powered by
Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Wood-paneled, postage stamp sized bathroom needs help!

complexitymikeDecember 27, 2012
My husband and I bought a 1987 prow-style Lindal post and beam cedar home a year ago. We have two bathrooms: the 2nd floor bathroom which is for our bedroom (its the only room upstairs) and this 1st floor bath which serves as our guest bathroom AND bathroom for our 8 month old daughter (whose bedroom is across the hall).

The first issue with this bathroom is that it is so dark and claustrophobic! Since our budget for this bathroom is -- uh, how do I say this -- next to nothing, the best and easiest alteration would be to whitewash. However, the paneling isn't just wood, it is Western Red Cedar, which smells beautiful when someone showers, and -- of course -- can't be put back once you've altered it in some way. However, my husband and I agree that we need to change it... My thought at this point is to paint the walls and (maybe) the ceiling but leave the trim, beams door, and windowsill natural. Thoughts?

Next is the fact that there is NO FLOOR SPACE in this bathroom. You literally have to stand with the backs of your legs against the bathtub to close the door. In my wildest dreams, it would make sense to rip out the tub and just have a shower, but we do need one to bathe babies. So, we are left with whatever we can salvage from replacing the toilet and getting rid of the awful sink vanity. We are going to get a compact toilet, and I am considering options for the sink and vanity. I am thinking of building or asking my husband to build a really streamlined, shallow (meaning stays close to the wall), butcher's block-style vanity with a porcelain vessel sink (is a vessel sink practical with kids?). Thoughts?

Third: hardware! You may notice that the house has a fabulous wood-on-wood decor going on... wood towel bar, wood light switch and outlet plates, wood medicine cabinet... They really went all out! Our general flair is sort of contemporary rustic vintagey Anthropologie (did that make any sense at all?), so I am thinking that once we lighten the place up with whitewash, that antique glass and metal would look nice. Also, going to take out the medicine cabinet and replace it with a mirror, either spanning over sink and toilet with a little shelf beneath it, or just over the sink, with shelves over the toilet. Will loose a little storage, but this bathroom is not meant for storing things!

OK! That's my design dilemma (well, one of them, wait until you see this place!).
Thanks for looking!
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Your wood does hold a certain charm and carries over into the rest of the house. So I would hesitate to whitewash it. How's the lighting situation? I see the light from one fixture, tho I can't see the fixture itself. Could it become a fixture that offers more light? I also see a window which offers a lot of light in the daytime.

Looking at the photos again, I see that there is white trim around the door opposite the door to the bath. Is that consistent throughout the house? If it is, you might also change the doors to white, not just whitewash. That would brighten things slightly. I like your idea of a bigger mirror, tho I fear you will miss the medicine cabinet and the safety issue of having things out of reach of your baby.

I'll be interested in what others have to say.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
I wouldn't whitewash the wood. I would add lighting if you could. I would add white wherever possible. I would paint the medicine cabinet white and the sink cabinet white and change out the toilet seat to a white - (although I do have to say it is quite fun), use white towels and if have the room, perhaps have some kind of fabric wall hanging that is light colored and has a white color base.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ooohhhh, this is a toughy! I love the wood. I wouldn't paint it or whitewash it personally. Maybe if you got the smaller toilet, put in a wall-hung sink or got one of those space saving vanities from IKEA that would give you a bit more room. Bigger mirror for sure. Change the flooring to something in a very bright white to reflect some more light and change your fixtures as Carolyn suggested.
If you have to paint one thing, maybe by painting the ceiling white, that would make it feel less closed in.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Interiors International, Inc.
I love wood and even more in your style of house. Do not paint the cedar. Get rid of all wood accessories. A smaller profile toilet is a great idea. Maybe on with the tank in the wall that is mounted off the floor. They are very popular now in residential applications and there are many styles and manufacturers. Get rid of the tub a shower will be much better. Bath the baby while you take a shower that's what i did. They will be grown long before the shower wears out. You will then have tile to balance out all that wood. For goodness sake get rid of that toilet seat today! The medicine cabinet mirror could go in lieu of a nice larger frame-less one. The shallow vanity the a chipped edge stone top and porcelain low top mount sink instead of a vessel. The vessel sink is terrible to use daily even more so with kids. Try these ideas. I grew up with your style home and still have a cabin in MN. So I know what i"m saying will be best for resale.
Keep in touch would love to see it done. If your in my area would like to come and see it. Good luck.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Try SW Extra White for the ceiling to lighten things up some. Can't tell much about the tub but if it were super white it would help too. Or you could install the toilet there and forget about the tub. A trough sink mounted on salvaged wood (it could extend over the toilet if you don't move it) would look great and serve as a baby bath! That's not much floor area to redo, and you might be able to install a floor heated system (check building code for bathrooms.) White tile and white linens and white shower curtain - and see about LED cans for lighting, bath/moisture compatible ones, of course. I think it would be very charming and bright but save the beautiful wood and emphasize the old qualities.
Headwaters Camp Cabin, Big Sky, Montana · More Info

Rustic Bathroom · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 8:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
New floor, paint ceiling. White wash ONE wall next to sink????? large mirror over sink maybe extending over toilet area slightly. If you did the one wall in whitewash, you would still have the wonderful smell from around the bathtub.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Interiors International, Inc.
Do not listen to anyone that says white wash anything in that room. It is not a good thing to do over cedar. If you need a white wall remove the cedar and drywall it.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okay, this might not be what you have in mind but I'll throw it out there anyway. I think I would spend my money on a beautiful stained glass panel for the window! Your eye would be instantly drawn to the window instead of all the wood. I'd leave the walls as they are. I would replace the wooden towel bars with the ones of an antique bronze finish. Or if they're in okay condition, just paint them a dark brown (the towel bar, the vanity cabinet, and the medicine cabinet). The only things that really need replacing are the toilet seat and the sink fixture. Your towels and shower curtain could coordinate with a color from the stained glass window perhaps.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Interiors International has a great idea! Just put sheetrock over the wood in the ceiling and paint that. Why didn't I think of that!?
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Michelle Moscow
Wow. Great bathroom. Some thoughts for you ...

Very strongly agree with Carolyn. Light is essential in this wood saturated environment. Like others who have commented already, I wouldn't paint the paneling. It is beautiful. Embrace it. Having said that, light is very important. The first two photos below show wood-enveloped bathrooms but each has lots of light. Consider replacing any single bulb fixtures in the bathroom with multi-bulb fixtures. ALSO, use a CLEAR vinyl shower curtain. This will make the most of the light from the window as well as helping to visually expand the space.

Secondly, seriously consider a pedestal sink. This would eliminate some storage (I'll discuss that later), but it will do much to help open up the space and diminish the claustrophobic feeling. See the third picture below. If you find one to mimic the victorian era pedestal sinks, this will lean toward your Anthropologie / eclectic style. I think your toilet is fine, just replace the seat in white to match the toilet.

Thirdly, find a large mirror to replace the wooden medicine cabinet (there goes the rest of your storage). The mirror could even be large enough to cover the area behind BOTH the sink and the toilet. Mirrors visually expand spaces and will help contribute a feeling of more light. Find a mirror that goes with your Anthropologie leanings - something eclectic, retro or even ornate. See the fourth picture below. Scour thrift stores, antique haunts and websites until you find one you love. Don't limit yourself to rustic styles. Consider even ornate and "swirly". The juxtaposition of sophisticated against rustic could be very appealing to you. If you find one large enough to cover the space behind both the sink and the toilet, hang it securely in a landscape orientation across both spaces.

Fourthly, remove all clutter from the bathroom. Since this is your main floor bathroom, you will want it to be appealing to everyone. Is there a linen or coat closet in the hallway outside the bathroom or one in a nearby bedroom? Think of this closet as your "bathroom annex". Bathtime supplies could be stored in a wire or even plastic laundry basket for use at bathtime. Keep extra towels and cleaning supplies in that closet as well. If there is no closet available, consider using a piece of furniture (dresser, armoire, etc.) in an extra bedroom near the bathroom for all the bathroom supplies. Every bathroom needs storage but this bathroom is simply too small to accommodate that storage - especially all the supplies needed for children. You'll have to think outside the box and be creative to get the storage you need.

Lastly, replace the towel bar, shower curtain bar, toilet paper holder, hooks, etc. with chrome. They will reflect more light and bring some refinement to the space.

Thanks for sharing your project! We'd all love to see your finished room. Please post a pic if you get the time.

Country Cabin Bathroom · More Info

Cabin Up North · More Info

Lindy Donnelly · More Info

Farm Style Powder Room · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:34AM
Sign Up to comment
Related Discussions
Need help decorating!
I love our new house but I need a lot of help when...
Painting wood panels
I'm in the process of having hard woods installed on...
Roberto Gerjoi
Need help with new apartment furnishings - and how to bring in more light?
Hi! I have just bought a new one bed apartment which...
Need help with the bedroom
We have a master bedroom that has nine different things...
Need help with ideas for my front entryway.
We have just purchased a tutor style home and starting...
More Discussions
Looking for ideas for long, narrow backyard
It's cold and ugly as I take these pictures of my lovely...
Help...Great Room Advice
We have a newly built home, lots of light two large...
Finishing touches on guest bedroom?
What else should I add to pull room together and have...
Considering unfinished mango wood table... bad idea?
I really like the scale and light color of this parquet...
Just bought the house. Need some Curb Appeal
Just bought the house here in south Louisiana (It's...
The content on this page is provided by Houzz and is subject to the Houzz terms of use, copyright and privacy policy.
Copyright claims: contact the Houzz designated agent.