before & after: elegant bathroom makeover

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

  1. Katie says:

    Love this! The floor tile, clawfoot tub, and gorgeous separate shower… that’s the dream!

  2. beautiful! i love how it was done on a buget and looks like so much more. there’s major value in your patience & care for he project.

  3. Stacy says:

    Beautiful bathroom turned out. And very inexpensive!

  4. Lizzie says:

    Love that armoire, and having one in the bathroom is a brilliant idea.

  5. Marque says:

    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!

  6. Very elegant indeed. There is beauty in simplicity.

  7. Wow, what an exquisite makeover. I love the floor tiles!

  8. I love black and white bathrooms with a pop of color from flowers or textiles. What a transformation!


  9. Kara says:

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

  10. Kathy says:

    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!

  11. Cher says:

    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.

  12. Christine says:

    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.

  13. I love the tile and the tub! They did a beautiful job!

  14. Emily says:

    Where did you get your beautiful tile flooring?

  15. ileana says:

    Beautiful! Love the tiles and the armoire.

  16. Love this makeover. I want this bathtub! :)

  17. Ella says:

    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!

  18. Heather says:

    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.

  19. Maya says:

    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…!

  20. Katherine says:

    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: Thanks, again!

  21. Nia Basset says:

    You did it right.

  22. Roxy says:

    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.

  23. Hello Cate,

    Amazing work, Beautiful way to interior your Bathroom. I love the floor tile.

  24. just RAD!!! love every little detail… such a great blog as well with all their house renovations. thanks for sharing!!!

  25. Suzanne says:

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

  26. PhillyLass says:

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

  27. Lisa says:

    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?!”.

  28. Evita says:

    That’s a hell of a makeover for $3K! I’m definitely keeping this in my inspiration folder.

  29. Kirsten says:

    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!

  30. Katherine says:

    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!

  31. Jen says:

    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.

  32. gina says:

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

  33. Katherine says:

    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!

  34. BT says:

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

  35. Nancy D says:

    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.

  36. This is beautiful! Nicely done for sure. I love the black and white contrast on the tile. The tub is heavenly! :)

  37. Very inspiring- such a great use of salvaged materials. I love the new pedestal sink!

  38. Heather says:

    Love the subway tile in the new bathroom and the soaking tub! Good job!

  39. Very sweet. You can’t beat tessellated tiles. They never age and always look super cool in an understated kind of way

  40. Kiki says:

    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!

  41. Love the tub. The green in plants works so, so well with the white walls and dark around the tub.

  42. Bobbie says:

    Now do you want to come do mine???? PLEASE!
    Really love what you have done!!!

  43. megan hulme says:

    Wow – I love this bathroom renovation. Can I live there please? :)

  44. kendrah says:

    Soooo attractive, restrained, perfect.

  45. sarah says:

    Did you use matte tiles or gloss??

  46. Lisa says:

    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…’s great!


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