before & after: bungalow bathroom makeover

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

  1. 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!

  2. Lisa says:

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

  3. penny says:

    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.

  4. Sarah says:

    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.

  5. Erin Owes says:

    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.

  6. Kristin says:

    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.

  7. Congrats on your family’s first home Erin! Love the hexagon floor tiles, vintage-style plumbing fixtures and new tub colour. xo

  8. blake says:

    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.

  9. Linsey says:

    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!

  10. Chrystina says:

    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!!

  11. Sue says:

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

  12. Ann says:

    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.

  13. Mindy says:

    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.

  14. Libby says:

    the blue grout is such a fun touch! :)

  15. Jessiann says:

    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!

  16. Erin Owes says:

    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.

  17. Cheryl Arment says:

    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!

  18. Erin Owes says:

    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.

  19. Leena says:

    What happened to the beautiful window trim?

  20. kendrah says:

    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.

  21. chumi says:

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

  22. Eileen 2 says:

    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.

  23. Tanessa says:

    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.

  24. Erin Owes says:

    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.

  25. Luna17 says:

    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…” ?

  26. Stephanie says:

    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.

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