before and after

before & after: rachel’s bathroom

by Grace Bonney

our final before & after of the day (stay tuned for a new “we like it wild” post next!) comes from rachel of southern exposure. rachel recently made over her guest bathroom with pretty incredible results. after converting a small hallway bar closet into a shower, rachel had her contractors build a custom vanity and stain it a light blue-gray. the old mirror was reused (with a new frame) and a light from pottery barn was hung above a new sink and faucet from lowes. the rubber floors (see rachel’s post for more before shots) were replaced with marble tile from a local stone shop, and the marble theme continued on the walls with tiles from home depot which were cut in half and placed in a brick pattern. i think the new result is sophisticated and stunning- well done, rachel and contractor team!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? click here to shoot me an email with your images!]


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  • Wow, a beautiful transformation! I love that the blue-gray stain isn’t something you see very often but it works so well in this small space!

  • My goodness. I’m not one for marble, but this is mcgorgeous! Like something out of the greatest magazine! I love love love it!

  • I can’t help wishing you had posted more pictures, but what you did post is very interesting. I am always looking for design ideas, as I am looking to remodel our home, have been for 17 years now. My biggest problem is the lack of space in the kitchen and bathrooms, so whenever I see someone who has found ways to work around those problems, I am most interested. Thank you for sharing this. You have given me much to think about.

  • out-freaking-rageous. That’s awesome. Nice job. The stained vanity is the key for me–it really makes a nice room something special.

  • I love the open shelves. Closed cabinets in a bathroom seem to make everything in them musty smelling. The results are gorgeous. The wood vanity and the floor tiles look perfect together.

  • i’m sorry, i hate to be critical here b/c i love design sponge but… i really don’t like how the vanity finish and the mirror frame finish match. it’s too matchy matchy feeling. it gives each piece less authenticity. it is just me?

    ps. love the wall tile.

    • hishouseherhelp

      it’s ok to be critical- as long as you’re not attacking anyone i always welcome discussion, disagreement and constructive feedback for both the site and any content featured :)


  • wow! makes me so motivated to re-do my bathroom. love love love the new vanity/table. That hit of yellow in the basket makes it.

  • I’ve always worried about wood around too much water,but I’m sure this has been sealed or something. Distressed finishes always look better with age IMO, so I’d love to see the room in ten years. It turned out really beautiful.

  • wowoowowowowo i just love it and it makes me dream. i like the general idea even if i might do one or two things differently. still, i love this.

  • Rachel, your guests must feel so special – it’s just lovely. Great update.
    Lindsay, I have wood counters also, they are painted, distressed and then I put a coat of marine varnish. It’s been over 4 years and so far, so good- I still love it.

  • I especially love the long, open shelves under the sink…and of course all of that marble is just gorgeous!

    Sara(Mrs.B) – thanks for sharing the tip about marine varnish; I’ll have to file that away for future reference! I absolutely love the look of wood in a bathroom – something about it makes the space feel more comfortable.

  • Stunning! It makes me want to grab an Us Weekly and spend some time in there! [Eww, I didn’t mean it in “that” way…just meant it is comfortable and relaxing.]

  • I’m also not loving it. It’s beautiful, but to be constructive in my criticism, I prefer the makeovers where people work with what they have over gut renovations that cost an arm and a leg. I think working with what you have is more accessible for most people and often shows more imagination, which makes it much more inspiring for me.

    • cvjn

      i’m pretty much with you, but i like to provide a range of options to represent the range of readers we have. some lucky people have larger budgets than i, and like to see bigger projects. so when they turn out nicely like this, i like to share them. but this type is usually only one of at least 4-5 we show a week.

      grace :)

  • CVJN, I have to respectfully disagree with you that a large budget can’t result in imaginative design. While I agree that more money can buy more materials, it can’t buy taste. I appreciate comments in regards to design, but I don’t think dismissing a project based on cost alone constitutes as constructive feedback. I personally appreciate good design at a wide range of price levels. It seems that you have made some assumptions about the cost of this remodel. The only splurge item in this bathroom was the floor tile which I could afford because everything else was either something we already owned or came from Lowes, Home Depot, Target or thrift stores . Our labor cost was higher than expected due to the fact that our contractor had to dig down into the cement floor to run the plumbing for the shower and he also had to remove a concrete block wall, but there wasn’t any way to get around that. Without the concrete issues, this bathroom could be recreated at a very affordable price.

  • I am in love with this bathroom! An amazing transformation to take such a plain/cold bathroom and not only turn it into something beautiful, but to create a space that would surely make the person using it feel quite special. It is such a polished and soothing setting!

    I have to say that I was surprised by cvjn’s comments. I completely agree that it would not be very inspiring to see post after post of projects that required an endless supply of money to pull them off. However, in reading the comments about this project (both on this site and on Rachel’s blog), it appears that she re-used materials, performed some of the labor herself, bought several items at thrift stores and found others at standard stores such as Pottery Barn and Lowe’s.

    Anyway, I completely applaud the effort and creativity that went into this transformation! I guess if the worst someone can say about it is that it must have cost a lot of money – then you’d have to consider it success, especially if that assumption was incorrect!

  • This is not what I was expecting for the after picture! I absolutely adore this redo! It’s extremely appealing to me!

  • this is gorgeous – can you do a follow up with a how-to in regards to the grey-ish distressed finish on the wood? I have been looking for a finish to redo my bedroom dresser. I wanted to go darker but wanted to leave a heavy texture – this is perfect! TEACH ME :)

  • also – i welcome posts like this. This inspires me because it makes me realize what an amazing transformation we can achieve in our homes. We don’t have to be discouraged by a lack-luster room, or bad “bones” to a house. There is a beautifully designed space hiding inside each one of our homes.

  • Beautiful! I have been struggling to find a bathroom vanity that doesn’t have the mass produced look I see everywhere…maybe having something like this is the way to go. Great taste!

  • Lovely remodel but it’s sad to see the adorable little shutters went. They would have sat quite nicely with the rest of the design. I feel the curtains are a bit too soft and that the artwork and the plant would have been sufficient to break up the lines.

    But on the whole, great job!

  • Ever since i found this post I’ve been scheming to figure out how to recreate it myself. I’ve had very little luck finding a set of shelves (searched everything i can think “console table” “occasional table” “mission table” “wooden shelves” “sink basin”… etc) with little to no results. I’m thinking about having my dad build them, but i’m not sure how he’d be at doing the distressed stain. Can somebody give me some suggestions? Either an affordable ready made or suggestions for building my own?
    thanks so much.

  • Loving those wall and floor tiles. Can you tell us what they are called and who makes them?

  • what is the color of the stain please..I am with the other gal..Can you post a how to on the staining aspect of it!!This is so DANG BEAUTIFUL..Please soon.THANKS!

  • I absolutely love this bathroom redo. Excellent use of space! Love that you reused the mirror by giving it a different matching frame. I’m working on a tile project now and will use some of these ideas to help finish it off! Love, love it! Excellent article too. Keep up the good work.