The Downstairs Bathroom

comments: 125


My friend Holly was over the other day borrowing some paint chips and I remembered that I never actually took any pictures of our new downstairs bathroom. Should I put the "before," or really it's rather the "middle" photo in here, for context? Okay. Be careful in here, though:


Whoa. I've pretty much already forgotten that it ever even looked like this! The memory faaaaaaaaded away the minute I took my first, wonderful hot bath.


It's a little tricky to take photos in here, but we'll see what I can do. The room has a window, but it doesn't actually open to the outside; it opens to the mud room/pantry, which is a tiny little room that was built off of the back of the house about fifteen years ago (before we moved in). So these photos are a bit dim, or lit with the wall and overhead lighting, which actually all looks very pretty in real life but I don't think it photographs very well. But anyway, I think you can get the idea from these.


So, for both of the bathrooms, I wanted to go super plain. The inspiration for the upstairs bathroom was sort of casual Swedish country. For this one, I had in my mind sort of a formal, old-fashioned hotel bathroom. One shade lighter blue (than upstairs) for the walls. Everything else white and gray. Everything basic, but nice. It's a small room, obviously, so I could splurge on the floor a bit, and there was really only one kind of flooring that I wanted: this, the one-inch marble hexagons. I REALLY REALLY love this tile. I just love to look at it. It has so many different colors in it: white, gray, black, bluish-gray, even brown, beige. When the old floor was torn out (it had been five-inch white ceramic tiles with very gross old grout), there were layers of linoleum — all patched up and jerry-rigged actually, don't know why — and then at the very bottom, one-inch white ceramic hexagon tile with royal blue accents. Just like our next-door neighbors' (our houses were built by the same people at about the same time). Kind of cool, and made me feel like I was on the right track in terms of keeping with the original style of the house. Though I am definitely not into doing, like, full-on historical accuracy or any of that, I do like it when the improvements we make feel like they belong here.


The bathtub (and toilet) had been turquoise blue. We had the bathtub refinished white and replaced the toilet, which was pretty old and weird. The shower had had a plastic surround that was really gross and had probably been there for thirty years. I was always terrified I was going to get MRSA from it. In went white subway tile. Pale gray grout on everything, including the floor. No fancy border tiles or detail tiles or whatever you call them, just bullnosed edges at the top and sides. A little soffit at the end of the tub got taken out, and a little shelf for holding stuff went in. The light switch got moved outside of the bathroom, to the hallway. An overhead fan-light (with a heat bulb — yummy) got installed, as this room, like the upstairs bathroom, didn't originally have a fan. I hate having those stupid metal things attached to the wall with suction cups, but what can you do — nowhere else to put the scrubbies (Andy loves scrubbies), otherwise. Luckily it doesn't stay on the wall that well, so you can only put, like, a little bar of soap and a scrubby on it instead of fourteen shampoo bottles, etc. So it's okay, I guess. I do not like having too much stuff. Makes me crazy.


Here I took the scrubbies off so you could see better. It's pretty, isn't it?


Here's the wall cabinet. I only allow very beautiful things in it, and if they aren't beautiful but necessary they go in a container. I wasn't sure this would work, but it's working just fine. Living with just bare necessities during the remodel has carried over into post-remodel, and I am not a big cosmetics or accessories person. My beauty routine consists entirely of parting my wet hair on one side and then parting it on the other after it dries. This is what happens after ten years of stay-at-home self-employment, people. You already know that I think it's okay to wear pajama pants outside, so you're not surprised.


The shower curtain is a really pretty color of gray linen, and I wound up sewing the window curtains out of another shower curtain because I wanted them to match and they didn't have any matching curtains. This was expensive and kind of a pain, but since I'd had the old curtains in there for ten solid years (and plan to keep the bathroom like this forever) I figured it would all amortize out. I'm never quite sure what to do for art in the bathroom, but a single photo seemed like enough here: This one is taken from our hotel room at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Bristish Columbia, and after the bathroom came together I realized that I'd kind of had this hotel in mind the whole time:


That's the photo you can kind of see in the frame. I do have a weakness for fancy hotels, especially fancy old-fashioned hotels.


The sconces were added during this remodel, too, and I love them. I always wished we had them — they just seem to finish off a bathroom so nicely. I think I put these a little too high, but it's okay. I when I looked it up online if I remember right I think it said they were supposed to be about five feet from the floor, but that felt too low, so I don't know.


When Andy took the first shower in here he called out, in sort of a dreamy voice, "I don't know what it is about this bathroom, but it makes me want to be a better person." I busted out laughing when he said that, but it's kind of true.

Here are the details:

Paint: Wall color: Woodlawn Blue by Benjamin Moore; trim: Floral White by Miller Paint
Subway tile: Simple Solutions by Pratt & Larson
Light fixtures: Winslow Schoolhouse sconces by Lamps Plus
Floor: Bianco Carrera 1" hexagon tile (this was the best price I found on these)
Shower curtain and wall cabinet:
Restoration Hardware
Shower and sink fixtures: Caldwell Collection by Moen, but the handheld shower is something else I can't remember
Sink: A-Boy Plumbing
Doorknob and medicine cabinet knob: Anthropologie
Towel bars and toilet paper holder: Home Depot


Lovely! And I am totally going to try your hair parting regimen. (Seriously!)

excellent choices i all looks serene yet refreshing somehow...very beautiful!

complete awesomeness!

I'm loving all of this - especially the tile work - I'm a sucker for subway tile.

Carmen (Country Mouse) says: February 03, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Beautiful! And, I am so in love with your floor tile!

and right about now i am so freaking thrilled that our bathroom is gross!

i've been wanting to show Jeff what subway tiles would like like in a shower and now i can give him the grand tour of y'all's bath.

whoop. enjoy your gorgeous bath!

very nice - and the floor tiling is exactly the same than in my parent's place! Cool:-)

LOVE your house updates. Always gives me hope/inspiration for my own 1928 farmhouse. For those of us who have been reading the blog for years it's pretty fun to see things progress, and it's a good reminder that things can be done over time and there's no need to panic! ;-)

I love it! When we completely remodeled one of our homes, we did marble hexagon floor tiles in sort of a creamy, tanish hue. It was our biggest splurge, but I had to have it! In that bathroom we did a crackle finish creamy subway tile, but, in the other bathroom we did the white subway tile with gray marble on the sink. I loved, loved, loved it. Now we like our current house just fine, but there is nothing like a room you designed yourself. The only thing our current budget will allow is the occasional paint job, and last year I got it all wrong in the kids' bath with a sort of turquoise blue. I think this summer when I repaint I will try the blue you used, since I think it looks perfect. It's so hard to judge color until it goes up on the wall. Anyway, I just love the choices you have made in all your remodeling, and it's been fun to watch.

Every detail.
And I love that the first photograph captures the magic of this room... just check out the sparkle flare on the toilet. A sure sign that this bathroom is bound to inspire anyone to be *be a better person!*

I love, love, love your renovation! It gives me hope (and ideas) for our 1960s upstairs bathroom, which is completely covered in dusty rose-colored tile: bathub, walls, counter, toilet, floor - everything is the SAME color. It's frightening.

I have a question about your tub. You said you had it refinished in white. Did a company do this? How does one refinish an existing tub?

Andy's comment made me laugh! Years ago I repainted and updated the fixtures and linens in our one, and only, bathroom. My middle son took the first shower and when he emerged from the steamy bathroom he exclaimed, "I just feel cleaner!"

Love, love, LOVE Andy's comment!!! The bathroom is gorgeous! You did a wonderful job!!!

Lovely bathroom!
"My beauty routine consists of parting my wet hair on one side and then parting it on the other after it dries. This is what happens after ten years of stay-at-home self-employment, people. You already know that I think it's okay to wear pajama pants outside, so you're not surprised." Love it! In my case, it only took five years lol

I love your new bathroom- so lovely! I also agree with your beauty routine, I'm a less is more in that dept. too!

Gorgeous! You have such a great eye for color. I will have to look up that shade of blue.

I really love your bathroom especially the color choices. Wish we could do something like it in ours but we have all this oak woodwork that is in great shape so no need to paint it and I just can't figure out what colors go with it! Anyway, thanks for sharing!

Love the soothing colors + excellent contrast between the before and after pictures! Thank you for sharing!

The Empress! I live in Victoria! And nice looking bathroom...

Love it! Less *is* more, especially in a small space. I have BM Woodlawn Blue in my bathroom, too, and have never gotten tired of it. I like the plain white towels, too-- they add a lovely crisp look.

It is beautiful! Was refinishing your bathtub cheaper than buying a new one. Ours is a very lovely shade of 70s yellowish greenish. We don't use it because it is ugly we walk all the way down the hall through the kitchen and use our 3/4 shower.

So lovely! We redid our bathroom last summer and it was like it changed the entire house! Plus, I'm not sure why, but we were always afraid of those big types of improvements like it was too "grown-up" or something. But, now we feel like we can improve lot's of things we don't just keep putting it off any more.

From the owner of a 1920's house with white hexagon tile with cobalt blue accent: Great job -- it looks like it was born with your pretty house.

Beautiful tiling, soothing colours. Excellent job, Alicia!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at