Of all the spaces in the home, the bathroom just might be the most personal—and the most aggravating when it doesn’t work for you. So, when designer Rachel Cannon was brought on to renovate a home with a seriously dated bathroom whose floorplan meant constant fights over counter space, she had her work cut out for her. “The layout just didn’t make sense,” she tells House Beautiful. Not to mention, the dusty pink tub and speckled walls weren’t exactly—er—current. So, Cannon set about reconfiguring and re-outfitting the room so that it would serve its residents’ needs for years to come.

vanity seat before


vanity bench


“The biggest thing was, the way that the home had been designed, the shower was a little three-by-three [space] in the corner,” says Cannon. “We suggested pushing that corner out [which required amending the roof line] and getting rid of the skylight. Just those two changes made it look like a totally different room.” It also enabled Cannon to fit a tub for the (super short!) wife and a shower for the (super tall!) husband.

Besides that, the new layout also opened up more opportunities for storage—a key consideration in a bathroom, which often occupies the smallest footprint in a home but is tasked with holding toiletries, makeup, and more.

“They had no storage in there before,” says Cannon. “Basically they just left everything on the countertop all the time because the drawers were so small and they didn’t really hold anything.”

Cannon rectified that problem in a big way: “When we redesigned the millwork for the vanity, we literally went in and measured every single thing that she uses in there,” says the designer: “Her hairdryer, her curling iron, her brushes—they all have a little space like at a salon.”

pink bath tub


bath tub


Cannon even devised a custom drawer for the client’s makeup mirror, complete with an outlet for its lights. “It stays plugged in all the time and then she just pulls out turns on in the morning to do her makeup,” Cannon says.

In the shower, the designer incorporated a shelf for soap and shampoo into her design plan: “Everybody thinks, okay we can just put a corner shelf in here—it’s an afterthought.” But, if you’re designing a room from scratch, why not take these things into account during the design? After all, who wants to muss up a beautiful slab of marble with a cheap, plastic shower caddy.

Indeed, to Cannon, all that built-in function is far from just utilitarian: The designer upgraded fixtures, fittings, and finishings in the space to make for a timeless look—without breaking the bank.

“What we did was have them pick their dream finishes and then selected some that have the same look for a little less,” says Cannon. In this case, though, the clients ended up selecting nearly all the more expensive options: “They figured if they were going to go to the effort to do this, they wanted to get the most out of it,” she explains. Still, Cannon found ways to cut costs in strategic—and aesthetically-pleasing—ways, like covering a panel and floor in the shower in penny tile, a much less expensive material than marble, but one which adds a depth of texture when next to it. Meanwhile, chevron limestone floors and dark faucets from Brizo add contrast and ground the space.

Taken together, the design elements are the perfect blend of form and function, which make for a bathroom the homeowners actually want to spend time in: “She emails us all the time saying, ‘I just love this bathroom so much, it makes me so happy,'” says Cannon. A ringing endorsement, indeed.