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before and after

High, Low & Everything in Between: A Bathroom Update

by Caitlin Kelch


At first blush (pun intended), my bathroom makeover appears to perhaps be that of a trend-loving 12-year-old. It is not. It’s all mine. I’m a 49-year-old woman who involuntarily problem solves all day, every day. If there is an issue from 1978 that’s still troubling me, it’s safe to say that some deeply embedded brain cells are running formulas to resolve it. I’ve alluded to this before in other posts, and have been met with a few angsty comments criticizing design bloggers for appropriating clinical diagnoses when describing habits of “obsession” or excess around their shopping activity or adoration for a certain object or trend.

I assure you that is not the case here. My brain is officially wired differently, and that pertains to this post in a very specific way. I’ll spare you an explanation of my case history — this is a post about my bathroom, the painting that drove me back to my color nemesis, and the serious craftsmanship of the Kohler products that brought this update to life.

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. And sponsored posts are an opportunity we take seriously here at Design*Sponge — if we truly believe and experience superior products that allow us to accept “design” challenges like this, to touch and feel the products and ultimately decide if the products we’re working with are worthy to be shared with our audience. Such is the case here.

Working with the Kohler team was not only a smooth and satisfying experience, but one that made me personally realize that they respect and encourage everyone to enjoy and incorporate their products in their own special way. I used Kohler’s inspiration hub, IDEAS, to get a feel for the possibilities, do some research and see how I could create an update that was all me, not just a showroom-perfect, Instagram-worthy space.

Quick backstory: During one of our calls, the Kohler team took the time to share their pride in developing their water-saving Highline range. I was expecting buzz words like, “eco-friendly” and “green,” but I was schooled in the techniques, design and engineering behind the products. I even felt a little guilty for going into the call thinking a toilet is just a toilet and “does it come in gold?” My family and I try our best to practice home habits that support the planet, but I can be easily seduced by trends and show-off pieces just like the rest of pinning Americans. So a major and very sincere thanks to the Kohler team is in order for pushing me in the right direction. I could have easily ended up with a fantastically gold and blush bathroom fit for a showroom that would feel good for about six months.

Thankfully, I didn’t. What I have is a bathroom I love and the resolution to a long-standing adversarial relationship with the color peach. And I am saving water in a pretty significant way.

All of the faucets and the shower head are from Kohler’s Purist collection. Other product details here: sink, toilet and vanity cabinet.

This was the jumping off point for my makeover – the art and palette of artist Emily Jeffords. It was this palette showing a mix of colors that convinced me I could slay peach and transform it into something me, something memorable and most importantly, something I haven’t seen all over the Internet.

I was excited to find a 32 vanity that could breathe, and even more excited to see that it came in a beautiful Mohair grey color. It’s a lovely wall mount vanity, but I opted for the angular legs for a few reasons. Number one, I would spend too much time worrying it would fall off the wall. Weird, I know, but consider the brain I referred to in the opening paragraph. Number two, the black legs gave a nod to hairpin legs, but in a much stronger way that mimicked the angles of the sloped ceiling in the room.

Let’s go back in time and check out the “before” photos. This may be painful!

This is my bathroom “before,” a sad, uninspired space that felt like a messy corporate apartment from the 1980s. The shower curtain, which is out of the shot, made it awful. I had zero desire to ever bathe here.

Granted these photos were taken shortly after I moved in, but little things in the space bothered me in a big way. For example, why did someone think it was a good idea to place a vanity flush against the wall? I’ll never know. It made me continuously think about grabbing a sledge hammer to knock out some space to let the edge of this poor vanity breathe.

The old vanity had this odd riser that it sat on. Turns out this was extra storage space in the form of a large drawer that was nailed shut. When I had it picked up by the team at Habitat for Humanity, I made them swear they’d put a note on it that said “Extra Storage Here!” so the new owner knew they were in for a treat.

And now we arrive back to the image that started all of this peach madness. The image is from my essay around living with the imperfect and a hideous peach door in a former rental of mine. All in all, I love the contrast of the impeccable Kohler products (the vanity is real wood and smells like wood!) and the neurotic minutiae of my everyday past and present.

While the super bright “Shrimp Boat” paint color may stay docked for awhile in my toilet nook, I’m confident that my aesthetic will continue to grow and someday a new boat will dock that has the kind of grown-up class that my Mohair grey vanity exudes.

At that point, I’ll happily say goodbye to peach forever.

I am so personally grateful for Kohler for their knowledge, openness and, above all, their commitment to their craft. I am very lucky to enjoy their better-for-the-planet products every day now. It’s a privilege I do not take lightly. My old fixtures have already found a home after they were “adopted” at my local Restore.

Thank you again Kohler

Author’s Note: This is real life. This is my wacky bathroom. I am not a designer, so be kind in the comments please. You may love it, hate it or just “meh” it, but please appreciate that our goal here at Design*Sponge is to honor, celebrate and share what it is that makes “home” a special and safe place for anyone and everyone. I’ve made peace with peach with some major help from our sponsor, Kohler.  –Caitlin

P.S. For some history on my peach allergy (and the inspiration behind this makeover), you can read Part One of this post here.

 

 

 This post brought to you by KohlerClick here to get inspired!

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Comments

  • I absolutely LOVE this! You really took it from blah to beautiful, and I’d be so happy to have such a bathroom in my own home one day. Would you be willing to share the paint colors used here? Thanks!

    • Hi Lena!

      Thanks so much – the light peach is Peach Kiss by Valspar and the intense peach/coral is Shrimp Boat by Olympic. I got them both at Lowes.

      Caitlin

  • It’s gorgeous although I’m a little divided on the toilet nook. The colour though is a fabulous backdrop to the illustration of Twiggy. And I seem to recall the first time that illustration appeared on this blog, it was in relation to an essay about embracing imperfection so in that case the execution is entirely appropriate!

  • I love that splash of color and the unfinished edges in the nook. I did something similar in a room and people think it’s a mistake, but nope, I wanted it that way! Bravo for being super brave and designing such a beautiful space.

  • Looks as if my laptop problems kept my earlier comment from being posted. Other than my temporary problem with the links for the vanity, I wrote that I am SO not a peach (or pastel) person, but this renovation deserves applause. Goal achieved: Your bathroom doesn’t look like the popular pins du jour. Without being cookie cutter in any way, it has style, function, and personality. It’s different in the best sense, the same as some of my favorite people who happen to be differently wired.

  • This post was a breath of fresh air. I don’t begrudge anyone their brand-spanking new gut renovation bathroom, but, to be honest, I’m feeling a bit weary of them lately. I really love how balanced this renovation feels You’ve got a few high-end upgrades, some super affordable upgrades, some making do with what you have, and a whole lot of very distinct personality. The room doesn’t look like it’s trying to be anything other than a reflection of the people who live in the home, and that’s exactly what I’m finding myself drawn to more and more. Incidentally, I recently learned that Kohler has an arts/industry residency! From their site: “Artists need not have experience with clay or metal, just an interest in materials and the potential for the industrial environment and processes to influence their creative practice. Participants are exposed to a body of technical knowledge that enables and encourages them to explore new ways of thinking and working.” I don’t work for Kohler, by the way. I think the fact that this residency exists is wonderful, and it makes me want to choose Kohler products if I’m ever lucky enough to have my own bathroom to renovate!

    • Oh!!! I had no idea about that program. Thanks so much for sharing that Jen! And thank you for the support.

      Caitlin

    • Hi Stacey

      The old floor was faux marble tile linoleum that was fine, bit had a yellow tint to it – maybe it was on sale & they laid it down to sell the home? (It had been a rental.) My budget in no way allowed for a new floor (I’m saving up!), but I found a massive load of vinyl floor tile at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It’s the Armstrong commercial kind you’d find in schools polished to a high shine. Here’s a link to the type of tile. It’s very high school gymnasium which totally works for me. And the color is sublime – one of those it’s so bad, it’s good choices that reflects my feelings about the color peach.

      And btw, a case of the tile with 8 pieces was $5. So the flooring in total cost $15. And I love it.

      Caitlin

  • What a remarkable change from the ‘before’ to the present. Congratulations on a striking, unique and relaxing space. Besides the modern fixtures and glass bath surround, I particularly love the paint in the toilet area. Although the wallpaper you were considering was pretty, the paint in your little toilet nook is much more fun and individual.

    One puzzling thing (and please, this is in no way a criticism): why did you go with peach anyway, even though you mention your strong dislike many times in both articles describing this redo? Your inspiration piece was filled with colors, and I assume you like many of them more than you like peach. Why not choose one of them?

    My concern is that you won’t like the paint in the near future if you do hate peach so much. I love all shades of orange, so I support your choice; it’s really that I want you to be happy with this fabulous space for a long time to come.

  • Hi! while I don’t particularly care for the design, I do respect that it makes your home feel like it’s yours. The writing, however, was…err….poorly executed. The writer went from talking about their brain’s individual wiring to a little bit about the design process, to going back to their brain. It felt like the bits about the brain were not adding anything substantial to the piece, but it was more for “look at me, I’m quirky just like you!” and while I’m all for sharing about mental health and how we all operate, I don’t think that this was relevant in this case, or it was poorly done.

    The whole essay seemed like it was done at 1:00 am on its due date, and I had to go back to re read it several times to try to understand what exactly the writer was trying to convey. Frankly, I’m still not sure what is exactly going on.

    I’ve read DS since 2009, and have come to expect a high level of quality both in pictures and essays, and this one leaves much to be desired.

  • I love this! I would have never thought to go with that color, but it is really great! Your bathroom feels like bathing in a Wes Anderson movie!

  • Hi DesignSponge team, Sorry to say I’m with commenter Heidi on this one – this piece seemed scattered. Some sentences and paragraphs didn’t make sense, and the piece as a whole was difficult to read as a cohesive thread. A shame to distract from something DesignSponge wants to promote?

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