The Long Ignored Master Bathroom…

Well, I guess we did rehang the shower curtain at ceiling height right after we moved in – but other than that we haven’t really touched this room. In fact, pretty much all three of our bathrooms are uncharted territory for us when it comes to updates. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, so we decided to start in the one we use the most – and probably find the quirkiest. See, it doesn’t have a sink (that’s in our bedroom, actually) so it’s a really small room. We’re talking around 5′ x 6′ total (including a regular sized tub). So yes, the door practically hits the toilet (it just barely misses it). And John can stand in the center of the room and touch all four walls (my husband has quite the wingspan, but this room really is tiny).

The room’s a total beige box. Beige tile with gray veining on the floor, the same tile in the shower and even on the walls around the toilet and door, an accent row of tiles with gray trees on them, beige paint on the walls, off-white-trim, even a beige futuristic toilet (check out the curve in this video).

Oh yes, and there’s a glass shelf and towel bar right next to the toilet – neither of which we’ve ever really used for anything functional. Why? Well, hanging a towel that would literally brush against us on the way to the toilet felt weird so we use the towel hooks on the back of the door instead. And we just plopped some wood printing blocks on the glass shelf (intending to hang art to fill in that wall) but it always felt like the shelf – and towel bar for that matter – invaded our personal space in such a small room.

We jokingly call our bathroom The Travertine Palace although it’s not actual travertine tile and it’s anything but palatial when it comes to size. The funny thing is that a few folks have come over and said “wow, you don’t have to do anything to this room!” which never fails to make us laugh because it probably feels the most not-like-us of all of the rooms in our house. We’re just suckers for crisp white trim, a white toilet, a not-beige color on the walls, and not all the same tile on the walls and the floor and the shower. But we can completely appreciate that some folks would love this room as is. I think the main thing we’re craving is some contrast. It feels like such a monochromatic box to us. And when we added the crisp white shower curtain way back when, it just planted the seed that the room might feel more crisp and less all-beige if we did things like:

  • paint the cream trim white
  • paint the walls so they have some contrast
  • craigslist the toilet and replace it with a classic white one
  • replace the boob light (seen here)
  • hang some bathroom-friendly art
  • do something to add privacy to the window
  • replace the border tile around the room (maybe in phase 2?)
  • replace the floor tile down the road (just to break things up since there’s so much of it)
  • I’m sure I’m forgetting something – let’s just say the room has room for improvement

So that’s the plan. I even whipped up this mood board to help us envision things. Of course we’re sure the plan will change ten times since we just figure things out as we go, but so far here’s what’s on our mind:

1. When it comes to the color scheme, since we’re working with beige tile with gray veining, we want to bring in some richer gray tones (to keep everything from looking so monochromatic and add some contrast). We’d also love to introduce some pretty blue tones (to tie into the blue wall color in our adjoining bedroom).

2. We have been in love with this light fixture for a while now, and we’re hoping it pops up at our favorite local lighting outlet (The Decorating Outlet) since it would be a pretty amazing upgrade from the boob light situation that we have going on. We’re not sure if the placement will look weird though (centered in front of the window would be so much cuter) so we’ll have to see where we end up. You know we’ll keep you posted!

3. This tile. Ahhhh, this tile. We want it. Hex tile has always allured us (sort of like penny tile, except it’s even more bee-ish, and you know we love bees). So we can totally picture it in our master bedroom someday. But it’s definitely going to be down the road (we want to work with the existing tile, but do dream about replacing the floor tiles to break things up since there’s so much of that tile all over the small room).

4. I painted this little ditty a while back, and have always thought it would look really cool in the bathroom (oversized art in a small room with a dramatic high-hung shower curtain could be fun, right?). Of course we have to see if it really works in there, but especially with the blue glass pendant we think it could be nice.

5. We’re loving the muted moody look of frosted glass subway tile, so we’d love to use a light gray glass tile as an accent around the room (something like this, but not exactly) to replace the tree tiles. Although we’re not sure if it’s a phase two project (depending how hard it is to track down and how challenging it is to extract the tree tiles without hurting the tile around ’em).

6. A good old fashioned white toilet! We can’t wait to replace the beige futuristic one that we have in there (we’ll craigslist it and then grab an American Standard from Home Depot, which we got for our first house for under $100 and loved more than the fancy Kohler one we inherited).

7.  This represents our existing extra-long white waffle shower curtain, which will stay to add some crisp-yet-soft texture to the tile-riddled space (we got ours from by searching 95″ shower curtain, but this image is from Target).

8. This represents our existing tile, which is beige with gray veins running through it.

9. This frosted window (found here) is one of the ways we’ve been debating adding some privacy to the room without blocking the light. You know we love frosting film (more on that here and here).

But enough planning. How about some action? Well, we’ve removed that oddly placed shelf and towel bar, spackled and sanded the holes they left, and applied one coat out of two on the walls in a rich putty color. In a bathroom (where you’re dealing with semi-gloss paint) the first coat always looks especially horrifying so we can’t wait to get the smoother second coat up there.

Oh and this picture is a really bad sell on this color (since it’s spotty and half-done and just shows a corner of the room) but you can check it out in the kitchen here. It looks great with our tiles (ties into the gray veining), will really make white items like the shower curtain and the future glossy white trim pop, adds contrast, and obviously will look a lot better once a second coat is on there and it’s dry. And you can see that we’re painting the ceiling too (which we also did in our first house’s bathrooms since we find it makes small rooms actually look less chopped-up and busy).

Of course we’ll be back with tons of finished photos for you. We just have to tackle coat number two, wait impatiently for it to dry, and then hang the shower curtain back up to snap after pics. So those will be up tomorrow! In the meantime, did you guys tackle any bathroom upgrades over the weekend? Do you have nearly done living spaces but completely untouched bathrooms? What is it about these tiny rooms that’s so intimidating?


  1. Erica says

    We’re about to redo a bathroom and have no idea which direction to go in with buying a toilet. Is there a specific American Standard one that you recommend? Thank you!

  2. says

    I like the grey you started with and think it’ll look really nice. I know what you mean about tiles – our landlord went a little tile happy (the floors and alllll the way up the walls so the only thing you can paint is the ceiling). I wish we could update it since the tile in the shower is like a brownish color and the rest of the bathroom is kind of pinkish but we’re just going to have to wait until we get a house of our own!

  3. Meghan S says

    Not the bathroom…but our deck! Cleaned/Brightened AND stained and it is looking pretty shnazy! Love the color choice in your bathroom!!

  4. says

    Goodness! I never would have thought to pick that colour but – surprise surprise! – it’s perfect. It will look really spa-like with your tall shower curtain I think.
    Looking forward to the rest!

  5. says

    I’m in love with that light fixture! And the color you picked goes really well with your tile. Both of our bathrooms came with floor to ceiling tile… it’s very low maintenance, but I’m not a huge fan.

  6. Sarah M says

    Love your ideas! One warning though – we used the same white hex tile on our bathroom floor and the only thing I’ll warn you about is that because its matte (rather than gloss) it picks up every little mark and they are hard to get off. We’ve tried a couple sealing products with no luck, and are still trying to find something that might make it work (since we love the look). Just wanted to pass that along!

    • hyzen says

      We have a ton of this white hex tile in our bathrooms, too, and I don’t know if they didn’t seal it well when they put it in, but the grout was miserably dingy when we moved in and a total nightmare to clean. Even after hours (and hours and hours and hours) of painful scrubbing with various toxic chemicals and brushes on hands and knees, and then sucking it up and hiring a professional cleaner to get the grout white, it is still only passable, not great. I like the look, but unless I could be guaranteed that there was a better way to seal grout than whatever was done in our bathrooms, I would NEVER get it again. So, just an FYI and cautionary tale–hope you figure out a good solution!

    • says

      I have a trick for you! You might want to try getting a grout scraper for a few bucks at a tile shop and scraping out all the grout and regrouting with something gray or tan just to cut down on the dinginess (and frustration) that comes with white grout on the floor. Hope it helps!


    • hyzen says

      Thanks, Sherry! Gray grout probably would have been a good idea when they put it in (and I like the sound of the stain resistant Colleen mentioned), but since our main bath is ridiculously huge (about 11′ x 13′ – it’s seriously the same size as our kitchen) and the floor is covered wall to wall in these little hex tiles (including the large walk-in shower), I think it might be more realistic to rip the whole thing out and start over! It’s not a bad idea for our powder room, though! This experience has given me a grout phobia–we’re about to get our kitchen redone with new floor tile, and planning to use a pattern with the thinnest grout lines possible, and in a dark color, of course!

  7. says

    Yes, yes and YES! I’m excited for the little revamp and we are notorious for letting our tiny bathrooms hide behind closed doors while we work on more lived-in, or seen areas. The bathroom in our bedroom still has small stenciled flowers around the ceiling from the early 90s and I barely notice it now after a year. Okay, that part isn’t true. Hahaha. Can’t wait to see more!

  8. says

    We painted our toothpaste green bathroom, but our bedrooms are still completely untouched. We made the decision this weekend to focus on our backyard (while it’s still cool enough to be outside), so inside is going to have to wait until it’s 110 degrees outside.

    Can’t wait to see finished pics!

  9. Stephanie says

    Wow, it’s amazing what some contrast will do. We inherited a lot of gray-veined travertine too and while I would have chosen straight white or gray it’s nice to pull from the veining. We ended up with a gray lavender on the bathroom walls, of all things, and it totally changed the look of the tile. I think you’ll be tickled with your current tile after these changes and what an interesting “design constraint.” Looks really sleek so far!

  10. says

    I hate bathroom renos. We’re in need of one too, in our master bathroom, but it’s too intimidating to conquer. You at least have a good starting point. It looks like it’s in good shape and with what you have planned, it will be great in the end!

  11. Christa says

    Thank you for reminding me to paint the ceiling of a tiny throne room! (I have three myself that desperately need new life) Would you still paint the ceiling the same color if the wall color wasn’t quite as neutral as the putty you put on?

    • says

      I think I would! Our last bathroom was a khaki green color and it looked great on the ceiling too, just so you didn’t have this white square hovering overhead and chopping up the room!


    • says

      Funny, we just purchased that same light for our half bath from Home Depot last weekend!! The hubs had to move the junction box so this light fixture would hang centered above the sink.

      Great taste ladies! It looks great!! (and the best part is that to get the look as pictured, you can just use a clear light bulb like you would see in a dressing room and you don’t have to spend $9 on one of those fancy “vintage” looking light bulbs)

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