before and after

before & after: elegant bathroom makeover

by Kate Pruitt

I have bathrooms on my mind after sharing not one but two awesome renovated bathrooms today. Though they have vastly different styles, both Kim’s bathroom from earlier and this elegant bathroom makeover from Katherine use similarly brilliant techniques, which are worth listing: They both kept things light and airy with a mix of light, neutral tones; they invested in tiles that set the tone for the rest of the room; and they sprinkled in a few textural and colorful details with the accessories and decor to bring warmth and personality to the space.

Katherine also took time to seek out salvage pieces with an antique charm and save money. I’m definitely going to refer back to this space if I ever get a chance to renovate my own bathroom; it’s full of such lovely details that seem easy to re-create. Wonderful job, Katherine! — 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.)

See more images and basic steps after the jump . . .

Time: one year

Cost: around $3,000

Basics Steps: We just tried our best to do things on the extreme cheap (that meant a lot of thrifting and salvaging) and to do the 95-year-old house justice by keeping the style of the bathroom close to what it would have originally been. We wanted to return it to its former glory at least a little bit without making it stuffy, and that meant refinishing an old cast iron tub we bought at a salvage yard and also recycling things that were already original to the house (the faucet handles in the shower, the hooks on the cabinet and the lights on either side of the mirror were all somewhere in the house already).

Our advice is to be patient. We showered in a washing machine drip pan in the basement for a year, but it was completely worth it to see our beautiful shower and bathroom done perfectly the way we wanted. In the same vein, we thrifted for a lot of the things in our bathroom and got them for cheap as a result. It takes a while but when you do find the right thing, it has character and a story! Also, be flexible with your design. What I originally had in mind when we started and how it came out are very different in a lot of ways. The footprint is the same, but color choices changed as the room took shape. It sounds cheesy, but you have to let the room tell you what it wants to be, which returns you to that “be patient” part I mentioned before. Don’t expect to decorate a room in a day. Take your time and do it right! I’m still not done decorating : ) — Katherine

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  • GORGEOUS, this is exactly the style I want to implement, so this post makes for some wonderful inspiration to refer back to. Extra points for the stellar budget!

  • Wonderful change, it looks fantastic. Little details and decoration do change as lot and make a home truly a “home”.

  • Gosh, I see all that wood where the shower was to be tiled in, and I hope they also used cement board and redgard for waterproofing under that tile. That’s a beautiful ‘after’, so I hope the prep was well done, that’s all. You’d sure want it to last!

  • AB.SO.LUTE.LY GORGEOUS! Did you guys do this all yourselves? Did you have some experience renovating bathrooms before? I guess if I go to your original blog I’ll get the answers. Great job.

  • Go Katherine!! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – this bathroom is pretty much my idea of perfection. My bathroom wants to look like this when it’s grown up.

  • Kathy, I was concerned about the plywood too, but it looks like that is behind the sink wall, covered with beadboard. Not in the “wet” areas of the bathroom like the shower.

    Congratulations on an absolutely lovely space!

  • Really really lovely bathroom! I have renovated two houses and I totally understand what you say about letting the space tell you what it wants to be. Good description of the process.

  • I love this. Super work guys! I’m not normally a fan of a dado rail (that’s what it’s called here in the U.K. anyway), but you’ve managed to make it look elegant, and so ‘right’, and not at all fusty. Hmm…I may be a convert! I’m having severe bathroom-envy at the moment…!

  • Thank you guys so much for all of the wonerful, encouraging comments! Conan and I have loved reading each and every one! To answer a couple of questions, we ordered the tile from Home Depot (online) and yes, we did this ourselves with a plenty of help from the ‘rents! You can of course read all about the process, the tile and all of our other misadventures in home improvement over at our blog: keepsmilinghome.blogspot.com. Thanks, again!

  • OH MY GOSH it’s so gorgeous. Inlove with the floor tiles and the shower. ANd the cubboard… Oh I’m in love with the bathroom.

  • Well done! I can’t believe your budget. My favorite part is the storage cabinet! Storage is always missing in these gorgeous bathrooms.

  • Absolutely perfect! Can you provide source info for the cabinet and paint colors?

  • That is one fabulous renovation kudos for doing it themselves! I love the mix of the tiles and the wood all really tastefully done. I found the wood comments really amusing were they expecting a “gee we didn’t think of that?!”.

  • How is it cleaning the floor? I always have a little nagging voice at the back of my head ‘Yes it looks lovely, but how easy is it to clean? Won’t stuff gather in all the little grout routes!?’ Dull, sorry!

  • So far, so good Kirsten! It gets dirty just like any floor but since the grout is dark (charcoal gray) you can’t see much dirt in there. Thanks!

  • Oh, wow. ANOTHER gorgeous bathroom! I must say, you did a wonderful job of keeping it age-appropriate.

    Also, having done similar projects ourselves…yes, a lot of patience is sometimes required, but it’s always worth it.

  • This is the bathroom “in my head” ….my dream bathroom….the tile is perfection! Is the cabinet new or vintage?

  • The cabinet was kind of neither Gina. We got it at a thrift store but it was just a “new” TV cabinet originally. We ripped it up and turned it into what it is now, our linen cabinet!

  • Just stunning! It takes incredible patience and a lot of talent to produce such a polished & classic look.

  • This gives me such inspiration. We are in the midst of remodeling our 1980’s Teal Green Bathroom into a classically elegant able to withstand the test of time bathroom with salvaged goods and using what we have also. Patience is what I have and what it will take along with the thrill of the Hunt to find things that will make it great just like this bathroom. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I keep coming back to this – on the one side because I really liked the before quite a lot but also because the after is SOOOOO beautiful, awesome and practical too. I love everything from the tiles to the finishing touches – it looks elegant, cool, fresh, timeless and it seems not possible to age in an ugly way.
    Must bookmark it – one never knows!!! (Although we did a really great bathroom makeover too….). Congrats to your brilliant work!

  • This looks like something out the the tv show Rehab Addict. You even use one of her sayings “return it to it’s former glory”.
    Subway tile, black and white her tile, cast iron tub and of course salvaging…..it’s great!