Project spotlight. Restoring Potential.

PURE Design Environments turns repair into redesign.

Saying a leak caused damage in your bathroom sounds relatively innocuous and routine. But in one Eden Prairie, Minn. home, a leak that started from the toilet caused thousands of dollars worth of destruction.

There was so much water that it seeped into the home’s lower level through the bathroom floor and ruined the ceiling of one bedroom; repairs had to be made to the bedroom, and the ceiling of the bedroom had to be replaced. But the brunt of the damage occurred in the home’s bathroom, which had to be entirely reconstructed.

Homeowner Sarah Johnson found herself struggling to remodel the bathroom. What was particularly challenging was the need to spend no more than $23,000, the amount of the insurance reimbursement Johnson received. Her original plan was simply to repair the bathroom, but Jaque Bethke, principal of PURE Design Environments, saw the potential for something more.

«She called us out to the site, and since the bathroom had to be restored, we asked if there were things that she would like to change,» Bethke says. «We said, ‘Let’s take your personal style and overcome things you dislike.'»

Style and function.

Johnson’s main concerns with the bathroom were the shower and bathtub. She rarely used the bathtub and felt it was taking up space she could use otherwise. The shower, on the other hand, was smaller than she wanted it to be.

Because of budget constraints, Bethke and her team decided to keep the basic layout of the bathroom. But they took out the tub and created a spacious shower in its place. Converting the existing drain and water supply into plumbing for the shower proved to be a cost-effective solution. The savings allowed Bethke and her team to install not only a wall-mounted showerhead, but also a rain head and handheld shower, which were chosen because of their «universal design principles,» according to Bethke. Dark wood porcelain tile was installed in the shower and finished with rustic tile mosaics in blue, brown, gold, and black.

Originally, the tub area had two operating windows, which were replaced with a vinyl picture window. Preserving the existing window, even with the alterations PURE made, meant that the design team didn’t have to worry about changing the trim on the home’s exterior—the window itself was replaced but within the basic frame of the original.

However, the bathroom now had two showers—the small shower Johnson was dissatisfied with still took up part of the space. When Bethke had originally asked Johnson what she wanted to change about the bathroom, Johnson mentioned the need for more storage space. To make this a reality, PURE installed an accessory closet in the old shower. They also gave the existing master closet a makeover, removing the carpet and applying a fresh coat of paint. To make the entire space look larger, an oversized mirror was placed above the sink area. The 101-by-57-inch mirror was custom made; first the frame was ordered, then a mirror fabricator created and placed the mirror.

To keep the room’s light source in its original location, Bethke planned to attach sconces to the custom frame. However, the mirror was 2 1/4 inches away from the wall rather than flush against it, which made it difficult to anchor the light fixtures. The team decided to use furring strips as backing for the mirror and made sure it still could not be seen.

Budget woes.

But even with the mirror maneuvering, Bethke says the dominant concern the team still wrestled with was staying on budget. Besides leaving the bathroom layout as it was, which saved time, money, and effort, many materials were reused, including light fixtures and the master vanity. In addition, the existing white enamel trim and cabinetry were refinished.

«We had to really be creative,» Bethke says. «We tried to reuse as many things as we could.»

With some fresh paint on the walls and porcelain tile to replace the room’s ruined carpet, the bathroom took on a sophisticated but traditional look. To create continuity, the floor tile was the same variety used in the shower. The dark tile, green cabinets, and shower mosaics represent a departure from the colors of the original bathroom, which was dominated by yellow walls and white tile.

The design of this space had multiple dimensions: First, there were the repairs, and second, the team installed upgrades and stylistic changes. The third aspect of the project was the homeowner’s long-term goals. Johnson let the firm know that she might sell the property in seven-to-10 years and wanted to make sure the bathroom would be appealing to any potential buyers. The closet can be easily converted back to a shower — all the original plumbing remains — and a bathtub could be reinstalled in the new shower space if desired.

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