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Bathroom Before and After: Small Change, Big Impact

Sacrificing a linen closet allows a little bath to live larger within the same footprint

Too Tight

It’s a common layout in an old-house bath, with all three plumbed conveniences arrayed in a row against one wall. But the 44-square-foot “master” in Graig and Debora Cameron’s 1926 Cape Cod–style home in Cranford, NJ, had one extra that enabled an impressive transformation: It had a linen closet tucked behind the door.

Shown: The toilet was jammed into a tight spot between the tub and a melamine vanity with a composite sink top.

Living Larger

Photo by Laura Moss

Working with their contractor, the Camerons saw a way to scrap the closet and relocate the toilet to the alcove it left behind. This freed up space for a handsome oak vanity a foot wider than its predecessor. A large, frameless-glass-enclosed shower with a bench seat replaced the tub; moving plumbing lines less than 5 feet allowed the new plumbing to vent through the same stack. Beveled white subway tile brightens the room, while Carrara marble for the floor tile and vanity top elevates the overall look. “The bathroom is now an inviting, relaxing space we enjoy every day,” says Debora.

Shown: Relocating the commode made space for a 36-inch-wide oak vanity with drawer and shelf storage. Bright white tile and frameless glass lend an airy feel, while marble surfaces add a luxe touch.

Marble floor tile, sink, and countertop: Garden State Tile

Window: Andersen Windows

Chunky Storage

Photo by Laura Moss

Homeowner Graig built the chunky-looking floating shelves—comprising a top, bottom, and 3-inch-wide face—from oak boards fastened to 2-by-2-inch pine supports mounted on all three walls.

New Toilet Location

Photo by Laura Moss

The toilet is tucked into a nook where the linen closet had been. Open shelving above restores some sacrificed storage.

Toilet: Kohler

Towel hook and toilet tissue holder: Delta Faucet

The Cameron Family

Photo by Laura Moss

The Cameron family: Graig, with daughter Riley Rose, now 1, and Debora, holding their son Nicholas James, now 3.

Recessed Radiator

Photo by Laura Moss

Subway tile with a beveled edge gives the walls an added level of detail. The recessed radiator is a replacement for one that was original to the house.

Wall tile: Amazon.com

Warm Vanity

Photo by Laura Moss

An oak vanity and mirror frame warm up all the white ceramic tile and Carrara marble in the room.

Paint: Behr Half Sea Fog (upper walls)

Faucet: Kohler

Vanity: Sagehill Designs

Mirror: The Home Depot

Disappearing Shower Door

Photo by Laura Moss

A frameless-glass door and shower enclosure practically disappears, increasing the feeling of spaciousness in the room.

Showerhead: Kohler

Graceful Sconce

Photo by Laura Moss

Elegant handblown sconces echo the glass shower enclosure, while exposed-filament bulbs add old-fashioned charm.

Sconce: Hinkley

Shower Niche

Photo by Laura Moss

Varying the tile patterns—running-bond subways on the lower walls with herringbone above, and the same 2-inch hexagons inside the niche as line the floor—brings a high level of detail to the shower stall.

Floor Plans

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

Relocating the toilet to where a closet had been and swapping a tub for a full-width shower makes smarter use of the bath’s scant 44 square feet.

1. Replaced a tub with a large custom shower with a built-in bench 33 inches wide and 15 inches deep.

2. Swapped in a 36-inch-wide vanity with a bigger sink and both open and closed storage.

3. Kept the radiator in its original location.

4. Demolished a linen closet and put the toilet in its place, in an alcove hidden from view.

5. Installed two floating shelves to boost storage space.