Reader Bathroom: They Ditch the Tub and Add a Feature Wall

This series profiles bathroom updates ranging from DIY projects to professional remodels.

Reader Bathroom: Ditching the Tub and Adding a Feature Wall

Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: Joanne and Bruce Butzier
Location: Gaylord, Michigan
Size: About 35 square feet (3.3 square meters)
Total cost: $9,206
Construction time: Two weeks

Joanne Butzier wanted to turn her outdated bathroom into an escape, “somewhere I could walk in and be transported to a more relaxing environment,” she says. For her, that meant ripping out the bathtub and replacing it with a walk-in shower, and creating a textured feature wall that reminded her of a spa in Sedona, Arizona.

A Reader Ditches the Tub and Adds a Spa Feature Wall

Here is the result. The Butziers hired professionals to do the demolition and to move the drain from its former place in the bathtub to a new location that worked for the shower setup. Pros helped her find the tile and installed the shower and wall tile. Joanne Butzier took care of finding the rest of the materials for the remodel, and she and her husband acted as their own general contractor and designer.

Vanity and sink: Brinkhill 36-inch vanity with sink, Home Decorators Collection, Home Depot; faucet: Brantford 8-inch widespread faucet, Moen; feature wall tile: Noce split-face mosaic tile, 2 inches by 1 inch, Travertine collection, Daltile. See more tile

Reader Bathroom: Joanne Butzier

Here’s another look at the shower with a better view of its tile and mosaic tile accent.

Shower floor and accent tile: Bora Wilderness Zen mosaic tile, Bliss Pebble collection, Anatolia; main shower wall tiles: Light Splendor in natural finish, 12 by 12 inches, Cesare Magnus collection, StonePeak Ceramics; floor tile: Autumn Blaze, 12 by 12 inches, Cesare Magnus collection, StonePeak Ceramics

A Reader Ditches the Tub and Adds a Spa Feature Wall

This travertine feature wall was inspired by Butzier’s travels. “I went to the Enchantment Resort and Spa in Sedona and loved the walls of their bathrooms,” she says. “I wanted to feel like I was there when I was in my own bathroom, so I decided to add the accent feature they have on one of my walls.”

Her advice to fellow homeowners: “Make sure you are there for the entire process if you’re acting as your own contractor as we did.” In Butzier’s case, being on-site helped her to catch how the pattern varied in a few tiles in a way that she didn’t quite care for, allowing her to request some swaps. “I don’t believe you should stand over the installers, since, if you hire good ones, they know what they’re doing,” she says. “However, in this case, I was able to show them what my vision was and wouldn’t have been able to after the fact.”

Lighting fixture: Kenross brushed nickel cage vanity light bar, allen + roth; mirror: Metro beaded mirror, 36 by 24 inches, Head West. See more mirrors

Reader Bathroom: Ditching the Tub and Adding a Feature Wall

Walls moved: No
Plumbing moved: A drain in the shower area was moved to center, and the shower head was raised.
Plumbing replaced: No
Professionals hired: Alpine Carpet and Design for demo, prep, tile and tile installation; RC Plumbing & Heating for plumbing work
Special features: A floor-to-ceiling travertine tile feature wall
Savings: Couple acted as their own designer and general contractor.

Cost breakdown
Shower: $5,000 for demo of tub, prep work, tile and other materials
Vanity: $768, including $600 for vanity and sink combo, $168 for faucet and fixtures
Tile: $1,686, including $321 for shower floor and accent tile, $410 for main shower interior tile, $235 for floor tile; $720 for travertine feature wall
Lighting: $80 for fixture above mirror
Mirror: $140
Windows and doors: $932 for shower door
Labor: $600 for plumber
Total: $9,206

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