Residents in Grandview, Dublin, Worthington and Granville share their bathroom renovation stories.
John and Julie Strohmeyer, with help from artist Paul Hamilton, handcrafted this unique pedestal from an old barn door.
Michael A. Foley/MAF Photography
A SEASIDE SPIRIT
Frank and Valerie Swiatek agree their fall 2008 master bathroom renovation was much needed. Valerie describes the former space—dark wood, a sunken tub with surrounding aged paneling and an unattractive shade of yellow on the walls. The vanity area was at a low, almost awkward, height and the floor was cracked. Says Frank, “We desperately needed to do something.”
The couple liked the Dave Fox design firm after visiting a booth at a local home design expo and talking with design consultant Wendy Sorenson at their home to discuss details.
The Swiateks “march to our own drummer,” according to Frank. They decided to bring influences from favorite vacation spots such as North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Florida’s South Beach to their master bath. The updated bathroom is all about fresh, clean lines and embodying the spirit of a seaside escape. “It’s almost like not having a bathroom but a relaxation room,” says Frank.
First, the shower, toilet and bathtub underwent major changes. A water closet had been used in the original design to enclose the shower and toilet, creating a tight, unattractive space. Two walls were knocked down to open up the space. A chromotherapy shower was added, which included a setting for steam and LED lights that change colors to alter the mood of the room. (The same lights were installed in the tub, too.) Remodeling often does not go as planned, which Frank says they realized when installing the radio in the shower became a challenge. The renovators from Dave Fox went through the ceiling to install a high-tech antenna so the signal would be stronger.
Two windows were put above the tub, and the vanity was replaced. The Swiateks say the previous lighting was terrible, so they installed vanity lights and dimmers. Today, the bathtub is elaborate, with a massage setting, heated back rests and a self-dry option to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Frank and Valerie seem content with the redo. “We’re not ready to move now but our selling value goes up from this project,” says Valerie. “We’re going to enjoy it some ourselves first.”
SEVEN YEAR ITCH
Dublin residents Bill and Lynne Martin don’t miss the days they shared a bathroom with their three teenage sons due to various construction projects around their home.
Their Muirfield Village house, which was built in 1989, has undergone kitchen, living room and basement renovations, in addition to the master bathroom, which Lynne says desperately needed attention. The shower was a “drive-thru,” she jokes, because it was open on both sides, and a draft easily passed through the space. Instead of a vanity, there were pedestal sinks, which meant very little storage. “It was just a very cold, stark feeling,” she adds.
The couple welcomed the renovation, done by Dave Fox, because they had lived with the bathroom for nearly seven years and they knew what worked and what did not. Lynne says she wanted the bathroom to be a quiet place to relax. Part of their goal also was to bring the outdoors into their home, given the fact that the bathroom’s windows overlook a quaint backyard.
It also was important to the couple that eco-friendly materials be used in the redesign. Bamboo flooring was installed, which is a renewable resource and easily reproduced. River stone was used as an accent on walls, creating a naturally organic feel to the space. “We looked at our lives, and our kids will become adults one day, and we want them to enjoy the world the way we have and we want to protect the Earth,” says Lynne.
Another must-have for the woman of the house was a door to enclose the toilet, which created much-needed privacy. The radiant heated floor also is appreciated, especially during winter months, she adds.
An effect of the bathroom redo was a partial bedroom face lift, too, since the formerly red bedroom clashed with the earthy tones of the bath. Thus, a green glaze was selected for the bedroom to better coordinate the master suite. Now, this masterful Dublin bathroom also doubles as a spa.
A NOT-SO-QUICK FIX
Sometimes, a renovation can be an emergency. A leaky shower caused a Grandview woman to rethink her master bath, especially because the shower was ruining the home’s original, 100-year-old woodwork. John Behal, of Behal Sampson Dietz, worked with the woman of the house to design a bathroom that offered practicality and a place for relaxation for this busy then-single mother of three children. “I would say having something very clean and calming was very important to me,” she notes.
Since the owner works in a creative field, she says she has a particular sense of color, style and design, skills that were especially useful when she was selecting materials for her new space. And although the room’s footprint didn’t change much, the difference in appearance is drastic.
The shower and toilet’s locations were flipped, and the toilet area was enclosed. The bathtub sits like a sculpture in the middle of the room, surrounded by windows, replacing an old cast iron tub that took up more space. Candles adorn shelving that was added for a nearby storage space.
The homeowner wanted to open up the vanity and create less of a cluttered feeling by removing overhead cabinets and a soffit. Now, it has two sinks, a restored mirror and white cabinetry below. The faucets are polished silver nickel.
One of the more challenging aspects of the renovation was deciding what to do about the windows in the shower, where the toilet was placed before. The homeowner says because the shower is surrounded by windows, she was concerned it would be too open, considering there is a high-rise apartment building nearby. However, the windows remain intact, mostly shielded by dozens of trees that surround the property. “It’s kind of like being in a tree house,” she says.
New marble tile flooring was added to the space and light fixtures were updated. Prior to the project, the room had only canned lights in the ceiling, which created a fluorescent feel, so spotlights were installed overhead and sconces were added near the vanity to “offset the cleanliness and starkness with warmth,” says the owner.
During the renovation, it was important for her to continue to use the space so she could be on the same floor with her children. She says the designers wrapped the master suite in a plastic shield, but installed a zipper so she could literally zip herself in and out each day.
Another perk of the freshly-designed bathroom: a new sound system, which the owner had installed throughout the house. “At the end of each day, I try to put music on, take a bath and crash before I go to bed,” she says. Certainly, a plausible scenario in such an idyllic setting.
ART FOR ART’S SAKE
Granville residents John and Julie Strohmeyer did something a bit different when they decided to remodel the sink area of a full bathroom on the main floor of their home. Owners of an advertising agency, StrohCreative, they did what comes naturally. They created.
The sink was actually dropped into an old, restored barn door, says Julie. This is not exactly a common feature in a bathroom, or any room, but the woman of the home is modest about the artistry of the sink’s design. (The couple moved to Granville from Detroit, where John was an advertising executive.)
The more creatives, the merrier, which is why the couple enlisted the help of their close friend, landscape painter Paul Hamilton, for assistance.
Hamilton brainstormed with John about creating a homemade pedestal sink. They found an old barn door that had been painted several times but had red undertones embedded in its texture from when farmers used to paint barn doors red with ox blood, says Julie.
Next, John and Hamilton found old spindles from a banister. They used these as legs for the door, which sits as a table. A hole was cut through the middle to drop in a stainless steel Kohler sink. A faucet was mounted behind the sink.
“It’s a little different,” admits Julie. Then she laughs, claiming the whole project started because “it was a couple of guys with time on their hands.”
Taylor Swope is an assistant editor for Columbus Monthly.