We bought our early-1980’s suburban home a few years ago, knowing that several areas would eventually have to be renovated. Our goal was to make our home, and especially our bathroom, age-in-place friendly. While neither my husband nor I have mobility problems (yet), we’ve seen how challenging it can be to manage following a broken ankle or knee reconstruction. So among our needs were a wider bathroom entrance, a larger shower, and a toilet space roomy enough to maneuver with a walker.
My husband and I are novices at redesigning a residence (not counting a DIY house flip). However, I’m a researcher by profession and temperament, and I had searched endlessly through remodel companies, designers, plumbing, layouts, etc. He finally said, “Either pick something and let’s get started or quit talking about it!”
After identifying professionals who were trained in bath and kitchen design and reading (too many) reviews on Houzz, we called on Jenifer Wiley to design our master bathroom. My priorities, I told this teensy blonde dynamo, were 1) function, 2) function, 3) function, and 4) beautiful. She said, “No problem—we’ll get Numbers 1, 2, and 3 done right and Number 4 will flow out of that.” And it did.
After settling on a design that would replace the old garden tub with a curbless shower, Jenifer and I went shopping. Her process, she said, was to start with the stone for the countertops and let the rest of the choices emerge from that pick. At the stone yard, I was ready to make a safe, HGTV-approved choice—a Carrara marble, perhaps—when Jenifer stopped me. “I have done a lot of bathrooms,” she said, “and I have never had a client regret going bold with their stone. But I have had clients regret going safe. You’re spending a lot of money to do this project—don’t chicken out now!” She said she’d make sure I didn’t choose something horrible. And she didn’t. We chose a show-stopping gray-and-taupe Fusion quartzite that ended up being used both for the vanity counter and also a bench in the shower. It’s the star of the bathroom!
Every time I panicked—“This (tile, paint, whatever) isn’t going to work!” —Jenifer reassured me that it would. For example, during our product shopping trip we had picked out plumbing fixtures, but after reflecting on it, I realized I wanted something a little more contemporary. I found a different design from the same manufacturer that I liked better, and with great trepidation showed it to Jenifer. “There are many right answers to this problem,” she said, “and this one will be lovely.” And it is—every single day I go into my new bathroom and admire the graceful lines on the sink faucets! She is also a patient teacher—when I wanted an opaque shower glass, for instance, she brought several samples of glass, explained the pros and cons of each, and then left me alone to see for myself why a clear glass would be a better choice.
Other issues required creative solutions, of which Jenifer was fearless. For example, while the space isn’t tiny, the new water closet and enlarged opening to the bedroom made it difficult to situate the doors. Jenifer suggested using sliding barn-type doors, done in a more contemporary style. They work perfectly. We also learned during the tub demo that a load-bearing support was in an unexpected place. Jenifer and the general contractor put their heads together and came up with an alternative placement of the shower bench. The result looks better than it would have originally.
To wrap up, we have zero regrets about hiring Jenifer Wiley to design our bathroom. The end result exceeded our expectations. As soon as we build our savings back up, we’ll be getting back on her schedule to create a functional and beautiful new kitchen.