Before and After: Two Bathrooms Go from Revolting to Reborn

Before and After: Two Bathrooms Go from Revolting to Reborn

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Federico Paul
Oct 3, 2017
(Image credit: Maximiliano Sanguine/Fernando Diez)

Fernando and Maximiliano bought an abandoned-for-years, run-down, dilapidated house in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Though the house had good architecture, classic bones, and potential, every room needed a lot of work. A budget of...zero meant that the couple would have to do much of the renovations themselves.

Here, Fernando and Maximiliano tell us about the what they were facing with these bathrooms and how they turned them around. Take it away, gentlemen...

What We Faced

The house had two bathrooms: A small one downstairs next to a same-sized kitchen, and a bigger bathroom right above these two rooms. When we got the keys to the house, we turned on the faucet and all kinds of filth came out of the drain. Both bathrooms were in awful shape; they were practically cesspits with broken toilets. It was really disgusting!

They moved the wall that separated the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen
(Image credit: Maximiliano Sanguine/Fernando Diez)

Our Plan

Downstairs Bathroom: Though it's next to our bedroom, we decided to turn it into a powder room. We would tear everything down, bring the wall in a little — to gain space in the kitchen— and then install fixtures that better suited the old character of the house.

The downstairs bathroom turned powder room after.
(Image credit: Federico Paul)

Upstairs Bathroom: Though it's farther away from our bedroom, this space is twice the size of the one next to our room, so it made sense for us to build our master bathroom there. The ceiling here was very low so we wanted to lift it up for a more open feel. We even had space for a dreamy claw foot tub!

What We Did

  • Wall treatments: In the powder room we installed white beadboard below and a textured black wallpaper in the upper part. The split-wall trick does make the space feel wider and the black wallpaper sure adds a lot of drama, but we have to be very careful to avoid spattering toothpaste on it when brushing our teeth!
(Image credit: Federico Paul)
  • Lighting: We found vintage wall sconces at flea markets and fairs that we painted white and updated with new fabric shades. For the master bathroom we wanted a small empire style chandelier, but it was way out of budget so Fernando DIYed it for $20 with wood, wire and cold porcelain. The idea was to replace it as soon as possible, but it's still hanging there!
  • Doors and Windows: We payed $10 for salvaged windows that were being thrown away at other building sites close to home. We restored them and installed carved glass that belonged to Fernando's grandmother's house in the country.
  • Floors: We went with plain cement tiles but in different colors, following the palette that we've chosen for each bathroom.
The upstairs bathroom was originally composed of two smaller rooms.
(Image credit: Maximiliano Sanguine / Fernando Diez)

What We Learned

In the master bathroom we lime washed the walls instead of tiling them and we love how it looks with the wood and the filtered light coming from the paneled windows. It looks like any other room in the house, except that it happens to be bathroom. Everyone should stop thinking about their bathrooms as boring tiled boxes; they can be decorated with the same criteria as any other room in a house!

(Image credit: Federico Paul)