The captain’s bathroom becomes… a much more versatile space

We have a HUGE post for you today. Lots of pictures and lots of words. But when you give one non-functional space three distinct purposes, I think that happens. So grab a drink and settle in. Let’s take a tour of the captain’s bathroom turned closet/vanity/back bar.


Oh, it’s important to note (in case you’re not freakishly categorizing the details of the firehouse) that the pipes in this space were filled with cement at some point before we bought the place, effectively rendering it useless as a bathroom. We figured our guests would be happy to use the communal bathroom that’s right next door to this room, which left us free to re-purpose this former bathroom space. We started this makeover by giving the walls and trim a coat of Pantone’s June Bug to match the captain’s bedroom.

Ok, back to the tour. When you enter the room the area to the right used to house a sink. You can see the cleat and pipes for it below the mirror. We thought this space would be perfect for a vanity – a space to do your hair or makeup (hello window light!) away from some of the goings on in the communal bathroom.


Back in April we stopped by Ikea on a trip to Chicago and snagged a few cabinets (I’ll show you in a minute) AND we lucked out by finding the perfect floating vanity in the Ikea showroom.


The Besta Burs wall shelf may have been intended to house DVDs, but it was the perfect size for our vanity area. It earned bonus points for coming in the same high gloss, gray finish as the cabinets, and at just 100 clams it was an easy decision to bring this home.


Seriously it looks like it was custom built for this space.


(Unintentional selfie…)

After assembling it, we removed the sink cleat to make way for the piece. We’re trying to minimize damage to the existing stone, but in this instance the installation required three holes and anchors to attach it to the wall. I think it was well worth it.

I added a hair dryer, some extra toiletries and a box of kleenex. I’m sure there are some other goodies I could tuck in here for guests, so send me any ideas.


This area still needs a new light fixture and possibly some more mirrors or art. We’re still noodling that and awaiting the opening of our very own Ikea in St Louis. Then we’ll have lots of affordable mirrors at our fingertips! I also feel like this space needs a little something in way of accessories… but I’m not sure what yet.


Here’s a shot standing in the area where the toilet used to live.

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The window sill also got an upgrade with some sweet, sun loving plants.


This guy has exploded since I put him here/gave him the sun he really wanted.


Opposite the sink-turned-vanity area, the space is divided in two: shower on the left, former toilet space on the right.


Part of the rationale behind removing the closet in the captain’s bedroom was that we knew the shower stall would work perfectly as a replacement.


We installed a bar in each section (in the front where you would hang your towel and in the back where the actual shower happens) using construction adhesive on both ends.

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This gives guests a spot to hang their clothes and us an area for our winter coats (I promise we have more than 1 coat each… I didn’t want to put too much weight on the bars until the adhesive had more time to cure.)

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We also added a luggage holder in the guest section. We scored this guy many moons ago at a furniture re-sell warehouse that has since moved. It was one of those places with SO much junk, but we walked away with this guy for $10 and a HUGE whiteboard that Aaron uses in the studio for (maybe) $50. We’ve never had a good spot for this guy. In fact, I think I’ve promised to give this to my mom about 10 times… so sorry, mom, we’re (for real) keeping it. We gave it a rub down with some Restor-A-Finish and called it good.

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Rounding out the trio of functionality: a coffee bar and back bar area.


Our bread rack turned bar is still one of my favorite things in the firehouse, but it doesn’t offer any covered storage for things like extra bottles and mixers. We also needed a home for the soda stream.

Also, we bought a mini fridge for Aaron to use in the studio, and since we moved here we’ve become very spoiled by having it on the second floor. Once we’re done snacking on something chilled, we don’t necessarily have to walk all the way downstairs to put it away. #lazy We also tuck bottles of white wine in there for easy access. #lazyandtipsy It has been living in the guestroom, but with all the new furniture it didn’t have a home… and who really wants to stare at a mini fridge? Not me.

So we decided to dedicate this former toilet section of the room to a back bar/coffee bar. Crucial to this part of the makeover was running an outlet for the fridge. While the electrician was here rerouting some things in the living room, he agreed to install a run of conduit from the light fixture to the bar area for a few extra bucks. Here’s the ceiling before:


And after. You can see the conduit extending to the back of the wall.


We also grabbed an inexpensive fixture from Ikea to finish off the space and add a little more light.



We grabbed an upper cabinet from Ikea that fit between the conduit and the wall. We also snagged a lower cabinet to sit next to the fridge. We knew we would need a countertop for the lower cabinet, but once we set it in place, it was clear we needed more.

The bottom cabinet is deeper than the fridge, so we pulled it forward to be flush, which left about a foot of space behind the fridge. I knew this area was ripe for things to fall behind, especially with my klutzy ways. Sure enough, before the counter was installed I managed to drop one of our soda stream carafes and the flashlight I used to see if the soda stream carafe was intact (good news, it didn’t break) behind the fridge. It was the first, but surely not the last, time I’ve wanted one of those old people grabber things that seemed to be promoted in every commercial break during the early 90s. Holler at me 90s kids. You know what I’m talking about. We rescued both items by bending a metal hangar into a hook… although Aaron admitted to losing the metal hangar behind the fridge at one point. It might still be back there….


To remedy this problem, we purchased two project panels. They happened to be the perfect depth, so Aaron just needed to cut the length to create two flat surfaces and a waterfall in between. He notched each piece for biscuits, stained them and then glued the whole thing together before installing it.

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Aaron even went the extra mile to add some trim to the back.

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This space also gave us a use for our extra Keurig. Now our guests can enjoy a cup of coffee in their room at any time of the day! It’s like we’re a real hotel, you guys.

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So that’s it! One space, three uses (and a TON of pictures and 1,200+ words.)

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  1. It’s so petty! Plus a bottle of Sazerac in the cabinet 🙂

    1. Winning! 😉

  2. Ohhh, I want to come and drink coffee and do my makeup! Looks great you guys!

    1. You’re welcome anytime, Tim/Alecia. We won’t judge where anyone does makeup 🙂

  3. That previous comment by “me” was actually Alecia on my phone.

    I prefer to do my makeup in a room with white walls.

    1. Smart man 😉

  4. So fancy! Your guests might not leave. Be forewarned.

    We used a mini fridge during our epic reno at our big house, and got so used to having a little drinks area that we ended up using it well after the kitchen was finished.

    Congrats on getting some serious mileage out of what could have been a real problem space!

    1. It could be an issue… we have our first house guests this weekend so I’ll let you know if they depart on time 🙂

      Mini fridge for the win!

  5. Amazing!! Chuck is extremely jealous of your soda stream. He’s been wanting one for years but I always shoot him down…ha! Great use of space!

    1. Also, what is that plant on the far right (with the long legs – ha – not sure how to describe him?) I love it!

      1. Ha! I know which one you’re talking about, but I had to google around to find it: Donkey’s Tail Plant (Sedum Morganianum.) It’s apparently a great hanging plant. I’m actually considering repotting it into a hanging put for this room. The little leaf (?) things on this guy are SOOO fragile. I turn the pot and multiples break off! So if you grab one, get it a forever pot and LOTS of light. It has flourished in this south facing window.

    2. Oh man we use that Soda Stream so much! If he loves carbinatoion, he would adore this. It’s totally worth the investment.

  6. […] putting everything in place in the captain’s bathroom turned closet/bar, we were both ready to close the book on this makeover and finish this space for our first house […]

  7. I want to stay here!!! Do you allow 3 month olds and a little girl named Ivy 😉

    1. Come on over! 3 month olds are allowed because it’s unlikely they will impale themselves on any of the tools in our downstairs area. Sweet dogs are welcome so they can wear out the puppy 😉

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