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Small bathroom problems

K Schu
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

We’re trying to find a solution for our main floor bathroom. Even though our house is big, the bathrooms are on the small side, especially this one.


We put in new floors & a new vanity a couple years ago that we don’t want to replace but we want to remove the vinyl shower liner & replace with the leftover tile from our recent master bathroom remodel.


The problem is the wall between the shower and vanity. It makes the room look even smaller than it is so we’re thinking about taking it down to a pony wall & toping it with glass. But – how do we do that without having a glass shower door that hits the wood bathroom door?


My teen girls use our shower now because they hate this one - they say it’s claustrophobic -so we’d love some suggestions so we can get our bathroom back. And please, don’t suggest ripping it all out and starting over. We’ve got a budget and it doesn’t stretch far enough to redo new work!








Comments (70)

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I’m sorry, why shouldn’t bathroom doors have locks?

  • roarah
    2 months ago

    I think it is incase parmedics need to access the room.

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  • cpartist
    2 months ago

    Post a to scale floor plan of the room as it is now.

  • freedomplace1
    2 months ago

    Going lighter on the floor would also help.











  • thinkdesignlive
    2 months ago

    If you’re going to sell and not really up to a bigger remodel I say leave it and maybe invest in the clever storage between studs/recessed medicine cabinet as that would be used now and good for resale. Spending 7-10k on a more open glass shower seems like money better spent if this were your forever home.

  • tartanmeup
    2 months ago

    Agree with @thinkdesignlive, except I wouldn't break my head on figuring out the recessed storage for now. I'd simply replace the shower curtain with a clear one and see if the kids can optimize their bathroom storage needs by keeping some stuff in their rooms (hair styling stuff, for example) and using every bit of the custom vanity's storage space.

  • hu818472722
    2 months ago

    I've changed my mind as well and agree with the above that unless you were going to enlarge the shower by perhaps switching the sink shower arrangement it would not be a worthwhile investment to switch to all glass. I think addressing the claustrophobic issue by adding the window shown in Beth H's photo's above and shortening that 39" wall could get your girls back in their own bathroom. A clear shower curtain would ultimately be safer than the door swing situation and adding a niche (to store products) in a vertical fashion would be helpful to store their shower products. A "if you build it they will come" type of compromise. Another idea could be to carve out space in their bedrooms and purchase small vanity/stool/mirror combo's for hair/makeup tasks.




  • hu818472722
    2 months ago

    If you would decide to use vanities in their bedrooms and if your girls use curling irons, then purchasing a small rectangular ceramic platter to contain them would be a good way to address a potential fire safety concern. Williams Sonoma has these in 3 different sizes.





  • RedRyder
    2 months ago

    The amount you should spend on a house you’re planning to sell depends on the real state market in your area. However, if you have a really fabulous master bathroom, the extra cost of a glass pony wall plus a glass shower door that can only swing IN will make this bathroom look like it was updated as well. I’ve been in many hotels that have the door swing in and cannot swing out, so that would solve the problem.

    For the stuff that now needs a new, due to the side pony wall, get each daughter a bucket to carry her stuff in and out of the bathroom, and give them a well lit space to do their makeup in their own room(s).

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    We actually have plenty of storage (there’s a big linen closet opposite the bath), room to get ready & natural light. The issue is just that the shower feels claustrophobic and its placement makes the room seem smaller than it is.

    This is a fairly upscale house in a fairly upscale neighborhood. I was a real estate broker for 10 years & know buyers at this price point will expect a tiled shower, but I hate to do that and not address the elephant in the room (so to speak) – that darn wall!

    It’d be cheaper to remove the wall and just put in a glass return, but I side of the vanity isn’t finished. It was custom built only 2 years ago, so replacing wouldn’t be cost effective.

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Here’s the diagram of the room that someone asked for.

    I really appreciate all of these ideas!! Thanks everyone.

  • suezbell
    2 months ago

    If the only door to and from your master bath is via your bedroom, you could have the door open outward or choose a different kind of door -- even consider bifold closet doors.

  • cpartist
    2 months ago

    Instead of the bathroom door, put a barn door on the outside of the bathroom. Normally I'm against that but since you're planning on selling, it will be a selling feature. Then do the glass shower door with it being able to swing both ways; in and out.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    K, can the vanity be moved or not?

    I mean, what do you want to do? if the house is in an upscale area and you need it tiled, do you think people at this price point are going to want a tiny shower?

    how much more money would it cost to move the shower forward, next to toilet, and move the vanity back where the shower is now? Basically, shower and vanity swap spots. that's it. I realize you may have to shorten the vanity, but for a longer shower, it may be worth it.

    how much more to do that?

    Or, and I know you hate to hear this, sell your vanity and get something smaller to sit where the shower is.

    Or, move toilet and shower and swap those spots.

    That's basically it.

    otherwise, you're going to have the same thing you have now, but tile, and a glass where the wall is. If that's enough for you, then do it.


    If this portion becomes all glass, it will open up the space visually. the shower will still be small. will that work? you'll prob have to redo the flooring.



    we keep going round and round with basically the same questions and answers.

    What do you want and what are you comfortable spending?

    Have you even gotten estimates?

  • everdebz
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Is this relevant? with space available. Can make shower appealing feature as you walk in.


    Modern Art Studio · More Info


  • everdebz
    2 months ago

    Why can't a low wall of tile butt against vanity?

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Yes, we have an estimate and are just trying to decide which option to go with.

    The estimate was to take the wall to a half wall, top w/ glass, add a glass door then tile the inner walls & shower pan. Cost is around $15,000 but it will solve the problem.

    From your responses, I sent my contractor these photos to see if either was a good option. We’re leaning towards creating the window and adding a glass door. It’ll improve sight lines & I’m hoping will be the lowest cost. It’s a standard size shower, so we’d get little return on the $50,000+ it’d cost to make it a bit larger.

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Anyway, I appreciate those of you that took the time to read the details – I got some great ideas from you!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month

    I think the glass in the wall like that will make a big difference while showering. seems to be the least costliest of the options. Love to see it after you're finished!

  • suzanne_m
    last month

    I am late in the discussion and I admit I did not read every comment. But I did read the one about not having a lock on the door in case of emergency. I disagree with that. I always lock my bathroom's door when I am inside. You can have those lock that can open from the outside using a bobby pin or something similar.

  • mamamocha
    last month

    Who’s the boss? Parents or kids? Tell the kids to use their bathroom, quit whining, and be grateful for indoor plumbing!

  • Sara S
    last month

    Maybe a light in the ceiling above the shower would help too? The corner seems a little dark.

  • tartanmeup
    last month

    You have experience as a real estate broker so you know how important bathrooms are to selling houses. If you're really staying there for only one more year, you have to weigh if this reno's ROI, whatever its scale, is worth the disruption and aggravation. I know that I'd leave such a reno for the next homeowner to do to their taste. (I also have a 59" built-in vanity and a hall linen closet and both never seem to live up to their storage potential in daily life.)

  • ital mover
    last month

    I think it’s better to have housemates you don’t need to lock the bathroom door against. It is a hazard and in an emergency you don’t want people trying to figure out how to use (or even find) a bobby pin to get inside a locked bathroom.

  • ital mover
    last month

    This is quite attractive



  • Cheryl Clayton
    last month

    Use a Dreamline folding shower door that can be mounted on either side and opens both in and out. I have one and it works great. It is also very affordable.

  • tartanmeup
    last month

    @Cheryl Clayton, this would to replace the shower curtain, correct? Does nothing for the wall against the vanity?

  • ital mover
    last month

    I’m not as enthusiastic about shower doors that fold into the stall when the stall is very small. I’d rather have no door at all or just a shield

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    At a minimum, we plan to remove the vinyl shower liner and replace it with tile. From an ROI standpoint, that gives us the most bang for our buck.



    The idea to take out all or part of the wall came from our master bathroom redo. It had a similar wall and taking it out made an HUGE difference - but the master bath has a pocket door. The girls bath has a regular door which we couldn’t change even if we wanted to.



    The shower had an accordion style door in there when we bought the house but the girls said it made them feel trapped.






  • Nancy in Mich
    last month

    What is behind your vinyl shower walls? Drywall? Not acceptable as a tile substrate. Your shower walls will have to come down, in that case, not just be tiled. You are not ready to gut the room, but will suffer just as much construction mess as if you did. I say, why bother? Leave it for the next homeowners to do as they like. No one is going to like the tiny shower you want to leave there, so why put your money into it? This bathroom will be the one space that is not “done” to perfect standards. Fine

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    last month

    Is a 35" shower enclosure really "tiny" though? Our last house had a shower stall that was much smaller, so I guess I've thought of this as being a standard size.


    Our contractor will be doing the work & his quote includes adding in drywall.

  • tartanmeup
    last month
    last modified: last month

    As Nancy said, drywall is not an acceptable substrate for tile. You need waterproofing. If it's going to be tiled, make sure it's done right. The shower is 35 x 36.5? It looks very narrow in the first pic. Since you mentioned an upscale market, I would expect a spacious shower in a main bathroom. Something along the lines of 36" x 45" would be a minimum size for me. The girls say it feels "claustrophobic". If that is their main concern, why not start with the least expensive solution to get more light in the space by switching to a clear curtain? Unless by claustrophobia they mean a tight feeling in which case more light might not alleviate the issue.


    ETA: shower curtain does not necessarily need to be clear to add more light. A plain white PVC liner curtain would probably do the trick as well. (It did in mine.)

  • Theresa
    last month

    I put in a curved shower bar with a vinyl curtain that's clear on top and opaque on the bottom. Seemed instantly roomier and brighter.

  • Nancy in Mich
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I did as Theresa did, got mine from Hammacher Schlemmer for $35.

    https://www.hammacher.com/product/anti-microbial-shower-curtain-2

    You can easily add these ceiling lights, too. They don’t need an electrical box behind them and are only as deep as the drywall, so if you have room on the circuit and your electrician can snake a wire to them, they are a no-mess way to add a light.

    https://www.build.com/dals-lighting-7006-4k/s1400520


    Again, NO drywall! You need at least cement board with additional waterproofing applied (and installed with the right fasteners for wet areas, in the right pattern to hold it, properly taped with the right kind of taping and mud, plus the right stuff over the tape, and then with the correct depth of waterproofing applied) - or one of the complete waterproofing systems like Kerdi or Wedi, done according to their specs.

    Put in a light, see if that satisfies your kids.

  • zannej
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I know you've received many suggestions already and I've been too lazy to read all of them. But, my suggestion is to remove the little hanging cabinet next to the vanity and move it somewhere else. I don't know what height a "pony wall" is but it looks like if you remove that wall you might run in to problems with the light switch. Do you know if the wires for it come from above, below, or the side?

    I would keep the end studs and the little top part that you're using as a shelf. Cut a hole in the wall to add a window and get a shower curtain that is lighter/more translucent (at least at the top). Add a shower safe light in to the ceiling above the shower to illuminate it. Small curved shower rod might make it feel more spacious. While you're at it, when you build it out, maybe add a foot shelf to rest a foot on while washing legs and maybe even a small corner grab bar that doubles as a shelf.

    If you don't want to go with a window, you could put in a mirror (as well as a light) in a niche so it will reflect back light and give the illusion of being a larger space. I've found that mirrors can do wonders for making a space seem larger.

    Edit: I've gone through to read more of the comments. I really like the picture Beth H posted with the windowed glass. By code, it will have to be tempered glass. Having to do less tile will save some $. You can use vinyl trim on edges (stay away from any mdf). You can add a small shower tension rod at the back of the shower to have hooks to hang things.

    Remember that the window ledge needs to slope at least 1/8" per ft to allow water to drain off of it. You can probably frame out the window like the one in Beth's picture and make sure to use waterproof materials to save on having to use more tiles.



    Shower curtain ideas (only around $13 from Amazon)


    Amazon.com: Shower Curtain Liner 36x72 Inch, 3D EVA Translucent Heavy Duty Plast · More Info



    Amazon.com: AooHome 36x72 Inch Shower Curtain Liner, EVA 3D Water Cube Shower Cu · More Info


    Grab bar shelf for a corner


    Amazon.com: Delta DF702PC Corner Shelf with Assist Bar Polished Chrome: Home Imp · More Info


    I believe you can use cementboard or some sort of schluter systems thing for walls under tile. Whatever kind you use should be water resistant at the very least and then get some redguard or something- whatever the manufacturer recommends.

    You may be able to get a prefab shower pan that can be set down instead of having to tile the floor of the shower. That way it is less likely to have leaks and you don't have to worry about water soaking through grout lines on the floor.

    A curved shower rod may be nice. This one goes from 32" to 40" and is under $30.


    Amazon.com: Zenna Home NeverRust Rustproof Dual Mount Curved Stall Shower Rod, 3 · More Info


  • K Schu
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you for the thoughtful response! Great idea – I’m meeting with our contractor this week to go over options and that’s definitely in the running.

  • zannej
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I hope it helps. Keep in mind that they now have pvc boards that can be used to make the framing for windows. You could have that on top of any wood framing to make it more water resistant.

    If you are going to changet he handle for the shower, I'd like to recommend a Delta Lahara handle with Multichoice valve. It takes up the space of a single lever but has two levers on it. Larger one controls volume/pressure of water and smaller one controls temperature. That's what we put in my friend's house and it works great.


    Delta Faucet Lahara 17 Series Dual-Function Shower Handle Valve Trim Kit, Chrome · More Info

    We are trying to remodel and this is the handle we will be putting in two of the bathrooms.

  • tartanmeup
    last month

    Properly waterproofed shower averages 15K, IIRC. Hope you keep us posted, OP.

  • felizlady
    last month

    A closed door should be respected. “In case of emergency”, it can be quickly opened. A good quality, well-planned bathroom is a selling plus. Be sure the new shower and bathroom floors are textured and slip-resistant to avoid emergencies. Any shower requires a door or, at least, a curtain to keep water inside the shower. If you plan to sell the place, prospective buyers will see the existing bathroom as a big expensive project.

  • freedomplace1
    last month

    Actually I would see the proposed “window” as a project...


    I don’t think it adds value. To each their own, but personally, I don’t need to be on exhibition when taking a shower; plus, I don’t need a view of the sink + toilet from the shower. The window, or an all open glass shower, also makes it less feasible (or at least possibly less comfortable) for more than one person to use the bathroom at a time. In a household where only one person at a time would always need to use that bathroom, it would not be an issue. But to have the option and flexibility where one person might be using the shower, and another brushing their teeth/using the sink, mirror, etc. - this could really be helpful in some households. And as I mentioned, you are basically opening the shower up for a view of the sink and toilet... Personally, I really don’t understand that.


    Years ago, I had a place where I could stand in my shower and see a panoramic view of the entire Manhattan skyline from my bathroom window. I could literally stand in my shower and see the Empire State Building lit up at night. Lived there for over a decade. Loved it. That was a view worth opening up a shower for, if necessary. This, in my opinion, is not.


    In my opinion, the shower stall is really big enough. A dimmable light in shower area, a clear or semi-clear shower curtain, and a mirror or mirrors placed well - would really create a new bathroom that feels much more open and spacious. And since OP is only going to be living there for another year, let the new owners redo the bathroom to their taste, if they want. Personally, I would not be interested in the all open glass shower in this space, and I would also just find that “window“ to be bizarre.

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Personally if I was leaving in a year I wouldn't bother with anything other than making the bathroom look fresh and clean before listing.

    Also,

    My husband would be thrilled with this bathroom if it were his alone, no sharing with any females or anyone else. He wouldn't know what everyone's problem is and he's over 6 feet tall.

  • K Schu
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks everyone. The feedback has been super helpful. At this point, we’re leaning towards leaving the wall “as is”.

    We’re still debating having the shower tiled, but I think we at a minimum need to replace the door & add and new showerhead/faucet handle. Isn’t it a bit weird for a shower stall to have a curtain?

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK
    last month

    My husband would prefer the curtain, more elbow room.

    A new faucet and showerhead absolutely, something snazzy!

    Let the new owner do what they want, present the bathroom as a clean, uncluttered slate.

    My vote!

  • suzanne_m
    last month
    last modified: last month

    A shower curtain for a shower stall is not weird at all. To please your daughters, you may let them choose the color of the walls with some guidance of course or offering 2 or 3 options. I think it might make them happy to go in their own bathroom.

    I am not sure if that is possible but instead of having the cabinet on the side of the vanity maybe you could put recessed shelves(?)

  • zannej
    last month

    I agree with suzanne_m. I see shower curtains on stalls all the time. I have a 30" shower stall with a curtain. Curtain is the only way anyone can have elbow room-- not that anyone uses that tiny thing.

    You could still add some sort of light above the shower to make it a bit brighter. And since you want to tile, maybe you could create a niche in the shower and have a mirror in it (replaces tile and reflects light). Or you could create a faux window waterproof lightbox that would make it brighter. This could be on the side wall facing the curtain so it would be more visible while the shower is in use. If you use PEX instead of copper for the plumbing it might bring costs down a little bit. Also, for the connections to the shower valve, instead of having elbow sharkbite fittings, you can get two gray pvc conduit elbows for very cheap and have the pex pushed through them to create 90 degree bends. It worked on my friend's shower.

  • k8cd
    last month

    Code requires that a shower door swings out - it can also swing in and out, but not in only. If your main goal is to get your bathroom back, I think that tiling the shower and making it pretty like the master would make your girls feel less claustrophobic instantly, even if the space was exactly the same. (Personally I would try the curved rod and clear curtain first. And a new handle.)

  • hu818472722
    last month

    I thought I read above that your contractor wanted 15,000 for the shower redo which is very high, especially for such a small shower and not the whole bathroom. You could subcontract a handyman to cut back the wall, frame in the opening, and install the glass, and then hire a tile installer for the finish work. Places like home depot, the tile shop have tile installers, neighbors who may have references or even get another estimate from a different contractor would be an option. We hired the tile guy from our house renovation to redo a tub/shower combo, they removed old-replaced new and it was $1,200 like 5 years ago.

  • tartanmeup
    last month

    @hu818472722, I'm the one who mentioned 15K as an estimate for a properly waterproofed shower. Don't believe OP shared their contractor's estimate. What type of waterproofing system did your tile guy use 5 years ago?

  • hu818472722
    last month

    Look back 9 days ago to OP discussion regarding contractor costs. They used fiber cement board.

  • zannej
    last month

    I hope you update us on how the bathroom looks after being fixed up. Since you plan to move, if you aren't happy with the showers in the new home, I have some suggestions for showerheads that don't require adding new valves.

    My friend got the KES version (without the soap dish). These ones have slide bars attached to the showerhead so you can have a handheld and a rainshower. The diverter at the bottom (on the KES one) makes it so you can have spray from both or spray from either handheld or overhead showerhead. It does require a hole be drilled for the bottom part unless you find a way to attach a suction cup or something.

    Shower System with 8" Rain Showerhead, Homelody 5-Function Hand Shower, Adjustab · More Info


    Airuida Brass Retrofit Shower System Brushed Nickel 8 Inch Ultra-thin Round Rain · More Info



    Retrofit Rain Shower System Brushed Nickel Wall Mount 8 Inch Rainfall Shower Hea · More Info


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