Main bathroom reno reveal

Main bathroom reno reveal

When I moved into my house 2 years ago, I knew I’d be ripping apart the main bathroom. It was functional, but dated and had no storage. Without a linen closet in my house, I knew I would need to find a way to increase storage in a tiny space, while keeping it minimal.

As soon as I bought my house, I immediately went into a phase of purchasing the items I knew I’d eventually need – including a toilet which sat in my front foyer for the next 2 years! Nothing like a toilet box as an entryway conversation piece. So you could say that this reno has been a long time coming.

The original bathroom was a dark rusty colour that swallowed up the light and made the tiny 1ft square window seem not enough for the room. My vision was something between calm desert Georgia O’Keefe vibes, warm, clean minimalism, and industrial Victorian.

The reno took two and a half months on weekends with my dad and I – and, being my only full bathroom in the house, it meant I was dunking my head in the laundry room sink to wash my hair most days. I was lucky to have a couple friends who let me use their showers in between, but I tell ya – when the bathroom was finally done, that first shower felt GOOD.

At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a whole shop-able list of everything in the bathroom!

There were a few things I knew for a fact I wanted: a beautiful, architectural curved tap, and a wooden shelf to hold some essentials and warm up the black and white space. I chose what I later learned was a KITCHEN tap – but to heck with it! I figured it’d work, and it was a beautiful fixture.

With the tap and shelf came another challenge: the low ceiling of my one-and-a-half storey. This meant I was limited in the lighting and mirrors I could choose, so I opted for a bar light from West Elm which fit into the nook perfectly without taking up much vertical space. I’m most happy with the discovery of this handmade mirror from Etsy, originally designed to hang the other way around, by a chain. I wanted a circular mirror but didn’t have room – so we sawed off the chain, turned it upside down, and it looks as if it was made especially for the space!

Something that was important to me was preserving some of the historic character of the house – which is why I chose a classic subway tile, with dark grout. It gives a more industrial, turn of the century feel. Integrating wood accents helped to warm up the space and give texture, while modern touches like an easy-to-clean glass shelf in the shower gave just enough space to store my shower essentials.

A few tips with subway tile: use spacers – and use the rubber ones, not the hard plastic. Remember the old game Perfection? Putting in the spacers was like playing that game, only every time you stuck a spacer in, 3 more would pop out at you! It was simultaneously the most satisfying and frustrating part of the whole reno. At least now when I look at the tiles, I can be proud of how damn straight they are!

My dad and I did a few DIY elements to achieve my concept. I like mixing standard items with custom pieces, because it keeps things simple but breaks out of the cookie-cutter mold. We stained and made the wooden shelf along the wall, made the vanity top, and bathtub facing with two different shades of stain (one coat of pecan, two coats of walnut) to achieve a more aged tone. The vanity top and shelf are standard project wood from the hardware store, and the tub front is made from tongue & groove shiplap.

To construct the tub, I chose a drop-in that had no skirt – that way, we could build a frame on the front and nail the wood panels to the front. My goal was to change a regular tub from an eyesore into a focal point.

For the hardware, I mixed tones. The secret to making mixed tones and textures work is to have at least 3 items in the same tone to speak to each other, leading the eye around the room. The shelf, vanity, and tub have wood accents. The hardware is matte black in the shower and sink. I reserved brass for all other accents (knobs, hooks, mirror and light).

The last additions to the bathroom were some of the most fun to add. I wanted an injection of colour, texture and shape to soften the starker lines and bring life to the space. I integrated some of my favourite sculptural pieces: a pottery donut I had bought in LA one year when it rained for 5 days straight, and a wooden vase that had been gifted by my mom to me for my birthday, from a midcentury vintage shop in our hometown. Paired with antique bottles and foraged bits and bobs, everything started to feel more like myself.

My hand towels and reusable makeup remover pads are from a Quebecois woman who hand-dyes using plants, for gorgeous ochres, rusts, and dusty rose shades. And the statement piece to finish it all off? The shower curtain. I knew a bold floral print would complete the space, and the minute I saw this one with colours that matched my hand towels, I was sold!

I can’t believe the bathroom, after two years, is finally finished! Every time I walk in, I feel like I’m in a magazine. Or, a page in my imagination that I wasn’t quite sure would ever be real.

Have any questions about the process, or planning to do your own reno? Pop them in the comments section below!



15 thoughts on “Main bathroom reno reveal”

  • Hello! Love this bathroom, definitely an inspiration for what we are trying to achieve as well! We want a nice wood countertop but was wondering how did you seal your wood surfaces so that it resists to humidity?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi! I used a combination sealer & stain, and pre-treated it with a Minwax pre-stain conditioner. Using the 2-in-1 stain guards it against water 🙂

  • It’s beautiful! I would love to know more info on how you did that bathtub side; I’d love to do something like that when I reno my extremely green extremely 60s bathroom!

    • Ahahahhaa oh the green tiled bathrooms… what a time. I did it with tongue & groove panels, which we cut in to fit the bathtub. It was tricky to do it so it was flush with no gaps. My dad was really the expert there! I was the expert tile spacer haha

  • You did a great job! Am impressed with the subway tiles! Also you’re lucky to have such a helpful/handy dad around!

  • It looks great! I also have a 1.5 storey with sloped ceilings and this has given me lots of inspiration! Love the dark grout especially and dark fixtures.

    • I love what you’ve done with the space! Honestly, this could easily be my dream bathroom! ^_^
      I’m more curious about your entire process – like how did you go from a sketch to actual reality? Did you have any help from an interior designer or did you take some classes? Cause honestly everything is so aesthetically pleasing and goes so well together that for me personally would be impossible to do without any help. LLike, looking at Pinterest and Instagram is fine, but it’s something else entirely to make it real.
      I would like to renovate my apartment too, especially the bathroom, and I think the hardest part I find is deciding on a specific look (although I know what I want in theory) and then actually executing it in reality, without any help. Like, how do I know exactly which tiles to choose, which mirror, which fixtures, which cabinet? How did you do it?

      Your bathroom is amazing, you’ve done a great job!
      Thanks and sorry for my super long comment ^_^

      • Oh man, that’s a big question! I’ve always loved putting together a look for interiors, ever since I was 5 years old! So it’s something that feels very natural to me. I would say to pay attention to the similar ways people contrast texture and shape and size – those rules tend to transcend specific styles. Studying the principles of design can help you begin to get a sense of the fundamentals, and Apartment Therapy is a great resource for design tips, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *