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. Christine says

    That light fixture is yummy. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you take all that tile out. I agree that it’s nice, but not, “you!” Too bad that room couldn’t have a pocket door… might work better with John’s wingspan! Our bath is also light blue-gray and white, and we love it!

  2. says

    We’re actually in the process of planning a bathroom update right now. I spent a good part of the weekend running around trying to find a new mirror and accessories! We’re doing white (tub/shower) and gray (wall color) as our main colors and will fill in accessories with pops of color. I’m actually thinking about DIYing a shower curtain too!

  3. says

    This is EXACTLY our problem right now. Most of our home looks finished, but our master bathroom is a total disaster. In fact, it’s sort of our dirty little secret. We keep the door closed and guests away from it.

    We’ve started to get our rears in gear to tackle a major renovation, but so far we started with removing a hideously placed HVAC return.

    I can’t wait until we can get to the “fun” stuff though, and marble hex is on the list!

  4. Meredith says

    I like to see that you are adding some fancy frosted shielding to your windows. I’ve considered doing that to my office window for some time (it stares directly at a brick wall a few feet away), but was concerned I’d lose sunlight. Have you used it before? Do you find that you have an equal amount of light coming through the frost? Maybe I’ll be pasting those adhesives on right along side ya’!

    • says

      Oh yes, we have used it a bunch (we linked to where we used it in that number in the mood board). We don’t think you lose much light at all (definitely a lot less than a shade). It’s great stuff!


  5. Kori says

    I’ve used the Krylon spray frosted glass before on the windows on our front door. I loved it! Its much easier than the stick on sheets and it costs the same as a can of spray paint. If you decided one day you don’t like it, it scraps off with a razor blade. You can also use stencils to frost a pattern!

  6. Thais Bessa says

    Lots to do! I confess I would be nervous using this bathroom because of that window! Window treatment will improve a lot.

    What do you guys think of shower screens instead of curtains? I have a massive phobia of shower curtains, hate how they stick to us during a shower, argh!! Literally the first thing I did in the new house was to replace the mouldy one previous owners left with a glass screen.

    • says

      We love those! Especially the floating frameless glass ones that people like Jeff Lewis use! Unfortunately they’re really pricey, but maybe down the line we can upgrade. They’re so nice!


  7. Wendy says

    Love the bathroom ideas!
    My husband and I made a silver chrome clothespin shade this weekend. Love it !
    Thanks for the inspiration !

  8. says

    Your bathroom reminds me of the bathroom in my in-law’s 120 year old farm house. The door is really for the function of hiding the bathroom…not for privacy while doing your thing, and there is no sink. Just a toilet. ha!

    I’ve wondered, the family who owned the house before you–I wonder if they read your blog and see the amazing updates you’ve done! (Sorry if you covered this already!)

    • says

      They do actually read our blog, which is lots of fun! They say they love watching us do all the work, and we love when they email us and say “love those floors!” – they’re so nice.


  9. Jamie says

    The first major project I did in my house was the bathroom. I painted it (on the third try) a metallic grey. I did the ceilings too- and my light fiture goes up and the light looks amazing off the subtly metallic ceiling! I’m working on making the backyard functional now, and you guys are such an inspiration for me!

  10. says

    We painted both of our bathrooms within a few months of moving into our house July. We got new towels, a new shower curtain, and a new toilet (we buy the Alexis high efficiency dual flush toilets from Sams Club for about $100 and love them) for the guest bathroom and a new mirror and a new lighting fixture for the master. I still feel like both rooms need tons of work despite being such small spaces. I think it’s all of the little touches that make a space feel “finished” and “personal”– they’re hard to do when you’re working with so little space. I’ve got goals like repainting the maple cabinets white and restaining the grout a dark mocha color to match the gorgeous slate tiles better. I think those things will help. Maybe someday I will actually get around to them!

  11. Adrienne says

    I didn’t tackle a bathroom project- unless cleaning them counts! I was totally inspired by your hall of frames and decided to do that. I seem to do things spur of the moment so in addition to the frames project I painted my living room walls Glidden’s Gentle Tide. I did this a day before taking the kidlets to the Dells… my house is a shambles at the moment but it is totally worth it. Yes- I completely copied your frame idea and I LOVE it! I have 11 foot ceilings and have struggled with a wall idea that has a big enough scope and this was perfect. I am also mounting my 46″ tv amongst the frames… I hope it looks as good as the wrapping paper version that is currently up. I tried to attach a picture but it didn’t work. Thanks for the inspiration! I have now moved this project to my Pinterinspiration- DONE board. One down a gazillion more to go:)

  12. Bron Strydom says

    Bathroom……ahhhhhhh.. its is all we have been doing the last few weekends… need a break… have yet to update our blog with the current stuff but check out my last post on it… (rather be reading yours than updating mine)

    we are now at the stage where we have completely stripped it- getting a cast iron bath out and downstairs – what a mission. Redone the plumbing to make way for a shower :) built the shower base, levelled the floor, plastered the holes where the pipes were put it… now to waterproof and get on to tiling….

    we already have all the accessories etc – CANNOT WAIT TO GET THIS THING DONE!!

    would love to know what you think :)

  13. says

    Have you ever thought about demoing the whole bathroom and dressing area and enclosing that whole area and making it a full master bath with included sink?

    • says

      Yup, just sadly doesn’t work with our layout. You need a doorway to access the sink, so making a wall there just means we couldn’t access the sink or the rest of the bathroom. We actually don’t mind the sink now that it has the mirror hanging over it (which reflects our pretty chandelier). It’s nice and centered looking on that wall – but definitely not traditional!


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