Bathroom of the Week: A Smarter Layout With a TV and Fireplace
A designer transforms a Pennsylvania couple’s cramped and dated master bath into an airy retreat with relaxing amenities
Steve and Christine Miller recently bought a 1998 Colonial-style home in a suburb of New Hope, Pennsylvania, to be close to a business Christine plans to start soon. The couple, who are parents of two daughters in college, liked the home’s traditional style and large backyard, but they wanted to update some of the interior spaces to better suit their busy lifestyle.
A major focus was their master bathroom, where an awkward layout and a hazardous step-up built-in jetted tub wasted space. Its beige walls, basic dark wood vanity and small shower stall did little to provide the inspiring retreat the Millers were hoping for. The couple worked with designer Marina Franks of Ryann Reed Build to rethink the layout to maximize square footage and free up room for relaxing features like a large soaking tub with a view of an electric fireplace and TV. A soothing white-and-gray color palette and spacious new shower with adjustable sprays complete the rejuvenating space.
“After” photos by Jake Dunderdale
Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: Steve and Christine Miller, who are parents of two daughters in college
Location: New Hope, Pennsylvania
Size: 180 square feet (17 square meters)
Designer: Marina Franks
Before: In the former bathroom, a large built-in, step-up tub in one corner wasted a lot of square feet and created a potential slipping hazard. The Millers also thought the overall colors and materials — beige walls, Hollywood vanity lighting, dark wood cabinets — could use a refresher.
The wide white door seen in the mirror reflection above the tub was the original entrance to the bathroom. The door swung open in a way that hit the small shower stall in the corner opposite the tub.
TV and Fireplace
After: This photo was taken from about the same angle as the previous photo. Franks removed the built-in corner tub and old vanities and, on the former mirrored wall, installed new vanities, a fireplace and a TV. She also moved the doorway into the bathroom over a few feet to add a spacious shower and soaking tub in a more central location (see “after” floor plans below).
Christine used Houzz and other online sources to gather design ideas for the new bathroom. That’s how she came up with the idea to add the vent-free electric fireplace with remote control and a flat-screen TV, both of which the couple enjoy from the comfort of a new freestanding soaking tub. “It takes the whole environment of the bathroom to the next level,” Christine says.
Franks designed a buildout to give the appearance of a fireplace chimney and to visually and physically align with the flanking vanities. Stacked natural stone ledger panels cover the buildout and coordinate with the overall white-and-gray palette in the room. Franks recessed a white painted niche into the buildout that stores rolled clean towels and decorative accessories.
Wood-look glazed porcelain tile flooring adds depth and picks up on the various grays and blacks throughout the space.
The double semi-custom painted maple vanities feature full overlay Shaker-style doors and drawers with transitional style matte black pulls in two sizes. The dove gray color coordinates with the true gray wall paint (March Wind by Sherwin-Williams) and white elements. “I think this color scheme is on trend, and it keeps the bathroom light, airy and relaxing,” Christine says.
Each vanity includes a base cabinet with roll-out shelves for cleaning products and hair and bath essentials. “The back of the cabinets have outlets inside so I can keep my hair dryer plugged in while stored away in the cabinet,” Christine says. Three soft-close drawers on each side of the cabinets store items like makeup and medications.
Tall and slim pill-shaped mirrors with matte black frames hang above each vanity. Modern steel-and-glass tube-like sconces light the area and fill out what would otherwise be dead space on the wall.
Each vanity includes an undermount rectangular white sink and a high-arc matte black faucet. “I had always had a more traditional bathroom, and knew I wanted something different but not too awfully modern,” Christine says.
The countertop and short backsplash is quartz that mimics the look of Statuary marble.
An acrylic white freestanding oval soaking tub sits in a central spot in the room in front of the new shower. A floor-mounted matte black tub filler with hand shower stands in the back corner. Small pebble mosaic tile beneath the tub adds definition and coordinates with the same tile used for the shower floor.
Tub filler: Doux one handle with hand shower in matte black, Moen
Franks moved the door into the bathroom over a few feet to free up space for a larger shower with a custom frameless tempered glass enclosure. Marble-look porcelain tiles (12 by 24 inches) cover the shower walls and extend up to the sloped ceiling to accentuate the height. The wisps of gray veining on the creamy white background complement the vanity countertops and overall room palette.
Matte black shower fixtures coordinate with the vanity faucets, cabinet hardware, mirror frames and other black details in the space. A rain head, hand shower and two body sprays provide relaxing showering options.
Franks positioned the main thermostatic valve (the large control on the left) that controls the temperature and pressure of the water close to the shower door so the Millers can turn on the water without getting wet. “I love it,” Christine says. “It’s roomy and has everything I want in a shower. The body sprays are adjustable, and the niche gives me all the room I need for my shampoo and bath products.”
Before: This floor plan of the former bathroom shows how all the elements crowded into the corners, including the large tub on the bottom right, wasting valuable space in the middle of the room. The small shower stall (bottom center) stood in an unfortunate position near the bathroom’s entrance. The door swing in this plan was accidentally reversed. The actual door swung toward the shower stall.
After: Removing the old shower, vanity and tub and reconfiguring the layout freed up space for larger vanities on the right wall and a spacious new shower and soaking tub in the center. These moves, coupled with the addition of pamper-me amenities, gave the Millers the relaxing retreat they wanted. “It adds a zen-like feel to our home,” Christine says.
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