Who uses it: A young military couple
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
Size: 49 square feet (4.5 square meters)
With just 32½ square feet, a swinging door and a single vanity in the upstairs bathroom of their 1940s row house, these homeowners in Alexandria, Virginia, found it impossible to even brush their teeth at the same time. By expanding into an adjacent linen closet and reconfiguring the space, designer Michelle Schmauder gave them some breathing room. The military couple were stationed in Latvia during almost all of the design and construction process, so the designer communicated with them via inspiration photos and design boards over the internet. When they finally arrived home, they told her they were thrilled with the results.
Style. “My clients were drawn to industrial style, black and white, and patterned floor tiles mixed with reclaimed wood,” Schmauder says. “And their row house is right next to the railroad tracks — you can feel the train in the house when it goes by.” The nearby train tracks inspired part of the bath as well.
Scope of work. This was a full renovation. The Schmauder Group completed the design and construction. By taking over a linen closet in the hallway, the designer could expand the footprint of the bath from just shy of 5 feet by 6½ feet (33 square feet) to 6½ by 7½feet (49 square feet).
Vanity. Schmauder is a fan of using unexpected pieces for vanities; in this case she found a TV console. “This piece was easier to convert into a vanity in terms of plumbing, because we didn’t have to cut around drawers like we would have had to with a dresser,” she says. “And the storage it offers makes up for the loss of the linen closet.”
The TV console is made of reclaimed fir with an antique gray finish and a black iron frame. It is 30 inches high. By using vessel sinks that are 5 inches high, Schmauder brought the total height up to 35 inches. She then mounted the faucets at 42 inches off the floor, leaving a comfortable amount of space for hand-washing.
Vanity: Romaine TV console, Wayfair; vessel sinks: CB-013, Decor Star; lights: Vista 2, Cedar & Moss; tile: 3-by-6-inch subway tile in Bright Ice White gloss, United States Ceramic Tile; paint: Snowbound, Sherwin-Williams
Mirrors. “The visual weight of the mirror frames is about the same as that of the Schluter strips,” Schmauder says. This creates a nice balance throughout the room, as the Schluter strips also appear in the shower.
Tip: To choose patterns that work together, she advises, find a common element that is echoed in some way, such as color or shape. Here the black-and-white and diamondesque shapes around the circles in the main floor tile play off the hexagons on the shower floor. The shower floor tiles “are rounded a bit, which also works well with the floor tile,” Schmauder says. She repeated the use of black Schluter strips in the shower to outline the floor tile and the niche, and in the corners of the shower walls.
Drain. Schmauder recommends paying attention to the apparatus that goes around the shower drain (commonly chrome), in addition to the shower drain itself. “Unlike drains, they don’t seem to come in matte black yet, but I realized the plain white of PVC would work well with the double-hexagon tile,” she says.
Shower floor tile: double hexagon, Floor & Decor
- Save space with a pocket door.
- If you’re looking for something outside of the ready-made vanity selections, open your mind to other types of furniture. In addition to TV consoles, Schmauder also likes dressers and console tables.
- Schluter strips are a fresh alternative to bullnose or pencil tile at the edge of a tile wall.
- Use wall-mounted faucets to save space.
- If you like the look of a shower partition with divided panes, consider an option with the grid applied on the outside for easy cleaning.