Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bathroom Reno - All About the Sink

So far in this blog series, I have covered why we renovated our basement bathroom, what things look like now, and how we put together the shower area.  Today, I’ll cover the sink area.

This corner was the one area of the room that really gave me a hard time as I was working through the design.  It seemed like I would make plans, then question them, or have them thwarted by the room itself.  Although I still like my original plans, I think the end result is a good compromise, and I’m truly happy with it.

My original thought for this room in general was to keep it open and airy - as much as that’s possible in a basement!  I feel like if you were to make a drinking game of HGTV, “open and airy” would be on the list... along with “open concept”, “spa-like bathroom” and “dream home”.  So, sorry to use buzz words, but it sounded better than “less of a spider motel than the last bathroom was”, haha.  Even though we added square footage to this bathroom during the reno, I was still concerned that it would feel tight.  There’s no natural light in this room, which I think goes a long way to keeping a room from feeling like a closet.  The way I planned to incorporate “open and airy” into the vanity area was with a wooden countertop with nothing or maybe just one shelf underneath.  I was afraid that a full cabinet would take up too much space.

The first hit to my plan was discovering that the waste line for the upstairs bathroom runs through this room.  It was hidden in the closet wall previously (see the floor plans below to help visualize this).  Here’s a photo where you can see what I’m talking about (the big white pipe on the right side):

It used to stick out further from the wall, but we had our plumber push it back toward the wall as far as it could go.  The pipe actually had a tiny leak in it, so it had to be replaced anyway.  As soon as we saw the pipe, I knew that my plans of a generously sized counter top were pretty unlikely.  I thought through a few options, the first of which was to create a bump out from the pipe all the way into the corner, so that the whole area would stick out rather than just around the pipe.  Doing this wouldn’t leave me much depth for the counter, because it would run into the door.

I also thought about bumping out the top portion a little less than the bottom, because you can see we would only need to bump out a few inches for most of the pipe, then move out further at the bottom where the pipe goes into the concrete.  I was hoping that I could hide the extra bump out under the sink counter somehow, but in the end I couldn’t figure out how to make that look right either.

I should also mention that my original plan for having some storage in the room was to use a medicine cabinet mirror.  The problem was that the plumbing was coming from above, and I didn’t talk to my plumber about my plans, and the piping ended up running through where the medicine cabinet would have gone.  I also would have been putting this into an exterior wall, and I was concerned about not having enough insulation between the cabinet and the outside of the house.  So, while dealing with the waste line issue, I was also trying to resolve the medicine cabinet thing, just to make the decisions more complicated.

You can see from the photos that we ended up just boxing in the waste line, which created a little nook for the sink.  I didn’t like this idea at first because it minimized the counter space and also put the lighting in the corner.  It also killed the medicine cabinet idea, because even if I did have the plumbing moved and figure out insulation, the mirror wouldn’t have enough room to swing open!  But, of all of my options, I think this one looked the least intrusive, and still left enough space in our little bathroom.

I’m usually pretty good at visualizing how something will look before I start, but when I am staring at this:

And trying to figure out how it will look and feel with drywall and sinks and counters, I was pushed to my limit!

So, to summarize, I started with a plan to have just a countertop with no cabinet, and a medicine cabinet as storage, both of which were thrown out.  I have written in previous posts that I wanted this bathroom to theoretically be able to function as a master bathroom, even if we never used it that way, because I think it would help the resale value of our house.  Once the medicine cabinet was thrown out, I was left with no functional storage.  We have a generiously sized linen closet in the upstairs bathroom, so this one didn’t need tons of space, but we at least needed room for the necessities!  I thought about trying to tuck some storage in between the studs in the wall, but couldn’t find a way in this room that wouldn't just look goofy.  The best answer was really to give up on my no-cabinet inspiration and build in some storage.  And, because it needed to go in the little nook I had to create, we had to custom build it.

I won’t go through all of the details of how we built the cabinet, because honestly it took a few tries and was really frustrating, but if someone reading this would like more info, leave a comment and I’ll try to write up a separate post.  We ended up building cabinet storage where the dink drain is, and then a large drawer underneath.   I think this at least makes the master bath idea viable.  We also kept the live edge piece of walnut that I had planned to use as a stand-alone countertop as the top of the vanity.  It was sealed with four coats of Waterlox, and although there isn’t much counter space, I really like the look.

The sink and faucet came together, which was handy in this case given that the faucet needed to clear the vessel-style sink.  The size is appropriate for the space, and the look is simple, but modern.

I chose to tile the whole back wall in subway tile to tie into the shower area, and to have less visual breaks in the wall.  Visual continuity helps a small space feel larger - if you break it up into too may sections, your eye can’t travel very far without reaching a break, and highlights the small size of the space.  This was also my thinking in choosing white paint and a white ceiling - no harsh breaks.

The light’s brushed nickel finish was chosen to match the faucet, and I liked the globe shaped glass - there were enough straight lines in here, so something round was a nice break.  The mirror is about as big as I could find to fit in the nook, and has a shelf which gives a nice place to put soap and such, rather than on the counter.  I first saw this mirror in an inspiration photo from Fixer Upper, and managed to find it online!  See the source list here for a link to the site.  

I think that pretty much covers this corner of our new bathroom - feel free to leave a comment with any questions!  Stay tuned for posts on the floor/ceiling and finishing details!