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oh joy builds a house: our main bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

For my entire adult life, I have dreamed of having a nice bathroom that wasn’t tiny or falling apart or where the sinks didn’t have to be fixed every few months (which has pretty much been my experience with my adult rental apartments). I just want a bathroom that feels luxurious…and works! So, when we started designing this house five years ago, I wondered how our new bathroom could give me my most “Calgon, take me away!” experience…

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

When McShane at Project M+ initially asked for our must-haves for the main bathroom, it was all about the bathtub. I haven’t taken a bath in my home or apartment since I lived with my parents over 22 years ago. To me, getting a grown-up home meant that I would get to draw myself a luxurious bath at the end of a long day and let Calgon take me away. I even made Bob get in the bathtub when we visited the Ferguson showroom years ago, so that we could find one we both felt comfortable in.

Other than a focal bathtub, my only other requirement was to have two sinks. I longed to never again have moments where our heads are butting over the sink while trying to wash faces and brush teeth on an early Tuesday morning while getting ourselves and our kids ready for the day. So here’s a look at the design plan that came about…

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy! // original design

On the left of this drawing is a large window which serves as the focal point of the bathroom. The bathtub sits right by that window. Next to it, there is a separate, smaller shower. On the other side of the shower divided by a pony wall is the toilet which sits next to a double vanity. Five years ago when this layout was designed, we had one kid with one on the way. We didn’t know how our lives as parents of two would really be and so the bathtub seemed like something that should take priority back then…

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Fast forward to earlier this year when the house was being built and the rooms were being framed. It was the first time we got to walk through the spaces and feel everything come to life in true scale. When we walked through the space, it felt as if the jewel of the bathroom (the large window at the end) was mostly being taken up by this large tub that I wasn’t sure would get used very often. I felt bad to question its presence but I knew if I didn’t, I might regret it later. By the time we were seeing this stage of the build, we valued a great shower and didn’t see baths being something we would take very often.

Perhaps we would take baths more often than we do now, but we wouldn’t take them enough for it to take up a major footprint and leave us with a much smaller shower for daily use. So, we made the call to change the layout of the bathroom mid-way through construction, and we…REMOVED THE BATHTUB!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy! // new design

In the updated layout, the area by the window (that was previously the bathtub) is now a large shower with two shower heads (one on each side of the wall if you can imagine one wall being where we are looking from). While the double shower might seem like a sexy boutique hotel detail, it honestly came out of practicality on those days where time is at a premium, and we both need to get ready at the same time.

Then, the toilet moved to a semi-enclosed area where the shower used to be. It has two pony (short) walls which means you’re separated from the shower and vanity but not fully enclosed. By moving the toilet, it allowed the vanity to run the remaining length of that wall so we could really spread out a bit more. I am super happy with the changes and glad we caught it in time to be able to make a change that made more sense for our current lives.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here’s a peek at the space in real life in the process of being built!

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Now, when it comes to tile, I love the clean and sophisticated look of the carrera marble tile, but I felt that we needed some other texture or color elsewhere so it wasn’t all white and neutral. I still wanted it to feel serene and not as busy as some of the tile we have in other areas. So, while we were designing the interiors with Cleo at Project M+, we decided to change the tile that was planned for the vanity area to this Clé Tile zellige version instead. Because of the variance in color and texture, it added an extra depth to the bathroom that we were missing in the original design.

1. Clé Tile zellige in Tea Ceremony (for vanity backsplash), 2. Clé Tile Carrera Marble tiles for shower and floors, 3. Caesarstone Pure White for vanity countertop, 4. Schaub & Co. Lumiere Brass T-Knob for vanity pulls, 5. white oak vanity (custom).

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here’s a look at the tile going in! Just when we thought this bathroom was done with changes, the grout went in and the contrast was just not right. When we chose grout way back when, we matched the grout to the marble tile grout thinking that it would look more consistent. But once it went in, the high contrast grout did not do this beautiful soft blue/green tile justice. It seems like such an obvious thing to choose grout that works with the tile, but we’ve had to make a millions little decisions along the way, that I just said YES and didn’t look at it again before the grout went in…

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

While I love the tile, the grout on this type of tile should not stand out in order to let the tile really be the focus of the wall. Luckily, our installer has a tool that makes it easy and not expensive to make this change, so we are changing the grout this week to a lighter grey that will blend in much better.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here’s a sample mock-up that we looked at to compare the colors! I’ve learned my lesson now that that was something we should have looked at more closely before it went in.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

Here’s the fixed grout that JUST went in a couple days ago. It looks SO much better and now you really see the tile because the grout fades away more than it did before.

oh joy builds a house: our master bathroom (and the changes we made halfway through)! / via oh joy!

So, what do you think? Are we crazy for removing a bathtub from a main bathroom or changing the grout color? Would you have done the same or not?

{Photos by Lily Glass. Construction by Boswell Construction, Architecture by Project M+, Interiors in collaboration with Cleo Murnane at Project M+. Renderings by Project M+. All other layouts by Joy Cho. My boots are Red Wing Heritage*.} 


  1. Removing the bath makes perfect sense! Its a great focal point but not very practical. Another practical advice – get a door for the toilet! At our old place, the toilet was inside a small room in the bathroom (just the toilet in the room). In our new home, its in a corner but no door. Get the door.

  2. I think it’s a great idea! When we built our home we fought over of getting (and spending more) for a jacuzzi tub or just a regular deep tub. It was also by the window. We ended going with my idea of just a regular tub knowing we may not use it as much. 6 years into the home, we used it a handful of times & just let the kids use it for bubble baths since it was bigger than their tub. Wish we got rid of it and had a bigger shower since we’re just shower people.
    In our second home we built, we lost the bathtub & had a bigger shower! We’re so much happier!

  3. When we remodeled our bath, we also discussed the reality that no one in the house wanted to sit in a tub… we’ve never regretted our decision. Any future owners have the right to remodel. We do have a claw foot tub downstairs that we dust. Our home is 221 years old … and therefore, built without indoor plumbing. We only have two bathrooms.

  4. Such a smart move! Tubs are nice but not necessary. A large shower actually makes much more sense in the long run. I work with the aging population to keep them in house longer, and we often remove large tubs for showers they can potentially use with a wheelchair. Not necessarily what you were thinking, but will be great if you ever need it. Ha!

  5. Nope, you’re not crazy! If you’re not going to use the tub a lot, get rid of it. Plus I’m sure your other full bath upstairs has a tub. If you want a soak, use that one!

  6. We’re remodeling our master right now and from the very start was all about a gigantic walk in shower opposed to a tub. We had a huge jetted tub in our previous house and in six years used it TWICE. While they’re beautiful to look at I’m all about functionality. And what’s great is that showers now can be equally or more beautiful then a tub. You made the right choice! Your tile alone steals the show, who needs a silly tub!

  7. Not crazy at all! My parents built their ‘retirement home’ a few years ago, and put a beautiful tub in their master bath, (similar to what Bob is in! ?), and guess how many times they’ve used it….. ZERO! It makes my mom laugh now, but what a silly waste of space. Disclaimer, they have a hot tub and LOVE that… In hindsight, maybe should have chosen between the two ?

  8. I’m all for the ditch the tub trend but I’m a little worried about making that bathroom count as a .75 instead of a full. Does this bother you at all?

  9. So great. We have a double shower and a tub. I couldn’t live without either, but if I had to choose, I’d pick the double shower — good work. Looks awesome

  10. I’m team big shower and NO TUB. Maybe I’m just odd, but I do NOT like baths. They feel filthy to me. Gross. Shower all the way!

  11. No it doesn’t bother me because we’re not selling it ever or anytime in our adult lifetimes plus it was actually set-up for bath plumbing so a new owner could add a bath in the future but that will be so far in the future that maybe there will be some other kind of robot shower by then ;P

  12. We remodeled our master bath a year ago and I fought to get rid of the tub. Everyone disagreed with me, but with limited space I really wanted a shower that felt luxurious and not showering standing in a bathtub. It was totally the right choice. We don’t miss it at all and the shower turned out way better as a result!

  13. Thanks Chrissy! I’m honestly surprised how many people have done it too! Which also comforts me in knowing I won’t regret it!

  14. I can’t wait to own our own home…and I am the same, I’ve been dreaming of my brand new beautiful, non-stained, (claw foot) bathtub! But you’re right, showers would be the norm…and if I had to get rid of the tub to make room for a shower, it would look like yours…amazing!

  15. When we renovated we added a bath only because our home is one bathroom so we needed one for resale (it os not our forever home). Otherwise there would have been just a shower.
    Controversially, our only regret about our bathroom is the double sinks.In hindsight we would have had one sink with the same size vanity as we are always running out of space to put things on when we are getting ready. It shows how important it is to think about how the space works for YOU. ?

  16. Ah yes! I think a lot of times people think about resale (which makes sense) but hopefully there is a balance between what you want and what a future owner would want!

  17. I agree. I loveee the idea of a bathtub, but on a normal basis don’t clean it to my liking enough to soak in it vs standing in it for a shower! Maybe if I ever get a cleaning person, lol. The double shower and double sinks sound amazing though! Ahhhh space.

  18. We have also been building a house in Los Angeles for two years…it’s honestly been the hardest thing I have ever done and I can’t ever recommend it to anyone. It would have been way cheaper just to buy a finished house at this point!! I was wondering how you are allowed to have two shower heads in one shower that function at the same time? I was told that’s against code. We have a regular shower head, a handheld shower head on a bar and a rain shower. Sounds great but there is a required diverter and only one can be run at a time. So is there some secret that I don’t know about that I can use to get around LA City Code? Our home is in Westwood so maybe we have stricter codes than if you are in the valley or some outlying area? Please let me know so I can change it before the final tile goes in!! Thank you!

  19. My in laws removed their tub a few years ago in favor of a walk-in shower. Smart move as they both have mobility issues now.

  20. I have a shower with two heads in California—it’s a statewide regulation and not just city-based, as far as I know. I think the rule is an output of no more than 2 gallons per minute per valve, so each of our shower heads runs off its own valve. If we wanted a hand shower we would have needed a diverter from one of the valves/shower heads. It sounds like maybe all three of yours are on the same valve?

  21. Agree w removing the tub however 2 shower heads a just sounds like going in wrong direction; environmental impact as showers should be quick as is – even when time ain’t short. You also, have addnl bathroom for showers in those instances where two need to use. You made so previously. I hate seeing waste.

  22. Lynn,
    I’m sorry to hear about your building woes..I have been there and know the feeling of building in LA! I am not sure why you are having the issue but we have had no problems and our contractor does them all the time in LA. It could be the type of shower head you have with the three outputs? We only have single shower heads but just two of them.

  23. Hi Nan,
    Each shower head functions separately, so it’s not like both are turning on at the same time if that makes sense! It’s the same as a regular shower. One can be used if one person is showering or two would be used if two people are showering. It’s the same amount of water as if we were in separate bathrooms.

  24. I never thought I would care about a bath after never really having once since I was a kid but then I moved in to a house with a beautiful freestanding soaking tub and wow…I used it all the time! We moved out of that house and in to a crappy rental while we too build our dream house and I miss it so much. After a long day when I’m tired, I actually crave the feeling of sinking in to a tub. So, needless to say, it’s super important to me! But, to each their own! You’ll no doubt save some money (very hard to do while building a house, so yay for that!)

  25. Liking the change in grout! By the way, are you going to use a wall hung toilet? Seems like a pain to clean if it were a standard toilet especially when it’s in an alcove.

  26. The grout color change is absolutely blowing my mind. What a difference! Im sure it was a pain and making the decision to change it was probably agonizing but I’m glad you shared it so we all pay a little more attention when we tile our homes. The tile with the new grout color is so beautiful and before it really didn’t look that special.

  27. Thanks Robin!
    One thing I learned after making the mistake is to look at the tile again in the space with the grout sample BEFORE it gets grouted. It’s often so different looking at samples especially when there are color variances in the tile.

  28. Do you by chance remember the name of the color of gray grout that you switched to on that Green Cle Zellige? Love that shade of green in their zellige and thinking about installing it in an upcoming project!


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