before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Builder-Grade Bathroom Gets A Glamorous Makeover

by Erin Austen Abbott

Bathroom remodels can be daunting at times, since so much plumbing is involved — not to mention walls that usually need repairing or replacing. It’s often the room that people wait to tackle, so over time you don’t know what you will get once you start removing sinks, pulling out the tub, etc. For Gwen Hefner of The Makerista and her general contractor husband Micah, they welcomed the remodel of a new bathroom for their two girls in their Kansas City, MO home. “Renovating for Micah and me is a bit like marriage counseling,” Gwen shares. “It’s amazing what we work through as we tackle problems and search for solutions together.” The couple even brought in one of their three children to help make design decisions. Gwen explains, “The curtains are probably the cherry on top for me. I knew they needed to run all the way to the ceiling, and the drama they create can’t be beat. I had actually planned to use a much more traditional chintz, but I had sourced this Vervain fabric, and Milly, age 6, was all in. She loved it, so the styling direction did a 180. I think it feels fresh and even more fun than what I had originally put together on paper.”

Along with a great group of craftsmen and tradesmen that Gwen’s husband works with through his full-time job, the family was able to deliver a beautiful outcome on this bathroom remodel. “Micah did all of the woodwork and tile work, and Lance of IplumbKC did all of the plumbing. He is incredibly detail-oriented and professional. He knows my love of design and went above and beyond to use only beautiful parts to finish off the fixtures — like chrome water lines instead of flexible nylon,” Gwen notes.

She continues about the design decisions made for the bathroom: “A girls’ bath feels like a place to go bold! I wanted it to feel like their own little jewel box to get ready in. I wanted color, pattern, and shine for a place that is sophisticated enough to grow with them, too. When it came to the girls’ bath I wanted to hold nothing back. Milly requested pink, so pink she got! My girls are strong, energetic, emotional, and fun. This bathroom lets them feel all the feels. I think back to how much time I spent in my bathroom growing up. Some of my strongest memories are in my childhood bathroom. Milly is 6 and Domino is 2, but before I know it they’ll be 16 and 12. A lot of firsts happen in a girl’s bathroom. A lot of primping and prepping. Crying and laughing. I want to give them a bathroom they’ll never forget.”

To bring her style and design to life, Gwen fell back on what she knows so well — thrifting. “A big part of my style is mixing in pieces I’ve thrifted, and I’ve been known to hang onto things for a long time waiting for the right space. I found that bow hook [above on the right] a few years ago and have been holding tight for a magical place for it.” Scroll below for this stunning transformation. —Erin

Photography by Lark Photos / @larkphotos

Image above: “The little black and white floral above the bow hook is [by] Ron Nicole. I was thrilled and honored to finally snag a piece of her work,” Gwen shares.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

The first look into the bathroom immediately draws you in. From the bold floors, to the pattern of the curtain, to the intricate tile work in the tub, it all works seamlessly.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

“The skylight above the tub ended up needing to be replaced, which cost us some time and budget, but was well worth addressing before we put in new drywall. Every renovation has its obstacles because I’m always pushing to do things we’ve never done before,” Gwen says.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

A few thrifted items to add to her girls’ new bathroom.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

The backsplash and shelf with the brackets on the vanity [were] really hard for me to envision until the countertop was on. Premier Surfaces was incredible and came out twice to template and twice to install, because it was easier for me to agree on proportions when the counter and faucet were already in,” Gwen explains.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

The combination of the red shades against the pink wall gives the room a bold look while still blending seamlessly together.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

“I was worried about removing the step to the tub and the soffit above the sink,” Gwen says. “Those are often roughed in before plumbing and electrical, so you never know what you will find running through there when you tear them open. We got lucky and didn’t have any issues.”

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

All the little touches really add so much glamour to this before & after project.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

A perfect pink hue completely transforms this bathroom.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

“The Greek key pattern in the tile is one Micah took and ran with. I’m really proud of the work he did, and I think he even enjoyed the challenge,” Gwen says. A close-up of the piece by artist Ron Nicole and the thrifted bow hook can be seen here.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

What was once a previously dull and muted bathroom is now alive with color and bold details.

Before & After with Gwen Hefner on Design*Sponge

Gwen, in her living room. The monochromatic look is so beautiful.

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  • I love this stylish design so much! Article is really useful, because I want to change my bathroom too. Actually, I love this pink color, but I don’t want make such girlish room :) I guess soft blue or white with colar will be perfect to me. Thank you for this info, and wish me good luck with my bathroom :)

  • YOU! Are an awesome mom! Never mind a fabulous designer. Your girls (and hubby) are very blessed, and YOU’RE blessed with a handy hubs and girls who clearly inspire you. How wonderful that all of you were involved in the design and create process.