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World's worst master bathroom layout! Need help please!

M T
July 10, 2019

I have the world's absolute worst master bathroom layout. We haven't touched our bathroom since moving in 3 years ago so it is original 80's style and needs to go. We want to make a real retreat, but we don't know if we will stay in our house for more than 5 years either.


The feedback I got from contractors is:

- Try to stay within the original footprint of the room as much as we can so the plumbing doesn't have to change dramatically which will really drive up prices!


So our plan is to make a REAL master bathroom that feels luxurious and is clean and pretty. We don't have to go crazy and would like to be mindful of budget. Our home is in the 800k range.. that said we want to spend as little as possible to get the wow factor since we won't be here forever and want great resale value.


As you can see in the drawn out layout there is a wall with a separate room with the toilet, tub, a large shelf and a walk in shower.


My plan is to:

- knock down this small wall with the separate room

- move the toilet in the corner in a separate room or at least a wall with an opening (it would be obscured when you walk in the main entrance to the bathroom)

- great a tile floor with a stand alone tub and large walk in shower combo that you can see from the doorway when you walk in the bathroom

- get rid of existing shelf next to shower

- remove current huge vanity and replace with a prettier much smaller 60" standalone double sink vanity from wayfair

- retile floor

-use neutral and pretty tiles that are affordable



Anyone care to look at my idea for the layout and give feedback? We really do not want to spend money on an architect putting this together if we can avoid it.


Any estimates of how much this would be? We are in Texas so fairly low cost for labor.


I am attaching the drawn out floorplan and some photos of the shower/bath combo. Our house is more traditional so I won't go as modern but just to give you an idea.









Comments (29)

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    You do not have room for a free standing tub. If you're going to post a drawing, post the bath as it is, in 1/2 " to 1' scale, with all dimensions of every wall and window noted. The inspo photo of wet space...........equally bad in sizing. Just because its on the internet, does not make it great design.

    Show the entire master suite............including the bedroom. I will add that even on a budget, your best friend is a PRO designer, before you even worry about a contractor. Moving a toilet is not always easy, or inexpensive.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    You have "goal conflict" here. On the one hand you do not have a large budget, but you also state that you want to knock down a wall and move the plumbing fixtures (including the toilet). This requires your demolishing down to the studs, and you never know what you're going to find behind walls and floors when you open up the room.

    A totally renovated bathroom even with basic materials and low-cost labor can cost a fair amount of money. And you really need to vet the contractor to make sure he knows what he's doing. Every day we read on these boards about contractors who are unqualified and do a horrible job and possibly walk away without finishing. And whatever price you get, make sure you add at least 10-20% for contingencies.

    I agree with Jan that you need a certified Kitchen/Bath designer for a large project such as this. You really don't know what you don't know. Visit some kitchen & bath design centers as a first step to begin the process. They usually will have professionals on staff who can help you.

    Good luck!

  • Pugga70

    Following.....

  • M T

    We have the money to complete a full reno with designer, but we don't want to put ourselves in a situation where we sink more than we would see for resale. We would want a dollar to dollar return on it, so spend as little as possible for wow impact and see every dollar recouped during the sale of the house. Comp for our house is about $800k so we can't do a "cheap" reno. Will likely do carrera marble but purchase from a discount kitchen store, nothing custom or special.


    You don't think a freestanding tub will fit? Dimensions of the room are 13 feet by 11 feet. Right now we have a full tub and separate shower, I am just trying to move it around a bit.

    I am worried if we go down the designer route this will turn into a $75k project and we are thinking more like $15k or under.



  • Helen

    This is NOT a $15,000 project anywhere. A $15,000 project would consist of cosmetic updates and would not include any kind of moving toilets, tiled showers or the like.

    There is no such thing as a dollar for dollar return on renovations unless you are going the DIY route or home renovation is actually your business.

    In terms of resale potential, I personally would not want a bath tub of any kind located in the shower.

    A designer is not going to turn a renovation into a $75,000 project - it is the scope of your project that is costly to do well. A designer will prevent you from costly mistakes and provide you with a more functional aesthetic result within a realistic budget.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    15 k won't happen. Lose the tub entirely, get a designer, and plan with very moderate surfaces/ everything no less than 45k, unless your brother is capable of all labor, soup to nuts.

    If you don't believe an 800k house is deserving of a 45 k to 55k master bath, ....................leave it. ALONE and let the next buyer rip it. Because that number is a moderate one, and probably even WITH lower labor costs in Texas.

  • AJCN

    You might want to meet with an experienced realtor to help you determine your path forward. I have a very good friend who has updated her entire house except for her master bathroom. They are probably going to retire and move in about 3 years. She met with a realtor who told her that she will not see any return if she does a major reno of the master bath. The reason is that the rest of the house has been 100% updated very beautifully, and she is already over-improved for her neighborhood. The realtor explained that someone who wants to buy the house won't be able to get a mortgage if the appraisal comes in lower than the asking price, so she would have to either lower the price or wait for a cash buyer. The realtor said to leave it alone and just make sure everything is perfectly clean when they go to sell the house. So my friend is going to save her money and put it into the next house.

    If you decide to go ahead and remodel it, a 15K budget is far too low to do what you are talking about. My 15' x 10' master bath project cost me 45K (which works out to $300 per sq ft), and that was with a lot of bargain-hunting, and not replacing the floor, not moving any drains, not moving the toilet, not removing a single wall or changing any window locations, etc. We did replace 2 windows. I am in Texas. The cost of labor might be lower here than the national average, but think about that for a moment. There's practically no protection for homeowners if you hire a hack or your GC hires a hack to, for example, waterproof your shower. The labor charges on my bathroom were HIGH because I hired a very experienced, highly qualified tile professional who is certified by tile organizations, attends trainings, seminars and conferences all the time, and teaches others. He followed and far exceeded ASNI and TCNA standards and maticulously detailed every inch of the bathroom, especially the shower waterproofing and tile work. You don't want to cheap out on that kind of stuff that can leak, mold and ruin your house.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    My powder room was renovated for $12,000 and I already had the marble floor tile. But then again I'm in New York, the land of the overpriced and overtaxed.

    Please read Helen's response carefully. She is spot on about "recouping your investment" and the value of a professional designer.

  • jslazart

    My 13x9, plus 10x9 closet, is coming to about $35k, and we did all the demo, electrical, and some plumbing ourselves. I like your original layout better than your proposal.

  • M T

    Okay back to the drawing board....


    What if we kept the original layout and didn't knock the wall down...

    -we did all new tiling on the floor

    -replaced the tub with a normal tub

    -removed the large built in shelf next to tub and extended the walk in shower so it was

    -got an affordable double sink vanity from wayfair

    -new mirrors and lights


    We did our powder room for under $2500. I'll include a photo of it.

    - We did handmade cement tiles

    - Lowe's sink

    - Restoration Hardware light fixture and faucets

    - Contractor put in beadboard and custom mirror and painted


    We don't want to over improve our home. It wouldn't have made sense for us to put $12k into the powder room. A lot of homes in our neighborhood are still original 80's and going for similar comps. Value is in the neighborhood and land. You just don't see a huge return on really high end finishes unless you gut the whole house. I'll include before and afters. I think we found a good balance of updating what it was without breaking the bank.


    Before powder:


    After Powder:




  • M T

    after powder


  • M T

    Also found some photos of our bathroom when we purchased. We have since then put in very inexpensive new floors just to get the gross carpet out and new nice doors but have waited to make any improvements because we were sure what we would do to this room.

    ** There is also a tub to the right of the toilet that is outdated and would need to be replaced

    What would YOU do to this room around $10-15k to improve it?

    (see next post for picture of toilet room)


  • M T


    here is the shower in the room with toilet and tub

  • M T

    My ideas for the room would be to remain very neutral and clean.

    Something similar to this in look. Doesn't need to look exactly like this but fairly traditional and generic.



  • kariyava

    Your shower looks fine, and the layout isn't that bad either. With your budget, you might be able to replace all of the flooring, get a new tub, vanity, mirrors, lights, and paint/replace the linen closet.

  • M T

    Do you think we would be able to get rid of that weird wooden shelf and extend and retile the shower an extra 2-3 feet? I don't want to work the whole renovation around the tans/browns of the existing shower. It's not my style and are house is mostly whites/blues/greys which is more popular with the target demographic buying around us, which are young families buying for our school district.

  • M T

    You don't think the layout is too bad?? I feel like it won't ever feel like a "master suite" if we have a toilet in between the shower and bath in a separate room. Maybe if it was all new finishes it wouldn't seem as bad. I have always found the layout super weird.

  • AJCN

    One thing I've learned on this forum is that if you "extend" a shower, re-tile or do anything to a shower, you have to tear it out and completely re-build a new shower. The reason is that extending it or re-tiling ruins the waterproofing and you have to start over from scratch in order for it to be waterproofed. I don't know what size shower that is, but I'm guessing just the shower would be something like 6-9K if you had to re-build it. I think it looks okay from the picture, so maybe you can choose neutral materials that go with the the tile that is already in the shower.

  • jslazart

    What kind of floors did you put in? A shower will easily cost 5-6k in labor. Price out your own tile selections. What makes the tub outdated? Mine is from 1919 and it's great.

    The layout isn't terrible. It could also probably be better, but not at that price point. Either get what you want and realize it will cost money you won't see again, or do minor changes (and realize you might never see that money again either). Have you talked to a realtor? The usual advice is not to remodel to sell. Remodel for you, if it's worth it to you.

    For $15k, if I hated brown and already did the floors? I might redo the shower with affordable tile and paint the walls and vanity and cabinet. I'd then see if there was enough left to do new lighting. I'd then save up to replace the vanity to gain storage.

  • Nancy in Mich

    I love the layout. It allows someone to dress or make up in the sink area without the smells and steam from other bathroom activities. I also love the big cupboard. If you do not currently own enough "stuff" to need it, you may find that you accumulate enough to need it later. Boy, having a place for a plunger, brush, and cleaning supplies right next to where you need it is so convenient!


    I would think about just painting, replacing cabinet doors to your preferred shaker look, replacing the counter, faucets, and sinks, and redoing lighting. If you have a leak-proof shower that is as new and neutral as yours, it is a shame to waste the resources to change it for gray/white. Having a gray-based color scheme may be popular at this moment, but it will be replaced in a minute with something else, and your new shower will be no more current than it is now. You can paint a whole bunch of different colors in this space and have it look great. A greige would work, I bet.


    Wait, is that carpet on the floor? If it is, you can stiffen the subfloor (might mean replacing it), add heating cables, and tile. Your warm floor upgrade would be the only thing that would increase the value of this bathroom. You have new-ish finishes in great condition (at least the shower is, that size tile has to be less than 10 years old), so you will not gain a penny of equity by trashing this bathroom and starting over.


    This is by NO means the world's worst master bath. I think the house we viewed with a 30" x 30" moldy shower, 24" vanity, and barely room for a toilet is a lot closer. It still would be better than the majority of American homes that have no master bath at all.

  • Helen

    The reason why your powder room was able to be done so inexpensively is that all the changes were cosmetic so the cost of labor wasn't that significant. There wasn't much highly skilled expensive labor involved.


    As has been pointed, the scope of your "want" list is essentially a gut remodel which requires a lot of highly skilled labor - especially in terms of building a shower that is at least as attractive and functional as the one you have now.


    While it might not be your aesthetic, the warm beige/brown tones of your shower aren't something horrendous and you can certainly achieve a beautiful cosmetic result with relatively inexpensive cosmetic changes - the kind of changes you made to the powder room essentially - e.g. new sconces; new vanity (or new doors/repainted vanity); new faucets; paint; new flooring. I have Calacatta marble tile on my bathroom and shower floor and because it has a combination of white, "gold/brown", cream, gray, it would probably work with existing warm tones better than Carrera - my cabinets are a white oak stained medium brown. You could get a new counter with a warmer tone than Carrera (I opted for a marble called French Vanilla which was more cream and warm than Carrera).

  • M T

    Thanks everyone. This is really helpful and now after considering the costs and what would be involved I think we will:


    1. Stick with the original shower to cut costs (see closeup photos)

    2. Stick with a tans/warm palette even though it's not my first choice so we don't need to redo the shower

    3. Keep existing blueprint

    4. Replace vanity and add two mirrors (see next post with 2 options I like)

    5. Paint and change out doors for shaker style of the large brown shelf unit (see photo)

    6. Replace acrylic tub with a porcelain one with a tan subway or similar backsplash

    7. New tile floors (ANY IDEAS? Stumped on this!)






  • M T

    Vanities I would consider that may go with the color scheme:



  • M T

    Possible ideas for tub



  • M T

    Any opinions of these combos for floor/vanity color?





  • M T

    Floor option? Large travertine?



  • M T

    Anyone want to help??


  • Nancy in Mich

    If you draw the room, including measurements, windows, doors, and the adjoining rooms, then they will.

  • kariyava

    I think a white vanity would look best in the space, and travertine in the same color as your shower would look nice on the floor.

    M T thanked kariyava

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