Before and After: A Dated Brownstone’s Bathroom Gets a $12,000 Glam and Retro-Inspired Glow-Up

published Oct 26, 2021
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Before: Dated bathroom with black and white checkerboard floors and pink shower base

Historic brownstone homes are beautiful, but they often have bathrooms that are well, historic. That can mean charming, but it can also often mean small, with dated tubs and tile — and in need of some major TLC.

That was the case for Tirinda Hixon (@cur8_home)’s brownstone, which hadn’t had an update since the early ’90s and had some finishes from decades long before then. “By 2018, we knew we needed an update, STAT,” Tirinda says.

An interior designer, Tirinda started sketching out plans for the bathroom back in 2018. “I just couldn’t bear to see our dated bathroom anymore, especially since I was learning the process of how to design functional spaces,” Tirinda says. “I was constantly surrounded by great products and beautifully designed bathrooms, and when I came home to ours, I cringed.”

This bathroom was mainly used by Tirinda’s grandmother, but it was also the common bathroom used by other family members and guests, so she wanted it to be beautifully designed — with useful, functional products to boot.

Although she started by hiring a professional, she ended up letting the contractor go “due to a number of mistakes made that were just adding up and becoming more frustrating,” she explains. (For instance, the contractor placed the light switch in the shower — a definite no-go.)

So Tirinda relied on “some self-made updates” (wallpaper, paint, lighting, and more), to complete her vision. It ended up taking months longer than she’d planned, but she’s proud of the warm and cozy look she created.

The new black penny tile combined with the wood tones throughout certainly creates a warmer vibe, and the colorful semi-circle peel-and-stick wallpaper (available at Wayfair) adds an unexpected retro feel that Tirinda loves.

A few pro tips to steal from Tirinda’s small but stylish bathroom? If your bathroom has dark and moody walls, choose a dark toilet like Tirinda did so it blends into the background and doesn’t take up too much visual space. And if your bathroom is lacking for square footage, a windowpane standing shower surround can make the whole layout feel bigger. And finally, shower-friendly hanging plants are always a good idea.

Tirinda’s space is complete with a new sconce, circular mirror, and black sink — with colorful wicker baskets underneath for storage. “I absolutely love the color,” Tirinda says of her new space. “It’s one of my favorite rooms to be in now.”

Tirinda’s original artwork hangs on the wall, which is a big highlight of the space for her. “I plan to add more plants on the shelves to complete the look,” she says.

If she could change one thing about the project, it would be to add better ventilation in the room, and she recommends researching contractors before starting to make sure they have a history of great work.

“Also, have a lot of patience, because you never know how much time will go into a project,” she says. “No matter how small, there may be a setback or surprise that can alter your original timeline.”