Chesterfield batheroom remodel

A Master Bathroom Renovation In Chesterfield

We spoke with owner of Aptitude Design & Build Matt Mierek to discuss how to tackle a bathroom remodel. Mierek discusses the background, materials, hurdles and client response to a bathroom remodel for a home in Chesterfield, MO, to shed light on how the process works. If you're thinking about any type of remodel, keep reading.

Tell us a bit about the background of this project.

Storage with benchThere actually used to be a door where the half-shower wall is, and the original shower was actually about a foot shorter in size. There was also a big tub that took up a whole corner of the master bath. What these clients wanted to do―and this is a big trend nowadays―is that they'll get rid of the tub in their master bath to accomodate a larger shower and create storage space. That was our game plan on this particular project, which would also create a more open floor plan in the bathroom itself. Because there was a wall with a door beforehand, the space looked a little cramped. But now it flows a lot better. I hear this from people time and time again: that they don't utilize the tub and it just takes up space. By removing it, they can have a really nice, large walk-in shower and create more storage.

What were some hurdles you ran into, and how did you navigate around them?

Shower with half wallThis one did have some structural challenges. The wall that we removed was a load-bearing wall. So when we removed that, we actually had to hide another beam in the ceiling to keep everything supported. We chose to have it in the attic so it's not visible on the ceiling. The homeowners wanted to keep that natural, flowing feel throughout the space. And it's still a load-bearing beam; you just can't see it.

As far as design challenges, our big goal was really to give them more storage space and to figure out how to do that in a way that would look really nice. We decided to install this large pantry-like cabinet system at the end of their vanity and utilize the remaining space as a bench, where they could sit down and get dressed. They can now do that without having to leave the bathroom.

What kind of building materials did you use to achieve this look?

The load-bearing beam we used is called a Microllam beam, which is able to support heavy weights without splitting or warping. We also used Italian polished travertine tile for the shower, with an inlaid border made from dark brown glass tile. The floor is also heated. So when it's 20 degrees outside, you can set the floor thermostat to turn on an hour or two before you wake up and the floor is 85-90 degrees when you get ready for the day. It's amazing. It also heats the room up a little bit, too. You can't see that in the pictures, or the beam, but those are two prominent features that really make the space special.

What's your favorite design feature?

I would say the way the shower came out, with the half wall and glass. The design was built around creating some privacy in the bench area, but it also still needed to feel open, which was accomplished by using glass for the rest of the shower.

What has the client response been?

They gave us a huge compliment, which was that we were able to take their general idea on paper and make it a reality. They had a bunch of pictures with ideas they liked and some that they didn't. With this one we took all of those ideas and created something that was theirs―something that nobody else has but still incorporated the elements they wanted: the open feeling, extra storage space, the colors. We take those preferences and do a three-dimensional rendering to show them what they're getting.

We've been doing 3-D renderings for years. Most people have a hard time visualizing what a space will look like, so we have a technology that can sketch our blueprints into 3-D renderings. They can even see a video walkthrough of what the project will look like before any construction begins. They can tell us things like, "I don't like the half wall," or "I actually don't want a wall at all." That way we can really fine-tune a project so the customer knows what they want. Then we can develop how to do it.