Blue Master Bath Designed for Tranquility
Stacy Kon is a full-time student of Eastern medicine who is looking to start her own private practice specializing in acupuncture. The former advertising executive, wife and mother of two explains, "Everything I practice nowadays is peace- and tranquility-based, the total opposite of life in the advertising business. Whether it's acupuncture, tuina, qi gong or herbal remedies, helping people feel relaxed and teaching them to live a healthy lifestyle is my focus."
When it came time to remodel her dated, dysfunctional Los Angeles master bathroom, there was only one color she had in mind to ensure the updated space felt both calm and tranquil: blue.
In its existing state, the 5' x 8' bathroom was dark, dingy and cramped. "The bathroom seemed like an afterthought," says Stacy. "Plus, I needed a space to relax in the bath as well as a full shower." As it was, the bathroom didn't have enough space to do both.
After carefully planning the remodel, Stacy decided to steal an extra two feet of width from the adjacent closet, providing enough space to accommodate a soaking tub, a double vanity, new commode and a clever solution for a shower.
Although the ideas for the remodel inspired Stacy, the costs for plumbing put a damper on the excitement. "The plumbing came to more than $3,000," she says. "But this was supposed to be a blue, cool retreat and there's no way to have blue or cool without water."
Choosing the proper color proved more difficult than Stacy had anticipated. From the start, she was certain the new bathroom would have an overall cool vibe, from concrete floors and counters to a modern glass shower door and polished chrome fixtures.
When it came time to choose the proper blue, not only for the walls and ceiling, but also for the room's accessories, Stacy found herself stuck between three different colors:
- Peacock blue
- Steel blue
- Robin’s-egg blue
"Blue reminded me of an amazing trip my husband and I took for our tenth wedding anniversary to Santa Barbara," she says. "Our hotel had so many shades of blue, and I just loved them all."
The Scope of the Blue Bathroom Remodel
Stacy set a budget of $18,000, and a timeline of six weeks to complete her to-do list.
- Tear out the closet and open it up as part of the new space
- Remove the existing tile, tear out the existing drywall
- Remove the tub, tear out and replace all fixtures
- Update all electrical
- Cap off existing and add new plumbing
- Pour polished concrete flooring
- Have a custom double vanity and open shelving made and installed
- Install a new commode
- Install white subway tile
- Add recessed can lights
- Install custom, modern sliding-glass doors on industrial tracks to create a spa-like entrance
- Paint the walls and ceiling robin's-egg blue.
First up was the removal of the existing fixtures. "As someone who hasn't lived through many remodels, I had no idea how messy the removal of old tile and fixtures can be," Stacy says. "It makes such a mess that you need to move out."
The design concept for Stacy's spa-like master bathroom was cool, peaceful serenity. Instead of choosing tile for the floors and soaking tub surround, she had custom, cool gray concrete poured into forms made to size.
Cool Concrete Design
Once the space was reconfigured and the plumbing and electrical were updated and in place, the new design elements started making their way into the space. Stacy's contractor moved on to the concrete process, which included framing out the floor with 2x4s, creating a form in which to pour the concrete.
The contractor used a similar process for adding the concrete siding to the soaking tub. "Pouring concrete is really cool to watch," Stacy says.
The blue undertones of the gray concrete matched perfectly with the robin’s-egg blue of the walls and ceiling.” After the floors were complete, the custom vanity was installed, and then it was time for more concrete. In order for the vanity to support the weight of the concrete tops, Stacy's cabinetmaker had to reinforce the structure appropriately.
Soothing Shower Solutions
Just like any remodel, there were a few problems that arose throughout the process. Although installing the plumbing, electrical, flooring, soaking tub and vanity went as planned, adding a fully functioning shower was much trickier.
"The way I saw a shower making its way into the space in addition to the soaking tub was to add a free-standing glass shower door on a swivel," Stacy says. "When not in use, the door could lay flat against the wall, but when in use, it could be pulled outward from the wall inside the shower, thus creating a half wall along the right side of the tub, keeping the water from the showerhead contained."
Although Stacy's idea worked, it took some engineering to make sure the wall/door would function properly and safely. In order to make this work, the wall on which the door would be installed needed reinforcement, achieved by adding a few more 2x4s between the studs along the wall. "Luckily, we figured out the engineering of the door before the subway tile went up," Stacy says. "Sure, it took some time and made a little bit of a drywall mess, but it was necessary and worth it."
By opting for frosted-glass sliding doors, Stacy not only added privacy between the master bathroom and bedroom, but she also allowed the natural light to be diffused as it enters the bathroom, creating a soft glow on the robin’s-egg blue walls.
At the tail end of the project, Stacy's contractor installed the sliding frosted-glass doors on an industrial track which truly gave the bathroom a spa-like feel, due heavily in part to the way the frosted glass diffuses the natural light, casting a cool glow on the watery-blue walls.
With graduation getting closer, Stacy is thrilled to be putting her meditative skills to test in her new, spa-like retreat. Although she was apprehensive about her choice of blue when it first covered the walls and ceiling, she is pleased with the final results.
"Sure, it makes me think of what it's like to live inside a tube of toothpaste, but I really do love everything about my new bathroom, especially the cool robin's-egg blue," she says. "I even have a great name for it: 'Aqua Fresh.'"