Modernizing and Rearranging a Too-Small Bathroom

See how the renovators reimagined the 42-square-foot space

bathroomProject: Completely overhaul an old and worn-down bathroom
: After living in their Crown Heights, Brooklyn, apartment for about two years, and dealing with random leaks from the bathtub and falling tiles, Sonya and Aaron decided it was renovation time. “Instead of putting a Band-Aid on it, we decided to completely change the layout to optimize the floor plan to its maximum potential,” Aaron said. They posted their project to Sweeten to create a clean and seamless bathroom, with the overarching goal of making the 42-square-foot space look and feel as big as possible. They were matched with a general contractor to take on the remodel.

White bathroom with white bathtub and shower curtain before renovationAfter: Rearranging the floor plan was definitely the biggest priority. “Imagine squeezing yourself into a tight bar bathroom, but it is your actual bathroom. Our sink was literally the size of two small hands,” Aaron said. When demolition began, however, they discovered pipes that didn’t allow them to move around plumbing as originally planned. All of the pipes needed to be rerouted and replaced to meet code—which did end up costing the couple more than expected.

They decided to give up a closet in the adjacent bedroom and use that extra space to reinvent the layout. The bathtub moved along the window wall and the toilet next to the sink. They installed custom wood shelves in a spot where the piping couldn’t be rerouted.

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Construction work for renovating old bathroomold bathroom at the time of renovationbathroom during renovationOnce the gritty construction work was out of the way, they turned their focus toward the look. They chose light tile along one wall to make the bathroom appear bigger, then a dark gray tile along the back wall to create a sense of depth. The couple installed a toilet with the tank hidden behind the wall to keep with the streamlined feel.

single wooden vanity with black faucet and mirror and toilet and bathtub with glass door and recessed shelves after renovationbathroom with dark gray tiles on floor and side of the bathtub and one shower wall and bathtub with black fixtures and recessed shelves and window after renovationrecessed shelves on off white wall and black shower head and dark gray tiles on adjacent wall after renovationbathroom with dark gray tiles on floor and shower wall and bathtub with black fixtures and glass door and recessed shelves and window after renovationsingle wooden vanity with black faucet and mirror and wall mounted lights and gold towel ring after renovation

single wooden vanity with black faucet and mirror and off-white wall tiles after renovation

As effortless as their new bathrooms looks, however, this renovation did not come without its challenges. The couple did expect to uncover issues because of the building’s age, but the problems that ensued were a little beyond what they thought they’d be. The bathroom basically had to be built from scratch, including the subfloor and plumbing. “Our contractor was patient with us and notified us about all the issues as they were coming up,” Aaron shared.

All work had to be coordinated with the co-op’s schedule too, which extended the timeline. But the result was well worth the wait. “We love our new bathroom. It is literally night and day from before,” Aaron said.

Bonus: The space-saving glass door swings out just above the toilet.

Style finds: Bathroom floor and wall tile; sink and vanity: Porcelanosa. Wood shelves: Custom. Toilet: Toto. Rounded rectangle framed mirror: Rejuvenation.

Curious how much it costs to renovate a bathroom?

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten

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