Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From the Design Book: A Bathroom Makeover

"[Dessie's] shop was a unique institution in Salinas. It was a woman's world. Here all the rules, and the fears that created the iron rules, went down. The door was closed to men. It was a sanctuary where women could be themselves- smelly, wanton, mystic, conceited, truthful, and interested. The whalebone corsets came off at Dessie's, the sacred corsets that moulded and warped woman-flesh into goddess-flesh."  

~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I have a bittersweet relationship with bathrooms.

On the one hand, I have to clean them.

(And it wouldn't hurt to remind you here that I have 5 boys.)

On the other hand, bathrooms offer me a moment of honest privacy in this very public world. 

The bathroom is where I close the door on the idealized bodies I see on magazines and television and Pinterest, and where I come to terms with my own, very normal, very real woman-flesh.  Here is where I weigh that flesh, clean it, pluck it, shave it, paint it, scent it, dress it, and own it.  That moment in the morning when it is just me and the mirror is a defining one: each day I decide to either live with what I see or change what I see.

Not long ago, I realized I REALLY didn't like what I saw in the mirror---aside from that trouble area just south of my chin and north of my kneecaps.  It was everything ELSE in the mirror that troubled me.  I saw yellow-striped wallpaper, builder-white walls, and non-committal brown cupboards.  Yuck.  It was indeed time for a change, and this time, it didn't involve a diet.


My bathroom decor was doing NOTHING to help me feel confident, happy, or skinny.  So I decided to change it.

Here it is now.

Now my bathroom is soft and serene and sparkly.  And while I may need a heck of a lot more vertical lines to make me look skinny in that mirror, I swear the new surroundings have completely changed my outlook in the morning.

The first thing I did was strip the wallpaper down to the bare walls and paint it a neutral tan color (Gobi Desert by Behr).

 Next, I took those horrible brown cabinets and painted them white and added a brown glaze over top.

To finish off the tub area, I added a topiary and a candle chandelier.

For the sink area, my husband and I framed out the mirror with some inexpensive molding.  This made a HUGE difference for not a lot of work.  (Says the wife whose husband did all of the cutting . . .)

I added apothecary jars on silver trays for a little sparkle . . .

These jars looked lovely sitting across from my vintage toiletry bottles.

And then, as the finishing touch to the bathroom, I decided to use this little garage sale tray as a "towel plaque."  Just a simple swipe of a white-out pen in the center of the tray, and voila!

I wish I could say that my new bathroom is self-cleaning, but it's not.  But somehow cleaning a beautiful bathroom doesn't feel like such a chore.  The boys' bathroom?  Well, that's another story . . .

Sharing at . . .


  1. Wow, so pretty! Your bathroom transformation looks fabulous. It's so light and airy now. Stopping by from Savvy Southern Style.

  2. What a difference. It is so much better now. The paint color you chose is gorgeous and looks so soft and pretty with all the white trim, and the cabinet has totally changed. Very good job!

  3. What a great bathroom to spend hours reading in the bath!

  4. Love the new paint colors on wall and cabinets and the pulls "birds" that is so beautiful. The decor and lighting change did so much to give it an elegant feel.

  5. I love your blog and look forward to see how you are going to tie in the book with each posting. I check often to see if you have posted something new!!!

  6. What a beautiful makeover!! I would never leave.

  7. Your bathroom looks amazing! Beautiful makeover!

  8. I love the chandelier over the tub!

  9. Looks wonderful. Love your choice of color for the vanity. I am in love with the bird pulls.....I used one on my latest project as well. Popped over from the No Minimalist Here Open House .

  10. We are in the process of building a little retirement home and your pictures have really inspired me.
    Beautiful job.
    Thanks from Bernice in Canada

  11. Love how everything came together! So creative!


  12. Looks wonderful, Erika! Thanks for sharing your lovely bath transformation at the Open House party.

  13. Love the chandy, the new paint on the cabinet, and those super cute bird pulls! Great job. -Dawn

  14. Hi Erika,

    Much much better! Love the little bird knobs and are you one lucky gal for that tub! Great to have the candle chandelier over it too.

    Hugs, Lynnie

  15. Beautiful job, Erika! It looks like such a great retreat now! Love that you painted the vanity cabinet. Great candle chandelier, too. I wouldn't mind taking a soak in that tub!

  16. Wow, the black paint looks fantastic. Keeping that in mind for the future!

    Wholesale Bathroom Bath
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  17. The neutral color of your bathroom made it very refreshing and relaxing! It was a good idea to paint those cabinets in white to blend with the rest. Also, that candle chandelier is awesome! Maybe you can place that in the middle of your bathroom instead, right above your bathtub.

    -Dorthey Huang @ OdecSouthSide

  18. Your new bathroom certainly looks much better than the old one. With a bit imagination and a desire to transform your bathroom, you can achieve great results like your ones.

  19. Your bathroom already looks beautiful, but that makeover made it look awesome! Aside from the neutral paint, what I like most in your space are the windows. They're huge enough to let natural light in and create a perfect mood in your bathroom.

    -Todd Kroll @ KrollWindow

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  23. The bathroom is just wow.It is intelligently designed.
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