See How a Stuck-in-the-’80s Bathroom Got a Serene New Makeover

published Feb 11, 2024
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Mid-century Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

Sometimes, a bathroom requires very minimal updates to make it look better. Other times, if it’s nonfunctional or completely covered in a material you hate, a full-on bathroom reno might be in store. The latter was true for homeowner Lexie Kerr.

Lexie and her husband moved into their mid-century modern home in 2020, and the previous owner had lived in the house for 60 years. The bathroom, though, was stuck in the ‘80s: It was covered with orange gradient tiling (even partially on the ceiling!) and hadn’t been updated since 1985. 

“I can’t believe we lived with it for so long,” Lexie says. “We have been doing projects slowly since we bought the house in 2020, and I literally couldn’t stand looking at [the bathroom] any longer.”

Credit: Lexie Kerr
Credit: Lexie Kerr

The bathroom got a complete gut reno — and expanded in size.

While Lexie and her husband are DIY fans, the project was too large for the two of them to take on themselves, so they brought in professional help. The entire bathroom was ripped out and given a completely fresh start, and the couple also decided to extend the bathroom by demolishing the old closet and soffit. 

The entire project cost $17,000, but Lexie was smart with her budget, making trade-offs that allowed her to splurge in some areas and save in others. For example, she spent less on the shower tiles so she could spend more on higher-visibility features such as the vanity and cabinets. (Her tall storage cabinet is an IKEA ENHET.

Credit: Lexie Kerr
Credit: Lexie Kerr

White shower tiles and wall paint make the room feel larger.

For the design, Lexie and her husband stuck with mostly white to make the small room feel as big as possible. The walls were painted with Sherwin-Williams’ Pure White, while the wall tiles behind the vanity and shower are beautiful matte white subway tiles from Floor & Decor. The tiles are placed vertically to help give the illusion of a taller ceiling.

Also giving the room a more spacious feel is the large black arched wall mirror from Crate & Barrel. Both the white paint and mirror help to reflect light around the room, and the double-bulbed vanity light enhances the bright ambiance of the space. 

Credit: Lexie Kerr

Teal tile on the floors adds a pop of color.

To give the room a pop of color without being as in-your-face as the previous design, Lexie chose gorgeous turquoise hex tiles from Home Depot. (The exact design that Lexie used is out of stock, but you can find similar tiles from Ivy Hill Tile.)

Now, it’s much less overwhelming than before — but more than that, it finally has an updated design that still meshes with the MCM style of the rest of the house.“It matches much better,” Lexie says. “I love all of the storage that we now have in this room, and taking out the closet makes it feel so much bigger.”

The family is delighted with the results, but they made sure to pay homage to the original bathroom space with one thoughtful detail. “We framed a single orange tile as a way to pay homage to the mess that was here before,” Lexie says.