Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

A Move and Renovation was in the Air

by Peggy Ryden, Becketwood Member



Although generally not one to host an Open House, I decided to share the remodel of our new unit through this blog. Look for a few posts that highlight the various components of a 912 square feet renovation. Sincere thanks to all the patient Members who were affected by our renovation noise!


Before moving into Becketwood I had selected finishes, designed a kitchen and bathroom, and researched light fixtures for a unit yet to be purchased. When the opportunity was right for a remodel we would be ready to go. Finally, three years after moving into Becketwood, we had an opportunity to purchase a unit that would perfectly meet our needs. The design goals were simple: create an open floor plan, use the design principle "form follows function," and select products made in the USA as much possible.

Throughout the design process I was always reminded of architect and author Sara Susanka's book Not So Big House. From the author: "A Not So Big House feels more spacious than many of its oversized neighbors because it is space with substance, all of it in use every day."


Renovation Part 1: A Tiny Bathroom

Although many bathrooms at Becketwood can’t be remodeled to meet strict ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines, there was definitely room to make changes necessary for "aging in place” and creating a “form follows function” design.

With injuries and surgeries in past years it was important to have a walk in shower (hopping into the tub was not an option anymore). Working with the existing tub drain a 4" concrete base was required for connection to the new shower pan drain. Also high on the list for safety was to relocate the shower valve to the entry (foot) wall. No more squeezing between the toilet or getting into the shower to turn the water on!


Existing tub, demolition/ plumbing, wall construction and shower base set


As for grab bars, building codes have a dizzying array of configurations for different applications. I chose a balance between codes and preferences with a simple entry point bar and a full length bar all at 34" high. There was no room for a wall mounted fold down shower seat so if a chair is needed a portable one will be used. The shower head itself is height adjustable for seated showering.

Also on the renovation list was to reverse the bathroom door swing so that the air intake for the hallway cooling/ fan system wouldn’t be blocked. This meant swinging a new 2" narrower door into the bathroom, relocating the light switch, and a cabinet design that would allow access to drawers with the bathroom door open. There would still be clearance for a transport chair even with the smaller door.

Last but not least were the finishes. Given Becketwood's passive exhaust system eliminating grout was important. Even with a high performance latex grout, keeping the grout clean can be a challenge, so a solid surface material was specified for the walls (to the ceiling). As for installing an alcove recess into the wall for soap and shampoo, the wall cavity was pretty much taken up by the relocated plumbing, so three surface mounted shelves were specified.

As I watched the project unfold I was reminded how labor intensive a bathroom remodel is--and the refined skills that multiple trades need to execute a remodel in a tiny and detailed space!


Completed shower, door swing changed creating clear space for the hallway air intake


To be continued

Renovation Part 2: A Tiny Kitchen


Leave a Reply

  • ruthgaylordRuth January 5, 2021, 3:40 pm

    Thank you, Peggy. Im sure this is a service to all here at Becketwood.

  • Helen Gilbert January 5, 2021, 4:32 pm

    Peggy, I really enjoyed reading this, remembering our not-so-long ago renovation. I wish I had had your expertise to work with…..there’s so much to learn! I loved hearing your attention to detail, which will pay off in future comfort. Thanks for writing it up.

  • Carol January 5, 2021, 5:56 pm

    Peggy, You’re right up my alley with your renovation details. I look forward to the details of your Chesterfield kitchen!

  • Mimi Homes January 5, 2021, 6:23 pm

    Lovely! Enjoyed this so much!

  • Katie January 5, 2021, 7:17 pm

    What contractor did the work for you? I’ve had both hips & a knee replaced & in dire need for a shower update like yours. What did it cost you?

    • Anonymous January 6, 2021, 7:33 pm

      Hello Katie, depending on your material selection and scope of work a bathroom remodel in a small bathroom like ours could run $8-$20,000. As for a contractor I’d recommend using one that specializes in bathrooms who can walk you through design considerations and products. A general contractor like I used doesn’t do the design or selections.

      Based on my project, my brother was inspired and is working with a bathroom remodeling specialist. They’ve guided him through the design and product selections.

      Best wishes!

      • Peggy Ryden January 6, 2021, 7:34 pm

        Oops- I didn’t finish the required fields in the above comment

  • Carolyn Folke January 5, 2021, 11:56 pm

    This is very interesting to me as I am planning to do a similar project in my bathroom.

  • Elene Margaret Loecher January 16, 2021, 8:05 pm

    Thanks, Peggy. Good to see your skills at work!