Before and After: A Sophisticated $200 Bathroom Redo Embraces Its Original 1941 Tile

published Dec 12, 2021
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Mid-century Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: Bathroom with white square tile and red paint on the walls, plus dark wood vanity
Credit: Cindi Yang

Redoing an older home doesn’t always have to mean ripping everything out and starting new. In fact, there are a lot of modern updates you can make that leave original features — like chunky crown molding, old wood floors, or tin tile ceilings — completely intact. And some new updates might even bring out the best in these old pieces.

Here’s a great example of a project that highlights a home’s old charm. DIYer Cindi Yang (@cindiyang) wasn’t wild about the bathroom in her 1941 home when she moved in, with its deep red walls and tiles that featured inscriptions like “home” on them. “I never liked being in there very much. The vibes were off and it just didn’t feel like an extension of me,” Cindi says.

Credit: Cindi Yang

“However, I did always have an affection for the hand-painted vintage tile in there,” she adds, so even friends and family told her to rip it out and start over totally fresh, Cindi decided to keep it in place and work around it. “There was something about it that felt very unique, charming and artisan to me,” Cindi says.

In addition to being less wasteful (and more charming!) to keep the old tile in place, it would also be way more cost effective. Thanks to that decision, Cindi was able to pull off her redo with just $200.

Credit: Cindi Yang

Cindi started by painting the walls, ceiling, vanity, and medicine cabinet black (Behr’s Black, aptly named). The all-black look adds some drama to the small bathroom, and puts the wall tile on full display. While the tile looked dingy and dated against the red paint color, when paired with black, it takes on a creamier tone. “There’s a black outline on each individual tile, and I always wanted to go black with the walls to bring that out,” Cindi says. “So glad I did!”

One the painting was done, Cindi switched out the dated faucet for a more modern one, also in black. “My husband helped me install the new faucet,” she says. “The old one had been there so long, some of the hardware was nearly impossible to remove. Other than the troublesome hardware, switching out the faucet was much easier than expected.”

Finally, Cindi hung a some abstract art and a new clay-colored chambray shower curtain, which brings a little bit of a modern look to the vintage space.

“I love how the “after” feels a bit more cozy and current,” Cindi says. “I am most proud of the fact that I was able to work around the vintage tile that is original to the home, while also being able to create a space that feels more like an extension of us and comes off a bit more modern.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.