before and afterDIY

Before & After: A Humdrum Bathroom Gets A Modern Makeover

by Maxwell Tielman



When Justine and Brendon Breen purchased a midcentury modern California house in 2012, they were faced the realization that confronts many a first-time homeowner: it was going to take a lot of work. It was the couple’s first home and their first time renovating, so they wisely opted to not bite off more than they could chew. Rather than jump headlong into a full-scale home makeover, the Breens decided it best to start small—beginning with the home’s master bathroom. “The original bathroom had extensive mold & grime,” Justine notes. “But it had great lighting as there is a full slider that can give us access to the side yard. The demo process was tough and there were a lot of hidden “surprises” that came about—including major termite damage, rotten pipes, etc.” The six months of work and intense elbow grease paid off, though—the end result is a stunning, modern bathroom that fits marvelously with the lines of their midcentury house. Check out all of the photos, plus Justine and Brendon’s design notes after the jump! —Max



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“To enhance the the feel of openness,” Justine writes, “we wanted to keep it bright with white floor to ceiling tiles on about 90% of the bathroom. We did an “ikea hack” with the vanity with a custom wood wrap. To tie in all of the wood finishes, we also did floating shelves in an area where it was originally a small closet.”

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Source List
– Paint / Valspar
– Vanity / Ikea (custom wood wrap by friend)
– Shower Head / American Standard
– Sink / Kohler
– Sink Fixture / Faucet Direct
– Light Fixture / One Forty Three
– Tiles / Crossville, Inc.
– Sliding Glass Door / Builder’s Direct Supply
– Door Handle / Overstock
– Toilet / Kohler
Total budget: $7,600


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  • so beautiful! i love the way the size/shape of the tile is carried through the entire space, floor to ceiling…just with a color change. such a brilliant way to create rhythm. and i love the additional of warm woods to the black and white. and such good design advice the whole post through!

  • How did you hack the ikea vanity with a kohler sink? Is the top drawer still operable? I have been trying to figure out how to hack the ikea vanities with my own countertop and sink but I thought the plumbing space for these vanities would not fit standard plumbing. Thank you!

  • @Lauren & Sara C. – The top drawer is operable, but much smaller. Obviously Ikea uses very shallow P traps on their sinks, we used a standard one, so it dips down much deeper. This caused the drawer to hit the plumbing and not be able to close. We basically created two smaller drawers (one on the left and one on the right) but secured them to the single drawer face. This way the plumbing could bypass in the center. So when you open the drawer instead of seeing one large flat drawer bottom, you see a small one on the left, and a small one on the right that we can still use to store things. Thank you for the support.

  • We are thinking of redoing our similar master bath. I love and envy the slider in the bathroom! Oh, to have so much natural light! I like the look of the open shelf, but I want to know where you’re hiding all your bathroom junk. Don’t you have extra toiletries, medicine, etc? WHERE ARE YOU HIDING THE PERSONAL EFFECTS? =)

  • I agree with Laura, it’s great looking and I get that this is a pretty picture and the open shelves look nice. Considering this is the master bath I am assuming that one of you uses it every morning – toothbrushes…and where is the toilet paper holder?!! everyday details!

  • Very nice, but holy crap, they got rid of a tub for a stand-up shower! I live in Norway where it is not standard to have a tub and I cannot describe how much I miss taking the occasional bath!

  • @Lisa – Thanks for your comment! As I had mentioned to Laura, our double drawer Ikea vanity holds our everyday IMMEDIATE necessities: toothbrush, mouthwash, deodorant, contact solution, hairbrush, shavers, etc. We keep all of our “bulky” necessities such as EXTRA toilet paper, cleaning supplies in our storage room which is separate from the master bathroom. In addition, we are lucky enough to have an additional built in “powder vanity” in our room (not shown obviously) that has all of my make up, blow dryer, etc.

    And yes, we have a STAND UP TOILET PAPER HOLDER! We purchased it AFTER the photos were taken. The reason for a stand up holder is because we didn’t want to drill into our beautiful tile walls or that wood vanity wrap. Hope that helps!!

  • @Yael – Yup, we totally got rid of the stand up shower! Our 2nd bathroom has a bathtub, so we didn’t find it totally necessary to keep the master bathroom a bathtub as well! When doing the renovations, we KNEW we wanted to keep at least (1) tub (for future kiddos of course). I agree – baths are much needed every once in awhile!

  • Loving this! We are adding a bathroom in our basement, and I love the clean lines in this design!!

    I had to post this on my blog (with a link back to here) I hope you don’t mind.

  • I would never put a toilet next to my sink. Aerosol droplets float around in the bathroom after the toilet is flushed even when you put the lid down before flushing. Ugh.

  • LOVE this! Do you find the bare bulb lights to be too bright when on? I would love to do these in our future bathroom redo, just wondering how they look in use. Also, how did you secure the two smaller drawers in the vanity? We are going to be using an IKEA sink and vanity, but would like the option of using “regular” plumbing. Thanks and great job!

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