Do you sometimes think taking on a bathroom remodel is something you must endure more than it’s something you’ll love doing? I’m sure Tami of Agoura Hills, California certainly had these thoughts during her journey (along with her husband Todd) to redo a way-too-small bathroom which had not been renovated in 30 years (see the before image below).
You see, Tami’s bathroom remodel took 8 months to complete (and a lot of personal research and effort). The project could have been done in a shorter time – but Tami was determined to get the best (and longest lasting) products for her project. It’s funny I would be writing this article about bathroom remodeling endurance and perseverance on my Dad’s birthday. You see my Dad passed away 28 years ago, and one of his sayings which is cemented in my mind even today is, “An ounce of perseverance is worth a pound of genius, and in this family Michael we ain’t got no genius, so you need to work your butt off.”
When Tami told me the story of her bathroom remodeling project it’s one of patience, planning and above all else perseverance (Dad would have been proud of you Tami). In this article, you’ll get an inside peak (and 5 inspiring tips) to see how Tami and Todd not only found ways to push through their bathroom remodel, but achieved an excellent finished product. Let’s dig in.
If your schedule is like mine it’s crazy. You’re personally joined at the hip to your cell phone. Work demands are well…too demanding. You feel (at times) you’re short-changing your family and friends. You know loving others is all that really matters.
At this point you may be asking yourself, “Mike, what does this have to do with bathroom remodeling?” Well, homes can and should go beyond bricks, mortar, lumber and shingles. A home (or bathroom) properly designed and remodeled can become a transformative experience (yes – I know it’s a bit flowery, but I’m sticking with it). Homes can create a feeling of peace, tranquility and a connection to nature with the right design which can provide a temporary refuge from your craziness.
While any of us can experience this connection to nature in a home by touring an architectural masterpiece like Falling Water designed by the great (yet completely arrogant) Frank Lloyd Wright, we can’t stay in this very cool mid-century modern home with our friends and family (boy – I wish I could).
Fortunately, if you want to escape the insanity of being a Soccer Mom/Dad or hard-charging much too busy city executive you can find places other than Falling Water to have this connection with nature or your family.
One such place is at Sequoia Beach Dreamery (owned by Andrew Zarrillo). This vacation home rental is located next to the Austin Creek and surrounded by 600 year- old redwoods in the tiny town of Cazadero, located in the Russian River resort area of Sonoma Country, California. This unique Zen-inspired home is now even more special with a transformative bathroom remodeling project which connects the homes awe-inspiring exterior with a tranquil interior.
Join me on a journey and see how this home’s “wet areas” (bathroom, outdoor shower, hot tub and river) can help you disconnect from your “busy-ness” and reconnect with nature and those you love.
The Sequoia Beach Dreamery Bathroom Remodel
A bathroom (or your bathroom) can be simply thought of as a collection of a lot of things. You’ve got a vanity, sink, toilet and shower/tub. To have a special, transformative bathroom you need to create an “experience” beyond just a bunch of plumbing parts. To do this step back and ask these questions:
What’s the theme of my bathroom remodel?
How do I want to feel when entering and leaving this room?
How can I inject my passions, my personality, into the space?
When I asked Andrew about the theme of this bathroom remodel he said to me, “Mike – it’s simple. I wanted the look, feel and tranquility of a Japanese garden. I wanted to bring the outdoors into the bathroom.”
These earth tone colors create a relaxing “earthy” feel to the shower
As Andrew expressed to me that while the old bathroom was functional, it was also dated and had a small enclosed shower which wasn’t welcoming.
The bathroom before was a bit drab – but functional
Based on the on-line review below I think Andrew has done a darn-good job achieving his goal of transforming this dated bathroom into an inspired and beautiful design.
“Andrew has thought of everything. He has an eye for design and creating beautiful spaces.”
Let’s see how Andrew made his bathroom vision come alive.
Marilyn called me in tears. She said, “Mike, my glass block shower has become a nightmare. These idiot contractors don’t know what they’re doing. The grout joints are lousy, the shower pan and walls don’t match up. Can you help me?”
I wish I could tell you this was the first time I’ve received a call from someone whose glass block shower project was not going well. You may be wondering, “Why is that?” The biggest reason is most contractors (and DIY homeowners) have not done this type of project before. They may be experienced in bathroom remodeling– but a glass block shower (a material you can’t cut to fit like tile) requires a game plan to make sure all the elements (the shower pan, glass block wall and interior shower wall panels or tile) work together seamlessly.
In this article my goal is to not only give you the 5 reasons you don’t want to build a glass block shower without a plan, but provide you with inside tips to make sure you get it done right the first time (note – I think I can help with this because I’ve been supplying and installing glass block showers since what feels like back when Moses was a boy. I started with this product line in 1985 – when I had more hair and a mustache). I don’t want you to be the next “Marilyn” I mentioned above or for your project to resemble the quote below.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
I love sunny falls days in Ohio where the leaves have turned multiple shades of yellow, green, red and orange – yet we still get near summer (in the low 70’s) temperatures. Life was made to be enjoyed surrounded by light, color and not too cold temperatures (unfortunately the winter will not be too far behind– bummer). You might ask what does all this talk about the crispness and colors of Fall leaves have to do with glass block windows? Well – I’ll tell you!
Glass block windows are a “workmanlike” product. Trustworthy – built thick and strong like a tank to protect your family and keep intruders out. Functional – they keep the nasty winds from whipping through your basement windows. Private – helping get light in places like bathroom windows without worrying about peeping Tom’s looking in. But maybe, just maybe, glass block windows can be about more than that!
Have you ever thought about a glass block windows as fun, colorful or even a piece of art (while still doing the “dirty work” of protecting you and your family against high energy bills and intruders)? This may be a “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” moment for you – but this timeless material can actually be fun and functional.
If you’re remodeling or building new home this Fall take a peek at some imaginative and evolutionary things you can do with glass block now! Life (and your windows) doesn’t need to be lived in “black and white” any longer. Don’t be afraid to jazz up your windows with pattern and/or colors to give them your unique sense of style. Check out these 6 ideas.
Yes – I’ve been involved with selling glass block shower pans and walls since 1985. Ouch – that’s a pretty long time (it’s also why I like telling people I started in business at the age of 11 – although no one is believing me!). During this time I’ve heard so many myths about glass block shower walls I thought it’s high time to set things straight – in writing!
You see – since a glass block shower wall is often a niche project for homeowners and builders it’s like everyone is needing to recreate the wheel each time a job is done. Many of you don’t have the answers to the correct way to build and anchor a glass block shower wall so you seek out advice from your general contractor, builder or some random clerk at a home center store. The reality – most of these people don’t know what the heck they are talking about.
My goal for this article is simple – bust the myths about how to anchor a glass block shower wall. Without further delay let’s go.
Urban loft spaces in trendy areas like Victorian Village in Columbus or Little Italy in Cleveland can be cool but not if they are dark and have closed in spaces. One challenge of loft apartment housing is how to create a light open space while creating visual separations between rooms. Once excellent way to do this is through the use of distinctive modern glass block wall partitions.
Glass blocks have moved on from its traditional roots to now incorporated fun and vibrant colors and eye-popping textured looks which stand out in your modern home. Check out these 5 cool ideas to move light through the inside of your loft while providing privacy and an interesting look which can be as unique as you are.
The process of building a glass block shower seems mysterious to many. How is this wall going to be built? Who is going to do it? How do we plan the glass block shower so it will fit onto the shower pan? In short how do we make this project happen so it doesn’t get screwed up?
As a result of lack of planning over the years I have been called (unfortunately after the fact) on many glass block showers which either look like a 10 year old (or some very inexperienced dude) built them or have failed as a result of using the wrong materials or improperly designed shower base. I really don’t want to see these blunders happen to you!
In the article below we’ll take a quick journey to explore the 5 biggest blunders I’ve seen in glass block shower walls – but way more important than that I’ll give you the solutions to avoid these costly mistakes. Let’s dig in!
Here’s two things you can count on. First, bathroom styles can and do change. Second, the design and products in your bathroom will need to change to keep pace with how you’ll want to use the space.
Both of these realities became apparent to Chris and Cindy McGovern after they moved into their Columbus Ohio home. While the size of the bathroom was large enough, the 1990’s look (it had a large Jacuzzi tub) and small stand up shower just wasn’t going to work. When I talked to Cindy about the Jacuzzi tub she said, “I used it one time. I felt like I was going to sink into the darn thing it was so big. Instead of this tub being something I would enjoy it looked like a lot of work to me!”
In addition the shower was a tiny 3’ x 3’ space which would be needed every day. As Chris said to me, “Mike – we wanted a finished bathroom which was cool yet functional and complimented our lifestyle. We did not want a finished space which was so slick that it would go out of style in a year. My wife Cindy wanted this place to feel like a spa. So we called in our A-team designer Marilyn Livingston -who really gets us – to help out.”
In the article below we’ll look at 3 ideas Marilyn, Cindy and Chris along with their builder Fred Ritchey of Ritchey Construction used to create a timeless, functional and spa-like master bathroom design.
You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).
An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.
While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.
The old bathroom
After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:
The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.
With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.
In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).
It’s easy to have a bathroom which lives big, bright and beautiful when you have tons of space. The question becomes how can you design a small bathroom to create this same sense of beauty, space and function? This was the challenge facing Don Laufersweiler (of Columbus Ohio) when he decided to remodel and convert his poorly functioning existing “Jack and Jill” bathroom into a comfortable luxury master bath.
As Don said to me, “My goal is to leave this house feet first – and I needed to design a bathroom I would love and would work for me for years to come.” Let’s see how Don (in conjunction with his custom craftsman and contractor Al Barnes) were able to design and build a master bathroom which lives big, shines bright and offers distinctive beauty – all in a 5’ x 8’ space.