PHOTOGRAPHY: TRACEY AYTON
STYLING: TANYA McLEAN and NICHOLE SKLADAN
The teak cabinet that popped up on Craigslist looked perfect, just the kind of piece the homeowners wanted to repurpose as a bathroom vanity for their East Vancouver home.
“It was on everyone’s wish list to find a vintage piece of mid-century furniture,” says Tanya McLean, owner and creative director of mango design co., who oversaw the redesign of the bathroom. “This would add some history and authentic style to the space while producing one less item.”
Once they had taken it home, however, it turned out to be less perfect than it looked: the sides and top were a thin veneer and couldn’t be refinished; the gables were edge-taped with a plastic laminate. To make it work, the carpenter had to replace the top and sides with solid teak, and add height to the legs. Then the whole piece was sanded, stained and sealed for water resistance. Finally, it was exactly what the homeowners had been seeking. Another large piece of teak was used to create a similar-style tub apron, also sealed for water and moisture resistance.
“Don’t think that converting an old piece of furniture is necessarily going to save you money,” McLean says. “Think of it as a cool, reclaimed statement piece.”
This guest bathroom is part of a larger basement renovation that included a new music studio, guest room and den. McLean’s clients were old friends, whom she describes as Mid-century Modern enthusiasts and musicians who love rock ’n’ roll. “The teak millwork and brushed gold details speak to their lifestyle and aesthetic,” she says, “While the brightness and lightness of the space provide serenity.”
To make the bathroom larger and more functional, the designer extended the wall one foot into the hallway. Additional insulation was needed on the exterior wall to meet building code requirements, forcing the tub and toilet to shift. The bulkhead was right over the bath and limited the shower height; it couldn’t be moved, but it was reconfigured to be narrower and deeper to gain that much-needed height for the shower. The heat register that had been in the bulkhead was removed, replaced by in-floor heating. A pocket door was built into the new wall to create a feeling of extra space in the bathroom.
McLean says she advises clients who want to repurpose a vanity to find it ahead of time, then design the space around it, since the dimensions of the piece will determine the size and positioning of the sink, as well as the faucet height.
“It’s not the first time we’ve done this and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but using found furniture as a vanity is not always the easiest process,” McLean says. “In the end, it looks fantastic and definitely has the character we were after.” •
Mango Design Co.