Creative bathroom remodel provides unique basement oasis

Creative bathroom remodel provides unique basement oasis

When Angie’s List member Scott H. and his family bought their Seattle house in 2001, it had only one functional bathroom on the main floor.

“There was a bathroom in the basement, but we called it our 'fishing shack' bathroom because it was the kind of bathroom you might finding in some dilapidated cabin on the edge of secluded lake,” Scott says. “We tried to not let our guests see it, and it was primarily used as a storage space.”

When Scott and his family decided to remodel their basement, they chose to gut the space entirely and start from scratch, freeing them up from the confines of the original bathroom layout and giving them the opportunity to build their dream bathroom, which now boasts a walk-in shower with dual shower heads, a custom sink vanity created from a modified dresser, hydronic heating, an integrated laundry room, new sconces and lighting and new windows.

Scott and his family are particularly excited about three features in their new bathroom: the vanity, the laundry chute and the new walk-in shower.

The idea for the vanity, which was created from a modification of Scott’s wife’s childhood dresser, came about after a conversation between Scott’s wife and the contractor, who prefers to reuse existing materials in his work.

“My wife thought that her childhood dresser, complete with mirror, might make a good candidate, and after looking at pictures and considering the space, our contractor agreed,” Scott says. “What I hadn't realized was how minimally invasive his modifications would have to be: The plumbing is routed in such a way that all the drawers are still functional, even the top-center one below the sink," he remarks. "The addition of the custom concrete countertop completed its acclimation into the overall remodel and made the piece feel like a natural part of the bathroom.”

Another feature the family enjoys is the new laundry chute, which is part of an integrated laundry space separated from the bathroom by a set of reclaimed wooden closet doors. The chute was added after the old furnace, and the brick chimney that it vented through, were removed from the home, leaving an empty channel running through the home.

“Rather than sheetrock that over, we opted instead to turn that into a laundry chute, similar to the one I had growing up in my childhood home,” Scott says. “The chute itself terminates in the laundry room via a 45-degree slope that would otherwise leave the laundry on the bathroom floor. 

“This angled part of the chute was covered with a concrete adornment, and to balance the room out, our contractor installed another, completely ornamental concrete adornment on the opposite wall," he says. "So these two concrete triangles serve as a sort-of angular archway that marks the passage into the shower. I love how this otherwise functional distraction was turned into a visual highlight of the space.”

As a finishing flourish, Scott and his family are enamored with the signature feature of their new bathroom: the walk-in shower with dual overhead shower heads.

“The shower was inspired by a vacation we spent at The Place at Cayou Cove, a lovely B&B on Orcas Island, [northwest] of Seattle,” he says. “Amongst its many amenities was a gorgeous walk-in shower with oversized shower head. We wanted to recreate a bit of that luxury, and our dual-head walk-in shower accomplishes that.”

In addition, the shower area also features darkly stained concrete and a heated shower bench. The bench is warmed, along with the rest of the bathroom, through in-floor hydronic heating, giving the bathroom an even, comfortable heat even on a cold winter Seattle day.

“The bathroom is finished off with lovely sconce lighting and beautiful trim work throughout,” Scott says. “Despite the laundry room, the whole experience is somewhat spa-like. It makes our main-floor bathroom feel a little underwhelming in comparison.

“We couldn't be happier with it," he remarks.


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Members John and Maureen Purcell bath before the remode, which shows access to laundry chute below and left of the sink, and a built-in medicine cabinet. (Photos courtesy of Maureen Purcell)
Members John and Maureen Purcell bath before the remode, which shows access to laundry chute below and left of the sink, and a built-in medicine cabinet. (Photos courtesy of Maureen Purcell)

Angie's List members and service providers relate their experiences with bathroom remodeling projects in 2013, including trends, average cost and mistakes made.

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