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A Bathroom Stuck in Time

Written by Karen Marley
Imagery by Matt Wittmeyer photography

Is your bathroom a time warp from the 1990s?

Many builder-grade production bathrooms built in high-end 1990s
housing developments share similar traits. Hallmark features include
a spacious footprint with a small vanity that is out of scale with the room and lacking adequate storage. Corner bathtubs and separate wall showers are common. Hollywood lighting, brass fixtures, and abundant carpeting also make regular appearances. 

Simple Changes
Maryanna Estornes, Designer with Bright Ideas by Martinec, a residential remodeling and design firm located in Big Flats, New York, says there are simple changes a homeowner can do to modernize a dated bathroom. She suggests swapping out the small vanity for a larger one to balance the space. Doing so also gains extra storage, which reduces clutter. Adding cabinet feet, new fixtures and lighting allows you to customize the design to your tastes. Plumbing provides
another opportunity.
    “Plumbing technology has changed. Adding a second shower-head or body sprays creates a luxury feeling in your own home,” says Estornes.

A Larger Overhaul
Of course, there are many other trademarks of a 1990s bathroom. In the case of one homeowner, the bathroom seemed to have them all.
    The cavernous room was harshly segmented with dark colors and glass blocks making up one of the walls for a tiny shower stall. This layout created a small foyer of unused space before entering the shower. An undersized vanity, demarcated with carpeting and accented with overhead Hollywood lighting and brass fixtures dominated the opposite wall. A standard, Jacuzzi® bathtub with decking filled out the remaining corner.
    A few dramatic changes utilizing the same footprint transformed the dated bathroom into luxurious space that overlays a spa-like
experience onto practical functionality and modern style.
    The footprint for the shower stall and foyer were replaced with a larger shower of universal design. An oversized, comfortable tiled bench with a grab bar and removable showerhead are at one end. A fixed showerhead occupies the other along with body sprays.
The previous disproportionate small shower tiles were swallowed by the big room. New 24” x 24” tiles restore continuity and balance. Clear glass was installed in place of the cloudy glass blocks bringing light to the formerly confined, dark space. Two recessed lights were also added.
    A sleek, freestanding bright white tub now occupies the corner formerly dominated by the Jacuzzi® tub and decking. With the congestion of the decking gone, the corner glows with a fresh and airy feeling emphasized by the natural light of two large windows. The vanity is also bigger and additional cabinetry provides storage space for towels, cosmetics, and medicines. A change in flooring also contributed to the new look. 
    “Carpeting is never a good choice for a bathroom,” says Estornes. To remedy the carpet issue, the entire floor, and parts of the shower, are covered in Daltile with a marble look providing continuity
and balance.  
    The homeowners selected coordinated fixtures in a brushed nickel finish. Estornes explains that matted, textured finishes are popular. She exclaims,  “Delta has a beautiful champagne bronze!”
    The dark wood finish of the cabinetry awnd vanity introduce warmth bringing harmony to the bright white and cool color palette of the rest of the bathroom. But this is a contrast that works.
    “It feels like one glorious room instead of two separate spaces,” says Estornes.  “It feels like how it is supposed to feel.”   

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