When we finished renovating our downstairs bathroom back in April, I did a “reveal” over at Decor8 detailing all of the real-life costs associated with this kind of project. Unfortunately, there was subsequently a data loss at Decor8, and Holly lost all of the comments (including the answers to a lot of questions people had about the renovation). There are also some errors in the price breakdown, so I figured I might as well post the photos, interview, and correct information here for the sake of keeping it entire project archived in one place.
What inspired the design of this room?/How did you decide upon the colors & overall style?
The architecture of my house is the base inspiration for everything I do within it. As a Modernist living in a Victorian-era house, I try to be very respectful of its original structure and character while still moving forward and not trying to create a faux-Victorian look. This attitude toward renovation (particularly when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms) is quite prevalent in Scandinavia, but in this country there is a still a tendency to try to make newly renovated spaces look “old”, and unfortunately the result is usually more of a pastiche than anything.
That said, I have tried very hard with both of my bathroom renovations to not make them look too “new”, either! The last thing I want anywhere in my house is for someone to open a door and immediately know that a particular room was recently renovated. My house is full of quirks and imperfections, and I have deliberately carried them into this space. This bathroom was added to the house sometime in the 1930s or ’40s (the space it’s in was originally a pass-through pantry connecting the entry hall to the kitchen at the back of the house), and I elected to keep the cast iron corner tub that was installed at that time. The old toilet was very cute, but it was terribly inefficient—rather than replace it with a “faux-old” toilet, though, I prefer the honesty of a very contemporary-looking one-piece.
But back to the question, you could say that every design decision I make in my house is inspired by Modernism, Industrialism, honesty of materials, and contrasts between old and new.
What is your favorite thing about this space?
The floor. The effect of the monochromatic matte black penny tiles and black grout is very subtle, but in the light it shimmers in the most beautiful way. It feels wonderful underfoot as well. This was one of the very first things I decided on for the bathroom, and I’m so glad I never had second thoughts.
I need to give an honorable mention to the black paint, too. The bathroom is only about 5×6 feet, but the ceiling is more than 10 feet high! By carrying the white paneling and wall tiles to a uniform 8 foot height and then painting the upper portion of the walls and ceiling black, I was able to give the room a greater feeling of width and space. It’s an illusion that really works. I can’t believe how much more spacious the room feels now!
At what point did you know when to quit?
Because my husband and I did the entire renovation (excluding the plumbing) ourselves, we were bound by our own limitations of what we could devote in terms of skills and time. We are both willing to read, ask questions, watch, and learn, but we know when to reign ourselves in (most of the time!). We spent about six months on this renovation, and it really took up almost every moment of our free time for the duration. When we were in the planning stages, we had all kind of ideas (like turning the space into a fully-tiled shower room) that we had to nix in favor of reality. As far as finish work goes, I’m pretty good at knowing how much is enough. I look at rooms the same way I look at 2D print design—I include enough to achieve balance, but remove extraneous materials that aren’t essential functionally or visually. For example, I had initially considered using a very bold Marimekko print to make a shower curtain, but after painting the ceiling, I decided to let the impact of the black against the angles of the white walls be the “stunner” of the room—even unbleached linen ultimately proved to be too overwhelming as a shower curtain! I ultimately went with a classic white waffle-weave, which recedes nicely while still adding a different texture to the room.
Shower wall tile: $100 / 3×6 gloss white, American Olean
Floor tile: $310 / matte black penny rounds, Nemo Tile
Plywood subfloor: $50
Underlayment: $70 / Easymat
Tiling supplies (grout, caulk, thinset, tools, etc.): $270
Sconces: $200 / Truman, Schoolhouse Electric
Ceiling light: $130 / Alabax, Schoolhouse Electric
Towel radiator: $500 (eBay, 1/2 price) / Omnipanel, Runtal
Electrical supplies (outlets, Romex, etc.): $105
Cement board: $50
Construction adhesive: $20
Joint compound: $10
Vapor barrier: $20
Tongue & groove wood paneling: $120
Wood trim: $80
Wood shelving: $32
Screws, nails, etc: $50
Miscellaneous building materials: $200
Shower curtain rod: $170 / Vintage Tub
Shower curtain liner (2): $20 / Target
Shower curtain: $50 / Bed Bath & Beyond
Shower curtain rings (2): $22 / Bed Bath & Beyond
Shower caddy: $40 / Simple Human
Trash can: $249 / Vipp
Bath towels: $20 / IKEA BÅVAN
Hand towels: $7 / IKEA ADMETE
Bath mat: $18 / West Elm
Mirror: $0 / family antique
Towel hooks: $0 / original to house
Toilet paper holder: $5 / IKEA GRUNDTAL
Medicine cabinet (painted): $20 / IKEA FÖRHÖJA (not online)
Square vase: $6 / IKEA REKTANGEL
White vases: $18 / IKEA SALONG
Fresh tulips: $7 / Adams Fairacre Farms
Basket: $6 / IKEA BÖLSNÄS
Radio: $220 / Pal, Tivoli Audio
Tealight holder: $2 / West Elm (not online)
Painting of Hudson River: $1 / junk shop
GRAND TOTAL: $5,745 (plus 6 months of weekends!)