Before and After: A $375 Redo Makes This Bathroom’s 1950s Tile Look Brand New

published Feb 24, 2021
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About this before & after
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Before: Bathroom with gray tile and gray walls
Credit: Shelbie Pletz

Vintage homes often come with a lot of built-in charm: chunky window casements, elaborate crown moulding, old solid wood doors, and more. But sometimes that charm just doesn’t look all that, well… charming.

Shelbie Pletz’s bathroom is proof: Built in the 1950s, it still had its original gray-and-blue tile, but later updates — like the light blue wall paint and beige flooring — made the whole space look like a drag.

Credit: Shelbie Pletz

“I really disliked how the bathroom felt very cold and monochromatic in a blah way, with the light grey and royal blue wall tile, ice blue walls, blue grey tile, and matte silver finishes,” Shelbie says. “Overall, it felt too sterile and the color scheme was not doing the wall tile any justice!”

Credit: Shelbie Pletz

Over three weeks, Shelbie and her boyfriend Eric were able to totally revamp the look of the bathroom without removing a single beloved wall tile. They started with the flooring, tearing up the old tiles and replacing them with wood-look vinyl.

“The only surprise was the mish-mash of different flooring underneath the ceramic tile,” Shelbie says. “The previous renovator used stacks of paper to even out the foundation.”

A new (flat!) floor instantly warmed up the look of the room.

Credit: Shelbie Platz

The old bathroom had a single sconce above the sink, which didn’t bring in enough light; Eric — a self-taught handyman — moved the wiring so that the couple could install two matching sconces on either side of the mirror.

Those new gold globe sconces look super pricey, but Shelbie scored them secondhand for just $10 on Facebook Marketplace. The hexagonal mirror between them came from Wayfair for just $60.

Credit: Shelbie Pletz

As for paint, Shelbie went through six different green paint samples before settling on this emerald stunner (Behr’s Royal Orchard). On the walls, ceiling, and trim, it makes the gray and blue tile pop — a far cry from the old bathroom, where the tiles faded into the background. “It is a small bathroom, so I was nervous about using such a bold paint color, but I think it provided the perfect amount of depth and moodiness,” Shelbie says.

The project, which cost just $375 all told, has completely transformed the once dreary bathroom — all without losing its retro charm.

“I love how the space now feels modern and bohemian, while still maintaining the original wall tile,” Shelbie says.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.