When Kathe McIntire set out to have her master bathroom remodeled, one of the first steps she took was to make a list of all the things she wanted in the new design. High on the priorities was storage space. But the wish list didn’t end there.
Kathe, who along with her husband, Howard, runs the Apple Inn Bed & Breakfast from their home near Cottage Grove, needed the new room to also serve as the laundry. And they wanted to make sure the space would accommodate them as they aged.
“We’re both retired,” Kathe McIntire says. “We’d like to spend as much time as possible in the house, which is on family land.”
Once she had her list of ideas together, McIntire tried to think of a way the new bathroom could work. “I was just stumped,” she says. “I had one term of architecture in college, but it didn’t help.”
So McIntire headed to the Lane County Home & Garden Show in Eugene, looking for contractors who were up to the challenge of recreating the space. “Anyone who was willing to come for free,” Kathe says … “we had them out to see what they could do.”
In the end, the McIntires chose Signature Kitchen & Design of Cottage Grove, a company that previously completed a kitchen remodel for the couple. As Kathe puts it: “They were a known commodity.”
To meet the McIntires’ needs for the project, Ericka Arowcavage, co-owner of Signature Kitchen & Design, worked closely with Kathe, progressing through several design phases before settling on a final plan. “They needed something adjustable, something they could really grow and change with,” explains Arowcavage. “Every last inch needed to be thought out.”
Open, organized and warm
Instead of breaking up the space, Arowcavage removed walls to create an open floor plan. She also utilized the house’s large overhangs and added a bump out, which made room for a new 12-foot walk-up closet without reducing the available square footage. “Everyone thinks you need a big walk-in to get a lot of storage,” Arowcavage says. “That’s not necessarily true.”
For the entrance into the bedroom, Arowcavage decided on French doors to achieve a grander, more suite-like feel. “I wanted to make the room as much a retreat as possible,” Arowcavage says.
There’s an emphasis on recessed lighting and a warm color palette, while literal warmth radiates up from the heated floor.
Deep pullout drawers, rather than cabinets, line the new space and create a wealth of concealed storage capacity, particularly on the wall shared by the quiet-running new washer and drier. Hooks, baskets and other organizational features abound. A clever mobile island provides even more storage and additional work space on top, while also screening the toilet.
Speaking to traditional, white and tile-heavy bathrooms, Arowcavage says, “Who’d want to be in there?”
To make sure their bathroom stays functional for them as they age, the McIntires included modest safety and accessibility features. The shower has a grab bar, a fold-down seat and a wide, frameless door — through which a wheelchair can pass. “I recently lost my mother,” McIntire says. “Caring for someone in their 80s and 90s gives you an idea of what you need as you get older.”
The value of planning
The key to success in the remodeling process, Arowcavage says, is establishing priorities. This was the great success of McIntire’s list. Because bathroom budgets can get eaten quickly in plumbing and electrical costs, it’s important to be clear about the project’s goals. “If you prioritize your needs,” Arowcavage says, “when the budget gets tight those are things that are low on your list.”
Arowcavage says there are always cost-effective alternatives throughout remodeling projects, especially in materials. The McIntires also were able to save expenses by doing some of the demolition and painting work themselves, which then allowed them more money for other areas of the remodel.
Functionality rather than just “pretty” was always at the heart of the project for McIntire. But thanks to Arowcavage’s design and her own clear priorities, McIntire says she is thrilled with how the remodel achieved both end results.
And she adds, happily: “For the first time in my life, I have drawers that are empty.”
Eliot Treichel is a freelance writer who lives in Eugene. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.