Before and After: A Rotting Bathroom Is Now Beautifully Rustic

published Feb 9, 2018
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(Image credit: A Small Life)

Melanie bought a house that was previously a rental for many years, and the bathroom was just not loved and cared for all that time. Not only was the space ugly, it had some real issues, including potential mold. When she and her husband renovated, the only thing they kept was the tub (and even that was refinished) …

(Image credit: A Small Life)

Wow! The bathroom is now so graphic and modern, that little sink is the cutest thing ever, and the vanity is ridiculously cool. Its bold presence makes it stand out against the rest of the ultra-smooth, black and white (or silver) elements in the bathroom, and it adds tons of personality and rustic charm. This inspiring makeover is the creation of Melanie Gnau of A Small Life.

Here’s a full-length shot of the room before renovation; it’s not the most beautiful bathroom ever, but it appears to be fine. Unfortunately, a closer look would reveal some problems, as Melanie recounts:

When we bought our small home, we knew that we’d have to redo the bathroom right away. Not only was it ugly, it had some real issues. The wood around the window was rotting, so we knew there might be some problems with rotting wood behind the drywall. And what do ya know? When we tore out the drywall and demoed the whole house, we did find a bit of rotting wood in the wall frame under the window. It wasn’t as bad as we expected, luckily.

That’s so refreshing, since every single episode of Property Brothers involves finding horrifying, bankrupting mold or rotting wood or asbestos or whatever. A problem that’s less severe than expected is worthy of celebration.

The full-length shot of the new bathroom reveals the darling penny tile from Wayfair on the floor and the way it’s fascinatingly echoed on the black ceiling. The ceiling paint is Valspar Almost Ebony, and the overall effect is so cool. I wonder if the bathroom’s black bookends (as well as the small black wall and the black grout between the subway tile from Wayfair) endear this room to those who don’t generally like white renovations. Weigh in!

Melanie described what it took to take this bathroom from moldy to *mwah*!:

Our project took 6 months to make it useable and then another 6 months or so to make it “pretty.” Luckily we weren’t living there when it was unusable, but while we were working on it, let me just say, it was an adventure, since this is our only bathroom! We demoed the bathroom ourselves, but we called in the pros for drywall, tile work and to refinish the tub. My husband, George is a talented artist and skilled woodworker. He built our under-sink cabinet, the shelf and the sliding door. When it came to style and finishes, we didn’t always agree, so that was a challenge. George likes rustic. He grew up on a farm. And I lean a bit more modern. So I tried to marry the two.

As one-half of a mixed-aesthetic couple, I am quite impressed at how well they were able to combine their two styles. The vanity and shelf are beautifully rustic, and just wait until you see the amazing door . . .

A moon, like on an outhouse! That is delightful and hilarious, and the concept was excellently executed in a lovely combination of white, black, and wood. It also slides, saving space in the bathroom. Here’s how it and the other custom elements came about:

I love that we used reclaimed and vintage items. We found the sink in the woods behind my in-laws house. The linen cabinet is from a flea market. I think we paid $30 for it. We built the under-sink cabinet and above-the-sink shelf with old barn wood we bought off Craigslist. The sliding door was made from more leftover barn wood and old moulding that we had to take out of other rooms in our home. I wish we had finished it sooner, but when you’re working with reclaimed items and vintage pieces, sometimes it takes more time.

Find items you truly love. It might take more time, but you’ll appreciate them more. Make sure to browse flea markets and thrift stores. It keeps stuff out of landfills and it’s usually less expensive than buying something from a big box store.

Be sure to check out the full remodeling post on A Small Life!

Thank you, Melanie!