before and after

before & after: bungalow bathroom makeover

by Kate Pruitt

If there’s one room in the house that I am dying to tear down and start over, it’s my bathroom. To have a light, airy, clean feeling bathroom? Pure bliss. As a fellow Oaklander, I was particularly excited to see how freelance designer Erin Owes chose to update the bathroom in her 1911 bungalow. Erin wanted to maintain some of the home’s older elements but in bring more light, space and efficiency, especially in the bathroom. I love the earthy, muted color palette she’s chosen; it’s dark but not unwelcoming, and the deep olive tone on the walls offsets the tile nicely. There are also some great updates that we can’t see, like radiant heating under the floors and smarter outlet placement, which vastly improve the experience in this space. Great work, Erin! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Time: 2 months

Cost: under $20,000

Basic Steps: Last fall my family bought our first house in Oakland, Ca. It is a California Bungalow (1911) that hadn’t been too altered. There are one and a half bathrooms in the house, and in the main bath, the shower was over the tub and the vanity was way too small. We absolutely wanted to keep the original clawfoot tub and the charm of the house while updating the layout and making it more “user friendly” for our family of four. We knocked out the adjacent closet, scooted the tub over and built a separate shower. We changed the direction of the toilet, keeping the plumbing in the same place to save money, and put in a new vanity.

As a huge fan of Heath Ceramics, I had to use their tile, but their price point is a little higher than we can afford right now, so I took a trip to their factory and found this mix of greens in the seconds’ room. The paint is from Yolo Colorhouse, and the plumbing fixtures are a combination of new Kohler pieces (from their Bancroft line) and original fixtures. We had to take out the original built-ins to make room for the vanity, but our contractor saved the door from our medicine cabinet and used it for the new one.

Some of my favorite things about this bathroom are things you can’t see at all. Our biggest luxury was installing infloor radiant heating. It’s on a timer, so it begins warming before we wake up, shuts off for the day and gets warm when we come home at night. I love tile, but it is so cold on bare feet. Every morning when I walk into the bathroom, I am thankful for the warm floor. The cat has mastered the schedule, and the bathroom has become her favorite nap spot. Also, I had the electrician install an outlet inside the medicine cabinet, so I don’t have to look at the tangle of wires for my toothbrush. This is the sort of thing that really makes designing bathrooms fun — remembering that they are to be used and figuring out how they can function better while still being pretty.

As an interior designer, the advice that I always give people is: Be organized. Everyone always wants to rush into a project and get going, but having a very detailed design plan before demo begins makes a HUGE difference. That way, the expectations are clear from the beginning for everyone, and surprises, delays and budget problems are kept to a minimum. I know so many clients who start demo without even having finalized drawings, and then they end up not knowing how to allocate their budget or the project gets stalled while the client is still making design decisions. — Erin

Shower tile: Heath Ceramics
Hextile: Import Tile
Paint: Yolo Colorhouse
Shower valve, sink and sink faucet: Kohler Bancroft
Ceiling light: Original
Vanity sconces: Schoolhouse Electric

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  • Amazing transformation!! Love this :) My husband and I are looking into buying an old bungalow in LA, but having to re-do it makes me nervous! This gives me hope :) Great work, Erin!

  • The original seems so much brighter and more spacious. I would’ve just swapped out the tiles for the new ones (love those!) and replaced the vanity with a pedestal sink. I love showering in claw foot tubs though.

  • Is it bad that I like the before picture more? Maybe I just prefer the blue to the gray tub…

  • I half agree with Emily. I’m glad that they moved the toilet and the vanity, but I’m a little sad that the clawfoot tub was relegated to behind the door. I love them so much I would have accentuated it a little more!

  • this is what i love about home design….the controversy and ability to express yourself! i love the hex tile in the after, but i think i’d have stuck with the rest of elements from from before also. as long as you like it, that’s all that matters!! so congrats on your new space!

  • I wish they would’ve stayed a little more true to the 1911 bungalow. I’m afraid someone will look at this bathroom and say oh ya that bathroom was done in the 2010’s….and they’ll rip that green tile out in two seconds.

  • Agree with others that this is one case where the before was better – really just needed some sprucing up. The brown makes everything feel so dark! And I’m not a fan of the shower tile – that’s going to look dated in 10 years.

  • Oh, I liked the “before” image quite a bit more too–and that shower tile seems like it would really date the renovation. I think perhaps $20k could have been put to better use…

  • I think the walls / paint color are way too drab next to that amazing Heath tile, it seems incongruous. Great thing about paint is that you can change it so easily – maybe experiment with something brighter.

  • Personally, I liked the before so much better. With a few tweaks that could have been inexpensively updated and remained classic and airy. The after seems over-crowded and the green vertical tile automatically dates it. That being said, I am not the arbiter of awesomeness, thank God. :-) The most important thing is that the owners love it, of course.

  • that tub is to die for and i give a big double thumbs up for moving the vanity. i could do without the tile colors- they’re just too harsh for me, but they did a sharp job none the less!

  • yeah, I would have to agree with many on here…

    I really love the former space and probably would have kept it closer to the original (adding a vintage inspired standing sink)….

    But I also love what you’ve done with the colors! I don’t think I would have even put those together and it is really inspiring….. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hello!
    Thanks for the positive comments. I have to say that our “before” definitely wasn’t that bad. The previous owners of our house were creative types and had kept true to a more traditional aesthetic. That aesthetic just isn’t us, though. So when we redid and repainted our house, we still kept all of the mouldings, etc because they are truly beautiful, but we added a more modern feeling. Those who are more traditional would have felt more at home in the periwinkle bathroom, that makes perfect sense. It just didn’t make sense for us.

  • Amazing that someone put the sink under the window in the first place–what an oddity! Congrats to the homeowners for tackling the functional issues and moving things around rather than just making do with redecoration. People don’t always share the same taste in finishes (luckily or we’d all be living in identical homes!), but renovations that improve the usability of a space are always great to see.

    (And Heath Ceramics’ tile is amazing!)

  • I love the addition of a shower. I love all the older elements and the hex tile. But the funky shower tilework, while fun, really clashes with the rest of the space in color story and style. It feels like two different bathrooms mashed together. All the work is done beautifully, though.

  • I’m surprised to see so many people like the before – it was awful before! What you have done is brilliant. The muted colors and the small hex tiles seem period correct yet timeless. The full glass shower and the verticle Heath tiles are a modern element that brings the bathroom into the contemporary realm. The shower paired with the claw foot tub is such a great contrast. I love it.

  • Like the before! Agree that making some changes to the vanity would be great, but the after is too dark and not in keeping with the period of the house!

  • I like the before picture more too, maybe change out the sink and floor tile. When it comes to renovating the vintage homes, I prefer to stay true to the original style of the house.

  • Beautiful tile in this makeover! I like that they kept the beadboard and the clawfoot tub. It was a good idea to move the sink and mirror away from the window and make it more functional.

    My husband and I bought a 1911 bungalow back in June, but we’re a long way off from giving the bathroom a makeover. It’ll be an interesting before and after – the previous inhabitants painted a crazy unicorn and rainbow mural on the walls!

  • The hex floor tile in white and the tub with painted wainscoting surround are definately solid classic choices! Love it! The shower tile is very taste specific so I’m on the fence about it, though I love the concept, tile size, and pop of color…maybe just not “those” colors. I see mid-century. Brilliant to move the vanity!

  • Alright, after considering this bathroom further, I can see the benefits of a separate shower, but I wish the tub was next to the window and the shower was where the closet was removed behind the door.

  • For those harping on how the dark colors are not “period” enough, let’s remember that all of the trim in these old houses would have been left unpainted-a dark wood similar to mahogany or walnut. The vintage of this house would have be very VERY dark if left completely true to the period.

  • Wow, congratulations on being able to make a space that looks very individually tailored to your likes. Personally I love those beautiful blue and green tiles and the new layout very much. I’m not fond of the color picked for the bottom of the tub and the lower walls, I think it would have better energy if one of the brighter greens from the tiles had been used there and a lighter green or grey (to match your new counters) on the upper walls. Love the floor and wood trim too, it would have been nice to be able to see a picture of the new vanity in its entirety.

  • My opinion (and maybe the photos are just not reading the colors correctly) but blue walls would change everyone’s opinion here. The tub and sink would pop and it would tie in the tiles better and make the room brighter. But most importantly it would pull together the different esthetics better – the old versus the new concepts. I think the tiles pop a litle too much and the balance of the room is off.

  • Sorry, I just had to scroll up to look at the before again because so many commenters liked it better–and I just don’t see it. I just don’t get that before, its livable, but I’d have been ripping that thing out too. The before floor was hardly period sensitive, and the neither were the colors. Love the after bathroom–may not be what I would have done, I’m a pure white kind of girl especially for the bathrooms, but how cool would this bathroom be for my husband’s master bath, if we had that kind of house. Really piqued my interest how you set the bathroom tile.

  • While taste in colors is very personal, I find the wall / tile color combo very jarring and really almost dirty and murky looking. All I can think is “Hello seventies!”
    The placement of the towel rack and the light/fan? switch under the window is also very odd.
    Vanity is nice ( though I would have gone for a floating sink or sink(s) with open storage underneath giving a lighter feel ), but I’m sure it provides much needed hidden storage.
    And there truly is nothing like a heated bathroom floor!

  • I think it looks beautiful! The colors actually remind me of the Arts & Crafts furniture and pottery, so I think they did an awesome job of keeping it true to the age of the home. Lovely!

  • Well done, so much nicer to not shower in a claw foot. The remark I found funny was to have show cased the tub more…I am kind of thinking that with the door open you get the wow factor of the tiles, closed and in use you really get to appreciate the entire layout of this fab reno !

  • Absolutely fantastic…! Thank god people do what they want and not what everyone else might do, or everyone would have white subway tiles with hex floors and pedestal taste. Here’s to a little individuality. If I went to someone’s house whose bathroom looks like this, I’d not only flip but assume they were interesting…

    (We just renovated a rental bathroom in a very safe way; white subway, hex,floors, floating vanity – and it looks great but has very little personality. If it were mine, I would use color, like this… Bravo! )

  • Love it. Pastels and whites get so boring. Organic colors (greens, browns, etc) feel much more comforting and less sterile to me (says the girl with a kitchen the color of the Design Sponge background color). We are inching closer to separating our bath and shower and love what you have done. The frame-less shower keeps the light and makes the space feel larger. Thank you for sharing the ‘unseen’ features, as those small touches do really make a difference (but are often afterthoughts/forgotten).

  • The original flooring was beautiful…so sad to see it go.

    Not too big on the green tile and white sink…and brown tub…

    To each their own.

  • I love the tiles from Heath Ceramics (and that you were able to use some within your budget) and glad to see you used them with the hex tiles on the floor. I’m thinking of doing something similar for my mother’s bathroom. I’m thinking that a couple of the photos don’t do the reno justice (I can see how it would be difficult to shoot this space) but I think you’ve done a beautiful job and it’s very inspiring! Thanks so much for the ideas.

  • A chacun son gout. I like the before much better. It’s sad when bungalows lose their bungalowness.

  • the tile makes me swoon! the shower colors are wonderful! the floor is lovely….I only wish the harsh contrast between the grey trim and wall wasn’t so blunt…..if the wall was a soft grey taupe I think this room would be a little cozier…forgive me!

  • hmmmm, I kind of lean towards the before more than the after. I like the after, the shower is great, but the tub OMG I wish I was around to have taken that off their hands! The original floor looks so much cleaner but the after is okay. I like how the toilet and sinks are moved to open up the window but the orignial decor is funkier to me

  • This is an interesting one! Neither the before or after are my personal taste, but it isn’t my bathroom. I think it says a lot about a homeowner when they are willing to look past what they see in every home decor mag and on every blog and create something unique that they truly love (despite what the rest of the world thinks)….bravo for that!

  • Very nice. That cute cat deserves a nice nap after all that hard work. LOL! Love the tile in the shower.

  • I see all these people turning historic bungalows into contemporary spaces, because it’s “them”. Unfortunately, these are the “improvements” that lower the value of the property and get torn out when the next owners come in (remember the 70s?). The original space maintained the authenticity of the house and the simple addition of a new sink & floor would have made all the difference. If the purpose was to gain a shower, that’s fine, but maintain the authenticity of the space with the appropriate finishes. Oh well. I like contemporary touches as long as they are compatible (eg. slate is NOT). I just wish people who really want those kinds of contemporary spaces would buy contemporary spaces and not mess up historic ones. This one isn’t too bad. Change the shower tile and repaint and it’s salvaged. Moral: You can’t go wrong leaving the character of an old house intact.

  • Good for you for creating a haven for YOU. That’s what home is all about. As for my opinion, I like the moodiness of the colors. And I like that this is not a study in period architecture, it’s someone’s home, and very obviously lovingly created.

  • Penny,
    I have a hard time when flippers go in and gut a house’s character and put in a bunch of Home Depot stuff and call it good. I don’t mind when people have different taste than me, I have a strong design point of view, that’s okay. But we put in quality fixtures and we will be in this house, fate willing, for decades. The next owners can swap out who knows what.

    But this bathroom was not original to the house! When this house was built, indoor plumbing was not the norm in middle class housing. When we opened the walls, we saw evidence that this bathroom had been carved from closets. My point is, everyone has different interpretations of “respecting the original architecture.” We kept and incorporated a lot of what was there and in some cases replaced more contemporary finishes with more “period appropriate.” When house hunting, we passed up a lot of popcorn ceilings and cheap brass. The ’70’s was, indeed, horrible for many old houses. But we didn’t do anything irreversible.

    Say you don’t like it, that’s valid, but remember that houses are not just museums.

  • I can’t believe anyone reading this blog would like the before…?

    As much as I appreciate the older aesthetic, something being old doesn’t necessarily make it better. You chose bold colors and what works for you family and didn’t fret over resale, to which I say Bravo! It’s you home and you should enjoy it.

  • The shower doesn’t seem to be in the same bathroom with the rest of the choices. Beautiful by itself but there is no cohesion in this space.

  • I’m dying to redo my 1909 bathroom, and Erin, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind just transporting your newly redone one to mine?! Love the hex tile, the clawfoot and the color scheme. Thanks for the old-home inspiration!

  • You know, I looked at the first one and I thought to myself – what’s wrong with this? I think I lived in West Philadelphia too long…

    The second one looks absolutely beautiful though and I can definitely DEFINITELY see the difference. Great work!!

  • While I don’t like the floor in either look I like, both the before and after, but I like the before best.

  • While the Before was a bit choppy, at least it had charm.

    I do fear that the kitchen and bathrooms re-do’s of today are going to be the “70’s nightmares” of the future.

  • It was ambitious and not boring for sure. I think honestly its the slightly dark on dark not working. But its very well done and its totally Erin’s creation. There are so many thinkgs right with this redo. I people look past thier colour preferences they’d see a really well thought space. So well done guys.

  • I really love the redo! I have a bathroom we recently gutted and redid, we put up a similar wainscotting and have a clawfoot tub much like this one. I originally did it in colors just like the before photo, but I am just not into it. In fact, the bathroom in the before photo almost looks like the slightly larger twin of mine. I LOVE the colors you chose and I was hoping that I could find out what the name of the colors are so I can replicate it. When I saw this before and after, I immediately said, “this is how I am repainting our bathroom.” Great Job!

  • Jessiann-
    Just in case you weren’t able to find the info on my website (www.erinowes.com), the paint on the walls is Imagine 04 and the wainscoting, the tub and all the trim is Stone 06, both from Yolo Colorhouse.

  • Moving the toilet and the sink gave you clean lines and nice form. There is far more floor space. Great Job! Oh, BTW, I saw you on Nate Berkus today. I love your blog!

  • Thanks, Cheryl, for the compliment but I think you might have me confused with someone else. I haven’t been on Nate Berkus, that I know of.

  • yes, i too am a fan of the before. i cannot believe that 20k went into this. i do love the paint color though and am glad they left the tub. i thought the mirror hanging in front of the window was very clever.

  • I’m sorry, i don’t like the color combination. Maybe because i don’t like dark bathrooms.

  • You’ve been true to the age of your house by inserting the claw-foot tub and the awesome floor tile. Our house was built in 1930. The 1 1/2 bathrooms each have their original hex tile with black grout.

    Did you cover the window with a white adhesive to give privacy and still have light? That’s an idea I’m considering.

  • Gorgeous new bathroom! I like the layout and the fact that you added to the footprint by taking space from a closet behind a wall. I, too, like to think outside of the box.

  • Eileen 2,

    The existing window already had privacy glass on the lower pane, which is really all we needed. I’ve seen lots of privacy films around and there are some really pretty ones-that seems like a good answer.

  • It is again interesting to me that so many people just can’t help themselves from writing a negative comment… Didn’t our mothers teach us something along the lines of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” ?

  • Not sure people are still reading this thread, but seriously!?! If it’s not your cup of tea, click to the next page. My goodness, do you get on Facebook and comment on your friends’ children “not being as cute as you think they could be.” Major construction/design projects are peoples babies. Be nice.