• Pat Browne

Yes, you can move walls!

Our neighbourhood was originally designed over 25 years ago. Quite a statement, but what it means is that today’s styles will not necessarily be represented in the original designs for our spaces. The two most important areas for renovation consideration are the kitchen and bathrooms.


The first place everyone thinks of for renovating is the kitchen. There is definite value there, however, don’t forget the bathrooms. Simply retro-fitting one of the bathrooms with a walk-in shower instead of the bathtub may be game changing for how you use and enjoy the space. However, I would also suggest small modifications in the overall floor plans of these houses to provide maximum value in your space.


Here are three bathrooms, all have a similar style, but each represents different modifications to the home’s original layout.

Successful bathroom renovation and planning requires identifying what is really important to you.


The trick is choosing which upgrades you really think you need. When planning on a bathroom reno in our townhouses your desires will be limited by budget, how far you want to change the basic layout (think drains and toilets) and the types of fixtures and finishes desired. Interior walls in these townhouse do not need to be an issue as there are no load-baring walls within these houses (all structure is supported by the outside walls. In the case of the three bathrooms in this house, the design principles are based on English design.


Master Bath

In this case the homeowners had some specific wants:

  1. a deep soaker tub with shower. Finishes to include a partial glass enclosure and the tub needed to be double ended with the drain in the centre.

  2. adequate storage so that all things could be put away.

  3. a separate master suite. This meant closing the original access door from the hallway and creating a full master suite with on-suite bathroom and walk-in custom closets.

  4. maximize space to create sense of spaciousness.

  5. remove the drop ceiling to create a greater sense of space.

  6. add a sky light over bath/shower to again increase the sense of space.


How did the homeowners achieve all of this? With careful planning. The first thing that was decided on was removing the hallway access door. The entire wall was moved out by six inches to provide a greater depth to the inside room and reducing the width of the hallway (hallway width is now 37”, still wider than building code minimum of 860 mm or 2’10”). The interior bathroom door was replaced with a sliding door to allow for more useable space in both the bathroom and the new closet areas. Next, the tub wall of the bathroom was pushed back into the second bedroom by 12”. This provided space for an under-mount soaker tub (68” x 40”) finished in marble with a glass half wall for the shower. The drain was moved to the centre of the tub within the existing joist space, the plumbing for the shower did not have to change (although the plumbing wall was reduced in size by turning the 2 x 4 studs on their sides).


The toilet was moved over to the maximum allowable within the joists to provide space for a single sink 48” vanity with side tower to accommodate the need for additional storage. Finishing touches included a built-in 5’ medicine cabinet, electric towel warmers, wall sconces for the vanity and a solar tube sky light over the new bathtub. All finishes are satin nickel in a Georgian style.


Just a hint, an access panel to reach the new tub plumbing was added through the wall into the second bedroom - easy access and no leaks.

2nd floor Family Bathroom

The second-floor family bath had been deemed to be too small for its intended purpose. In this case, the homeowners chose to extend into the closet space of the second-floor bedroom. “The second-floor bathroom is supposed to be for the family,” said the homeowners. “We felt it was far too small. For this reason, we decided to push the wall back into the closet of bedroom on this floor. The builder-basic bedroom closet, with its sliding mirrored doors, was too small. We replaced this with 8’ of closets built-in under the bulk-head. The bedroom didn’t lose much space and now has almost triple the closet space.”


The low-clearance walk-in shower with dual shower heads (rain shower and massaging shower) and wet-area pot lights was designed to fit into the space. The toilet is slightly forward as the home’s ducting system runs behind the new bathroom wall. The toilet was rotated by 90 degrees from its original position and moved back within the joists to fit into the space. Plumbing for the new shower needed to be moved. In this case, because the plumbing was moved to the opposite interior wall, no bump-out plumbing wall was required. Return air ducts and central vacuum systems were not touched. Using glass walls in the shower feel more spacious.

Thermostatic Shower Valve: although it sounds complicated, this is what gives you a perfect shower temperature every time. By installing a thermostatic shower valve that automatically adjusts the hot and cold water is a game changer to the quality of your shower.


A Good Showerhead: nothing makes as big a difference to your shower experience. The homeowners opted for both a flush mount rain shower (needed to be flush mount as the lower ceiling heights of the second-floor bathroom would not allow for a drop shower) and a massaging showerhead.


Nonslip Flooring: this is a no-brainer for the wettest room in the house. A high slip-resistant rating of 0.42 or more makes for safer stepping. Using mosaic tiles provides the traction required. The grout acts like traction lines.


Exhaust Fan: to ensure there would be no mold or mildew buildup, a timed fan was installed connected to the in-shower pot light system. Additional wiring was also installed for the vanity lights and heated towel rack. The towel rack was set high in the room to accommodate the toilet roll holder.


Built-in Medicine Cabinet: in both the master bathroom and the family bathroom, the homeowners installed built-in medicine cabinets. In the case of the family bathroom, the cabinet is designed to fit between standard wall studs.

Budget was a consideration for tiles and other finishes. The homeowners chose to splurge on a bespoke 41" vanity with marble counter and under-mount sink. The tiles for the shower are marble, as are the small mosaic tiles for both the floor and chair-rail feature. The subway tiles are a classic go-to for both style and price point. All materials were picked up by the homeowners when on sale. For the light fixtures, they were end of line wall sconces that the homeowner chose to install upside down to fit the look.


Basement Powder Room

Most of the townhouses in our neighbourhood have 3 baths, however the first homes on Green Belt Drive did not have the third bath in the basement. For this reason, one of the first renovations these homeowners completed was the installation of a powder-room on the ground floor. The homeowners chose not to install a shower, but to use the space to provide a more spacious powder room. The renovation required breaking up the cement in the basement to install new plumbing. Finishes for this room include mosaic marble tiles on the floor, a pedestal sink to create a sense of more space and reduced height wainscoting to create the illusion of height. Again, all finishes are designed to fit into the overall scheme of the house and don't forget art in what is one of the most used rooms in the house.

With all the renovations, the homeowners took the opportunity to install additional fireproof/soundproofing insulation and drywall between the two townhouses. #bathroomremodel #bathroomdesign #movingwalls




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