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Our Master Bathroom (and the Changes We Made Halfway Through!)

Architectural Digest logo Architectural Digest 2019-11-14 Joy Cho

Oh Joy! and Clever are teaming up to show you what it's really like to build a house from the ground up.

a man standing in front of a building: Joy stands in her (under construction) master bathroom. © Photo: Lily Glass Photography Joy stands in her (under construction) master bathroom.

For my entire adult life, I have dreamed of having a nice bathroom that wasn't tiny or falling apart or where the sinks didn't have to be fixed every few months (which has pretty much been my experience with my adult rental apartments). I just want a bathroom that feels luxurious...and works! So, when we started designing this house five years ago, I wondered how our new bathroom could give me my most "Calgon, take me away!" experience...

When McShane Murnane at Project M+ initially asked for our must-haves for the master bathroom, it was all about the bathtub. I haven't taken a bath in my home or apartment since I lived with my parents over 22 years ago. To me, getting a grown-up home meant that I would get to draw myself a luxurious bath at the end of a long day and let Calgon take me away. I even made Bob get in the bathtub when we visited the Ferguson showroom years ago, so that we could find one we both felt comfortable in.

a boat sitting on top of a table: Joy's husband Bob tries out the big tub. © Architectural Digest Joy's husband Bob tries out the big tub.

Other than a focal bathtub, my only other requirement was to have two sinks. I longed to never again have moments where our heads are butting over the sink while trying to wash faces and brush teeth on an early Tuesday morning while getting ourselves and our kids ready for the day. So here's a look at the design plan that came about...

a room with white walls: On the left of this drawing is a large window, which serves as the focal point of the bathroom. The bathtub sits right by that window. Next to it, there is a separate, smaller shower. On the other side of the shower divided by a pony wall is the toilet, which sits next to a double vanity. Five years ago when this layout was designed, we had one kid with one on the way. We didn't know how our lives as parents of two would really be and so the bathtub seemed like something that should take priority back then... © Architectural Digest On the left of this drawing is a large window, which serves as the focal point of the bathroom. The bathtub sits right by that window. Next to it, there is a separate, smaller shower. On the other side of the shower divided by a pony wall is the toilet, which sits next to a double vanity. Five years ago when this layout was designed, we had one kid with one on the way. We didn't know how our lives as parents of two would really be and so the bathtub seemed like something that should take priority back then...

Fast-forward to earlier this year when the house was being built and the rooms were being framed. It was the first time we got to walk through the spaces and feel everything come to life in true scale. When we walked through the space, it felt as if the jewel of the bathroom (the large window at the end) was mostly being taken up by this large tub that I wasn't sure would get used very often. I felt bad to question its presence, but I knew if I didn't, I might regret it later. By the time we were seeing this stage of the build, we valued a great shower and didn't see baths being something we would take very often.

a close up of a stone building: Early stages of construction. © Photo: Lily Glass Photography Early stages of construction. a woman wearing a hat: Another view of those early phases of the bathroom build. © Photo: Lily Glass Photography Another view of those early phases of the bathroom build.

Perhaps we would take baths more often than we do now, but we wouldn't take them enough for it to take up a major footprint and leave us with a much smaller shower for daily use. So, we made the call to change the layout of the bathroom midway through construction, and we...removed the bathtub!

a close up of a white tiled wall: In the updated layout, the area by the window (that was previously the bathtub) is now a large shower with two showerheads (one on each side of the wall if you can imagine one wall being where we are looking from). While the double shower might seem like a sexy boutique hotel detail, it honestly came out of practicality on those days where time is at a premium, and we both need to get ready at the same time. © Architectural Digest In the updated layout, the area by the window (that was previously the bathtub) is now a large shower with two showerheads (one on each side of the wall if you can imagine one wall being where we are looking from). While the double shower might seem like a sexy boutique hotel detail, it honestly came out of practicality on those days where time is at a premium, and we both need to get ready at the same time.

Then, the toilet moved to a semi-enclosed area where the shower used to be. It has two pony (short) walls, which means you're separated from the shower and vanity but not fully enclosed. By moving the toilet, it allowed the vanity to run the remaining length of that wall so we could really spread out a bit more. I am super happy with the changes and glad we caught it in time to be able to make a change that made more sense for our current lives.

a building with snow on the ground: Here's a peek at the space in real life in the process of being built! © Photo: Lily Glass Photography Here's a peek at the space in real life in the process of being built! a close up of a sink: 1. Clé Tile Zellige in Tea Ceremony (for the vanity backsplash), 2. Clé Tile Carrara Marble tiles (for the shower and floors), 3. Caesarstone Pure White (for the vanity countertop), 4. Schaub and Company Lumiere Brass T-Knob (for the vanity pulls), and 5. white oak vanity (custom). © LilyGlassPhotography 1. Clé Tile Zellige in Tea Ceremony (for the vanity backsplash), 2. Clé Tile Carrara Marble tiles (for the shower and floors), 3. Caesarstone Pure White (for the vanity countertop), 4. Schaub and Company Lumiere Brass T-Knob (for the vanity pulls), and 5. white oak vanity (custom).

Now, when it comes to tile, I love the clean and sophisticated look of the Carrara marble tile, but I felt that we needed some other texture or color elsewhere so it wasn't all white and neutral. I still wanted it to feel serene and not as busy as some of the tile we have in other areas. So, while we were designing the interiors with Cleo Murnane at Project M+, we decided to change the tile that was planned for the vanity area to this Clé Tile Zellige version instead. Because of the variance in color and texture, it added an extra depth to the bathroom that we were missing in the original design.

a close up of a red brick building: Here's a look at the tile going in! Just when we thought this bathroom was done with changes, the grout went in and the contrast was just not right. When we chose grout way back when, we matched the grout to the marble tile grout thinking that it would look more consistent. But once it went in, the high contrast grout did not do this beautiful soft blue-green tile justice. It seems like such an obvious thing to choose grout that works with the tile, but we've had to make a millions little decisions along the way, that I just said yes and didn't look at it again before the grout went in.

Here's a look at the tile going in! Just when we thought this bathroom was done with changes, the grout went in and the contrast was just not right. When we chose grout way back when, we matched the grout to the marble tile grout thinking that it would look more consistent. But once it went in, the high contrast grout did not do this beautiful soft blue-green tile justice. It seems like such an obvious thing to choose grout that works with the tile, but we've had to make a millions little decisions along the way, that I just said yes and didn't look at it again before the grout went in.
© Photo: Lily Glass Photography

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction. Architecture by Project M+. Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Renderings by Project M+. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My boots are Red Wing Heritage.}*

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