Out with the old – our bathroom update

It's finally finished! Our main bathroom that never looked clean is brand new again! And my word this project was so simple and small but still managed to be agonizing and uncomfortable. Wouldn't it be better if all contractors just overestimated the timing of a project so that you were pleasantly surprised when it was done before then? Meh, you would probably never renovate. Except of course if you're me and you can't stop renovating. I've been so excited to show it off and then that excitement slowly wore off as it sat mostly done for weeks. Imagine my agony of not being able to decorate it! Will you? Imagine.

Let me remind you where we began. Yup. Outdated, crusty and zero storage. It's not like we have a master bath here, guys. We have two bathrooms but this is our MAIN bath where most of our stuff lives. I remind Mike often of how little "stuff" I have compared to most women but still, this bathroom. Come on pedestal sink, you're cute but you're not very smart. 


It's amazing how quickly a room can go from this to this. It took one day to gut and what felt like a lifetime to build back up. Here's the breakdown... 

Boring things: To start, we had some plumbing taken care of in addition to a new fan/light combo. This house has very little overhead lighting which is downright maddening. So, although it's not that interesting, Mike and I were super impressed with this new feature...not to mention a fan that actually fans. The contractor then found an old bees nest in the wall and little to no insulation (explains the frozen pipes this winter). Not a great surprise but we were glad to have it all taken care of for the low, low price of not worth talking about. 

Flooring: My favorite and less boring part of the bathroom is the floor tile. I originally wanted a 4" hexagon slate tile but the one I wanted was a fortune to ship so I went with a 2" hex travertine that I could get locally. The color variation makes the space more interesting and the black tile on black grout (which actually looks gray) is masculine in a good way. I love it.

Wall tile: Since we did a subway tile in our kitchen I wanted to carry over that style here somewhat. I chose a 6 x 6 inch white ceramic tile in a brick pattern. I don't think it's necessary AT ALL for your kitchen and baths to match but I like the cohesion these similar elements provide. And here's where the hold up began. I still don't know how or what happened but for some reason the white grout was not consistently white. Some areas were perfect, others sort of darker and others sort of yellow. Bad grout is what I think it was but we still don't know for sure. Either way no one was happy about it. Particularly the contractor who had to dig it all out and start over. We used new grout and distilled water to eliminate the possibility of our water being the factor. Finally, after two tries (ugh) we got a consistent white. That shower niche and new window make me way, way happy. Update: the shower niche grout is still not right so Ima 'bout to lose my mind trying to figure out how to fix it. I'll share if I ever figure it out. 

Vanity: This was also drama. Here's where ordering large items online can really bite you in the butt. I knew I wanted a floating vanity to show off the floor tile and to make the space feel more open. I found one that met my requirements. It was cute and smart...i.e. looked good and had storage. It was shipped from LA and sat in our garage for about three weeks. I looked at it every day and I just knew it wasn't right. It was too modern. Too sleek. Our house is vintage modern, not new modern. It just didn't fit. Although I said I would never buy another Ikea vanity, I contradicted myself...for a few reasons. 1. I was desperate. I waited until our guy had the vanity brackets on the wall before I told him I made a fatal shopping mistake and hated it. I needed a replacement fast and Ikea is a twenty minute drive from us. 2. It's a new product line. I am scouring at least weekly for affordable options for us and clients but I had completely missed this one. It's so pretty, gets great reviews, and not to make up more reasons, it really does seem sturdier than our old one. Crisis averted. Moral of the story...buying online is a gamble (big or small) check the return policy and abide by the timing of it or suffer the consequences, like paying to ship a 120 pound vanity back to LA (not cheap). Whatever you do, don't settle when it comes to a more permanent piece. If you feel unsure now just think how you'll feel in five years. 

Medicine cabinet & lighting : While being super roomy and useful, the medicine cabinet is my least favorite feature. It's just sort of there. It does have mirrors in and out and one of those magnifying mirrors inside. This piece is just smart but I'm ok with it. I wanted something pretty and non-medicine cabinety but Mike insisted on having his stuff right there in front of him. He usually lets me do my design thing and trusts it will turn out ok so I let him have this one. I switched out the old lighting that surrounds the cabinet for some white ceramic ones...clean and fresh and pretty. 

Hardware: I spent way, way more than I should have here. I am frugal and thoughtful about most purchases but nothing I found compared to these. They help to balance some of the more modern stuff and provide a nice contrast on the walls. I originally bought the matching toilet paper holder but it had to attach to the vanity because we had no other place for it. I envisioned Henry hanging from it, leaving us with two giant holes in the vanity. Instead I bought a free standing guy (oil rubbed bronze) from Target and called it a day.

Fixtures: For the sink and shower, I chose fairly modern fixtures. Always walking that line of modern/vintage/boho, I think they balance with everything quite well and the shower head is ah-mazing.

Styling: As much as I wanted a new bathroom, I think I wanted to style a new bathroom even more. I chose a natural linen shower curtain to add warmth to all that black and white. The rug is our old one from Anthropologie which still works very well in the space. I'm a huge fan of a non-traditional rug in the bathroom and this one provides color and texture that an average bath mat probably wouldn't (although dang, Target, you have some nice bath mats). The little wall shelf fit my wood tone and black hardware checklist and what room would be complete without a basket and some sort of plant life? I'm not sure how plants will do in there but I'm hoping the light from the new window will help them to thrive. Or I'll just keep replacing them ;)

Lots of details for such a little space. More storage than I really know what to do with (seriously, I need more stuff) and contrary to what you might think, it feels roomier than ever. Something to think about if you're considering switching out your vanity for a pedestal sink. You'll be left without storage and maybe a space that doesn't feel that much bigger afterall. Consider the tile you choose and the paint color. Going from a drab gray wall tile to white made all the difference here and the floating vanity also helped over something too boxy and to the floor. 

So, what started as a tiny window replacement project grew just a hair (insert teeth-gritting emoji here) but it was worth it for a space that is now cute and smart. Of course there are still dreams of bumping out the back of the house for a master bedroom/ensuite situation but for now our shared space feels like a place we want to be, not just a place we have to be.