Grandma’s Walk In Shower

By Kate Riley February 17, 2015

Yesterday we stopped by Grandma’s house to check on the progress of the bathroom remodel. I’ve mentioned we’re renovating the kitchen but haven’t show you the bathroom yet. (As a reminder, Matt’s grandmother passed away last year and we’re remodeling the bathroom and kitchen in her small home for the estate before putting it on the market.) The kitchen cabinets get installed next week so while we were waiting for their delivery the contractor we hired has been working on other things like scraping the popcorn ceilings, installing crown molding, and upgrading the bathroom – he finished the shower last week.

I’m so bummed because I cannot find the official “before” picture of the old old oooold bathtub and its metal sliding double shower door that used to sit here. It was one of those standard shallow tubs with a sliding door above that many builders install. Funny, it looked identical to the one we also have in the hallway of the Las Vegas house – see this picture – you know the kind I’m talking about.

After talking with several residents in this retirement community and also pulling from Matt’s experience as an appraiser, we realized a walk in shower made more sense than keeping the old tub. I only have this “in progress” picture I snapped a month ago but it shows the empty space under construction.

shower in progress

I’m so impressed with the new look with the marble tile and frameless shower door. Forgive the iPhone pics, I’ll snap better ones when we finish the vanity side :)

tiled walk in shower

The shower kit (head and valve) is the Leland by Delta in chrome, the tile is Daltile Marissa Cararra, available at Home Depot for $2.21 a square foot. The edges, niche, and seat are trimmed with the matching bullnose tiles. We love the look of this tile so much we may repeat the use of it in the master shower in the Las Vegas fixer, it looks beautiful and is a great price!

daltile cararra marble tile


new delta shower head

We asked the contractor to include a shampoo/conditioner niche and an angled seat for sitting or shaving in the new shower.

shampoo niche

angled shower seat

I wish the seat was *slightly* bigger and the niche had an extra shelf but overall we’re so pleased with the result including the new shower pan and shower door.

marble tile walk in shower frameless shower door

Now that the shower side looks so attractive we need to make improvements to the vanity side in the next few weeks.

bathroom vanity side

We went back and forth on salvaging the vanity, but now we’re leaning toward replacing it. We also plan to frame the mirror, replace the lighting, and paint the walls, likely a soft gray, I’ll keep you posted.

*** Update: to see the full bathroom remodel including new flooring, vanity, and lighting read this follow up post with the complete makeover.


  1. Looks like you have done a fabulous job! I live in San Fran but am currently staying with my brother in England and he has just completed a huge house renovation, It was a great deal of hard work but so worth it and he has a very similar shower in his son’s room! We certainly live in a global village! Good luck with the rest of your project I am enjoying following the progress!

  2. So, so, so, smart of you to do a walk in with a little bench. Especially in a retirement community. My parent completely remodeled their master bath a few years ago. This is the home they plan on retiring in and while they may feel like spring chickens inside, their knees aren’t. I told them to do a walk in with a built in bench but the bear claw tub in the show room beat out all reason to form and function. Flash 5 years ahead and my parents are again gutting their bathroom to pit in a walk in.

  3. Looks gorgeous! What a great price for that tile too.

    I’m surprised that folks in a retirement community prefer showers to baths. I am in the midst of redoing a small house to resell to an older couple or a family with young children,and am wondering if I should be rethinking replacing the bath for a walk-in shower. Maybe I’m missing the current wisdom that there’s a preference for a bath versus walk-in shower for these types of buyers? Would appreciate any thoughts on this.

  4. That marble tile is beautiful! It looks great so far! I would replace the vanity with something simple and sleek off the shelf. I don’t think it’s worth fooling with, at least based on that photo.

    I’m not surprised that older folks prefer a walk-in shower to a bath. A very elderly person likely wouldn’t be able to get themselves up after laying down in a bathtub. Also, if they fall, it is much easier to help them out of a shallow shower rather than a bathtub. I also wouldn’t be too concerned about the small corner bench. I see what you mean about it would be nice if it was larger, but someone can always bring in a small shower stool if they want more comfortable seating, and then they can position it where they want in front of the shower stream.

    • On the issue of choosing a walk in shower, there is only 1 bathroom (and 2 small bedrooms) in this 1000 square foot home (it’s actually a single story attached duet sharing a wall with a neighbor in a planned community). If there were two bathrooms, I’d include a bathtub in one. Our grandma had a slip and fall getting out of the tub a few years ago and the caretaker she had into her late 90s and early 100s struggled with bathing her with the awkward tub and its enclosure. Other older people have shared the same concern. While many love a long soak, the shower was more practical for this single bathroom home.

  5. Wow! That tile looks fabulous for the price! I would reuse that tile also. What a high end look! The bigger shower is for sure the way to go. My in-laws replaced both of their bathtubs in their condo with walk in showers. Older people with bad hips and knees don’t want to get up and down. Besides, my in-laws are so “on the go” they don’t have the time to take a bath. They have a better social life than mine. I can’t wait to see how the vanity turns out.

  6. I totally agree about the walk-in shower in a retirement-type community. My mom can only take showers now; thankfully, the downstairs bathroom has a walk-in shower. However, I don’t understand “typical” homes without a bathtub at all; it really limits your buyer pool, and who doesn’t love a nice, long soak at night!

  7. Appreciating the comments about walk-in showers versus tub/shower. If you were redoing home in a typical neighbourhood with just one bath, for resale, would you always opt for one over the other?

  8. I do live in a 55-plus “retirement” community with homes built in the 1980’s and 1990’s and we have both showers and tubs (all 2-bedroom homes). In my current 1986-built home, I have a shower in the master and a tub (happily without enclosure) in the guest bath. They’re old and smallish but I like the setup. I take showers most of the time but I like to wash and color my hair in the bathtub so I can control water usage. Interestingly, in the 1990’s built homes (one of which I lived in with my late husband), many of the last-phase-built homes had both tub and separate shower in the master and tub in the guest bath. And a couple of plans, including ours, had a big round garden tub along with a with a 9′ double vanity. I loved the convenience of both tub and shower in one room, but the garden tub was a waste – dangerous for my older husband to get in and difficult for me. I definitely think the way to go in a retirement community, Kelly and Wendy, is to have that shower in one bathroom. As mobility becomes an issue for older people (as it did for my older husband), all the grab bars in the world don’t help getting in and out of a tub. About the small corner bench, as Catherine mentioned, there are inexpensive but sturdy and lightweight foldable shower stools that can be placed in when needed then stored away when not. We had a built-in bench all the way across the back of the shower but it was too far away from the water. The foldable bench allowed my husband to sit directly under the water and take a real shower. Smart choice and beautiful execution.

  9. Beautiful! Could you provide some more info about the glass door? We are looking for one just like that for our walk-in shower – love the seamless look!

  10. This is exactly what I want for our bathroom. Does the shower door open into the towel bar? Right now we have a sliding shower door but I would rather have one with a hinge. I’m afraid we don’t have enough room though.

  11. I am looking to make the same tub/shower conversion. Looks like you were able to leave the drain in it’s original location? Several contractors have told me they will have to chisel into the foundation – ouch!- and move it to the center to insure proper drainage. How did you handle this concern? Thanks for the info!!!

    • Great question Debbie, I’ll find out! This is not a slab foundation, it’s raised, so I’m assuming it was a plumbing modification in the subfloor.
      And I’ll get the brand of that shower door for you Lydia.

  12. I am curious about whether the marble needs to be treated and how one cleans and cares for it?

    • Lisa it’s not “real” marble, it’s a porcelain marble look tile so it can be sealed like any other and should be just fine! A nice high end look for a bargain price :)

  13. I just want to say YES to the walk in shower! I am an Occupational Therapist who works in a hospital with lots of elderly folks (and frankly just with people with lots of mobility challenges). While the bathtub is lovely it is really a huge barrier to getting in/out of the shower. The other thing to consider is grab bars. I know they are not the prettiest (I am sure whoever could invent an attractive grab bar would make a million!) but they are SUCH a good safety feature. I am always astonished at the people who live in a retirement community but still have bathtubs/no grab bars, etc. I think it is just a general shift in builders recognising these issues but still.
    Having those safety things in place initially can let people actually stay in their homes vs having to move! So amen to thinking of this stuff!

  14. The shower is beautiful. We are looking to use the very same tile for our master bath. May I ask about the shower door? I love the framless door. Thanks very much. C

  15. The tile that the contractor installed is the same tile that we are using in a renovation we are doing in our home. We are keeping the tub (having it re-glazed to save some money) because we have a walkin shower in our downstairs bathroom. I love the Marissa Cararra by Daltile. We are also installing similar tile on the floor. It is a plank style tile. I will send pictures when it is completed. Thank you for not always choosing the most expensive products when doing a remodel.

  16. Would you mind telling me how much your shower door glass was (including installation)?I am wondering how much more it is here compared to the mainland. I love your bath! Mahalo! Jennifer in Hawaii

  17. We were thinking of adding a grab bar too Elisabeth. Since it’s a 55+ community it may not be necessary for every buyer, but it’s easy enough to install so it could always be added in the future, but great point!

  18. I totally echo the wisdom of adding grab appears during renovations. My parents recently redid their bathroom. Thankfully their builder is a smart man and convinced them to add grab bars then. My mother was a little offended and assured EVERYONE she didn’t need them. He pointed out she may not now but by installing then they were guaranteed to be anchored safely. He said he had seen grab bars just attached to the wall lining and not secured to the wall structure. There is no way a bar hung on wall lining would be secure enough to support full body weight. Potentially they can pull out and compound an accident. I am curious about having a fixed shower head. Our new-to-us house has a shower head that lifts off the rail and is so handy for cleaning the shower and would also be great for anyone needing assistance or sitting on a stool as you can use it handheld as well. Not sure if they are common in the US?

  19. I totally agree with several here who commented on just purchasing stand alone shower seats. Each case is unique and may require specifics. Many times elderly need slip resistant surfaces and these seats have that. Sometimes a towel can be draped on top of the seat to even help ‘turn’ the person. Similar to using extra bed sheets/pads on a hospital bed to move the patient who has slipped down in the bed, etc. Grab bars are a given. Installing a handheld shower is vital. If you prefer get a combo shower head/hand held unit. And even though the doors look nice there is something said for shower curtains…certain situations make it difficult to get in and out of the door opening (keep in mind the possible need for an assistant as well in these situations). Honestly, when it comes time to update our bathroom I will do more research at home health suppliers and agencies than the box stores. My comments come from years of helping the elderly stay in their homes for as long as possible as well as my husband’s long nursing career.

  20. Nice job. I used the frameless shower door in my last house and mine swung into the shower or the usual out into the room. I also had clearance issues so used the swing into the shower option. Also think about chair height toilets in bathroom remodels. Very helpful for elderly or anyone with back issues. My plumber pointed out that idea to me and I scoffed….not at the usual age to need that but….then I had a back injury and his words came back to haunt me. Back issue is resolved but his wise words still ring in my head. And a small corner seat in a shower is almost useless to the elderly, they need wider, larger seats…..use a shower chair.

  21. I love how fresh the new shower looks! I can’t wait to see the new vanity and mirror! I have always looked forward to your remodels and I can’t wait to see the finished product! You are an inspiration to me and every decision I make on my remodels (including the bathroom remodel I just finished) I think “What would Centsational Girl do?” Congrats on the nomination too!

  22. Great inspiration. I am looking to do the same to our guest bath. I would also like the details about the shower pan…did you look into the concrete ones? Also how much extra tile did you order so that the ‘veining’ looked natural?

  23. I too would like to know about the shower pan you used. My husband is convinced we can’t find a good one. I want to use one as I think it is less expensive than having a cement pan built.
    Maria B.

  24. I agree with everyone about adding the grab bars during the remodel. And thank you Jill for the link to designer grab bars, it is bookmarked. I think with the aging population we will see new building codes designed with mobility issues in mind. I remember hearing that British Columbia now requires door handles instead of door knobs. After caring for older relatives, I am convinced of the need to plan ahead…the years fly by! We have the hand held shower head in our bath and wouldn’t be without one now.

  25. Kate, you just made my day seeing iPhone pictures on your post…a FIRST for you {that I know of} but boy that makes me feel so much better! I never seem to get my good camera shots in and I am always having to post iPhone pics and felt embarrassed about it. Not anymore! So thank you for that :) I am getting ready to remodel a home in an over 55 community, so reading all the comments has been so helpful!

  26. For those who asked the shower pan and glass shower door were both from local vendors and we also learned a grab bar is required in this retirement community so I bought a chrome Delta bar with more decorative corners so it looks less industrial – the bathroom vanity side will be compete in two weeks so I’ll share more pictures then.

  27. we live in a 55+ community in Vegas and are redoing the master bath. Yup we took out the ‘pain in the back tub’ and are building our new shower from scratch. We just finished our shower pan liner. And you thought retired people do nothing.!!! Our floor is cement so we left our drain in the same spot, slopping pan to the end not middle of floor.

  28. Hi! I love this so much and I actually just ordered the same tile for my bathroom remodel. What color grout did you choose for this tile?

  29. We used this same tile in a new bath and a bath remodel and absolutely love it. I just viewed the pictures of your finished bath remodel and it’s gorgeous! The vanity is absolutely beautiful; much prettier than the original choice. Sometimes problems do work out for the best!

  30. Love this!! I am looking at remodeling a bathroom in my home and turning the standard tub into a walk in shower like what you did here. I really want to add a bench like you did but my husband thinks there isn’t enough room, could share the dimensions of the shower as well as the dimensions of the seat please??

  31. I googled Foot Rest and your site came up. Had to look at this beautiful bathroom. I like the seat idea. Just not sure if it would fit in my shower. I too am looking at ideas to convert my tub into a walk in shower. I have fallen several times, Had my hip, knee, shoulder replaced.
    Like to know the size of the seat.
    The shower pan – what brand did you use?
    What tile is on the floor?
    Thank you in advance.
    Again love the bathroom

  32. I was wondering if I could get more details on the shower door. We are upgrading our shower and there are so many options!

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