Before and After: A Bathroom Redo Inspired by a Classic Horror Film (Really)

updated Jun 26, 2020
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When the time came to remodel the dated beige bathroom in her new house, artist and designer Natalie Papier of Home Ec. didn’t think twice about making a bold statement. She wanted the space to fit in with the classic architecture of her home, but she also was hoping to incorporate a few show-stopping, edgy elements. So she turned the small space into an Art Deco-influenced, color-punctuated bath that gives drama a whole new meaning—using Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film “Psycho” as an unexpected source of design inspiration.

If you’ve ever seen Papier’s work on Instagram, this kind of quirky, daring redo isn’t exactly out of character. “I’ve never been shy about color, and our home has a lot of bold choices,” she says. That’s probably why the existing bathroom, which was fifty shades of beige—and not in a good way, had to go. She and her husband, Alan, had just enough money left over from their kitchen renovation, which they tackled first, to also scratch this project off their list.

Functionally, the bath was essentially fine, but Papier found it lacking in character, visual interest, and space. A bulky vanity cabinet and shower-tub combo took up most of the room, leaving little space to move around in. To maximize the footprint, Papier and her husband decided to replace both of these elements with sleeker, more streamlined fixtures.

New Art Deco-inspired porcelain floor tile became an instant focal point. “I have always been drawn to design that incorporates period features with a modern twist,” says Papier of the graphic yet classic pattern. The flooring’s curvy lines, coupled with its high contrast, black-and-white colorway, instantly brought a dose of movement and personality to the room. To offset that intensity, Papier used pale sky blue subway tiles on the walls, framed by a black tile border that’s reminiscent of 1920s-era bathrooms. For consistency, she used the same tile to line the walls of the new, much more compact standing shower stall. A floor-to-ceiling glass shower door helps keep the space light and airy, while recessed niches negate the need for shower caddies.

Since the bathroom already came with a built-in closet, the couple decided to ditch a vanity for a splurge-worthy leggy chrome console, which would take up less physical and visual space, allowing the floors to truly shine. Papier paired the sink with a slab of black quartz, which she purchased separately, and finished the look off with a matte black Kohler wall-mount faucet. Instead of the former massive mirror, she went with a thin oval style flanked by a set of mid-century modern sconces, driving the Deco-meets-Old Hollywood vibe home. 

The closet area is where the Hitchcockian vibe really came to fruition. To balance out the sky blue and black shades throughout the space, Papier wanted a pop of something saturated, so she went with a fiery, blood red paint color for the closet doors. Then, paying a little homage to the king of suspense, she propped a framed print of Janet Leigh’s iconic shower scene from “Psycho” on top of the wall-mounted towel rack. Some might find this an offbeat choice, but for a designer that doesn’t take herself too seriously—and a space that marries Deco, Pop Art, Old Hollywood, and modern influences—it strikes just the right chord.

“I pushed my boundaries by combining a very graphic floor with a punch of bright color and statement art,” she says, “I always enjoy a bit of a shock factor, and a little bit of bathroom humor is a must.”