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A Luxe, Light-Filled Bath and Laundry Update

Years of planning and saving—followed by months of hard work—give an enterprising couple their longed-for retreat

Bath After: Dreamed-Up Drama

Photo by David Fenton

Some people have to hire talent. Others can simply lie in bed and conjure a drawer recessed behind furniture feet under a mirror centered below a cathedral ceiling with an unexpected window tucked under its peak. "I wanted a little drama," says Elizabeth Frazer, who wasn't even conscious when she came up with this scheme for her bath redo. "She'll dream it, wake up, and draw it," says her husband, Tim, who used her sketches to build his-and-hers vanities and the room to go around them.

Shown: The now larger, window-lined space holds two marble-topped vanities, a tub, a shower, and a revamped laundry area. Porcelain floor tile approximates the look of natural slate but won't spot or stain.

Mirage Slate floor tile: Tile Shop

Tub and sinks: Kohler

Sconces: Hudson Valley Lighting

Bath Before: Dated and Worn

The result is a luxurious master bath and laundry area on the first floor of the couple's 1950s house, in Walnut Creek, California. They crafted the space after squirreling away savings for six years and setting aside weekends to do the work, with occasional help from pros whom Tim knows through his job at a lumberyard. They avoided moving pipes and stuck to a pay-as-you-go policy, too. "I love the challenge of making things work," says Elizabeth. Today they have a dream retreat, complete with spa finishes and "just enough space for us both to feel pampered."

Shown: The bath and adjacent laundry area were dated and worn.

Marble for Luxury

Photo by David Fenton

The light-filled shower enclosure boasts a marble bench—faced to look 4 inches thick—and marble pebble tile for a daily foot massage.

Pebble tile: Stone Center Online

Wall tile: Daltile

Shower fittings: Rohl

Shower window: Marvin Windows and Doors

Clever Toekick Drawer

Photo by David Fenton

Custom touches by homeowner and DIY cabinetmaker Tim Frazer include a niche for TP and a drawer for bath supplies that slides out of the vanity toekick. He built all the cabinet boxes and ordered doors to fit.

Cabinet knobs: Schaub

Paint: Benjamin Moore

Sink and tub faucets, towel bars: Newport Brass

Concealed Touch-Up Spot

Photo by David Fenton

Ceiling-height cabinets hold a pop-out ironing board and an outlet for impromptu touch-ups. An electric radiant-heat mat under the tile keeps feet warm on cold mornings with the help of a programmable thermostat.

Radiant floor heating: NuHeat

Ironing-board insert: Hafele

Blended-In Laundry Area

Photo by David Fenton

The laundry area has a marble countertop that echoes those in the bath. A new window brings in sunlight and fresh air.

V-groove paneling: Economy Lumber

Washer and dryer: Frigidaire

Baskets: Cost Plus

Glass doorknob: Emtek

Disguised Hamper

Photo by David Fenton

The hamper, a wire insert built into the linen closet facing the washer and dryer, opens and closes smoothly with the help of a lid-support hinge.

Hamper fitting: Hafele

Let in Light for Drama

Photo by David Fenton

The awning window centered under the cathedral ceiling operates with the help of a rod that's stored inside the vanity below.

Windows: Jeld-Wen

Floor Plan Before: Neglected, Square Style

Floor plan by Ian Warpole

The 108-square-foot bath and laundry area hadn't seen much TLC since they were built, in the 1960s.

Homeowner Tip: "To avoid moisture problems, we primed the backs and all sides of the V-groove paneling and used AZEK trim where the paneling meets the tub deck and the vanity tops." —Tim and Elizabeth Frazer, Walnut Creek, California

Floor Plan After: Lofty, Expanded Space

Floor plan by Ian Warpole

Gutting the spaces, getting rid of the utility and linen closets, moving one wall out 5 feet, bumping out farther for a second sink, and adding more windows paid off with improved function and a loftier feel.

1. Moved the existing windowed wall 5 feet to make way for a tub and a larger shower enclosure, and added a 1-by-4½-foot bumpout for a second vanity.

2. Added windows over the tub, inside the shower, and over the washer and dryer to bring in light and air.

3. Relocated the opening to the bedroom, separating the spaces with a pair of narrow sidelight doors.

4. Replaced the laundry area's swing-out door with a space-saving pocket door.

5. Rebuilt one wall and added cabinets with a built-in hamper and ironing board near the washer and dryer.