Projects & Improvements

Before & After: A Midwestern Bathroom Opens Up

updated May 4, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Submitted by Megan)

A job opportunity brought us to Milwaukee from San Francisco and we fell in love with the older homes along the northern shore of Lake Michigan. Our 1927 Tudor has a wonderful layout and beautiful details, but was in need of updating for modern living. The master bedroom gets lots of natural light from the original lead pane windows and the size was exceptionally large (especially compared with our prior homes in San Francisco and Manhattan). And the fact that there was even an attached bathroom at all was a major plus. However the bathroom was tiny, with no storage and only a small shower stall. In fact if you weren’t careful you would hit your forehead on the door when you went to sit down on the toilet!

(Image credit: Submitted by Megan)

We were comfortable losing space from the bedroom to enlarge the bathroom, although the end result would still be compact. By moving a wall forward about 14″ we gained enough depth to include a soaking tub and enough length to add some cabinetry. Because we repositioned a closet on the opposite side of the wall we couldn’t make the room any longer – I had to get over any hopes for double sinks. We also added a pocket door to provide more breathing room and no chance of forehead bruises!

The design decisions were made through a filter of modernizing the space but acknowledging the historical elements. I wanted to keep it warm with technical elements like in floor heat, but also with the walnut colored vanity and gold fixtures. I loved the idea of using a gold finish but on a more modern style faucet. I also liked the balance this gave against the white walls and black floor. Countertops were kept a simple clean white allowing the dark grout lines to act as the rooms pattern. The glass shower door panel keeps things feeling open with clear sight lines to the lovely gold shower fixtures.

Other touches included vintage hardware for the pocket door pull, a limited edition Cedar & Moss sconce with gold tipped lightbulb and even a gold toilet paper holder from Japan.

While the space is no longer tiny – I’d still call it compact. It’s about 6′ deep and 8 1/2′ long. Even so, plenty of storage is available in the vanity (inspired by mid century chests) the recessed medicine cabinet and deep niches at the opposite end of the shower.

This bathroom was part of a larger home remodel that included the kitchen, a powder room, and adding a mudroom. We also updated the foyer and staircase. The entire project took about 12 weeks. You can see the other rooms in the gallery section on my site

Thank you, Megan!