Before & After: A Brightened, Whitened Bathroom


If you’ve seen the movie Helveticayou likely remember the scene in which graphic designer Michael Bierut exasperatedly discusses the rebranding of the world in the modern typeface. “There was a time,” he says fervently, “when it just felt so good to take something that was old, dusty, homemade, and crappy looking and replace it with HELVETICA. It just must have felt like you were scraping the crud off of filthy old things and restoring them to shining beauty… It must have seemed like you had crawled through a dessert with your mouth just caked with filthy dust and somebody just offered you a nice, refreshing, distilled, icy glass of water.” This is pretty much how I feel about this whole “white” trend.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more people scraping away the proverbial dust in their homes and replacing it with the simplest solution possible: white. And while many people of years past might have bemoaned the non-color’s lack of personality or originality, it seems that today, this couldn’t be further from the case. This bathroom, sent to us by graphic designer Cat Grishaver, illustrates just how beautifully white (and erring on the side of simplicity) can transform a previously ragtag, mismatched space. “We wanted the bathroom to feel in keeping with our home’s 107-year-old Craftsman style,” Cat said, “but with a few modern, nature-inspired touches.” To accomplish this, Cat and her husband Dan decided the best course of action was to minimize. With classic touches like subway tiles from Home Depot and butcher block from IKEA, the results are as timeless as they are stylish. Check out the full restoration after the jump! —Max

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Above image: Shower Curtain from West Elm. Paint is “Power Lunch” by Miller Paint. Subway tiles from Home Depot. Cedar bathmat from Soko Hardware in San Francisco.


Above image: Mirror from West Elm, Wire Basket from Storables. Shelving is IKEA butcher block.


Above image: Cup holder from Rejuvenation.

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Above image: Soap dish from IKEA.


Above image: Blue vase from Heath Ceramics. Bird vase from New People. Candle from Pacifica.

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Above image: Koi painting by Kunio Kaneko.


  1. Casey says:

    I love a totally white bathroom! Makes me feel clean :)

  2. Clean & peaceful, bright and warm. I love the warm wood tones with the crisp white. Very nice!

  3. Jen says:

    What is that paint color!? I love it :)

  4. siobhan says:

    Love it! Do you know the name of the paint color on the walls? Thanks!

    1. Siobhan & Jen: The paint color is “Power Lunch” by Miller Paint.

  5. BarbLed says:

    Great transformation!!

  6. Heather says:

    Where is the medicine cabinet from?

  7. Love this clean and minimalist approach. Very inspiring! Just enough contrast in colors and materials to keep things interesting.

  8. boskybelle says:

    So crisp and classic looking-love this

  9. Love this! Especially that wooded bath mat, where’s that from?

    1. Amy: The bathmat is from Soko Hardware in San Francisco!

  10. I love all the white tile. So clean and simple!

  11. Catherine says:

    I want to live in all the homes you showcase. :)

  12. Love it all, but the butcher block shelving is BRILLIANT.

  13. Leslie says:

    I am totally in love with subway tile. This bathroom redo is great!

  14. i am pam says:

    i had a similar bathroom before and after. I went all white too and I love it. if i need to add a pop of color…i buy new towels!

  15. jennifer says:

    its PORTLAND, I see the New Seasons bag!!

  16. Lovely Mrs E says:

    I loved the before. Seems wasteful to tear up a space that perhaps better lighting could have helped to brighten.

  17. Karen says:

    I think the source for the wall sconce got cut off. Can you tell me where it’s from? Thanks. Beautiful bath!

  18. Cassandra says:

    The built-in bathroom cabinet is brilliant, and the basin looks like a great size for smallish spaces. Any tips on where to find both?

  19. Chris says:

    I think you might miss the darker grout if you don’t have cleaning services. There might have been a more affordable solution with removing the checkered tile, paint, and lighting the space properly.

  20. Cordu says:

    Wow, stunning transformation. Love it!

  21. Ramona says:

    I am about to embark on a bathroom redo and will also use white as the foundation. I have a question about sconces – does anyone have ideas or comments about whether they should cast the light up or down? Thanks!

  22. catherine says:

    My comment has nothing to do with the after and is prompted by the before pic of the toilet with lid up. My plumber informed me that there is a reason toilets have lids. Flushing sprays up water droplets into the air and they travel through the air and settle onto your toothbrush, onto your skin, in your hair … grossed out yet? The lid should therefore be put down BEFORE you flush. So, for those of you having fights with roommates/spouses over the up vs down of seats, forget the seat and put the LID is down every time.

  23. Justin says:

    Awesome butcher block shelving! Was this custom made from Ikea butcher block countertop or what?

  24. Kiki says:

    Did I understand correctly that you didn’t change the white goods?
    I ask because I couldn’t have another toilet NOT fixed to the wall but standing on the floor….
    Apart from that I fully agree with Catherine (above) re the lid – and a good ‘explanation’ for why this should be so.
    Everything looks so wonderfully fresh, clean and if there is one room in a home that may be white, it is the bathroom.
    We re-did three so far, all are white with checker-board floors (there IS another colour but not overwhelmingly so) and a border in the same colour at a hight where it suits you (aligned with wash basin, toilet flush or mirror). They look stunning and one feels already fresh and clean before taking that shower!

  25. Perfect! Simple and clean without being clinical and I LOVE that shelving unit made of butchers block… the wood against the white tile and grey walls is what makes it so inviting.

  26. Diva T says:

    Oooooo and ahhhhh. Home spa! Love the artwork and little unexpected touches.

  27. smariel says:

    It looks great, although I think I’d do a different, more substantial shower curtain. Coyuchi has some gorgeous ones. Like this:

  28. Debbie says:

    Just love the transformation. You did a great job of the space. Where did you get the ceramic cat?

  29. Hans says:

    Question: we are doing a similar bathroom renovation. Do you have any problems with water compromising your window’s wood trim? Is the trim (and the window itself) wood? Is there a specialty marine paint or sealant used? It all looks great. Thanks!

  30. what was the budget on this? my husband and i are in the market for a ‘fixer-upper’ and see lots of bathrooms like your ‘before’. would love to know if this type of remodel is budget-friendly….

    1. Faith says:

      Hello Design Sponge. Love what you’ve done. I have the same question as Lena, I am wondering how the window sill and casing is standing up in the shower? What material did you use for it? Looking to do something similar. Thanks!

  31. Lena says:

    I would love to know what product you used to frame out the window. Was it wood and if so did you use a certain product to protect the wood from the water? Thanks

  32. Chris says:

    Nice bathroom.
    What was used to frame the window? Looks really nice.


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