before and after

Before & After: Bathroom Makeover

by Kate Pruitt

In all our years of posting Before & Afters, I don’t think I’ve ever come across this many flowers in one room. The bathtub has flowers on it!! Yikes. Luckily, the owner of this late 1800s Victorian farmhouse, April Cochran-Smith, is a photographer and designer with a great eye for contrasts, color and drama. She’s made a lot of smart decisions in this room: The fresh white walls and tiled floor bounce tons of light around the room, while the bright but not overly primary hues of the tub, artwork and vanity provide a cheerful pop of color. Apparently, this bathroom was a work in progress, as April needed time to settle into decisions and swap out things she changed her mind on. Looking at the before, I can’t blame her for needing time to see the completed vision, but all that work and patience certainly paid off. — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 2 weeks (plus a couple years of decision making)

Cost: $1600 (includes paint and the cost to have the floor redone)

Basic Steps: Obviously the first step was to remove all of the wallpaper, including the border on the tub. Luckily, the previous owners had primed before they applied the wallpaper, so it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Still, I’m ok with never having to remove wallpaper again in my lifetime. Once that was complete, we removed the floral carpet and had white hexagon tiles installed. Then we painted the walls and trim, along with the bathtub and vanity. New handles were added to the vanity as well as new fixtures (towel holders, toilet paper holder). We removed the vanity lights and the plain box ceiling lights and added a chandelier that had been in a different room. I couldn’t find any vanity lighting I loved that wouldn’t require major renovation to the wiring, so I decided to forgo it. This is just basically a guest/kid bathroom, so it’s not a big loss.

My advice would be not to rush into anything. It’s better to live with the room a little and get a feel for what you really want to see there, as well as what you think will work. Also, don’t be afraid to change something if it’s not working. Remember that nothing’s permanent and to have fun with it all! — April

Paint: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore (walls), Citrus Splash by Behr (bathtub), Zephyr by Benjamin Moore (vanity — although I don’t recommend it for this purpose; it’s actually peeling off on top, so we’ll be replacing the vanity soon with a simple porcelain design)
Curtains: Urban Outfitters
Camera artwork: Fab
Vanity pulls: Target

Suggested For You


  • Great makeover! I love that she kept the original toilet, tub, and vanity and re-did them to fit a much more modern design…it’s nice to see someone re-use and re-imagine what is already there in such a beautiful way.

  • Love, love love! Everything except the painted vanity top, which you are replacing anyway.

  • I LOVE this. It’s a great example of a “small” makeover (no appliance/tub/etc changes, which tend to be $$$) making such a HUGE difference.

    The part I noticed in the “after” pictures is the toilet, though – I was surprised to scroll up and notice that it hasn’t changed, because it was so ugly against the flowers, and it looks so cool in the re-done room!

    Well-done! :)

  • omg anything is better than before (yikes!) but seriously, amazing job! love that you reused the old stuff – on that dollar, pretty unbelievable!

  • OMG. Wow. What an improvement! What country is this project in? I imagine an old English granny living there. The carpetting!!! (in a bathroom?!?!?), the nasty floral wallpaper, the dark wood panelling?! OMG. What a transformation!!!!!!!!

  • Oh WOW! The original one made me laugh out loud and the makeover is FAB!! Simple yet so colourful, happy bright and modern. That bath would convince any grubby kid to hop in! :) Love it!!!

  • I love it! What kind of paint did you use on your tub? We have a salvaged clawfoot just waiting to be perked up and put in our bathroom… I’ve just been too nervous to paint it! LOL

  • So proud of you April! You have such a flare for home design! Folks, you should see the REST of April’s house! It’s just as awesome in the makeover department!

  • I must say, it doesn’t even look like the same room! It looks so much bigger in the after pictures! Good work!

  • It is almost cruel to make us look at those “before” shots! Egads. Great job, people. Aa very basic, totally right makeover. I love how the toilet water tank and fittings become sculptural against the white background.

  • LOVE the after! For a second I thought the before picture showed shag carpet in the bathroom. *shudder*. I would also like to throw in my appreciation for the reuse of the original toilet and tub. Far too often I see people gut and toss everything to start fresh, but those pieces have such great, funky bones. Great job all around!

  • I laughed out loud at the original (this was actually a style!!) and think the makeover looks awesome. Wonderful job!

  • Dear Design Sponge Ladies,

    Could I please request some advise about the light fittings that can be put in lower roof apartments? Is a best-of series possible?

    Thanks so much!

  • Oh, my lord! That is an amazing transformation. This will remind me to see the bones of the space, and not the um… I don’t know what to call the before!

  • Amazing! I’m also really curious to know what country this is in. It looks too big to be an English bathroom though. I’m so glad you managed to keep the tub and make everything work! A really unique transformation! Well done

  • I love the fact that you saved the vanity, tub and even that funky toilet. What wonders paint and new tiles … and oh ya, lots of sweat equity… do, eh?


  • honestly, I gasped when I saw that bathroom in the mail – and some more heavy breathing escaped me when I saw the full flowery picture…. – but then I felt that I had to defend the previous owner’s choices: They obviously LOVED their bathroom and it has some wonderful features like huge windows and the bold toilet, the wash basin and the quite good looking wash stand (is that what you call ‘vanity’?)… But of course you did an excellent job with revamping this place in a modern, cool, light filled fashion for little money. Well done on you. I have a secret love for chandeliers in bathrooms and I am still waiting to have a bathroom worthy of one of my hoarded chandeliers. A huge BRAVO for having had the patience to wait and for the decisions taken, it looks stunning.

  • I just want to pick up on the comment that the bathroom is still a work in progress. I think this is true with any home. You may give a room a lick of paint and new furniture etc but you are never really ‘done’. Thats the joy of living, adding and evolving as you do! Still, the bathroom is a million miles better! :)

  • Not only did the original owner obviously love their bathroom, but guess what, when the design forces that be decide that was a great look – we will all be copying it for the “original” details like the border on the tub. Human nature being what it is we will be running around looking for wallpaper roses on a black background to put in our bathrooms. This makeover is wonderful and truly a breath of fresh air, (especially since they got that carpet out of there).

  • What a hilarious before and after… the before is so kitch that its almost good. The after looks great and seems as if it was done economically with a small footprint. Well done.

  • So much support for this makeover. Recycling is great. Had a claw tub years ago minis the flowers ( thank goodness.) The new look is clean visually.

    Know you were looking for a pop of color, but In my opinion the yellow tub & blue vanity are repeating the same loud choices all over again, just w/ different color palette. Think in years to come it will date the room. If wanted the drama would go with black tub/ vanity. Would still get the feeling of clean design. Just my opinio.n

  • Wait a second… wallpaper on tubs isn’t okay? Hahaha. And here I thought our previous owners were pushing it with a wallpapered metal medicine cabinet.

  • I must show this to some friends of mine – their bathroom is almost identical except even their ceiling is wallpapered!

  • First of all, thank you so much to everyone for your kind words. We love our bathroom & are so glad you appreciate it too. I just wanted to answer a couple of questions that I read.

    @Kelly & Caroline – I actually live in the US in Indiana, actually. Right in the middle of acres of cornfields. That’s funny that you both thought of English countryside. I wish!

    @Dominique – I gave a lot of thought about whether or not to paint the toilet box & ultimately decided against it. Basically, I didn’t know what color I’d rather it be! Plus, the blue vanity will be going soon, to be replaced by white porcelain, so that should hopefully balance it out.

    @Detta – Believe it or not, I just used regular wall paint. I know that there are better ways to go about it, including lots of sanding, etc, but I actually liked the texture on the old tub so I just went for it. I’ve read a few tutorials online though, if you’d like to do it the proper way.

    @Marika – Unfortunately, I don’t remember who makes the tiles & I couldn’t find the leftover box of them. Sorry!

    @Kiki – You’re 100% right that the previous owners loved this bathroom (& the whole house). They had actually saved it from being demolished & restored the whole thing. They tried to return it to it’s original Italianite style, so you can’t really fault them for that. To each their own, in my opinion. They were a super sweet couple & I’m just grateful to them for rescuing our house!

    @Sherrie – I totally get where you’re coming from. Luckily, all I have to do is change some paint & accessories & voila! a new room. My style is always evolving, so I’m sure in 5 years I’d be bored with this look anyway.

  • Wow, what a transformation! This bathroom went from almost hurting your eyes to a beautiful, simplicistic, bright space. Especially love the kitchen sink. Well done!

  • Beautiful job! I love that so much of the original stuff was transformed and used and looks so good! Although that ornate sink is not my style, it looks really great with everything and maybe keeping the vanity top the original wood would have looked really nice and allowed it to be saved. Also, REALLY love the use of that yellow.

  • I LOVE this makeover such a great improvement over what was before. But the color is off and the the pictures aren’t the right size. Other wise it is really nice. There is just way too much white and the bold colors cover too tiny an area.

  • Like everyone else – love the change.
    There something in your description of the job that baffled me. Why would you lay the tile first and then paint? Wouldn’t it have been easier to paint everything and then lay the tile? Much easier on cleanup…no one paints without spillage of some kind.
    My personal take would be to add more primary colors, but you love it and that’s all that counts!

  • I really like the new feeling of this bathroom ! But , to be honest, I couldn’t have lived with the old look even for a month !!

    Some weeks ago, I makeover my bedroom … very low budget and few things, but It migh be interesting to be shown here !

  • I’m know that I’m probably the minority here, but I kind of love the original wallpaper. Would have liked to have seen a modern twist on the bathroom keeping the wallpaper.