Before and After: A Falling-Apart Bathroom Is Now Functional for a Busy Family

published Oct 8, 2023
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If you have kids, you might know that the family bathroom sees just as much wear-and-tear as the family room or the kitchen or the playroom. There a few foolproof family bathroom ideas that can set you up for success, though, like adding stools so little ones can reach counters that are higher up, giving everyone their own storage (again, at varying heights), and choosing durable materials — nothing that’s too expensive that might get damaged.

Homeowner Erica Burton (@renovatingno53) and her family (her husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 9) have been renovating their home for the past four years, and their diminutive bathroom was truly a space that deserved a refresh. 

“It was very bland,” Erica says, adding that there were cracks in the walls and ceilings that dearly needed to be fixed. Throw in an “oddly sunken bath” from a previous owner haphazardly extending the bathroom into the bedroom next door (that was at a lower level), and you have a recipe for a professional remodeling project.

And the real kicker? This bathroom is the “main family bathroom,” as Erica calls it, so they wanted to make it a functional space that was “also pleasing to spend time in.”

Credit: Erica Burton
Credit: Erica Burton

Little tricks — like a floating vanity — made a small bathroom seem larger.

Even though this is the family’s only bathroom, it is extremely small (it was originally built in the 1930s), which required some extra ingenuity to make the most of the real estate. Erica wanted to fit in a separate shower, but due to space constraints, it wasn’t an option. 

As a trade-off, Erica chose to install a double sink, something that made it much more functional as a busy family bathroom — especially because it replaced a single white pedestal sink. 

“By selecting a wall-fitted sink unit, this creates the illusion of space within the room, as you can see the floor all the way under,” she says. Bonus: It makes cleaning the floors a breeze.

Credit: Erica Burton

The vibrant color-scheme is kid-friendly and adult-friendly.

Erica pushed the envelope even further with the lively salmon colorway she selected for the vanity. Additionally, Erica opted for light and bright colors for the bathroom, such as the airy white subway tile. The sage green paint (a shade called The Botanist) also invites the outdoors in, which can help create a more expansive feel as well. 

While the extent of the project was handled by a plumber who fitted the bathroom and did the tiling, there was also some DIY: Erica completed all the painting and wallpapering in the room herself. 

Credit: Erica Burton

Wallpapering required some savvy. 

“I wanted to pick a vibrant wallpaper that would make a statement in the room,” Erica says, and she opted for a rainforest print from Wallpaper Direct. Because this was her second time wallpapering, Erica says the process went smoothly, and she got a little bonus help from her mom. 

Erica says the key to any wallpaper job is making sure the first piece goes on straight. “This can be tricky when working with old properties and wonky walls,” she says. “We used a plumb bob [a weight attached to the end of a string] to get a straight line, however, this didn’t look straight against the door frame. In the end, we lined it up with the door frame, as visually this gave a straighter illusion.” 

Once they got that first piece hung, which is often the hardest part, Erica says that the remaining pieces fit in easily to complete the wall. 

“If starting out with wallpaper, I would recommend starting with one small wall, as it makes a great starter project,” Erica says — and it’s something that is certainly true of this tiny-yet-fresh and fun bathroom, although Erica writes on Instagram that she’s thinking of continuing the wallpaper all around the room because she love it so much. 

Credit: Erica Burton
Credit: Erica Burton
Credit: Erica Burton

The tub and tile complete the space.

The bathroom wouldn’t be complete without the new tub and the subway tile surrounding it, which were professionally installed but totally worth it, Erica says. One little detail she loves is the gray grout color because it doesn’t show dirt; she says that if she were to do the project over again, she’d choose the same grout on the floor. 

Erica has another recommendation for flooring, too. “When choosing tiles for your bathroom floor, I would consider a slight texture to the tile to avoid slipping,” she says. She chose a gray-green and white patterned porcelain tile

The brass hardware adds durable bling to the space, and here, Erica has even more advice. “Once we had decided on the taps and shower fittings we wanted, I shopped around at several places,” she says. “Although they are the same make, I bought the sink taps, bath taps, and shower fitting all from separate suppliers to get the best prices.” 

That makes for a functional, finance- and family-friendly bathroom (that looks fabulous, to boot).