before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Bathroom Goes from Nondescript to Light-Filled & Modern

by Erin Austen Abbott

Prior to Bridget and Ethan Healy moving into their building in Cambridge, MA in 2012, it was renovated by a developer in 2008. While they love their home, some of the renovation decisions are not what the couple would have chosen themselves, nor are they reflective of their personal styles. “We had been considering a few updates to our home for the past couple years, and improving the function and flow of our entryway and bathroom was high on the list,” Bridget shares. Specifically, they wanted to move the door to the full bathroom out of the entryway and into the bedroom to create an en suite master bathroom; and this would also increase their storage. Not knowing the first thing about how to start a project like this, Bridget decided to reach out to Homepolish for design help. Shannon Tate, an interior designer, is also part of the Boston Homepolish team. Right from the beginning, she, Bridget, and Ethan hit it off and she was able to give them exactly the bathroom renovations they had dreamed of. “I’m so happy that Shannon was the designer we were paired with,” Bridget says. “She has such a great eye and really helped transform our small bathroom into a beautiful space — who knew that moving a doorway could open up so many possibilities? I love seeing that gorgeous tile every day, too.”

Shannon tells us, “Their home had two bathrooms side-by-side, one full and one a half bath and neither one of them was an en suite. This seemed so silly, since the whole building had been renovated in 2008.” The goal was to make the bathroom feel more luxurious and also have more function in terms of storage, but staying within the same footprint was a must. “The plan I devised [was to move] the door of the bathroom from outside the bedroom to inside,” Shannon explains. “We did a pocket door so it wouldn’t take up any space on the interior of the bathroom. I was able to squeeze in a double vanity by flipping its positioning and getting a custom vanity that was a little less deep than standard. They now both have two full drawers for storage, which is huge, especially with a baby coming and all the little bath toys that will follow.”

The jumping-off point for Shannon’s design was Bridget’s dream of having “mermaid tile,” so from that idea the design plan was born. The Ogee Drop tiles from Fireclay for the shower worked perfectly, while bringing in a green tone that feels like it came straight from the sea. Those tiles were then paired with marble penny rounds on the floor, a compact toilet, and a more minimal window trim. “With the use of mirrors, the natural light, and a light white/wood color palette everywhere in the bathroom (except the shower), it really makes it feel so much bigger. I couldn’t be happier with the end product,” Shannon muses. I think this is a fantastic transformation that shows how a big impact can still take place in a small space. —Erin

Photography by Shannon Tate-Giordano / @shannontateinteriors

Image above: The Ogee Drops from Fireclay tile and a shelf that the contractor created to perfection.

Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge

A look at the new custom vanity, with double sinks, mirrors, plus a lot of extra space and storage.

Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge
"The bathroom vanity before was small and had very little storage underneath," Bridget says.
Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge

“We put gorgeous Ogee drop tiles in the shower from Fireclay. We ended the tiles with Schluter instead of a subway tile, bullnose or pencil and it worked great! I had never used that product before and I was really happy with it. We changed the window trim to be really simple and finished the window ledge with oak and a clear satin poly. Walls were painted with China White from Benjamin Moore, basically my favorite color to use on walls,” Shannon shares.

Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge
"The window trim before felt too bulky for the space. I really love how the new trim feels much more modern," Bridget notes.
Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge
"This is the view from the shower. I just love the warmth that the wood brings to the space, paired with a sweet vintage rug we found on Etsy and turkish towels. Can't go wrong! Tab pulls on the drawers keep it feeling simple, clean and uncluttered," Shannon says.
Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge

A straight-on look at the Ogee Drop Tiles and Kohler faucet.

Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge
Before, the shower had darker tiles, but because it is a small bathroom, Shannon decided to brighten it up with a light green fish scale option.
Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge

“The reflection of the Ogee Drops in the mirror makes me so happy. Just love it! Really love that only the essentials stay on display on the counter, because now they have all the space they need for storage below,” Shannon explains.

Before and After with Bridget and Ethan Healy on Design*Sponge
"This is the new view from the entry of the bathroom. We squeezed in a double vanity [by] flipping its positioning and taking advantage of every inch of the width of the bathroom. We did a custom 18" deep vanity and each side has ample storage below. We did hooks instead of rings or bars for the towels, to keep it clean and simple, and used a compact toilet to maximize walking space," Shannon says.


Shower Tile – Ogee Drops from Fireclay
Shower faucet & sink facuets – Kohler
Shower door – Revel by Kohler
Toilet – compact toilet from Kohler
Floor penny rounds – Houzz
Vanity – Custom
Round mirrors – CB2
Vanity lights – Schoolhouse Electric
Rug – Etsy
New pocket door – JB Sash in Boston
Paint color – China White from Benjamin Moore
Towel hooks & TP holder – Signature Hardware

Design – Shannon Tate Interiors , Homepolish

Construction – contractor, Mato, from MP Construction

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  • OMG! I LOVE this bathroom. Seriously, I enjoy everything about it and wish I could drag and drop it into my tiny, boring rental bathroom!

  • Thank you for this post. This is not only one of the most beautiful bathrooms I’ve seen, but the use of space is so thoughtful. Also, the product ideas and list is great. I love everything about it!