W&D Renovates: Upstairs Bathroom Makeover

Most of our renovation projects didn’t involve much drama. I was beginning to think all those HGTV shows were designed to freak people into thinking they would open the walls of a new home and subsequently empty their bank account. We found McDonald Remodeling and felt so much more at ease. I should have remembered this when we decided to “DIY” our upstairs bathroom without them. I’ll give you a hint on how this ends: we called McDonald and they saved our butts on this project.

In all seriousness, there were real issues with the upstairs bathroom. The lack of water pressure in the shower, the hot water wouldn’t turn on in the sink, the lack of storage. All small things that added up to the utter decimation of the upstairs bath. Looking back, perhaps eliminating the only full bathroom in the house with an infant and two busy adults, wasn’t the best idea. But if not then, when? There is never a great time to start a DIY project, so we just jumped right in. We found the perfect partner in AllModern, as they quite literally have everything you need to complete a DIY makeover with tons of my favorite brands. I had pulled so many images of bathrooms I loved on Pinterest, I started to become obsessed with the idea of sprucing up the bathroom ASAP.

The space was small and we wanted to keep the same footprint. Just give it a bit of a makeover with everything on the surface. NBD, right? Here’s what the space looked like before we started the demo:

And so the designing began. First I wanted to try encaustic tile in the bathroom.

We ordered all our pieces from AllModern and started construction. That’s when we realized we were in over our heads. The bathroom had no subflooring, all the pipes had been set in concrete (WTF) and the toilet was connected to a flange that none of us had ever seen before.

I got out my phone and called Jim McDonald. He came over and we talked about what we were dealing with. I explained we only wanted to make a small update to the space to make it more enjoyable to live in, but since we had discovered we wouldn’t be able to put it back together, we should discuss the bigger issues at hand. It was the only bathroom on the main floor and there was no way more than one adult at a time could fit in the space when bathing kids. Because we wanted to have more children when living in this house, the thought of having more than one child in this cramped space worried me. Jim mentioned that we could extend the bathroom into the closet behind the shower and that he’d be happy to pull together some sketches.

This is what they came up with:

I mean, WOW. Joe and I decided it was the right call in the long run, and we’d have to forgo a few other things this year to make it work for our budget. In hindsight, the failed DIY attempt was a blessing in disguise. Not to diminish any effort to save money by doing the work yourself, but it’s a good lesson in calling a professional if you are in over your head. Thankfully, our friends at AllModern loved the idea of taking on a bigger project and worked with us to design all the details. Here’s what we pulled from AllModern’s selection:



Floor Tile: For the floor tile, I chose a honed marble mosaic tile in white and gray. I love the white and gray combo, which adds texture and character to the bathroom floor.

Backsplash Tile: I wanted a clean and white backsplash to give the bathroom that new, clean vibe; this white subway tile really accomplished that.

Vanity: I love the rustic look of this Laurel bathroom vanity, paired with the clean and smooth lines of the rest of the bathroom, the vanity makes the space feel cozier.

Medicine Cabinet: I like the straight lines and minimalistic style of this medicine cabinet, a nice contrast to the rustic vanity.

Sink Faucet: I love the purist widespread bathroom sink faucet from Kohler; it gives the rustic vanity a more sophisticated touch.

Towel Ring: This purist wall mounted towel ring is also from Kohler and goes together nicely with the sink faucet.

Lights: These Leadville wall sconce lights add a quaint and charming touch to the room.

Shower Fixtures: I chose shower fixtures with sleek lines that pair well with the modern subway tile, for an overall contemporary feel in the shower.

Tub: I love the simplicity and shape of this soaking bathtub, it’s the perfect way to relax after a long day at work.

Tub Fixtures: I felt this Champagne Bronze single handle floor mount looked best paired alongside the tub.

Toilet: I like the elegance, detail, and character of this toilet, which is the perfect addition to this modern yet classic space.

Toilet Tissue Holder: This purist pivoting toilet tissue holder is made by Kohler and matches our sink faucet and towel ring.

Baseboard Tile: For the baseboard tile I chose a glossy black Thira ceramic trim that acts as a great contrast to the white and gray tile throughout.

Trim Tile: For the trim tile, I chose a ceramic pencil listelo accent tile in Nero Brillo.

Basket: AllModern has a great selection of wicker baskets that are functional for storage, but also make any space feel more down to earth.

Towel Hooks: I love how sleek these are!! We added four in a row instead of using a towel bar. There wasn’t an obvious place to put one, so the hooks were a nice solution.

Now we not only had (hot water!) but we were designing a space that could double as an in-house relaxation spot. I know how this sounds, bathrooms are already a destination, but I wanted a place that would seem as if I wasn’t home. My traveling for work has slowed down a bit, which quite frankly, is a bit of a relief, but what I did miss was staying in hotels with bathrooms that invited you to take your time and enjoy a quiet moment to yourself. If I couldn’t actually be in a cool hotel, I wanted to at least evoke the feeling of luxury in one of the most used rooms in the home.

Working with AllModern was a great experience, especially because they had so many quick-ship items. We were able to emulate some of the luxe and sophistication of a hotel atmosphere without 12 week lead times. With a simple palette of marble, white and black tile, and warmth from brass and wood, the bathroom felt both classic, modern, and interesting. Check out AllModern Renovation page if you are interested in doing something similar! On top of all the lovely design details, I’ve been spending more time getting centered in this space and truly feel like it’s improved my ability to handle stress. I could finally imagine I was on vacation. And there has been more than one night spent soaking in the tub with a beverage after a long day of work; all that is missing is towel service and fuzzy robe.

Final bathroom images by 2ndTruth