Updated: Feb 11
We have always known that we would be creating a Master Suite but never knew when we would be doing such a large and expensive project. In fact - we had just started working on the Parlor when we were invited to participate in the One Room Challenge. We went through every room and kept coming back to the Master Suite with one reservation... could we build the shower of our dreams within the given time?
Over the last three years we have been dreaming about all of the things the Master Suite could be. We would lay in bed on a Saturday morning talking about an idea we had. Inevitably one of us would jump up and use our hands to gesture where we thought the vanity should end. We would stand in the spot of the future shower, arms out proclaiming, "it should be this big." The biggest advantage we had going into this challenge was that the idea factory was primed.
Our shower was to be large, built-in, elegant, and most importantly, intentional. Intentional is word that we use all of the time when approaching a design - every aspect should look like it was done on purpose. In this post we want to walk you through how we did just that. This post is not a technical guide to installing a shower, the technicalities have been well documented by professionals across the internet.
Hello! If you’ve stumbled across our page from the ORC Site, Welcome! We’re Stephen & David, a Husband-and-Husband DIY team based in Boston, MA. Over that past three years we have been renovating our (previously abandoned) Victorian home and sharing the process along the way! You can check out a little tour of our home here and we hope you join us as we tackle this Master Suite project!
This space served as storage for three years. The plumbing and electric strategically placed for flexibility and hidden behind the plaster for future use. The chimney standing tall wondering about its fate.
We removed the plaster, wood floor, and subfloor in the area that would become the future shower. Then the sexy part... building the foundation in which your future shower would live. Given our past experiences we knew this was a critical moment. The decisions you make now will impact every single decision down the road.
The floor of the bathroom had a terrible slope. In order to fix this issue there was no choice but to sister the joists in order to level and install a new subfloor. At the same time we were able to position the drain and fill the floor with insulation to serve as a sound barrier. We also framed out the new shower leaving ample room for plumbing and additional insulation. The framing must be level and plumb, we can not emphasize this enough.
THE WEDI SYSTEM
The first round of decision making when planning your shower is the materials or system you will be using. Knowing that we wanted a tiled floor presented an even greater challenge as we have always relied on shower pans for previous projects. Creating the perfect slope for tile and water drainage is no joke, and well outside of our skill set. We contemplated hiring this step out several times - that was until we visited The Tile Shop and were introduced to The Wedi System*.
The Wedi System is made of high density foam with a wide range of pre-sloped and tile ready pans. The pans come with different drain configurations and can even be cut down to fit custom sizes or shapes. A rabbet at the pan's edge accepts the Wedi walls to make a water tight connection. Its foam is super lightweight and can be cut so much easier than cement board. The entire thing is absolutely brilliant. We will definitely be using the Wedi System again.
There was never a question that we would be using marble - no other material would give us the level of finish we were looking for. What we did not know is how the shower would be designed and the elements we wanted to include. That is when we came across an Instagram Story by Sarah at Room for Tuesday who outlined her philosophy: carry the room through the shower. If you have a chair rail - continue it, if you have a baseboard, match the height. Crown? That too. The perspective confirmed our plan and we did just that!
Also, very controversially, we decided to NOT include a niche. The primary motivation is not a dislike for the niche but the dislike for seeing one when you walk into the room. To us they the have the potential messy and there simply was no place to hide it in our design. We have no regrets, yet.
Next we needed a to find a line of marble that matched our preferences and had the pieces we needed. Not too much yellow, consistent grays, and a honed finished. We jumped on The Tile Shop* website and browsed their catalog where they highlight all of their lines. We landed on Firenze Carrara.
Now the fun part... visit The Tile Shop, plans in hand, and see the tile for ourselves. We explored the isles and displays and asked the staff a million questions. We were paired with a specialist (Leoni in our case, she was absolutely wonderful) who walked with us through our thought process and filled in any gaps about Firenze Carrara including availability, installation, quantity, and delivery. And if all of that was not enough she introduced us to and did a great job explaining the Wedi System. The entire experience was a game changer. If you are local to Boston we highly recommend seeking out her help at the Watertown location.
Our Final Selections:
All from the Firenze Carrara Line in a honed finish
Lower Tile | 12x24 IN (650213)
Upper Tile | 8x20 IN (650212)
Chair Rail | Barnes (650638)
Outside Corners| Flat Corner (650259)
Skirt | Skirting (650642)
Grout | Pro Grout Unsanded in Whisper Grey
For the Floor we selected form the Hampton Collection because we LOVED how the tumbled Hex felt under-foot.
It blends seamlessly with the Firenze.
Floor | Hampton Carrara Tumbled Hex 2" (657610)
TRIM & ACCESSORIES
We were so pleased to find that The Tile Shop's Firenze Carrara line had options for chair rail, base board, and outside corners. These items are rather expensive but given the low number you need they can really make a huge impact. The corner pieces themselves saved us from lining up cut edges and elevated our design. It looks sooo intentional.
SEAT AND THRESHOLD
For the bench seat and threshold we wanted a thicker slab of marble that would also match our vanity perfectly. In order to get this done we contacted a favorite of ours: Sudbury Granite & Marble*. We have used Sudbury several times in the past. In-fact its the ONLY place we have used in the past. In 2012 we placed our very first order for uba tuba granite countertops and boy did it feel opulent.
We paid them a visit and met with Amy (yes she remembered us!) She is a straight shooter who is great to work with. She reviewed all of the finish options, thicknesses, bevels, etc. We even got a tour of the slabs and cutting areas. We made our selections with confidence and headed on our way.
When considering shower hardware we knew we wanted brass. Not shiny in-your-face brass but something more refined - traditional yet contemporary. For this project we partnered with Build.com* and selected a few favorites... We have LOVED the Brizo Litze line for a long time (we used it in our kitchen) and were so pleased to see the options Build.com had to offer.
We are using duel shower heads that are rain-ish along with a hand held option on one side. We are so excited to get these installed and show you how they look with the marble!
With the shower door we wanted tall glass but noting overly fancy. We decided on three panels with a center door and matte black hardware. We have mixed brass and matte black throughout the space and did so intentionally allowing the brass to shine without competition. We worked with Allstate Glass*, another local gem, on the door and our measurements have been completed.
This is Steve from Allstate Glass who came to measure our shower. He used his level, hemmed and hawed, and then looked at us both and said "really well done guys". This was the best compliment we had ever received.
BACK TO WORK!
Now, in order to make all those pretty things come to life we need to get back to work! Did we mention we are doing the ENTIRE thing ourselves? If you’re not already following along on Instagram - come check it out! We post stories everyday with what we are working on and we love your feedback! See you there!