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Welcome to Debbie! My husband and I have a small prewar two bedroom on the Upper West Side. When we bought the apartment it had one full bath and a half bath. Since there are three of us, we needed to somehow convert the half bath to include a shower component to accommodate early morning schedules...
The bathroom room is only 5 x 6 and therefore we were quite limited in space. However, we were inspired by a trip to Italy where the shower was integrated into the bathroom with no separation between toilet and shower. My husband and I designed the bathroom ourselves but got a lot of assistance from a good friend who is an interior designer and who led us to our contractor and helped us pick out the tile and accessories. We chose tiles that had a hand made look with imperfections.
Since the space was so small, we could not accommodate the standard shower stall scenerio and we decided that the shower had to be open on one side to allow freedom of movement. The design involved moving the sink to an adjacent wall, moving the door of the bathroom and installing a glass partition between the toilet and the shower area. We could not move the toilet without great expense. What we didn't know was that the floor of the bathroom was solid concrete. Our contractor was very nervous to drill into the concrete since the building was 86 years old and it could break up and cause tremdous problems for the apartment below. We had no choice but to build up the floor for the shower area and hence, the step up. The entire bathroom has floor to ceiling tiles (from Chelsea Tiles on 15th Street) the medicine cabinet (Robern) has interior electric and it and all the accessories and sink (Vitria) come from Quintessentials in our neighborhood. Everything was picked out to accommodate the fact that water could get everywhere. The water actually drains nicely and the area around the toilet stays dry. If I were to do it again, the only thing I would change would be the subway tiles - they were quite heavy and difficult to install. Otherwise, we love our bathroom. Debbie