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Remodeling a Small Bathroom on a Small Budget With Taste & Class

Pedestal Sink, Pocket Doors, Remodeling a Small Bathroom

Recently I have been looking for new fixtures for the remodel of my bathroom. My home is historical, having been built in the early 1900’s. Although I like to keep period pieces or victorian touches around my home, I also want the modern conveniences of new appliances and fixtures of today. What’s the problem? Well my bathroom is 8′ x 8′ (no where near the size of most modern bathrooms), and trying to find fixtures that fit has been quite a challenge. So for weeks I researched and brainstormed with my husband and my contractor. How could I remodel my small bathroom, on a small budget and keep it’s historical character, taste and class?

The first challenge was to find a tub or shower that would fit in the allotted space. My first thought was to go with a clawfoot tub and pedestal sink, the traditional historical bathroom. After some thought, it really didn’t fit with the rest of the house. As I stated, I’ve kept several historical features (hardwood floors, vintage lighting, a pedestal sink in the guest bath and other period touches), but I’ve also done a lot of updating. Secondly, I’m just not a fan of clawfoot tubs. I tried so hard to like them but I just don’t, and they don’t look very comfortable.

The second thought I had was to just eliminate the tub and go with a shower. But after some thought, I realized that most people interested in an historical home would want to have a tub. And if I ever desired to sale, my husband thought this would pose a big problem and it probably would.

I’m also one of those people that likes to have unique things in my home. I don’t want to look like everyone else. I also wanted to have a luxurious bath, but since my checkbook is limited, I had to search high and low to find things. Here are some of my great finds:

Tub – The tub space I had to work with was 59″ x 30″. This was really a problem because most of the nice whirlpools averaged 66″ x 36″. After some searching I decided to go with either a greek style or asian style tub because of the size. These are much smaller and take up much less space. Because my husband is 6′ 4″, I had to be careful to get something that would work for him. Both the greek and asian style tubs are very deep so although they are short, they make up for it in depth. Because I don’t have room for a seperate shower, I opted to go with a handheld/personal shower application. This can be purchased when you purchase your faucet. This is especially popular with the Roman Faucet Sets. Here are some tub ideas to consider.

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The Trajet Bimini – (kind of an Asian style with an American twist) – The dimensions are 48″ x 32″ x 21 (21 being the height, but also gives you a good idea of depth). You can get it as a whirlpool and/or air system. It comes in the standard white, almond and/or biscuit (kind of beige) color, but you can also get it in some cool colors like – silver, navy or berry. It’s available as a drop in or 3 wall alcove installation. The price runs around $1500 for the basic, but there are some bells and whistles you can add to it.

Kohler Greek Soaking Tub and/or Greek Whirlpool – This tub is also 48″ x 32″, but it is a little deeper, being 23 3/8″. It also comes in a lot of cool, but also some strange colors (desert rose, black, white, almond, biscuit, seafoam green, navy and skylight blue). The price for the soaking tub (no whirlpool or air system) starts at $800-900 (add a few hundred dollars for the skirt/apron) and about $2400 for the whirlpool. Both tubs are a few hundred dollars higher if you buy directly from Kohler. I’d recommend pricing it through shopping.com or pricegrabber.com for a better deal.

True Asian Style Tubs – You can find more “authentic” style (yet with some American flair) tubs at (Genki – A Yahoo Store), or ARP bathtubs. Both of these sites offer pretty economical Asian inspired tubs. The cost runs from about $800 – $1300. If you don’t know much about Asian tubs, these are quite deep. Some you may have to use a step stool to get into or build a step around the tub. ARP bathtubs has some great design ideas for the Asian tub so be sure to visit their site. The dimensions are about 40″ x 40″ x 33″ (pretty deep).

* There are also lots of new styles for clawfoot tubs. The American Bath Factory offers several different styles and packages. If you like the clawfoots and their uniqueness, also take a look at designs by Duravit (although a little more expensive) and sunrisespecialty.com for some clever ideas.

Shower – As I stated, I opted to go with a handheld/personal shower for my tub. However, if you have a small space and you live in an apartment/condominium, you might want to consider getting rid of your tub and just going with a luxury shower. If you own a home you might want to think twice about this as families with small children usually want a tub. Here are some great ideas for luxury showers for small spaces and small budgets. All that I have chosen come with the complete package – shower panel, seats, lights, etc. You won’t have to purchase anything extra. Also the companies/websites I’ve chosen have been cooperative in helping to answer my questions. I found a few “shady” businesses offering luxury showers so be careful. Many sites duplicate the same products so shop around for price, free shipping, etc.

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Corner Showers – If you can accomodate a corner shower, 38×38 or 40×40 is plenty big. Consider the Angus AA-922 on sale for $1495. It comes with the steam shower, acupuncture massage features, hand free telephone, blue flourescent lighting and much more.

Rectangular/Quadrangle Unit – These can easily replace an existing tub. The dimensions are typically somewhere around 35 x 47 x 84 (84 being the height). One of my favorites is the Angus YH300B which runs around $2200 or the WMK SS-A18 which runs around $2800. Keep in mind that although this style costs more, you may have less structural work to do because it will more easily replace your tub. Again, both of these units come with the steam, built-in seat, adjustable body sprays, cool lighting and more.

If you don’t want all of those bells and whistes, or if your home/apartment can’t handle the electrical pull of a steam shower, consider a shower package by WMK. These run about $1300 and come with hydro-massage water jets, shower pole with shower head and enclosure. You can find them at Steam Showers, Inc. or My-Sauna.com.

I love the fact that all of these are glass enclosures giving the illusion of a larger space.

– There are several compact toilets available. These are designed for saving space. Depending upon where your toilet is located, this could free up more space for your shower or tub – it did for us. Both Kohler and American Standard have a line of compact toilets. You might also want to consider going with an elongated or “right height” toilet for more comfort.

Another idea is to go with a corner toilet. Obviously it fits into the corner, thus depending upon your room design can save you space.

Sink – I opted to keep my current sink/vanity to save on costs, but from my research I found some really neat ideas.

Depending on the placement of fixtures, consider a wall mounted corner sink (check out Vintage Tub & Bath for a variety of choices, some of them are quite stunning). This will really work well if you can place a mirror and storage cabinet someplace else in the bathroom. Measuring about 14 x 14 it takes up very little space and runs from about $100 – $400 depending upon your choice. You can also place a hamper, towel basket or something else underneath it. Another option is the pedestal sink which comes in many styles/designs and can be purchased almost anywhere. With both of these options, keep in mind that you will need to plan for other options for storage.

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Other Design Ideas/Tips

I also decided to go with vertical stripes on the wall. It gave a nice splash of color and per designers, vertical stripes can make the room look larger and taller.

Consider rearranging the bathroom. My budget would not allow for this, but I came up with a design using the Kohler Virtual Planner that would have given me a lot more space.

Lighting/curtains – My bathroom was pretty dark as is with most older homes. I chose to go with splashes of light/bright colors and took away the blinds opting for sheers instead so that I could let in more light. Of course, the sheers may not work if your bathroom is not in a private/hidden place in the house. Be sure to add lots of dramatic lighting over your mirrors and even over the tub area. It can really brighten the room and even brighten your morning.

Shelving – The small tub gave me additional room for a cabinet at the foot of the tub. This gave me more storage for towels, essential oils, bubble baths, etc. and it looks pretty awesome. Consider built in glass shelves (you can get them from Kohler) and towel bars, robe hooks, etc. Organization can also make a small room look bigger.

Doors – Although it may seem a little odd, you might want to think about switching to pocket doors in your bathroom to save on space. It is said that pocket doors can add about 10 square feet to your floor space. So you might want to get rid of your traditional hinged doors and opt for the additional floor space. Behind the door might be a good place/adequate space for a storage cabinet, vanity or “non-traditional” piece of furniture to add that WOW factor to your room.

As you can see, no matter the size of your bathroom, or the size of your budget, you too can have a luxury bath. Happy remodeling!


  • (Kohler 3-D virtual site), (The Trajet Bimini), (Asian Tubs – #1), (ARP Asian Bathtubs), (Duravit Tubs)