20 “Before & After” Remodels That Transform Blah Bathrooms Into Striking Sanctuaries

20 “Before & After” Remodels That Transform Blah Bathrooms Into Striking Sanctuaries

Need a little bathroom inspiration? Look no further than these impressive renovations culled from our archives.

Bathrooms don’t have to be drab just because they’re utilitarian by nature. These 20 makeovers show how architects and designers have turned humdrum interiors into something extraordinary.

From Builder-Grade to Retro-Chic for $17K

Before: The original, builder-grade materials in this 40-square-foot bathroom did not suit its design-minded owner, who reached out to Design Bar Detroit with a vision for the client called a "’60s Italian Dystopia" transformation. 

After: Design Bar Detroit cofounders Lisa Backus and Andrea Richardson kept the layout the same and focused on new finishes and fixtures. They relocated the storage and installed a deeper Jacuzzi soaking tub, and wall-hung Duravit sink for a more minimalist look. A wall of Daltile was cut and assembled into an eye-catching geometric pattern, and terrazzo surrounds the shower. Sleek pink shelves from Blu Dot, a white faucet from Rubinet, and a chrome sconce from Dutton Brown are the finishing touches.

Before: For this remodel of an 1880s row house in Jersey City, New Jersey, Mowery Marsh Architects removed a portion of the main bathroom to make room for an adjacent courtyard. 

After: The floor of the bath and shower area is clad in Krista Watterworth Kiss Marble tiles, and the exterior door can be opened so the owners can bathe al fresco.

After: On the top floor, the glass-enclosed central courtyard brings light into the home. A preserved window opening marks where the bathroom used to be. It has been overlaid with mesh for vines to eventually climb the exposed brick wall, which is a "very raw piece of the old house," the architect says.

Before: The owner of this Gothic townhome in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood needed help with a remodel that could blend the home’s historic qualities with a modern eye. Architect Elizabeth Roberts turned the top floor of the three-story home—which has a 11-foot by 30-foot frame—into a comfortable main suite, with a portion of the hallway converted into the bathroom.

After: Pale green and cream Cle tiles were arranged in a striped pattern to reflect the color palette used throughout the house. A Waterworks Savoy clawfoot tub and a Dino No candle sconce fit in with the 1878 home. 

Before: Architect Michelle Linden had been living in her Seattle home for four years when it came time to renovate. With the guest quarters located downstairs, she split the generous main bathroom into one full bathroom connected to the main suite and created a separate powder room in the hall.

After: In the main suite, subdued wall tiling lets the graphic floor—Ann Sacks tile in a geometric Kelly Wearstler pattern—shine. Black accents, including the plumbing fixtures, a black-framed glass shower enclosure, and the counter, are balanced with the wood of the original windows and the new brass mirror.

After: "I wanted to try something that I would try to convince clients to do," says Linden of her design choices in the powder room. Using 1x1 wood trim pieces, she created a graphic 3D pattern on the walls and painted the floors and ceiling in Farrow & Ball’s Brassica. 

Before: Portland, Oregon–based firm Hacker completed a top-to-bottom remodel of this three-level condo in Black Butte Ranch, a private resort community in central Oregon with homes that were mostly developed in the 1970s. The second-floor bath received a new layout and finishes.

After: Each bathroom in the condo nods to its ’70s roots while echoing the natural beauty outside. In the green-painted bathroom, Ann Sacks terrazzo tiles on the floor and backsplash complement a floating concrete sink fabricated by local artisan Cement Elegance. The custom storage is in the same style as the rest of the house, with cutout finger pulls instead of hardware.

Before: The main bathroom in this semicircular home in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, didn’t have a lot going for it. To start with, it was shaped like an asymmetrical trapezoid. It was also carpeted. "Enough said," says designer Mandy Cheng, who helped with an overhaul of the 1965 home.

After: Cheng specified brass Schluter inlay between the terrazzo tiles on the floor. "These are installed in an offset Y pattern, which is the first letter of [the owners’] last name," says the designer. A terrazzo tile backsplash provides a lightly textured backdrop for the brass faucet and warm wooden cabinetry.

Before: Architect Mat Barnes, founder of CAN, took an experimental approach to remodel of his Edwardian-era home in South London. The previous bathroom was a decent size, but its warped linoleum needed an update.

After: The visible structure that wraps the tub is a nod to the exposed trusses elsewhere in the home. Meanwhile, the blue-and-white checkerboard tiles and orange walls are a fun continuation of the cheery color palette found throughout the remodel.

Before: The bathroom in this 550-square-foot beach shack in Venice Beach, California, occupied an ad hoc addition by the former owners, which had to be removed in the remodel.

After: The bathroom was relocated behind the kitchen, and now harmonizes with the rest of the home. Custom black-and-white Carrara marble flooring is a graphic counterpoint to the whitewashed wood cabinetry. A wall-hung sink floats over a streamlined storage shelf, and an oversize mirror expands the sense of space in the petite home.

Before: Designer Andee Hess, founder of Osmose Design, drew from diverse influences such as boat casework, Greek caves, and the American studio craft movement for a remodel of this 1930s Tudor home in Portland, Oregon.

After: Hess preserved the original storage cabinet, just reworking the doors and drawer fronts. Marble mosaic flooring from New Ravenna extends to cover the built-in bench under the window. The walls are glazed American quarry tile by Design and Direct Source. The Fantini plumbing fixtures were custom powder-coated in a terra-cotta color that was so unexpected, the plumbing supply company double-checked Hess’s choice. "They called us and asked, ‘Are you sure?’" Hess recounts with a laugh. "We weren’t afraid of some of the decisions, which, if you took out of context, could seem risky or extreme. But when you see all of it together, it creates this sculptural feeling that is so unique and unified with the house."

Before: The previous bathroom in this 1959 Eichler in Palo Alto, California, was small and compartmentalized, so the owners bought their dream tub for an overhaul of the space—only to realize they wanted to update the rest of the house alongside it.

After: The team at Re:modern, a San Mateo design firm, forfeited a bedroom to enlarge the main bathroom. The hallway to the bathroom is flanked by walk-in closets.

After: Bright-yellow tile now surrounds the tub picked out by the owners at the beginning of the remodel. The residents wanted this room to feel "like a spa or a happy place to retreat to," says architect Mona Ying Reeves.

Before: Designer Frances Merrill of Reath Design didn’t shy away from color and pattern in the remodel of this Los Angeles midcentury designed and built by architect Robert Lee in 1963. In the guest bathroom, that meant doing away with gray flooring and standard-issue granite counters.

After: The new color palette combines a medley of hues, including mustard, mint, rusty orange, and lavender. The bathroom floor, tiled with oversized flowers, is paired with a plaid shower curtain. Color-blocked custom cabinets make for a delightful surprise at the vanity. The client encouraged the firm to make bold design choices: "I think we originally had something with a bit less color, but she was always pushing us," says Merrill. "It was so fun."

Before: For this 1954 midcentury in Portland, Oregon, designer Stewart Horner of Penny Black Interiors says "[the] approach was to create some standout moments throughout the home that made the space feel more mod than mid." A Jack and Jill bathroom with worn fixtures and finishes was tweaked so that it solely connects to the principal bedroom and forms a private suite.

After: The shower features handmade Bubble Hex tile from the Futura collection by Portland-based company Clayhaus. A thoughtful cutout in the glass enclosure allows residents to reach the faucet without being sprayed by the shower. "It's a bit of a signature for us," says Horner.

Before: In order to kickstart the transformation of her dated bathroom in Youngstown, Ohio, freelance graphic designer and blogger Breanna Bertolini signed up for the One Room Challenge, which dares participants to remodel a room in just six weeks.

After: Breanna sought a "modern vintage" look in the new bathroom. She unearthed a vintage dresser for the vanity and topped it with a vessel sink and Delta faucet in champagne bronze. 

Before: The remodel and expansion of a 1950s beachside cottage in Dana Point, California, included an overhaul of the bathrooms, as the owners wanted to incorporate more color and personality into their home. 

After: MYD Studio specified a floor-to-ceiling wall of aquamarine tile by Heath Ceramics to create a striking backdrop for the mounted sink. The terrazzo floors are from Concrete Collaborative. 

Before: Casey Keasler, founder and creative director of Portland, Oregon-based design firm Casework, updated this attic suite bathroom in a 1912 Seattle home by maintaining the layout and installing new fixtures and finishes.

After: A walk-in shower that is tiled up to the ceiling pitch replaced the original tub. A custom wood vanity with one sink basin is decked with two faucets to save space. Brass accents bring a little glam. "It was all about balancing the closed and the open, the heavy and the light, to make this low-ceiling-height space functional, but also open, cozy, and bright," says Keasler.

Before: This 1898 townhouse in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District in Brooklyn featured a blue enamel tub and tin ceilings in the bathroom.

After: The team at GRT Architects introduced emerald-green cement floor tiles from Clé, a custom vanity with triangular brass pulls, and square wall tiles that echo the ceiling pattern.

Before: In Portland, Oregon, an artsy retiree tasked local firm Jessica Helgerson Interior Design with renovating the 1,075-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath loft that she’d lived in for nearly 10 years. 

After: The interior design firm created a sculptural vanity installation with custom, bleached red oak cabinets, a concrete sink, and tiled walls and countertops. "The Japanese porcelain tiles were laid out in a grid that aligns with every element in the bathroom," says designer Mira Eng-Goetz. "For example, the bathroom sink aligns with the adjacent grout lines, as do the inset cabinet doors below."

Before: Actress Mandy Moore enlisted interior architect Emily Farnham and interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel to renovate her 1950 Pasadena residence originally designed by modernist architect Harold B. Zook. 

After: In a Jack and Jill bathroom, a custom vanity topped with marble floats against a wall clad in Fireclay tile. The mirrors are by Wayfair and the sconces are from Allied Maker. Samuel designed the unique brass inlay pattern for the terrazzo floors.

Before: Architect Cecilia Yuan of Blank Canvas Architects made some smart moves in the renovation of her Melbourne, Australia, home—all with the intention of strategically connecting the interiors to the yard. 

Before: The architect relocated the ground-floor bathroom and laundry room to better utilize an existing narrow window opening in the living room that overlooks a private side alley. 

After: Cool, gray-toned cement floor tiles sync the bathroom’s palette with the rest of the house.

After: The shower "takes full advantage of its location on the side alley of the house with [glazing] that looks into a tiny lush garden, giving the illusion of showering in the [greenery]," says Yuan.

After: Behind the large, sliding pivot panels lies a hidden laundry area—one of the architect’s favorite features. "I love it because it functions when I need it, but the sliding pivot doors allow me to hide it all away when we have visitors over," she says.

Before: In order to create a private en suite for the owners of this Seattle midcentury, SHED Architecture + Design expanded the existing bathroom by enclosing an exterior atrium between the entry and the garage.

After: Now, a walk-in shower and soaking tub are tucked under the roofline. Skylights placed between the existing eaves fill the new bathroom with light. 

After: The bathroom features black hex tile on the floor and white tile laid in a grid on the walls. The custom vanity is fir, in keeping with the rest of the home’s material palette.

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