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Before and After: Renovating My 1979 Childhood Bathroom

Last summer we decided it was well past time to update the upstairs bathroom. My parents had remodeled almost every room in my 1979 childhood home at some point since buying it in 1982. This bathroom had some updates in the form of new wallpaper and even a new shower, but the vanity and sinks were original, making them the most vintage fixtures left in the house.

It wasn't merely the late ‘70s aesthetics that precipitated the change, though. It was the cracked toilet seat that was pinching kids' bums and the carpet floor that screamed for an update. (A year earlier, we'd had a flood in this bathroom, covering the entire (carpeted) floor in 1-2 inches of water. As a result, we had ripped out the sopping wet carpet pad, dried out the carpet, and simply laid it back down on top of the sub floor, knowing a permanent solution was imminent, and would not include carpet.

Taylor and I have multiple phases of renovation mapped out for the house, so when we sat down with our contractor, Dustin, from Asher Homes, we had some footprint changes to discuss. The bathroom was absolutely enormous (large enough for bistro seating for two- photos to come!), so we decided to pull the vanity side wall in, leaving room on the other side for an eventual walk in closet in the primary bedroom/bathroom.

Additionally, we eliminated the quirky step up to the toilet and shower area, and fully walled the two areas off from one another, so that our kids could have more privacy. With five kids using the same bathroom, we knew it would be a huge benefit to have a door separating a teenager taking a shower from the younger kids brushing their teeth at the vanity.

During the design phase, I was inspired by a photo I had seen on Instagram, of a bathroom floor with multicolored tiles laid out in an escher style. I sent for sample tiles, and drew up the whole bathroom. I pictured a floating, wood vanity, white subway tile back splash, and this colorful tile floor. In my mind it had that ‘70s vibe, a nod to the original Pacific Northwest shed style home that is so important to me, but with an airy, modern flair, and a look that could stand out a bit. As we don't plan to move, we are seeking to make choices that really represent our style and taste, without having to worry about resale at all.

But when I got the tile bid back, it was cost prohibitive. As much as aesthetics matter to me, my practical side often wins out. I knew I would need to reimagine the design, and I was trying to be nonchalant, because remodeling a bathroom is a giant luxury, but, I confess, I was fairly discouraged.

That weekend, we went camping as a family. As I sat in my hammock in our lush Southern Oregon woods, I said to myself "maybe green. You have the gorgeous, original cedar planked ceiling and you want to do a wood vanity. Emulate what you see here by adding in some green." It was a great reminder that nature is just about always the best inspiration. It was also a great reminder that we don't have to get stuck on one idea. I had to be flexible and creative and not stubborn! I allowed myself to re-envision the space, and I’m so glad I did.

The following week I went to my local Bedrosians Tile store and found their cloe line. The green cloe tile was gorgeous. When the sales associate showed me a photo of how it looked on a wall, with the variation found in each tile, I was sold. I decided to use the green tiles for a tall back splash behind the vanity.

To offset the costs of some of the other choices, we decided on simple, white tiles for the rest of the bathroom- standard white subway tiles in the shower, and 2 inch white tex tiles for the floor. Both of those were sourced inexpensively at Home Depot.

Dustin's team worked for a couple of months on both the bathroom and another project in the back yard. We could not love them more and always have a great experience working with them. We are thrilled with both the look and function of the new bathroom.

Let's break down some of the materials and decisions:

The original ceiling and globe light fixtures were a starting point. I adore both and wanted them to stay and inspire the rest of the bathroom design to be cohesive with the original vibe of the house.

The green tile wall would be the focal point, so I wanted natural wood and white everywhere else, so not to distract from the green.

We had the vanity custom built. I wanted it to float and have completely flat doors, as I think both of those features make for a more modern look. I chose hickory for the wood and I think the variation and movement in it is absolutely gorgeous.

The counter top is a white quartz remnant we were able to find. I am thrilled with it. Quartz is tough and nearly impermeable, important features for a kids' bathroom.

We chose under mount sinks because I love how streamline the look is, plus they make it so much easier to clean.

I decided early on that I wanted all of my fixtures and hardware to be gold, because I love the way the warmth of the gold looks with wood.

We used this collection for the faucets (affiliate link) and shower fixtures (affiliate link), and I love it. It's pretty, simple, and modern.

For knobs I chose these from CB2. I love how substantial they are, and I think they are a perfect fit with the style of vanity.

I used these hooks from West Elm for bath towels. With five kids using the same shower, towel rods never provide quite enough space. Plus, my kids aren't the greatest at folding their towels and placing them nicely on a towel bar, so a hook is a no brainer! Our finish carpenter mounted them all on a board painted to match the wall and I love the finished look.

We used hand towel rings and a toilet paper holder from West Elm as well.

The mirrors we chose were a fantastic find. They are from the McGee and Co. collection at Target and were a steal. I love their shape and color.

Speaking of which- a note about finishes. I knew that when I chose gold I would never be able to match everything perfectly. The faucets are slightly darker whereas the towel hooks are more yellow. Everything will patina slightly differently. And guess what? IT ALL LOOKS BEAUTIFUL. These are the type of details that really stress people out when they're making choices for their home. I'm here to tell you- it's all going to be fine! You're not going to notice once everything is installed and it's all going to be lovely!

I knew I wanted sconces on either side and in between the mirrors and I decided on the Astrid sconce from Schoolhouse. I love Schoolhouse with my whole soul (you can listen to me gush about that here) and their quality is top notch- heirloom quality. What's more, the Astrid sconce is really a great price. It's not much more than similar, less well-made sconces from dozens of other brands. (Trust me, I have spent a lot of time looking.)

Overall, I wanted a bathroom that felt bright, comfortable, and unique. I also wanted a bathroom that was practical and easy to clean. The quartz counters and flat front vanity are so easy to wipe down! I also knew that my grout choices were important for easy cleaning. Lots of friends and Instagram readers suggested a medium gray, as going too light means you can see mildew and dirt easily, and going too dark can show soap scum. I have to say, I think I could have gone one or two shades lighter on the gray grout, and I will remember that for next time! I chose a creamy grout for the green wall and I am so pleased with it. I studied a lot of examples and found that a bright white seemed a bit stark, and a darker color blended in too much with the green. The cream added warmth but also helped the variation in the green tiles really pop.

The most fun thing about renovating this house is looking back and remembering each space through the years.

This is the earliest version of this bathroom and it is to die for. The scalloped sinks, brown carpet everywhere (someone please explain to me why carpet was EVER installed in bathrooms), floral wallpaper all the way up the columns, and the pièce de résistance, the saloon doors that separated the giant front half of the bathroom from the toilet and shower area. I have fantastic childhood memories of pushing them open and exclaiming, “howdy, partner!” The stuff of dreams.

At some point, I can’t remember when, my parents updated the bathroom a bit.

Here you can see how enormous this bathroom was. An entire bistro set! We laugh about it, but it was actually so fun when I was a teenager. You could fit all sorts of friends in there to get ready for a dance!

We are really pleased with both the aesthetic and functional outcome of the bathroom renovation project. Now we just have to teach kids not to spread toothpaste all over the entire room.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Making all of these decisions is tricky, and I’m happy to share our experience.




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7 comentários

30 de set. de 2022

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23 de out. de 2021

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04 de set. de 2021

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Gretchen Peavy Nielsen
Gretchen Peavy Nielsen
22 de abr. de 2021

Would love to know where you got your shower glass? Were you able to get a custom size somewhere? Thanks!

Anne Cropper
Anne Cropper
22 de abr. de 2021
Respondendo a

Yes! We ordered through a local shower door company and they were able to make it exactly how we wanted it.


Madison Hornig
Madison Hornig
16 de mar. de 2021

I love it! This is great inspiration for me as my current bathroom is almost an exact replica of your 1982 before-before pics, saloon doors and all haha

Anne Cropper
Anne Cropper
16 de mar. de 2021
Respondendo a

Yes!!!!!! Seriously amazing design feature. Your house is awesome. I’m so excited to see it evolve.

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