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Reveal Alert: How I Transformed the Dark & Dull Downstairs Guest Bath in the Portland Project



No, we haven’t forgotten about the Portland project. We have 15(ish) more posts about it, and today’s Portland reveal is the downstairs guest bathroom, which serves for those partying in the media room as well as any older kids or grandparents staying downstairs. It was the darkest of all the bathrooms with just a small window in the shower to the covered patio, so our goal was to make it feel as light and bright and happy as possible without making it too busy or dark. It still has the same vibe as the rest of the house, but since it’s a bit removed, we went a bit more modern with some of the fixtures (namely the sconces and the mirror). This bathroom also has what I think might be my favorite tile in the house (hard to say, and I’m talking about the shower tile, by the way).

The materials are simple and classic: handmade white tile, hex Carerra mosaic tile, handmade blue subway, polished nickel and hits of black.

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

We mixed the scales and colors of the tile to look coordinated but not basic—A MUST—and chose a larger blue subway on the wall (from Pratt and Larson), a white kite on the bathroom wall (also from Pratt and Larson) and a Carerra hex mosaic from Clé on the floor. I personally think that this formula is a winner: three different shapes, scales and textures but in a very subtle and coordinating color palette.

As a reminder: this is on the ground floor (which we haven’t shown you any of yet, but I promise we’re getting there).

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

The bathroom is laid out to be two rooms—the vanity room and the toilet/shower room, with a pocket door in between. The main thing I would do differently is probably just put a shower in here instead of a bathtub. It was in the plans before I got involved and it was something I didn’t really switch. Nothing is wrong with a bathtub, don’t get me wrong, but in this room, we didn’t need it and it could have saved some money (and made it feel bigger). As you know, I’m an avid bather, currently robbed of my pleasure as I have no bathtub in our small master bath, so I’m psyched to give this gift to whoever has the pleasure of being this guest. But it is something to think about—do you NEED a tub?

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

Even if I’d maybe change the layout in retrospect, what I AM happy with is the materials and fixtures we went with, so let’s chat about that, shall we?

Let’s start with the tile and faucet:

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

We went with the Artifacts line with lever handles in the polished nickel and I love how classic and beautiful they are. If you have an older home (or a home in a classic style), it’s my professional opinion to choose polished nickel over chrome or brushed nickel. It’s warmer and feels more high-end to me.

The vanity room needed some life and a white subway wasn’t going to cut it, but I didn’t want to do a crazy bold statement tile or mosaic or anything. So we chose this handmade blue-ish gray tile from Pratt and Larson with the same bevel as in the kitchen. In the matte finish, you can see the variation in tones and colors which makes it feel so custom and handmade, and we grouted it with a darker grout to make sure that you see the bevel although honestly, a white grout would have been lovely, too.

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

The vanity is a super traditional/modern/transitional piece from Kohler in white, with a countertop from the Solid/Expressions line and a simple single undermount sink. This vanity has a ton of storage and when you do a single sink you get even more as the plumbing doesn’t affect the storage space.

Where we shook it up a bit was in the lighting and mirror. I love how the sconces (from Rejuvenation) articulate and bring it into a more modern world. Against that staggered tile, it creates a really interesting tension (in my opinion). We went with matte black hardware (also from Rejuvenation) in a classic shape to bring in the black from the sconces and mirror and make it feel slightly more modern, as opposed to the polished nickel.

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

To coordinate with the polished nickel faucet, we continued the Artifacts suite in things like the towel bar in the vanity room (how pretty is this swooping version…subtle detailing can really take something as simple as a towel bar and elevate it to feel high-end).

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

The toilet/tub room is pretty tight so we did it in a white tile that is soooo pretty. I’m OBSESSED with it.

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

We grouted it in a light gray so that you could still see the pattern, without making it too busy. It gives it more of a shadow line.

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

We went with a shower curtain over glass to save money, but honestly, I have STRUGGLED to ever really like a tub/shower glass enclosure or panel. They either need so much hardware (like sliding doors) that they feel dated or busy OR you do something simple like a panel and you can’t really reach in to turn on the water easily. I’ve seen holes near the faucet on a stationary panel and it’s fine, but it just didn’t seem worth the cost to put in when we just aren’t that into them. I think in a more contemporary style home or a new build, sure, do the glass panel or glass door but in a more classic home, I’d almost rather have a pretty shower curtain. This is also what we decided to do in both bathrooms with tubs in the mountain house. Sure, we might one day switch them to glass, but I just couldn’t allocate the funds when I’m just not into the glass.

Also, can we take a moment and talk about these shower fixtures? The gear-like knob is so good and adds a bit of character to the more traditional polished nickel finish, and the combo of the handshower and showerhead (which Kohler offers as a kit) is such a nice thing to have in a guest bathroom for bathing options (plus, a handshower is so clutch for leg-shaving and also makes cleaning so much easier).

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

The floor mosaic was also grouted in a light gray because white grout on a floor is, well, begging to turn brown quickly (ask my powder bath—she’ll tell you).

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

We accessorized it with some beautiful art by MaryAnn Puls, vases from Mantel, towels from Rejuvenation and of course some artisanal soaps from Anthropologie (although now that Hearth and Home has far more affordable but pretty soaps, I would get those to save money).

Emily Henderson bathroom remodel ideas

There you have it. A simple and classic yet modern guest bath for a lucky Portland guest.

Any questions? Curious how you feel about glass panels versus shower curtain? Shower stall versus shower + tub combo? Discuss…

1. Abstract Art by MaryAnn Puls | 2. Abstract Art by MaryAnn Puls | 3. Blue Bevel Rectangle Tile by Pratt and Larson (glaze: parchment, color: p146, size: 2″x8″) | 4. Sconce by Rejuvenation | 5. Vanity Mirror by Rejuvenation | 6. Abstract Art by MaryAnn Puls | 7. Drawer Pull by Rejuvenation | 8. Round Knob by Rejuvenation | 9. Sink by Kohler | 10. Sink Faucet by Kohler | 11. Vanity Countertop by Kohler | 12. Vanity by Kohler | 13. Interior Door Lever Set by Rejuvenation | 14. Interior Door by Metrie | 15. Bath Towel | 16. Towel Bar by Kohler | 17. Ridge Carafe by Little Garage Shop via Mantel | 18. Wood Tray | 19. Towel Ring by Kohler | 20. Hand Soap | 21. Hand Lotion | 22. Abstract Art by MaryAnn Puls | 23. Window by Milgard | 24. Glass Carafe | 25. Shower Curtain by Rejuvenation | 26. Toilet Paper Holder by Kohler | 27. Shower Valve by Kohler | 28. Bath Spout by Kohler | 29. Shower Head Kit by Kohler | 30. Toilet Lever by Kohler | 31. Toilet Supply by Kohler | 32. Toilet by Kohler | 33. Shower Surround Facet Tile by Pratt and Larson (glaze: gloss, color: ruw, size: 5″x3″) | 34. Bath Drain | 35.  Bathtub by Kohler | 36. Floor Tile by Cle Tile | 37. Door Casing by Metrie | 38. Baseboard by Metrie | 39. Wall and Trim Color in Vanity Area by Sherwin-Williams (pure white) | 40. Wall Color in Bath Area by Sherwin-Williams (frosty white)

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I think a bathtub is a good option in case you have guests with kids stay with you, for example at Christmas during a full house. And kids are why I hate glass on bath tubs – it’s hard to bathe them!

Jordan G

It’s beautiful. I love the shower tile and the color choice for the tile behind the mirror. I agree with you about the glass on bath tubs – your money is better spent elsewhere!


Lovely. But I don’t really understand why you divided up what you say yourself is a small room into two smaller rooms. Now you need additional space to open the second door into, and the window doesn’t illuminate the sink area at all when the door to the shower/toilet area is closed. What was you thinking behind not having it as one room?


The post mentions that there is a pocket door between the two spaces even though the original plans show a hinged door. I would think the two rooms is to allow for multiple users-say one guest wants to shower while another is drying hair or applying make up at the mirror-and still provide privacy to each. It is how I would want a guest bath shared by more than one bedroom/room.


The photo also shows a hinged door. I agree that allowing more than one person to use the rooms at the same time is a benefit. But it is not a pocket door between the two rooms. Did Emily forget?

Julie S

I really do prefer a shower curtain to glass enclosure! It seems inviting and comfortable, adding a hugely needed touch of softness, texture, and pattern to a very hard surfaces room. I can see that glass looks pretty and WOW in high end interior photography, but for real life living, when I step into a bathroom, I like a shower curtain. Tub/shower combos also feel friendly to me with the knee high edge keeping me safe… lol maybe I just like the feeling of being slightly cocooned and hidden while I shower- I mean who doesn’t love a good reading… Read more »


I see glass bath doors and I get confused: more expensive, very high maintenance, limit functionality of the bath, and a shower curtain can be so much prettier.


And when they come off the track and your husband tries to fix and they shatter — bad. I’m on team shower curtain, too.




I usually like all your designs, but not this room. I like the finishes, but not the layout, since it reminds me of hotel bathrooms and not in a good way. I really don’t get the bathtub + toilet combo: if you are taking a bath it is either your head near the toilet or you are staring at the toilet.


Beautiful! Where is the shower rod from?


Yes! I’d like to know too! Currently looking for one.

Kathleen Hartman

this is gorgeous! i just love how simple yet interesting the tile is.

one of my favorite details: the way the black caps on the soap dispensers pop and pull in the blacks of the art, the mirror, the hardware and the sconces.


Such a sophisticated space! I’m just a sucker for a pale blue, white and, Grey color combo. The details are so lovely. That towel bar especially!


This is absolutely gorgeous. I love every single room you’ve done in the Portland house. You have such a great eye and you’ve somehow managed to make this house feel minimal, uncluttered and yet, cozy and warm at the same time. Great job!


why is the toilet always enclosed with the bathtub or shower. Wouldn’t it make more sense that someone could use the toilet and another could take a bath/shower without intruding on the other?


Gigi, I’ve always thought the same thing! It seems more functional to have the toilet and sink together.


I’m glad you chose shower curtains over glass. It will be easier to change a curtain if color preferences or trends change.
Also, glass would stress me out. Last year I stayed in a vacation rental with a beautiful shower in a glass enclosure and you were required to clean it after every use. Not really relaxing!


LOVE all the colors and textures happening here. I audibly gasped when I saw the shower tile. Excellent space!


Love it. Looks great. i think the separation is a great idea. This way you and have it function for more people at one time. I always prefer the potty to be separate from the sink area. Much better for privacy reasons.
Only complaint is the mirror is too short! needs to go down further to the counter. Love the shape but I wish it was 4-6″ taller.


I think, personally, I would prefer one main room. I understand the option of having two people use the bathroom at one time, but I would opt for a larger space. I love the tiles, but I find that the details are lost because of the high exposure on the photos. It would be great to see them in a more ‘natural’ light in the pics.


LOVE!!!!!!!! The lamps, the tile the toilet!


In defense of glass bath enclosures- curtains get nasty and it’s gross to bump into them when you are showering. I used this in our bathroom remodel and it looks awesome in black matte & perfect for our 1920s house (Emily is right, it was pricey- 500 for the door; probably a couple hundred to put in)-

Logan Chrisitne

This bathroom is beautiful!!! My opinion on to tub or not to tub would be if space allows…TO TUB! Not only is a hot bath so luxurious, but as a guest I love when I see a tub in my bathroom. I’m a frequent bath taker so its a little piece of home for me. I also agree with those below who say if you’re guests have kids, a bath tub makes bath time so much easier. I’m a bit up in the air about glass or curtain though! Shower curtains are so much prettier than they used to be… Read more »


I think the toilet is linking to the wrong model – doesn’t appear to be the same? Would love to know what that toilet is.



They give bathrooms that are naturally pretty hard, sharp places a texture and softness. Also, the glass only looks good when it is pristine and one shower destroys a clean screen!

Limor Pinz

I deeply enjoy this amazing blog what a joy! Superb project and content ????


Gorgeous! Carrara marble is a classic way to help lighten up a room.


Seeing this bath made me very happy because I just finished updating our hall bath with blue gray subway tile , white walls, black light fixtures and even the same Archer tub. Not identicle by any means but it sure rings a bell. I can say I love my clean light space. That Archer tub is so nice. I’m sure some guest will thank you one day for it. Actually I know they will. Think about a guest who is staying with small kids. They would be very grateful for the tub. As far as the shower curtain vs glass… Read more »


My favorite feature here is the blue-grey subway tile with the modern lighting coming out of it. That wall stands out over everything else in the room. I always favor color! Overall this room has a touch too many finishes going on: the various shapes, metals, classic/contemporary mix comes out a bit unbalanced. I wish it leaned more modern like the focal tile and lighting sink wall. I am glad to see the tub and the shower curtain just as you have done them. I am always in favor of a bath over just a shower for myself and they… Read more »


This is exactly the set up on my condo and also with SO little natural light and I basically want to die a little every time I go in. I have been debating how I want to gut it in the summer. Right now it is an actual swing door with another swing door from the toilet side to the hall way outside and another door from the vanity side into the bedroom. Just SO MANY doors for such a tiny space.

Mary Ryan

Amazing love the simplicity of it and yet it’s so pretty and it all just blends in perfectly love love love it

L Howard

Lovely bathroom. It always amazes me, however, that designers don’t think to put the handle for the shower on the wall easiest to get to, instead of right under the shower head. Glass or no glass, why have to reach around the toilet and the curtain to turn the water on? With the shower head on the right, the handle can be placed on the left wall; no big deal to route the plumbing when you already have the walls opened up!


That makes no sense to me: what if you have to adjust the water temp while using the shower? Wouldn’t it be awkward to reach back?

L Howard

No. Just turn around. A tub is 5 feet wide. My armspan is 5 feet. You’re already standing in the middle of the tub, anyway!


I’m a shower girl. We went with the shower/tub combo in our master bath when we added on decades ago for resale value. Since we already had a tub on the main floor, probably didn’t need to do that.

Debbie Funakawa

Absolutely love the color/texture combination! Keep the tub. Agree with comments that guests with kids will appreciate it. Not necessarily a fan of shower curtains and while glass can look stunning, I detest the upkeep. If room allows, prefer walk-in showers + stand alone tubs (bathtubs set in tile are a huge pain if a water leak occurs). I like the separation of sink/bath & toilet. Allows two people to use the room.

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