grab bar to help her get up!)

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It also allowed us to fit in a rain shower head as well as a hand held sprayer too.

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A nice finishing detail is a shower niche to hold soap and shampoo. Its a huge improvement over the metal soap dish that was originally there! Which would you rather have?

C_Shower Niche

One thing to note is that we have started to replace all the light bulbs in Mom’s house with LEDs and the bathroom is no exception. It will save her a substantial amount of money on energy costs! We updated the light over her vanity with a new modern one.

Speaking of the vanity, it is still a work in progress. We kept the original one because it was sized to fit perfectly into the alcove and was in good condition. We plan to paint it blue to pull in the tile surround on the bathtub and the hardware will be replaced with a more modern silver metal pull to coordinate with the new light fixture. The holidays have a habit of putting finishing touches like that on hold! UPDATE: the vanity is finally painted; click here to see the transformation!


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Here’s a before and after comparison of the vanity area with updated with new mirror, lighting, quartz countertop, sink and faucet.


Happily, Mom wasn’t as attached to the beige toilet as she was to the bathtub. Both technology and looks have come a long way in the last 30 years and a one-piece low flow toilet is the way to go!

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It not only looks great, but will conserve a lot of water!

Here’s how the new finishes look now. It’s a calm relaxing space!

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Once the glass for the shower surround went in, Mom was finally able to enjoy the new space to its fullest.


If this new bathroom space has inspired you, please pin and post on Facebook.

You might also want to check out some of our other bathroom renos:

Reclaim and Maximize Space in Your Bathroom:

Colour Scheme

Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

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18 thoughts on “Maximizing Bathroom Space

  1. Sara, I always look forward to your posts! I feel like we’re chatting together as you show me step by step the improvements you’ve made and all the cool design features. I love the new shower! We too were able to reclaim a few inches of space when we had our bathroom remodeled 12 years ago. It makes such a difference. I love the bench, the shelving, the seat and the open glass wall, all incredible improvements to make a more versatile, and beautiful bathroom. I hope you’ll share the final bathroom cabinet after the paint and fixture swap. I’m with you: if you can reuse sound components, so be it. Better than turning them in for landfill. They had a toilet rebate program for awhile here, in order to save water. Some of the older toilets used as much as 12 gallons a flush. Our current toilets use about 1.2 liters.

    • Alys – both your comments came through! I will share the final bathroom cabinet after paint; I’ll be taking my paint deck over to my Mom’s on New Years to choose the colour so it will be done early in the new year 🙂

      Maybe once that’s done I’ll be able to turn my attention to more crafting this year (we’re getting a little reno’d out). I’m interested in learning how to do a table top water feature so will have that tutorial coming up.

      Have a happy new year!!

      • Thanks for letting me know, Sara. I seem to be having a few problems with WP this week.

        I hope you will set your sites to crafting now that you have that wonderful room at your fingertips.

        Happy New Year!

  2. Weird! I was almost done with my comment and the computer gave me the boot. I thought for sure it had posted, but now I don’t see it. If this is a duplicate comment, you’ll know why.

    What I was saying was: wow! The colors are beautiful and a wonderful update of finishes to the room. I love the way you’ve opened up the bathroom stall, both by reclaiming hidden space and removing the bulkhead. The clear glass also opens up the room in the way the beveled glass, so popular in an era, does not. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished cabinet with paint and new hardware. You are amazing.

  3. Beautiful renovation! I’m curious about the shower expansion. Was this a shower unit or stick built? We have a unit but need more space and I’ve been toying with ideas on how to take two sides of the glass out and build an extension to hold a seat. I didn’t know if that could be possible. I wondered if I could simply build the seat and and cover the area with cement board and tile. It would at least give more elbow room. I just wondered if you had done anything like this or if it’s even possible. We plan to sell and move in a couple of years and didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a new shower if we can help it.

    • Thanks Susan! It was stick built. Our seat was built between two furred out walls so we weren’t dealing with glass removal: I don’t think I can offer any helpful advice on your shower because it isn’t something we’ve personally tackled 🙂 Best of luck with your reno and if you figure something out, I’d love to see a picture!

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    • Sorry for the delayed response. The colour we used for the bathroom is a Benjamin Moore Paint called Grey Cloud. Here’s the trick to picking paint: when choosing a colour like gray, you really need to look at the paint deck to see what other colour ways are part of the same strip. If it has a blue undertone, you’ll see it in the darker colours in the same strip on the deck. If you find blue, move to another part of the deck 🙂

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