Find out how this primary bath got better light and a more spacious layout--no addition necessary.
Same Space, Big New Bath
Credit: Ralph Anderson / styling Lisa Powell Bailey

When Betty Holmes of Austin, Texas, designed her dream bath, she had to give up her tub. "I had a choice between wallspace and a tub, and I chose wallspace because I love the look of furniture in a bathroom," she says.

In addition to making room for an antique dresser, architect Mell Lawrence reconfigured the space to have as many windows as possible, plenty of built-in storage, a large glass-enclosed shower, and a closet with lots of natural light--all without adding on to the 1929 house.

Improving the View

When Betty bought this home, it already had a lush and sunny yard right outside the primary bedroom and bath. The only problem was, there were hardly any windows on that side of the house. The fix? Gut the bath's interior and flip-flop the closet space to the other side of the room. Now a hallway of windows and French doors runs between the bedroom and bath and opens onto a deck outside. The new closet space is surrounded by three-quarter walls. "That's a trick," says Mell. "Three-quarter walls allow a space to feel bigger than it is."

Another window was installed above the vanity area, between the mirrors. Swagging Roman shades made of green silk add color to the bright white walls and cabinets.

Just a Touch of Vintage

Not wanting her renovated bath to look too modern, Betty chose hexagonal white marble tiles for the floor, and she topped the vanity in white marble with the kind of plain edge that you find on old-fashioned furniture. Instead of knobs on her built-in drawers, she went with handle cutouts.

Still, with everything in place, there remains the issue of the missing bathtub. "I have a claw-foot tub upstairs that I use, and I'm planning to put a hot tub on my deck," says Betty. What more could a woman want?


Architect Mell Lawrence shares tips for expanding the smallest room in the house--and not every suggestion requires a sledgehammer.

  • Hang more (or larger) mirrors. Betty's vanity mirrors extend up to the ceiling, making the room appear open and airy.
  • Run shower tile all the way up to the ceiling. Your walls will look taller.
  • Add an oversize window or French door. "If you have an existing window, it's not a big deal to turn that into a door," says Mell. "A lot of baths feel closed in, so if you can open it up, it'll change your whole perspective."

This article is from the May 2005 issue of Southern Living.