Color Month

Before and After: A Gutted Bathroom Gets a Candy-Colored Redo Full of Clever Ideas

published Jul 13, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Rental Friendly
Gutted bathroom before renovation

If you’re house hunting (especially in this real estate market), or even if you’ve caught the occasional episode of House Hunters on TV, you probably know that most home buyers quickly come to terms with the fact that they won’t find a house with everything on their wish list. 

Finding the “perfect” house is all about compromise and prioritizing certain amenities over others. When Marina Porter and her partner, Alex, were house hunting, they bypassed their current home at first because they were looking for something with a bathroom that was, well, a little more intact. 

“We overlooked this house because the main bath was gutted,” Marina says. “Once we weren’t finding what we wanted, we decided to put in an offer (after having it sit on the market for a while).”

Marina and Alex landed their 1953 home for less than the asking price, and decided to use the money they saved in the purchase on the bathroom reno. “We realized that if you can’t find a home you love with a suitable bathroom, you can make it yourself!” she says. “As soon as the offer was accepted, we started sourcing everything we needed for it.”

According to some photos Marina saw of the home when it was first built, the original bathroom had purple tile — and this time around, she and Alex chose a chic square tile in a barely there lavender tone. 

“The easiest thing for us was finding tiles, a vanity, and a mirror secondhand, as it’s what we do for our business,” Marina says. (Marina says she and Alex are passionate about sourcing things secondhand — in part because they own a vintage shop, Rainbows & Retro. Their new bathroom is, unsurprisingly, rainbow and retro-inspired.) 

“You can scour your local garage sales, thrift shops, and vintage stores and find absolute gems for half the price you’d purchase new!” Marina says. For example, the square wall tiles she and Alex found were $5 per box, and the floor tiles (a vintage-inspired black and white) were $9 per box. The couple was able to tile the entire room for under $100. 

Marina’s best secondhand shopping advice? If you see something you love, buy it right then and there. “A few months before this project, I found a never-used pink sink, bath, and toilet on Facebook Marketplace,” she says. “They were demolishing a home and were selling it. I would say next time, I would buy the things I love and it will all come together. I know I will never come across something like that again.” In the end, Marina and Alex opted for white fixtures, which match their new (to them) vanity.

One of the only things Marina and Alex bought new for the space was the shower fixture from Moen. “We went all over the city looking for gold fixtures, and we wanted them all to be the same shade (not one matte and one shiny), but it proved to be pretty difficult, so we ordered directly from the manufacturer,” Marina explains. 

The shower curtain rod and their artwork and accessories are thrifted finds (except for the shower curtain, which is from Society6.)

The most difficult part of the project was realizing that the plumbing setups for the toilet and sink were on opposite sides of the room. “It couldn’t work in such a small space,” Marina says. “We ended up having to hire a plumber and move the toilet over to the same side as the sink, which made a difference.”

Last but not least, Alex hand-painted a retro-inspired pattern on one wall, which packed quite the color punch. He used Behr’s Florida Sunrise, Cheerful Tangerine, Taffy Twist, Pink Wink, and Tart Orange for the project — colors that also appear on other walls, as well as around the new mirror.

“I love how everything came together,” Marina says, adding one final piece of sage advice for shopping and home renovating: “I would say do what you love. Don’t renovate your bathroom thinking you’re going to sell it down the road in the next few years. Purchase what makes you happy, put up art that makes you happy, make your home your happy place.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.