Out with the Mold and In with a New Luxurious Master Bathroom

Homeowners John and Christa Carter transform their deteriorating master bathroom into an elegant escape, featuring a grand iron chandelier, soaking tub and walk-in shower.

hgrm-Make-Room-local-bathroom-overall_s4x3 Photography by Jason Kisner

A brass-accented ceiling fan, a linen closet with bifold mirrored doors, and a big jetted garden tub done entirely in dusty pink tile. Before they decided to remodel it, John and Christa Carter's master bathroom was a pitch-perfect tribute to Golden Girls-era design.

"When we bought the house, we knew we bought work," Christa says. "Nothing had been done to the place in 20 years. But it was overwhelming trying to decide what to do first. With that big garden tub and all that mauve tile, you couldn't start one thing without doing another—we knew the bathroom would be a big expense down the line."

To make things tolerable until they could afford a remodel, the Carters painted over the floral striped wallpaper and oak vanity and added a couple of modern fixtures. But the bathroom finally forced their hand when a lingering mildew smell became impossible to ignore: plumbing leaks behind the shower and tub were destroying the drywall and tile. "We'd put our kids in the big tub and the tile would just crumble around them," Christa says.

Before the remodel, the Carter's shower was a tight squeeze and the tile was living on borrowed time, as plumbing leaks behind the wall were rotting the underlying structure. Done in ceramic tile with a glass tile accent from Crossville Inc. Tile, the shower features both a traditional showerhead and a handheld spray for easy cleaning.

So she and John took the plunge. Christa put together an idea book with the help of her aunt, an interior decorator, and she and John consulted with a designer, plumbing and lighting pros, and their construction company. They decided to take on part of the demolition themselves to keep the budget manageable, and they made a list of wants for the new space.


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The Homeowners' Wish List

The old bathroom, despite its roomy footprint, had an awkward layout. The small shower and the toilet were crammed together in an alcove with no separation, leaving what Christa calls "a big dance floor in the middle." The linen closet was shallow and had only four modular shelves inside, and the vanity offered limited storage space.

Christa and John's requests:

A bigger, more beautiful shower. They wanted more space and more storage, and after some discussion, they asked that the square doorway to the shower alcove be replaced with a more dramatic arch that would match the look of the room’s large window.

Smarter storage. The bathroom's ample space could certainly be used to better advantage.

Access to the walk-in master closet from the bathroom. Since they would probably be losing the impractical linen closet in the redesign, John and Christa hoped to link their large master closet to the new bath.

A cleaner look—both literally and figuratively. Christa wanted a fresh, simple look that would be easier to clean. That meant swapping out the big jetted tub for an elegant freestanding soaking tub, and adding handheld sprays there and in the shower to make cleanup a breeze.

Rearranging the Space

Removing the toilet from the alcove and giving it its own space was the first order of business—this would allow the Carters to turn the entire alcove into a roomy tiled shower space with both dry and wet areas. To provide a separate space for the toilet, the original linen closet was removed, and a bit of room was stolen from the master closet on the other side of the wall. A space-saving pocket door now divides the toilet compartment from the bathroom.

Still, although the designer tried several different layout configurations, the larger shower ultimately meant sacrificing access to the master closet from the bathroom. So without a linen closet in the bath, smarter storage became imperative.


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Storage Solutions

With the linen closet gone, the homeowners incorporated alternative storage options.

Four storage niches in the shower. "No more shampoo bottles on the floor," Christa says.

Robe hooks instead of towel bars. Placed in the dry area of the shower, hooks take up a fraction of the space and allow towels to dry more quickly.

A deep storage bench under the window. Linens have their home here, while tissue is stored in a basket in the toilet compartment.

A modern vanity. The taller new piece is more comfortable to use and has more drawer and cabinet space than the old version.

The Final Product

John and Christa say the remodeling process was nearly glitch-free, and they're thrilled with the results. The new sage color is the epitome of cool, clean, and soothing. "I didn't realize how dark all that mauve tile had made the room," Christa admits. The freestanding tub and walk-in shower give the room an authentic spa feel, and the space is crowned with a distinctive salvage-store find: a distressed wood chandelier that shows off the room's vaulted 12-foot ceilings to best advantage.

Plus, Christa says, no more mold. "This bathroom might just be the best-smelling room in the house," she jokes.

John makes no bones about what he likes the most: "Definitely the shower," he says. "The old one was so cramped. This one is larger and has better features and it just looks really cool."

And there was a bonus benefit in store: because the master closet had been rearranged anyway, John was inspired to outfit it with a new modular shelving system that made the most of the new layout. "It wasn't officially part of the renovation," he says, "but we didn’t have a functional closet before, so I decided to install it myself. And you know what? It's a game-changer."

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