Nine thousand dollars. Five weeks and done.

The year was 2005. The basement bathroom on Bloomfield in Outremont was my first solo renovation.

My mandate called for a no-frills bathroom to serve my clients’ teenage son and daughter.

The existing  bathroom was forlorn, basement quality, and quick to demolish; new construction including an expanded footprint was easy without consideration for adjacent rooms.

The layout remained the same and I waived any consideration for my design input for the custom fixtures.

Every renovation has its challenges; here there were two: the toilet and

shower were blocked and it would be necessary to break the floor to reconfigure the drain plumbing; heating pipes traversing the ceiling were too low for our new shower.

The old floor was a step up and the obvious solution to our shower problem was to reduce the height of the new floor. Moving a wall to increase the depth of the room obliged installation of a new door.

Fixtures and finishes were very basic: ceramic tiles from Million Carpets and Tiles; a ceramic drop-in sink in a laminate counter; an Ikea surface-mount medicine cabinet; a low-end packaged shower. The small cabinet over the toilet (below) was an afterthought.

The shower was not without pedigree: it was designed by Ian Bruce, better known as the industrial designer of the Laser sailboat. Ian was a boyhood hero of mine and my predecessor as design director of bathroom manufacturer Spartan Canada.

Underlying build quality was typical of most renovations: the shower walls were tiled over cement board; the drywall was mould-resistant; floor tiles were laid directly on a laminated plywood base.

The bathroom was not in proximity to an exterior wall and a vapour barrier was unnecessary. Electrical work was limited to the installation of four ceiling pot lights and an exhaust fan on the existing circuit.

There was little hesitation in choice of decor: the cheery green of the walls probably came from the cover of the Ikea 2004 catalogue; for the floor and fxture finishes we defaulted to the prevailing aesthetic of Tim Hortons.

Not to disparage the choice of green for the walls, because grey / beige / greige is looking a lot like the harvest gold of the 1970s – stay tuned for a fresh take on avocado green.