Maximizing Bathroom Space

Today I’m showing you a renovation we recently completed in my Mom’s house. As I 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.

Tiles 022_bof.jpg

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.

Tiles 019_Floor and bath surround_bof.jpg

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

You can see the grey shower floor in the picture below and the original vanity base – which we kept because it was sized to fit perfectly into the alcove and was in good condition.

Moms Reno 063_bof.jpg

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!

Here’s a before and after of the vanity area with updated with new mirror, lighting, quartz countertop, sink and faucet. The vanity is still a work in progress; it will be painted blue to pull in the tile surround on the bathtub and the hardware will be replaced with a more modern silver metal pull. The holidays have a habit of putting finishing touches like that on hold!


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!

C_Shower during and after.jpg

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

C_Bathtub Area.jpg

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.



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).

C_Shower Expansion_bof.jpg

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!)

C_Shower bench_bof.jpg

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

Moms Reno 064_bof.jpg

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

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!

C_Toilet Area_bof


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

C_Bathroom Details.jpg

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 previous bathroom renos:

Reclaim and Maximize Space in Your Bathroom:

Colour Scheme

Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

C_Opening 1_bof

Featured on

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party




Blow it Out Your Roof: a Guide to Replacing a Bathroom Fan!

They say nothing is certain but death and taxes, but I’d like to add a third: repairs!  Last week alone, three things broke down on us that had to be repaired. When you’re a do-it-your-selfer and a blogger, you have to look on the bright side of things and call that a good week: repairs alone can give you a ton of things to write about!

C_Opening_Replacement fan.jpg

This week, I’m sharing a DIY on how to replace a bathroom fan. As (bad) luck would have it, ours stopped working just before the hottest and most humid blast of weather hit us. Poor hubs had to go up into the attic to replace the fan and was just drenched when he was done. Ironically, that was the same morning that our air conditioner broke down, so by the afternoon our house was as hot as the attic! Oh well, I guess our pain is your gain.

I wasn’t sorry to see the old fan go. It was so loud and clunky, I could hear barely hear hubs singing rubber ducky outside the door 🙂

Personally, I would never want to attempt such a dirty, grimy job myself, but hubs is a perfectionist and he likes things done right. For instance, he planned to seal and insulate all the duct work.  When you hire a contractor, they’re in and out so fast that it leaves you wondering if they sealed it up as thoroughly – if at all! Sometimes contractors take shortcuts and don’t even bother to connect the bathroom fan to the roof vent. This is a HUGE problem as mold will grow unless the fan is vented properly through the roof.

To start, hubs removed the old fan so he could find a replacement that would fit without having to cut a bigger hole into our drywall. He taped a plastic bag to the ceiling so he could cover up the hole after removing it (wouldn’t want any critters – or insulation – to fall into the bathroom, would we?).

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 074.jpg

Removing the old fan

He also protected all the surfaces in the bathroom by taping plastic to the walls and on the floor to catch any insulation/mess that might drop down when he was working in the attic later.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 039_bof.jpg

Hubs then inspected the condition of the old ducting in the attic. He discovered that the original 4″ pipe attached to the vent was poorly installed and there were a lot of gaps. He also discovered that the builder cut too big a hole into the roof – which further explained the gaps. Here’s what the old duct (and fan) looked like:

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 077_bof.jpg

Because of the gaping hole in the roof made by our builder, hubs was going to have to use a 5″ gasket in order to bridge the gaps at the roof vent and then replace our 4″ ductwork with 5″ fittings instead.

Hubs found a specialty fan store that sells to the building industry, but is open to the public. He took the old fan with him. It cost him $75 for a new whisper quiet fan (only 1 sone). Any fan under 1.5 sones is considered to be quiet so keep that in mind when shopping. Another thing to keep in mind is the diameter of the duct connector on the new housing. To maximize performance, try to match your duct diameter to the new fan. As I mentioned, our duct was originally 4″ wide but we needed 5″ to span the gap at the roof so hubs decided to buy a duct reducer (installing the 4″ end onto the fan and the 5″ end onto the new ductwork).  There’s nothing wrong with increasing the size of the ductwork, but don’t ever do the opposite or you will restrict the exhaust from the fan!

With respect to performance, a fan’s ability to move air is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), so look for a CFM rating that will meet your needs by moving enough air for the size of your bathroom. To determine your CFM rating, use the following formula:

Length x width x height x .13 = the minimum CFM rating

In addition to the fan, hubs purchased a variety of new fittings too.  Get more than you think you need and return what you don’t use; there’s nothing worse than being stuck in the attic and then realizing that you have to run out to buy something you didn’t get!.  All-in, it cost about $125 for the fan and supplies. It would cost you up to a couple hundred dollars more than that to have someone install it for you.

Hubs cut the power to the bathroom so he could connect the wiring safely without risk of electrocution! He suited up in a white Tyvek coverall, like the one pictured below, so he could protect himself and his clothes from the scratchy insulation. He also wore a mask just in case of mice, which almost always reside in the attic.  You need to take the precaution of wearing a mask so you don’t breathe in any toxins.

Tyvek coverall.jpg

Tyvek coverall source: Home Depot

Hubs placed a ladder beneath our attic access (ours is in the bedroom closet) and took all his equipment up with him in a box to keep it all together. This included a drill, screws, screw driver, tin snips, duct fittings, fan, electrical bushing, silver tuck tape, cord etc. He also took a bright light on an extension cord up with him so he could see (the light was run to another electrical power supply that was still working).

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 031_bof.jpg

Hubs has previously done work in the attic so he had already placed some runner strips of plywood across the joists so he could walk.  You’ll want to rip down some plywood for this purpose if you don’t already have some in the attic. Once in the attic, he pushed aside all the blown in insulation so he could locate the electrical wiring and hole in the ceiling of our bathroom.

The new fan body was positioned over the hole in the ceiling and then screwed into the joists. A metal strip (shown below) was attached to the back to help secure it further to the joist (they can reduce side to side vibration). Depending on where your hole is positioned between the joists, you may have to install anywhere from one to 4 of these strips.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 042_bof2.jpg

Our fan was positioned beside the joist so we only needed one new strip at the back:

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 049_bof

He installed the electrical bushing onto the fan (it protects the wire) and then fed the wire through and connected it.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 047_bof.jpg

Hubs used tuck tape to seal along the edges of the fan, then he started dry fitting metal ducting, starting with the reducer, until he eventually got it all to line up with the roof vent.

C_dry fit.jpg

As you can see below, one of the pieces of ducting is articulated so it can be twisted into just about any position to line the ductwork up with the roof vent.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 052_fin.jpg

Hubs used a 5″ gasket with a seal around it for the connection to the roof vent. This is a much better solution than the straight run with release cuts the builder previously installed because it seals any gaps. He had to use tin snips fit the gasket flush against the joist in order to line it up with the roof vent. Once it fit, he peeled the tape off the gasket and pressed it up onto the underside of the roof.  He pre-drilled and inserted screws all around the gasket.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 048_bof.jpg

When all the ductwork was connected he pre-drilled a hole into each duct joint and installed at least one if not two 8 x 1/2″screws to hold the sections into position.

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 058_fin.jpg

Replacement Bath Fan DIY 059_fin

Then he wrapped each joint with the silver tuck tape to seal it.

C_tuck tape.jpg

Before he finished up, hubs turned the power back on to make sure everything was running smoothly. Then he turned the power back off (as a precaution) and went back into the attic to wrap the pipe with insulation and tie it on with cord (he reused the old insulation that was originally there).  He also returned all the blown in insulation to its original position between the joists.


He brought all his tools back down and then put the ceiling cover over the fan to finish it off. Now the fan purrs like a kitten; bring on the rubber ducky!

For more bathroom renos, check out the following posts: Reclaiming and Maximizing Space in the Bathroom; and

Maximize Space in Bathroom_1

Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

C_Opening 1_bof

I’ll have one more bathroom reno in the next few weeks; we just finished updating my Mom’s bathroom!

Featured on




Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Our powder room is the first room you see as you come into our front entry and it was an eyesore. Dated oak cabinets, builder beige walls, old toilet and an ugly light fixture made for a poor first impression.

It HAD to change, but having just gotten married, we were on a tight budget. We salvaged everything that was usable and upcycled some second hand finds (one found in our very own basement), making this a budget friendly makeover – and a fairly sustainable one too!

C_Opening 1_bof.jpg

We started by stripping everything away that was going to either get replaced or updated; that turned out to be everything except the cabinet doors!

C_Before 2_BOF.jpg

We patched the walls where we took down the sheet of mirror that was over the old vanity.  I wanted to add a hanging mirror there instead but couldn’t find anything that really caught my fancy, until one day we found something fantastic in a pile of old junk in our very own basement (see the reveal as you scroll down)!

We primed the walls and then painted the entire room a dark charcoal grey.  You would think that a dark colour would make the room look smaller, but it didn’t. I think it’s because we added a lot of contrast by way of artwork, fixtures and trim paint, which were all light in colour (as you’ll see later).

MC Renos 090_BOF.jpg

Patching the walls before priming

My husband ended up rebuilding the vanity cabinet because it wasn’t very sturdy, but he kept the doors for me so I could add a very special feature: some iridescent grey water glass.

We cut the centre panel out of each door, then spray painted the frames with a charcoal grey car paint. Car paint is great to use in the bathroom in case there’s any splashes!

MC Renos 093_BOF.jpg

After the paint was dry, I inserted the glass into the doors, hung them on the cabinet and added new hardware.

I wouldn’t recommend putting water glass in the lower part of any cabinet if you have children because this particular glass isn’t tempered.  For us that wasn’t a problem because we don’t have young kids in the house (and I wanted the powder room to have a bit of sparkle!).


Water glass is beautiful, but it isn’t tempered so beware!

After the cabinet was done, we popped on the countertop. The counter was actually the inspiration for the colour scheme of the entire bathroom. It happened to be a left over piece from the renovation of a previous house I fixed up. I knew I’d have a use for it one day, so I held onto it – for a few years 🙂 It was the perfect size – and essentially free!

I installed a glass tile backsplash before we cut the hole for the sink. The counter gave me somewhere to work and rest my tools and adhesive/bucket of grout while I was installing the tile. Because it was such a tiny area (and we were trying to save money), I used a dollar store rubber kitchen spatula instead of a more expensive float to apply the grout! It worked great.

MC Renos 166_bof.jpg

Once the tile was done, we were ready to install a new ceramic sink that we found on clearance. Before installing it we used putty to seal around the hole we cut for the sink. The putty adds an extra measure of water proofing that I think is better than caulking for sealing. It also provides a cushion to bed the sink into.

MC Renos 182_bof.jpg

Putty is rolled into ropes before applying to sink area

Here, you can see the dramatic charcoal grey on all the walls contrasts with the while trim, towels and flooring. We also installed a new matching toilet paper and towel holder in a chrome finish to add more sparkle.

MC Renos 232_bof.jpg

We decided we needed extra storage because my husband was going to be using the powder room in the morning to shave and brush his teeth so he wouldn’t wake me up. We found an old wooden medicine cabinet door at the Habitat for Humanity Re Store – I think it cost a mere $2 – and built a box for it with some shelves! We measured the perimeter of the cabinet, then cut a hole in the drywall between the studs so we could recess it into the wall.  We added some 2 x 4’s along the top and bottom in between the studs to reinforce the structure to accept the cabinet.

MC Renos 176_BOF.jpg

We spray painted the cabinet frame and door the same colour as the walls so it would blend in seamlessly.

MCRenos 179_BOF.jpg

But then I decided to do THIS to the centre of the door:

MC Renos 192_bof.jpg

Testing out the spacing on the wall

I literally just decoupaged on prints from an old calendar – again, another freebie ! I added an additional decorative raised effect using venetian plaster that I troweled through a variety of botanical and nautical stencils. The next step was to crackle the surface and rub in a bit of stain to age it and highlight the cracks. Finally, I added some thin strips of wood to separate each image and added a high gloss Varathane to protect the whole surface from splashes.

The decoupaged door adds just the right pop of colour to the monochromtic space, don’t you think?

MC Renos 219_bof.jpg

A plain wooden cabinet get a fun decoupage finish to add a POP of colour!

Once the cabinet was done, I needed a mirror that would counterbalance it and also reflect the burst of colour coming from the ‘artwork’. Here is what we found in the aforementioned junk pile in our basement:

Powder Room Mirror 1 Before_bof.jpg

It wasn’t a thing of beauty – yet, but it had potential! It clearly needed a cosmetic overhaul so, in keeping with the monochromatic colour theme, we stripped it down to bare wood and then primed and gave it a fresh coat of the same charcoal paint we used on our wall.

Mirror in progress_final_bof.jpg

I absolutely love that the mirror used to belong to my husband’s great grandmother; it adds a vintage touch to the space. I also love the authentic antique quality of the mirror glass itself. It’s see-through in spots; to me, the fact that the silver backing isn’t perfect makes it so much more beautiful!

Here’s the reveal once the mirror was in place. Doesn’t the mirror balance and reflect the medicine cabinet beautifully?

C_Medicine Cabinet_bof.jpg

You’d think we might have stopped there, but we really wanted to go all out with the glamour so we splurged a little and added some crown moulding at the ceiling.

First, we installed some wooden corner blocks to help us position the moulding and then we pin-nailed it in place. We caulked any gaps at the ceiling and walls with paintable caulk.

MC Renos 241_crown moulding_BOF final.jpg

As you can see above, we still didn’t have a light fixture in place at this point. I was taking a stained glass fusing course at the time and decided to make my own light fixture. It’s subtle, but you can see that there are starfish in the glass that play off the ceramic ones I attached to the wall above the toilet. The white in the crown mouding, light fixture and star fish are a nice contrast against the deep colour of the walls.

Here’s how the light fixture looked before and after.

C_Light fixture b4 and after_bof.jpg

Light fixture before and after

Here are a few more afters. I added some light, airy artwork and ceramic starfish on the walls.



And a final before and after comparison:

C_Before 2_BOF.jpg


The makeover was a big improvement; now we’re no longer embarrassed to have guests use the power room and my husband has a nice place to get ready in the morning. At first, he thought it was too nice and thought we should reserve it for guests only. However, I truly believe that the real secret to a long and a happy marriage is never having to share a bathroom, so I didn’t see any reason to start 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to pin and share.

Have a look at some of our other bathroom renos:

Maximizing Bathroom Space:

C_Bathroom Details

Reclaim and Maximize Space in the Bathroom:

Bathroom Renos_2016 001B_BOF

Bathroom Vanity Makeover:


Follow us here on Birdz of a Feather (link in the footer) or Bloglovin’ (link below).

Featured on