Finding Zen, One Tile at a Time

Goodbye old-fashioned fixtures, hello modern marvel

Project: Modernize a retro bathroom

Before: Erica purchased her first apartment, a one-bedroom in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, in 2013. “Everything was in working order, but my hope was to eventually fully gut and renovate the kitchen and bathroom,” she said. In 2016, Erica tackled the kitchen, and two years later decided the bathroom’s time had come—and the all-pink-everything (the toilet, tub, sink, and wall tiles) had to go. “I knew I wanted a more zen, spa-like bathroom without the added expense of switching the location of the existing plumbing,” she shared.

: Ready to get started, Erica posted her project to Sweeten. “My Sweeten matchmaker was extremely attentive to my needs as I searched for a contractor,” she shared. After reviewing her options, she was matched with a general contractor. Then, her renovation team—her Sweeten general contractor and interior designer Amy E. Bishop—joined forces to revamp Erica’s bathroom into a relaxing retreat.

They developed a design that would maximize style and storage. Amy and Erica created a Pinterest board to share ideas, and the designer helped guide the overall look, starting with a three-drawer vanity the homeowner loved. As they were finalizing their concept, Erica’s mom pointed out the lack of a backsplash behind the vanity might be an issue, calling her “a splasher.” The cascading wall design, carrying over the tiles from the shower wall, offered a creative and practical solution.

For a small bathroom, the storage options are aplenty. Shelves above the door hold toilet paper and other supplies, while a large medicine cabinet and custom in-shower shelves host Erica’s growing collection of skincare and beauty products. Her general contractor played an integral part in executing the custom idea. The original design placed the shelves on a different wall, but once her contractor discovered it was solid cement, they rethought the location and moved the niches to the back wall. The contracting team also made sure all the electrical was up to code (which wasn’t the case before they came in).

Living with her cat Gigi onsite throughout the renovation and using the powder room in her building’s laundry room were the biggest hardships Erica experienced during the five-week renovation. They were well worth the sacrifice.

“I absolutely love the bathroom!  Everything is so fresh and clean with a much more sophisticated color palette and design. With my enormous medicine cabinet, shower niches, vanity, and shelving over the door, I appreciate the ability to be much more organized getting ready for work in the morning,” Erica said.

Bonus: Erica personalized the space with framed prints and wall hooks.

Style finds: Mixare hexagon floor tile in Taupe, Duet wall tile in White: Ann Sacks. Vintage English oval double sconce, polished stainless steel towel bar, toilet paper holder, spray jet shower head, sink faucet, herringbone vanity in weathered gray, and medicine cabinet: Restoration Hardware. Hand towel and bathrobe hook: Anthropologie. Toto toilet and Fine Fixtures 60” apron bathtub: Park Slope Plumbing Supply. Woven baskets: West Elm. Artwork over the toilet: Framed print “Scootering in Rome!” by David Parise.

A prewar bathroom got an industrial update in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

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

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