Before and After: Great Ideas for a Builder Grade Bathroom

published Jul 9, 2018
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(Image credit: Ivana Jorgensen)

This ordinary-appearing bathroom was harboring a terrible secret, so a renovation was urgent and 100 percent necessary. And if the finishes just happened to get (majorly) upgraded in the process? So be it…

As usual, the Before photo doesn’t tell the whole story—here’s what this bathroom was like before it was gutted:

Original floor tiles, missing drawers, and mismatched faucets. This is what our master bathroom looked like when we purchased the home in summer of 2017. The only upgrades that had ever been made to it [in 30 years] were a new toilet and granite countertop to replace the old tiled one.

We were in the middle of DIY-ing our spare bathroom (another full gut job), when water started leaking out from beneath the pan (in the master bath) after a shower. Come to find out we had black mold growing on the drywall behind the shower tiles, and at that point we decided to just tear apart the whole thing.

(Image credit: Sean Jorgensen)

This is lovely. I’m a sucker for honeycomb tiles, and I enjoy the way the ones here extend up the wall, where they create a sort of horizontal triptych with the mirror and window. And I’m always a fan of non-bathroom furniture in bathrooms—or is this just a particularly gorgeous vanity? Ivana Jorgensen of Desert Dwelling is the creative force behind this bathroom.

I am obsessed with the faucet and knobs that come out of the wall—I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before, and it looks amazing, especially with those particular knobs and faucet from Kingston Brass. The white walls and floor create a gallery-like background for the vanity while also creating a flattering glow. It sounds like Ivana likes the results as much as I do:

We love that the space is completely different and so far from what it originally looked like. We actually enjoy being in the bathroom now, and feel like we’re entering a spa every time we step in.

The only thing we would have done differently is include a pocket door during the construction phase. Right now we have a standard swinging door that swings right into the toilet every time it’s opened. This could definitely be changed down the road, but looking back, it would have been nice to have it all done at once when the walls were already down.

(Image credit: Ivana Jorgensen)

Let’s take a step back to see what it took to make a bathroom this pretty:

The entire process from demolition to completion took about five weeks. We brought in outside help to speed things up because we had no other working bathroom during construction and didn’t want to overstay our welcome at our family’s house.

Once the wall behind the sinks came down, we saw a lot of water damage that had been done to the exterior wall. The stucco had crumbled away and our side yard was exposed along the foundation!

The total costs, including materials, labor, and accessories, was $9,000. The only parts of the old bathroom that we kept were the toilet and door.

This project sounds like a bit of a nightmare—black mold! crumbling stucco!—and I’m impressed that everything was fixed and made gorgeous for that price.

(Image credit: Sean Jorgensen)

And now we get to the shower. While the white walls and floor allow the vanity to shine, they also provide bold contrast to this dark, dramatic shower. The black and gold shower is pretty sexy, and I love that this is yet another black-and-white bathroom—but not in the usual configuration.

The tile is from Wayfair and the shower hardware is from Kingston Brass. Here’s the shower verdict, along with some renovation insight:

Our favorite part is the shower, and we’re so happy we decided to tile it all the way up to the ceiling. It adds such a dramatic effect and really shows off the tile. We also love the fully frameless glass enclosure (see more photos on Desert Dwelling)—it makes the space look so much larger than it really is.

Hire a team that you trust and go big right from the beginning! While nothing is permanent, you do want to make sure you’re not doing something you don’t fully love just to save a few bucks. In the long run, it makes so much more sense to spend the extra money upfront and end up with exactly what you wanted instead of having regrets later on or feeling like you just settled.

That’s good advice: If you can afford it, don’t nickel and dime your way out of a room that you’re happy with. You’ll probably be living with it for 30-plus years!

Thank you, Ivana Jorgensen and Desert Dwelling!