Before and After: A 1930s Bathroom Feels Way Bigger Thanks to a Gut Reno with Light, Bright Finishes

published Feb 15, 2023
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Vintage pink tiled bathroom with green painted walls before renovation.
Credit: Andrea Ford

What’s trending in bathrooms in 2023? Gold fixtures, black and white color schemes, sleek and minimalistic showers, and a calming, clutter-free vibe. What was trending in bathrooms in the 1930s through the 1950s? Wall-to-wall pastel tiles.

Architect Andrea Ford’s (@theford_project) 1930s pink-tiled bathroom was on-trend when it was built — and thanks to a major redo, it’s on-trend now, too.

Credit: Andrea Ford

“The bathroom before was your classic pink-tiled bathroom with original features,” Andrea says. “Although I’m an architect with a care for historic fabric, the function just didn’t work for us. We’re tall people, and the sink was so low and had a small leaking issue. The toilet, while amazing in its pink glory, used so much water. And the shower head was at about shoulder height on my husband — not a desirable shower experience.”

Credit: Andrea Ford

“Overall, the bathroom was tired and just not working for us — not to mention I grew up with a bathroom just like it, so the charm of it was somewhat lost on me,” Andrea adds. She and her husband, Hunter, decided to say goodbye to the pink, setting out on a $20,000 top-to-bottom gut reno.

“Since the rest of the house was in such great shape, this was one of the top spaces we felt like we could really invest our money and do something that we would really enjoy,” Andrea says. “My husband really wanted a walk-in shower. I wanted something clean and fresh.”

Credit: Andrea Ford

The Fords worked with contractors to make their vision happen. “Since I’m an architect, I had the whole thing planned to a tee,” Andrea says. “I sourced materials and fixtures over the course of a year, getting things on sale when I could.”

For the new wall-mount vanity, Andrea sourced the remnant marble slab from a local stone yard at a discount and had an opening cut to fit her sink from Wayfair. “I was able to save some cost there and still get the dramatic look I wanted!” she says. Her faucet is from Amazon, her sconces are from Shades of Light, and her toilet is from Home Depot.

Credit: Andrea Ford

“The overall layout remained the same, which was mainly a cost decision, but the layout, although small, is very efficient,” Andrea says. “I’m glad we did the floating vanity. There’s a linen closet and medicine cabinet, so that holds everything, and the extra floor space makes the space feel bigger than it is.”

Andrea’s biggest splurge in the room was the floor tile. (She went with a 6-inch circular glazed tile from Tierra y Fuego.) “I’m still really happy with that purchase,” Andrea says. “It’s a unique shape and the color is perfect.”

Credit: Andrea Ford

Her shower tile, she says, was easier on the wallet, but she was able to elevate the classic subway shape by arranging it in a unique pattern. Three other things she likes about the new shower: the built-in ledge for storage, and the knobs on the glass doors, and its functionality. “We are both tall people, so the ability to simply shower without squatting is a luxury enough,” Andrea says. “But really, having the overhead rain shower has been a dream, and the handheld was strategically placed so when I workout I can do a quick rinse without getting my hair wet. Bonus: It makes giving our dog a bath super easy!”

Andrea says the hardest part of the project was just keeping the process moving with contractors. “We had hoped to start the project sooner, but our original contractor kept pushing us back; eventually, he just plain bailed,” Andrea explains. “So I was back to the drawing board, but I found a good contractor. The process was a bit slow as it’s a small space, and he didn’t put a lot of workers on the job.”

Credit: Andrea Ford

But the long wait was worth it! In addition to being much more functional — especially in the shower area — the bathroom’s style is total 180 from the pink bathroom(s) of Andrea’s past. She describes the new vibe as “light and airy with a hint of playfulness.” (The crisp new white color on the wall, by the way, is Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.)

“I wanted to play with tile patterns and shapes to bring in visual interest while staying clean and simple then to bring in warmth added brass lighting and accents,” she says. This is one on-trend bathroom for 2023!