Remodel takes 20-year-old bathroom to next-level luxury in The Woodlands

Ellen and Miguel Mercado bought their house in The Woodlands in March 2020 because they needed more space.

“My kids were 2 and 4 then, and we were in the thick of large baby contraptions and kids’ toys that made the (old) house feel small,” Ellen said. “I had some reservations about the new house … the ceilings were taller and everything seemed bigger, but it was a little outdated.”

The Mercados — Miguel, 38, is a physician at Texas Urology Specialists in Tomball and The Woodlands, and Ellen, 36, is a physician assistant — had worked with interior designer Caron Woolsey of CW Interiors on their prior home, so they asked her to take a look at the new one.

Woolsey described the Mercados as a young couple with a strong sense of style but polar opposites in taste. Ellen likes things that are practical and functional, while Miguel is drawn to next-level luxury. She likes things to be soft and inviting, while he would be happy living on a “Mad Men” set.

They bought their new house — built in 2003 — and moved in a couple of months later, after bathroom remodeling was finished and the workers had left.

While Ellen and Miguel knew they wanted a better primary bathroom, they couldn’t tell you much more than he likes marble and she likes mixed metals. They leaned on Woolsey for help.

A working mother of two, Ellen found herself exhausted and facing 100 new decisions about the bathroom.

“They were hard decisions for me to make. I would agonize over them, even if I had all of the time in the world,” said Ellen.

First to go were the large glass-block window in a curved shower wall and the built-in garden tub, which had more glass block behind it.

Now the shower has dual showerheads, marble tile and a decorative inset around the showerheads along with opaque, curved glass panes. That same decorative tile was placed on the floor in front of the bathtub, looking much like a rug but offering a bit of traction for little ones who get bathed in this bathtub.

Finding the opaque glass for the shower was difficult, and when Ellen wanted to just leave the glass block and move on, Woolsey reminded the couple that getting rid of the glass block was the first thing on each of their wish lists.

The Mercados’ Signature Hardware bathtub with a stainless-steel finish is a popular one, its metal casing adding a bit of glamour.

“Immediately, all three of us thought (the bathtub) would be a great centerpiece. I thought the kids could have a bubble bath in there every night, and I will enjoy looking at it,” Ellen said of her children, daughter Viviana, who is 6 now, and son Michael, who is 3.

From Woolsey’s perspective, the tub was as important as the shower.

“From a woman’s perspective, if you have kids, the tub is the one place you can completely detach. If you have a chandelier above you, it’s an element of escapism that you really don’t have anywhere else,” Woolsey said. “You might enjoy a chandelier above your tub more than above your dining room table.”

To fill Ellen’s need for mixed metals, Woolsey found a chandelier with a bronze finish and a small brass table that sits next to the tub.

The niche, with his-and-hers sinks, had a tall ceiling, so Woolsey added paneling to break up the wall, and a trio of mirrors replaced the single mirror with old-fashioned sconces mounted on it. It also ruled out the need for wallpaper or a dramatic paint color, which the Mercados didn’t want.

Her makeup vanity repeats the dark bronze metal in drawer pulls but adds in a little gold for Ellen in the mirror frame and sconces.

“Every day, I walk in and am happy about everything we did — the function, the form,” Ellen said. “It definitely is a bright point for me.”

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