The horror that was this bathroom (before renovation) was intense and I was in denial. Sure I knew it was TERRIBLE and apologized to any newcomer that came over, but for a couple years I was unable to really tackle it – emotionally, physically and financially.
Here’s how it looked when we first moved in:
Why would I let that room exist in my house for 2 1/2 years? We were renovating the house one project at a time and after we had Elliot (our second tiny child) opting to do construction in a bathroom right next to two napping children’s room is a hard trigger to pull. Last spring we finally tackled it. We had it demo’d while we were out of town so that helped with one week of it and this bathroom really only took a month so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
We started by creating the design plan. I wanted it to feel fresh and clean, with a midcentury vibe and with enough uniqueness to be portfolio worthy, but also work with the style of the house. While I love my master bathroom I made a couple decisions on the design that made it feel too traditional (for the house) so I wanted this one to feel distinctively mid-century inspired modern, without living in a time warp.
We started the process – demo, plumbing updates, drywall repair, flooring prep, bathtub install, tiling, toilet/vanity install, plumbing fixtures finished, paint and decor. DONE.
YES! No longer apologizing. I LOVE IT. I’ve all but forgotten how annoying the construction was and how expensive a tiny bathroom can be if you hire a contractor.
I think that the labor for the bathroom cost around $10-11k which always really baffles me because we weren’t even moving any plumbing. (The same contractor was doing my exterior and laundry closet so I’m not sure how much exactly was for the bathroom but I think that was around $11k – for labor). If you want to do it yourself, and not hire a general contractor to manage and instead hire the subs yourself (or … if you are a bad ass and do the labor yourself) then you can save so much money. But I chose to spend the money, not the time on this project, so I handed it off to Golan, my lovely contractor and Remi, one of my freelance designers helped project manage everything.
The floor tile is from Erin Adams and this was what I was waiting for to really pull the trigger on everything else. I love that it’s graphic but still detailed, and has a variety of colors all of which I love. It’s a cement tile which is certainly on trend – see a whole round up of hundreds of cement tiles here. I have a couple updates on cement tile, by the way for you. It has to be REALLY REALLY sealed in order for it not to take on stain or coloring. It’s porous so by nature, yes, it can get discolored. We recently had another client have to reseal their tile as it wasn’t sealed enough the first time and they might even have to replace a couple tiles. My advice – be ok with the aging or don’t go with cement. As we think about our next house I’m thinking about cement tile in the courtyard and while the aging looks bad at first, I’m confidant that once it becomes evenly aged then it will look great and integrious to the house. But if you are looking for something to stay new and shiny forever, skip this type of tile.
I however, don’t mind this aging and I LOVE this tile so very very much. We chose navy blue grout to help hide that dirt (not the case in the master and before we move we are going to have to probably re-grout to give it a fresh look again). I just love this tile, so much so that we didn’t want to put a bathroom rug in here.
The surround tile is from the Chaine Homme pattern from Fireclay and while it’s white on white, it has such a good texture and catches the light so beautifully. The tiles vary a little bit in color and thickness which gives it such good texture and takes it from looking standard to extra special (the pattern doesn’t hurt). We’ve recently had a couple issues with ‘bright white’ grout looking beige. This is mostly because around the base of the tile, by the tub they want to add grout that has sand in it to make sure it sticks to the cast iron or the vinyl. What we ended up doing is using that then going over it with the white grout. In our master they didn’t use that adhesive sand colored grout and it has cracked at the base. So it’s kind of a lose, lose but not that big of a deal if you just don’t mind either doing a quick re-grout or if you went with beige grout in the first place.
The vanity was found at the flea market about a year ago. It was exactly what I was looking for stylistically and was only 2 inches off (which I didn’t care about). It was a $180 nightstand/dresser and we retrofitted it to be the vanity.
It has storage because both drawers still work, they just cut that square hole for the plumbing. We sealed it with a clear matte sealant that has held up soooo well. I’m sure at some point a toothpaste smudge won’t get cleaned up in time, but I think it would just take a quick wipe down with oil and another sealant. But for now, it looks brand new despite Charlie’s disgusting toddler-teeth-brushing habits.
The vessel on top contrasted in shape, although a square would have worked in this case, too. I love how simple it is and by being a circle it provided slightly more surface area.
I reached out to Rejuvenation about their tub/shower suite because I just think it’s perfect in every way. We ended up getting everything because once you start with one style/finish it is best to keep it consistent. I didn’t with the master because it wasn’t possible as Kohler didn’t sell any sconces that I thought would be right and the different finish doesn’t bother me one bit, but I love how these all match – especially for such a small bathroom that needs to feel as pulled together and big as possible. The finish of the gold gets drip marks on it so I just polished it with Brasso and it got a bit shinier and lighter which I liked, but if you are obsessed with it staying a dark brass, like when its brand-new and unused, you might want to know that. I love how it looks now, even more actually. It’s a matte brass and just looks and feels so solid. You’ll also notice that beautiful teak and brass tray that I have at the back of the bathtub. I bought it at Garde last year (available online here) and it is currently in the bathroom and it houses as few little accessories and brought in the wood tones, and warmth that I wanted although I can’t promise the longevity of having something like that in the bathroom as it is wood and raw brass. But – with that said, it is a beauty and I love having it in there to house a few products and keep things tidy at the edge of the bathtub.
The leather mirror is perfect as I wanted a different finish than the gold, and not white, and not silver, and there wasn’t any black in there at that point (we painted the handles of the dresser black the day before the shoot). I had a round one there (one that is now in the master bedroom) and while it fit, it was circle overload. I love that this is a rectangle with softer edges and it brings in that caramel leather that I apparently can’t live without in every room, including the bathroom.
For all of you Bathroom P.I.’s out there, you might notice that there isn’t a shower curtain or door. Indeed. Here’s the deal – we think that this bathroom wants a glass door, not just a curtain. But with two tiny children bathing in there, we need full accessibility to them. So our plan was to not put it in until they were older – say 4 and 6 (when can kids bathe themselves without you having panic attacks??). Now that we are selling the house I asked our realtor if that is something that he recommended us installing before we put on the market and he said that we probably wouldn’t recoup that price in the sale. It would cost about $2k for the glass and labor and we aren’t motivated to do it while we live here and doing it for someone else doesn’t seem like a very fun way to spend money. There are way too many other things to fix before we move. We put up a white extendable rod and a curtain for the shoot but it really cheapened the bathroom so I took it down.
We added some art and pretty things to help warm it up a bit. I’m a huge fan of art in the bathroom. These pieces have been floating around my house but the last place the dog landed was up in the shelving too high to really appreciate. So I found some pieces to replace them with that still look good, and these officially live here now. We finished the space off with some pretty soaps, tooth brushes, etc – all editorial style.
We live more like this – ON A CLEAN DAY.
The stylist in me needs to show you the editorial version, but the reader in me knows that you , know I have kids. The only thing that is missing here is the little potty thing on top of the toilet and a mat for our knees while we are bathing them … and one million toys and tupperware containers.
There you have it – Our guest/kids bathroom. It’s so pretty I hate to use it, but those dirty kids need bathing, and that is what we’ll do in here … until we move and I have to design 3 new bathrooms and potentially build an additional one ….. WHAT?!?
Meanwhile, get this look if you are into it. I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I think because there was no real deadline and I was able to really take my time and make any adjustments along the way – how we do it with our clients.
1. Tolson Toilet Paper Bar | 2. Duravit Toilet & Bowl | 3. Erin Adams Designs Lee Tile | 4. Vintage Midcentury Dresser (similar) | 5. Graydon Sconce | 6. Higgins Mirror | 7. Tolson Double Towel Bar | 8. Tolson Towel Ring | 9. Chaine Homme Tile | 10. Tolson Thermostatic Tub Shower Suite & Shower Head | 11. Mirabelle Tub | 12. Tolson Wall Mount Faucet | 13. Duravit Vessel | 14. Stripe Bath Towels | 15. Wooden Tray | 16. Soap Pump | 17. Ceramic Tray | 18. Teak Step Stool
A huge thanks to Golan for executing in a friendly, timely and high quality manner. If you are in LA and need a contractor I do recommend him (and no, this was not a trade with him …)
**Thanks to all the vendors that gifted or discounted product for this bathroom design and post – check out the get the look for all the links and sources, or comment below if you want to know more. They are all brands and products that I sought out because I genuinely love them. I realize I am extremely lucky and will continue to use the influence of this blog to help fund the product of pro bono projects like this or this.
***Photos by Tessa Neustadt