The biggest problem was the leaking shower, which caused major damage to the subfloor. But the room also wasn’t very functional, because the swinging door to the bathroom hit the shower and could only open halfway, and then the shower door hit the vanity, which made getting out of the shower really difficult. All in all, the space was annoying and unsafe to use. But these challenges were nothing compared to the task of decorating around the knotty pine tongue and groove paneling, which isn’t typically my style but creates such a cozy, cabin atmosphere that I couldn’t bear to paint it! The pine walls run throughout the entire bunkie, which readers of my website, Dans le Lakehouse, love. I decided to work with it and tap into my Finnish roots to create a Scandinavian cottage-inspired design with some quirky and modern touches to keep it feeling fresh and fun.
The Demolition Process
My spouse and I ripped out almost everything: the old shower, toilet, vanity, floor – even the ratty old heater got the boot. The only thing we kept was the pine paneling. We replaced the subfloor and installed CertainTeed Mold Resistant Drywall where the shower had been. With the necessary repairs made, we had a blank canvas and the fun could begin!
Floor & Wall Tile
The Bestview Porcelain Hex Tile was the driving force behind my bathroom design. I love the small scale of the tile because it’s perfect for a small space. The tile has three different shades/finishes of charcoal grey and although it’s porcelain, one of the textured finishes reminds me of a type of soapstone mined in Finland. The soapstone is used for fireplaces and counters – and often paired with natural pine – so the tile is perfect for a Scandinavian-inspired bathroom makeover.
I installed the hex tile on the floor over the Schluter Systems Ditra Membrane, which helps eliminate cracking of tiled surfaces, and then ran the tile up the walls where the shower had been. It’s a great way to disguise the fact that there was no paneling there, plus it protects against future water damage. I would ordinarily use some kind of Schluter metal edging for tile, but because the ends of the pine were cut too roughly to be hidden by metal edging, I chose a 3-inch window casing trim, affixed with construction adhesive to hide the seam where the rough pine and tile meet. I painted the trim with Valspar’s Exterior Paint and Primer in the colour Cracked Pepper.
Stock Tank Shower
The new hex tile created the perfect backdrop for my stock tank shower. Although I considered replacing the old corner shower with a newer model, I really wanted to try something unusual in this space because it's a little bunkie. I also wanted a spot to bathe my dogs and the stock tank is perfect for that when the bunkie isn’t in use. I used a Round Ultra 105 stock tank (3 feet by 2 feet) from a company which sells farm and ranch supplies. I visited a lot of farm supply stores to pick the perfect stock tank, some are too rough or sharp for this application, so if you decide to try this idea, I recommend tracking down this stock tank because there are no sharp edges and they have a more substantial feel than others.
I’ve seen stock tank tubs online but I’m not sure I’d actually want to sit down and bathe in one. However, it’s perfect as a shower! It was fast and easy to install (we just added a drain and some foam underneath) and it’s watertight with high sides that keep water inside. It also consumes a smaller footprint than the old shower.
To add drama to the sleek white vanity, I purchased the Brass Concord Single Hand Faucet which has clean lines and a modern matte black finish. This mid-century inspired Canarm Matte Black Hardwired Wall Sconce complements the modern look of the faucet. Additionally, the simple Lucid Lighting 12-in W Black Integrated Flush Mount Light keeps the lighting scheme coordinated and modern – and no more flickering fluorescent tubes!
DIY Cubbies & Towel Storage
I made a little storage cubby above the toilet using lumber and plywood from Lowe's, along with some metal rods in brass, copper and aluminum. Although I purposefully chose all matte black fixtures for a coordinated look, I did mix metals in this bathroom: the stock tank only comes in silver, the sconce is lined with a copper finish, and the mirror has brass accents, so this little decorative detail pulls together the mixed metals. I envision these shelves as a great place for guests to store their toiletries.To hang towels, I purchased super inexpensive matte black wall hooks and installed two above the shiny new baseboard heater. Another pair of hooks to the left of the vanity can be used for a hand towel or a robe. I splurged on some new Turkish towels that match the soft aqua of the shower curtain.
The Barn Door
When I shared my plans for this bathroom, I mentioned that the door to the bathroom hit the shower and the door to the shower hit the vanity. Replacing the shower with a stock tank and easy-to-open shower curtain makes getting out of the shower much easier because you can step out from multiple places. However, I converted the existing door into a sliding barn door with a sliding barn door track to free up even more space.
First, I added trim to my old door to make it larger and hide the notches made for the hinges. A coat of Cracked Pepper paint hid my hack! I also puttied the old holes made for the hinges and door latch on the door frame and painted it black as well. I used the Renin Bent Strap Barn Door Hardware Kit, which was surprisingly easy to install. There was a hole left by the old door knob, but hardware for a pocket door fit perfectly, completing the transformation. Now the door slides and uses no space at all, creating a lot of floor space in this small bathroom.
The Finished LookThere are so many elements that are definitely “me” in this bunkie bathroom, like the mid-century inspired sconce and the pale aqua fabric. Renovating this room was a fun design experiment and I really enjoyed creating this cozy, Scandinavian-inspired cabin space.
There are so many tips to take away for anyone with a small bathroom. For example, hacking an existing door into a sliding barn door and replacing a large vanity with a narrower model are easy ways to make a small bathroom feel larger. And while this bathroom will never feel huge, playing up the cozy Scandinavian style by keeping the natural pine and embracing charcoal grey tile, matte black fixtures and a dreamy grey blue shower curtain fabric help make the most of the small space by creating a warm and cozy feel. Sometimes it’s best not to fight a space – and try to make a tiny room feel huge – and instead embrace its small size and help it feel polished and welcoming instead.
If your bathroom needs a little upgrade, check out some of Lowe’s bathroom ideas for simple renovations and updates that make an instant impact. With the help of Lowe’s, I was able to complete the bunkie bathroom of my dreams!
About the Author
Installing a new bathroom vanity or tiles? See blogger Dans Le Lakehouse’s bathroom renovation ideas and how she’ll build a sliding barn door.
By Tanya Watson
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