before and after

Before & After: A Bold, Black & White Bathroom Transformation

by Maxwell Tielman


Renovating in a historic house can be like opening a can of worms. On one hand, you probably want to maintain some historical accuracy or semblance to the original style of a home. On the other hand, nobody wants to actually live like it’s two centuries ago—sometimes it’s good to update! With these things in mind, it can oftentimes be rather tricky to balance the desire to modernize with the desire to stay true to your home’s roots. When Jenny Walker and her husband Michael decided to update their home’s bathroom, they confronted this very issue. The bathroom’s previous iteration, a highly contemporary blue-tiled concoction, didn’t exactly jive with their East London Victorian terrace house. Rather than choosing from one end of the spectrum, the couple figured it best to modernize while still respecting and drawing influence from the home’s original style.  “We wanted the bathroom to feel like a well-restored original room,” Jenny said. The result was an update that beautifully walks the line between modern and historic. Tied together by a cohesive monochrome palette, painted floorboards are offset by bold patterned tiles and a clawfoot tub stands beside a walk-in shower. The look is simple and elegant—a wholly contemporary blend of historic and modern. —Max

bwbathroom_before_1 bwbathroom_7

Of the bold choice of wall tile, Jenny states, “As the room is relatively large and light, we felt we could get away with a bold patterned tile as a focal point of the room (but not something that felt deliberately “Morrocan” or “Mediterranean”).  We found the tiles in a local shop and were delighted with the pattern when they were all put together. They help to separate the shower area from the rest of the room without having to have walls or doors.”


The new bathroom is actually slightly larger than the previous iteration— a tiny bit of space was taken from the adjacent bedroom, creating the extra bit of room needed to accomplish the transformation. The wooden cabinet that houses the sink was crafted from European Oak by Michael’s uncle. “The wood adds an earthy warmth to the room that seems to sit so naturally with water,” Jenny says. “It contains two drawers for secret storage (of unsightly plastic bath toys). The unit is attached to the wall to maintain the feeling of a large floor space. “


“We wanted the space to feel as sociable as possible rather than purely functional,” Jenny says. “Hence the large walk-in shower, which our little girl loves to totter in and out of.  The window overlooks our garden, so we are able to get fresh air flowing through while bathing in the tub on a warm summer evening – such a luxury for London!”


“We wanted discreet shelving in the shower and around the sink,” Jenny says, “so asked the builder to create a recessed shower shelf to house toiletries and also to recess the mirror into the wall above the sink.  We recycled the mirror the previous owners of our house had installed in the bathroom as it was a good size and works well in the space.”


Jenny and Michael were inspired to add panelling to their walls from an image they found on Pinterest. Their own panelling was painted in Fired Earth’s Antimony.

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  • I really like the look of a bathroom in black and white, I’ve actually never seen that before, but I’m not a fan of the patterned tiles, they are just too busy for my eyes…

  • love the graphic black and white elements with that warm wood. such a gorgeous transformation! and, i love that the mirror is right across from the window.

  • What a rad bath!! I love how in some respects it almost looks like a (really nice) condo bathroom and yet still has those beautiful vintage elements. And I love the patterned tiles!

  • are the floorboards waterproofed somehow? looks beautiful, but I’m worried if practical…

  • This transformation is wonderful and I love verything about it including the graphic tiles. My only concern would be that the tiles would get dated down the line (anyone else still have reminantes of flowered tiles which were all the “in” thing in the 60’s and 70’s?)

  • Great Job! Calming but sharp and stylish. Excellent color choices. You can always accessorize with a third color should B&W feel limiting. Although – add some fresh colorful scented flowers to any B&W room and you’ve got all the color you need!

  • Oh My Gosh – yes bold is the right word and I love it. I love that they swung the bath and the shower areas around to create that super sized shower area – gave them that opportunity of making a statement with the tile design. Nice One.

  • Wonderful result and I appreciate that one of the befores was actually a nice picture of the space (I think I would have lived with that). I also think the floors will be ok with some water on occasion. My question with these mod bathrooms is always what the glass walls to the shower enclosure will look like in four years. Water seems to leave stains on glass. I do like the tile a lot.

  • Gorgeous! I adore that tile and the update is really beautiful. My only gripe is the painted floorboards-I’m living with some right now and they’re slippery when damp, and a nightmare to maintain! (I’m tempted to cover mine with garage rubber, which is an idea I think I stole from Max’s manhattan kitchen.)

  • Absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t have time to read the article sorry – I just looked at the beautiful photos. But, what I’ve got to say is how I love that you haven’t been afraid to be deliberately, say, Moroccan. Really Moroccan.

  • Beautiful. A lasting monument to the defecatory arts. If this guy Michael works in advertising, he definitely wouldn’t need an art director, not with his fine eye for deliberately Moroccan influences.

  • Is that toilet the Saniflow 33? We’ve got one and that little babe can cope with anything, and I mean anything. Pop a whole pound of mashed-up Dundee cake down it. One flush. All gone. It really is peace of mind, especially if you have elderly relatives staying.

  • Lovely transformation! Calm and sophisticated. Enjoy that relaxing retreat! Oh and don’t get me started on that awesome tub and shower. Sigh.

  • Some of these looks are really awesome. Nothing says change, like a new color scheme. Especially in the bathroom.

  • Local tile shop? Can you please tell me which store. My wife will love me big timeif I can source those tiles.