Design

Before and After: Revealing Our Modern Colonial’s Powder Bath

September 14, 2021  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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It’s been over one month since we announced we would be renovating our little powder bath and today it’s officially done. It honestly took longer than expected, simply because of shipping delays (the theme of 2021). However, we put up the finishing details yesterday and are crossing the finish line. Here’s a little before photo to jog your memory.

Before

powder bath before

Dark with and an overwhelming amount of a textured burnt cinnamon color. And here’s the after.

After

powder bath after

My heart is so happy. I just want to say that I fully realize this isn’t everybody’s personal preference. I get that and I love that we can celebrate and rally each other for having different taste and style. For me, designing this water closet was all about pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The small space gave me a little bit more freedom to get playful and have fun with it. And I just love the way it feels modern with an ode to the traditional past, too.

Before

before angle of powder bath

After

powder bath after

Before we moved into this house we decided to rip out all the red cherry floors and replace them with stain-in-place white oak. Read all about the floors here. The cherry floors carried into this powder bath and the contractors ripped out the seashell pedestal sink and toilet along with the floors. Consequently, we’ve been without a functioning powder bath since before moving in.

Of course our primary bathroom is functioning, however, having guests over made us realize we didn’t have an operating, accessible bathroom on the main floor. Bumping up the powder bath to the top of the list was the obvious solution.

small bathroom vanity

Just like any room in our house, I really wanted this room to feel like a mix of historic and traditional, with some modern touches. I shared all of my initial thoughts here as well as a moodboard. In some ways, this bathroom reminds me fondly of our travels to New Orleans two years ago!

Two things changed from the original mood board–the art and the toilet. We had the fox art and I love the way it picks up the mahogany and gold in the wallpaper. At first I worried it was too small, but I actually love the way it feels like punctuation on the wall. When our toilet arrived shattered, we picked this one up from the hardware store and I love the traditional lines so much.

wooden toilet sink

My Instagram stories have been full of progress updates and sneak peaks of the bathroom, so if you follow along you’ve seen so much already, starting with the penny tile floors. Laying penny tile floors with a custom design was a must-have and we even shared how you can DIY your own penny tile floor in this post here. It was surprisingly easy and honestly a great place to start if you’re a tiling beginner.

wooden toilet seat

The white floors with black accents really brightened the room and added a ton of interest. We could have easily carried the wood floors in here, but I think these penny tiles make the room.

penny tile

Before even starting on the tile however, the wallpaper was selected and ordered. This was actually where the design of the powder bath started. With organic wallpaper chosen for down the hall, I wanted more of a geometric, graphic wallpaper–something to show off the height of the room (10ft tall ceilings anyone?) so stripes were the obvious way to go for me. A little disclaimer: the color photographed is more true in photos than what is shown on their website. A little accident that I’m actually happy with.

I could sense Chris’s skepticism when I told him I wanted the baseboards and trim, and crown moulding, and ceiling to be painted a glossy black. But we all agree it was the perfect modern detail to tie everything together.

vintage mirror

Adding the pedestal sink, the toilet, switching out the seat for the wooden one, adding the lights, hanging the perfect vintage mirror I found each carry so much weight in a small space. I wanted the patterns and finishes to speak for themselves, so for styling, I added some fox art above the toilet, brought in my favorite soap, and hung a simple hand towel.

I love starting and finishing a small space first in our home because it really sets the tone. This powder bathroom gets me so excited to stretch my creativity in the other spaces in our house. Have more fun! Make each space feel special and collected and…surprising. Sharing all the sources below!

Sources

Wallpaper
Tile
Toilet
Toilet Seat
Fox Art
Toilet Paper Holder
Towel Ring
Mirror (vintage)
Sconces
Pedestal Sink
Lightwell Hand Soap in Cashmere & Fig
Hand towel

Things not pictured that will be added to the powder bath:

  • Toilet paper storage. I’m envisioning a little tray or basket on top of the water tank, or a discrete holder on the floor. It’s smart to have some back-up toilet paper in there for guests.
  • A wastebasket. I have a mirrored one from our last home (discontinued) but it was impossible to photograph without a reflection.
  • This plunger/scrubber combination that is sleek, but doesn’t need to be photographed.

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What do you think?

  1. Jen Evans says:

    ADORE this powder room! Makes me want to rip out the wood floors in ours and lay penny tile. They sink is in my wish list-classic beauty!
    With a sink that style, and without a basket or storage, where do you store extra TP, room spray, etc.? Also thoughts on rugs in powder rooms? I don’t have one in ours but so find most people do.

  2. Jo says:

    I like it a lot, except the wallpaper! I have a hard time with a whole small piece of wallpaper especially with a regular pattern. But I think it comes from the fact that in France, we no longer use wall paint for damp rooms. Personally, I would only have put one strip of wallpaper on one wall, for example. But I love the floor and frankly, it’s beautiful! Well done ! The sink is neat too. It is a pleasant room.

  3. Naomi says:

    This is interesting – you definitely took a lot of risk here with scale, materials and colors. From the wallpaper to the art to the toilet seat – you’re exploring and it’s great to watch.
    I see you’re going darker in this house than your last. I wonder how much of it is the concept of colonial homes and how much is the light quality? It looks sunny where you are and always said not to dark rooms light and light rooms dark, or did I confuse my basic rules?
    If you do decide to redo it a wallpaper change would transform the room immediately and that’s why I like your style – you always use a lot of transitional pieces that can work across many styles!

  4. Maria Vavi says:

    Really like the new version. Very balanced, though active and attractive

  5. A says:

    Goth circus powder room is actually hella cool. Nice!!

  6. Carrie P. says:

    I love love love the floors and black trim! Reminds me of the bathroom in the little duplex I lived in when I was first out on my own that was built in 1925. Classic design that I personally will never tire of. Also totally adore that pedestal sink. Wish I wasn’t so married to the storage under the sink in my teensy 40’s bathroom because I would love to bring that into my home!

  7. Cami says:

    Absolutely freakin fabulous!!!! It is amazing. I was skeptical with a couple of your choices, watching the stories on instagram, but it honestly looks SOOOOOO GOOD!!!!! How do you do it? Everything you touch turns to gold! You’ve got the Midas touch! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and journey with us!

  8. Angie RS says:

    I like it and appreciate the risks taken. It’s giving me “bathroom at an upscale but local hometown restaurant” vibes.

  9. Lee says:

    This is meant to be informational and not a negative as I like both the before and after pics. You have put together some stunning rooms. You needn’t publish this comment. I’m not trying to be a troll. It comes down to personal preference and that’s what makes the world go ’round…whatever makes YOU happy. I do prefer the before photo in a sense as it’s more restful on the eyes…for a reason. I have astigmatism and if I’m not wearing my corrective contact lenses, vertical striped wallpaper makes me disoriented as all the lines appear blurred and I can’t focus on them. Sometimes they seem to move when I try to focus. It depends on the pattern and the intensity in the room. Most of us with astigmatism, and we have differing ranges, do wear corrective lenses. The chances of a guest going in your social bath and grabbing for the wall is remote. Again, not negative criticism…just a different view. Love that you used Restoration Hardware as that company seriously has it going on and have for many years. They walk to a different drum beat. Great designers…very talented people…unique pieces. I used to love getting their catalog as I would be glued to it. Unfortunately, I no longer live in the states, and shipping would be a bear.

    • I just wanted to note that I have a astigmatism in both eyes! I’ve never had problems with stripes in a room—-def not this room where they are larger—-but I can’t drive at night because all of the headlights block my vision. Interesting

  10. jessica says:

    I love this room! All of the elements tie together so well. That wallpaper is incredible, I love the mixed metals too! I am curious, what did you do with the mirror that was hanging in the original bathroom? I have such an obsession with mirrors like those!

  11. Elaine says:

    It’s beautiful!! I think an embroidered cream/white hand towel would be stunning as well. 😍

  12. Rachel says:

    Stunning!!! I know the mirror is vintage, but are you willing to reveal your source? Pretty please. Lol.

  13. Ally says:

    Looks like a candy box, like one of those old timey stores with penny taffy <3

  14. Jill Hilts says:

    Beautiful powder room!

    Check out toilet brush/holder on Food52 website. Have them ear marked for when my powder room is finished.

  15. Amber says:

    I see similarities to Faye’s Princess Anna (or Queen Anna?) bedroom in the Idaho house. So much character!

  16. Kathy Traylor says:

    Wow, I love it! It’s fun, classic and modern all at the same time. It’s nice to see something original with character. There’s so much minimalism and white space out there that is so dull, lifeless, and sterile…but not this!

  17. Jenn says:

    The floors look so good, and sink is beautiful. While the mirror is pretty, I think it is aging the bathroom way too much, and doesn’t match the vanity or the lights. If you were looking to go a little funky, I would do something with a fun shape and color, that is not so heavy, And not that dark wood. Like yellow or red! You always do amazing work though and live following along!

  18. Jacqueline says:

    I love how your powder bath came out. It feels eclectic and unique with a classic but bold flair. I’ve followed for a while and am just starting my first bathroom renovation. It’s way easier to sit on the sidelines and critique others’ design… creating a curated home takes a lot of effort and decision making. Thanks for sharing your process and thought process.

  19. Corine says:

    Love this SO SO much. What a stunning room. You are a visionary, Julia. It’s impressive and inspiring

  20. Jennifer says:

    Just curious where you bought the faucet?

  21. Lana M says:

    There is so much charm packed in to this tiny space. I love it so much!! It’s unique and surprising and fresh. Any place I go where there is a bathroom (or any room) like this that is so intentionally put together and different is immediately just so cool.

  22. Stephanie says:

    This looks incredible, I love the wood touches, I love the whole thing and am very envious of your ceiling height! This feels like something you might see (on a larger scale) in a vintage performing arts center restroom. Everything about this feels like “updated gilded theater powder room” to me and it’s so great.

  23. Anna says:

    I would have never thought that glossy black molding would work with brown in the wallpaper and the wood but it does!! And the floor looks amazing. I remember the fox picture from the music room, it’s my fav (is that a print or antique?). It was fun to watch this from start to finish – thank you for sharing!

  24. Linda F. says:

    You really knocked this one out of the park!! The vibe is both traditional and amazingly unique…I’m just in awe. There’s a whiff of Disneyland Main Street here that I love so much (those interiors make me swoon!). Great job with this all around!!

  25. Gretchen Hansen says:

    I hesitate to write this as it seems you are only responding (and curtly) to anything that is constructive feedback (read: anything somewhat critical) but what the hay–Overall, this is really great–I love the floor, it looks fantastic, and I think you have managed to make stripes and wooden toilet seats feel fresh. I really wish you had not put up the towel bar or at least lowered it, it really messes up the vibe/site line of the great lights and mirror. Hooks or knobs also could work for towels and don’t stick so far out into the small space. I also wish the fox art had a cool crumbly old frame.

    • Brandi Lang says:

      I agree, it seems like the towel could even hang over the bar in the vanity. I think knobs would have been nice, maybe wooden ones. Otherwise, surprisingly lovely! This seems so different than anything in the ID house.

  26. Annie says:

    Okay this is going to sound like the opposite of a compliment at first, but it’s not! I kept looking at all the things you were picking for the bathroom. And there’s not a single thing that I liked. But now that I see it all together…… what a perfectly traditional, but unique powder room! Such a great way to start the design for this house. You always pull it off!

  27. Marion Babcock says:

    Great job! I like how you are embracing your new locale and the “colonial-ness” of your home and layering in your own sensibilities. I left my comfort zone by choosing a deep yellow for my living room. Oof, lots of mental gymnastics on that one, but such rewards. Looking forward to seeing how you grow on this project and how your health improves. In a similar boat myself, so I am cheering you on!

    • Vicki Williams says:

      Haha, I get your mental gymnastics over the yellow. I am just ending I hope!) a 7 month remodel and painted one wall that shares the kitchen dining and living room deep marigold and boy have I struggles with should I repaint. But I think I’ll live with it awhile and with the shale (mouse gray) stained cabinets, creamy white walls and a huge glowing mission painting I’m feeling it might work after all. Good luck to us both. Made me laugh with understanding. .

  28. Ronda says:

    I Love this so much!!!

  29. Kate says:

    Absolutely stunning. From the initial mood board, I pictured a more traditional small-scale pin stripe but I am very into this drama! Love it!

  30. Alayna says:

    I usually hate these type of sinks but this looks so BOMB! You’ve changed my mind!

  31. Tracy says:

    You might consider a little brass tp topper. I think the moody vibe causes the tp to scream “look at me”! Haha!

  32. Courtney says:

    Curious what color the ceiling is?

  33. kim weigand says:

    LOVE!!!!

  34. Brittany D says:

    I love it! I was going to say that it reminded me of New Orleans! One of my favorite cities. You guys nailed it! It’s beautiful.

  35. It’s incredible. 😍

  36. Dana L. says:

    I love the wooden toilet! Reminds me of my aunt’s house. Hurray for one room finished!

  37. Kathy says:

    Absolutely love it!!

  38. Suzie says:

    This is sooooo pretty!!! I love your style.
    What did you do to the ceiling???

  39. Suzy! says:

    Good morning! Looks amazing! I like the fox but I would also try a large painting or print to help breakup all the stripes! The wallpaper is amazing but I think it needs one wall with a large piece of art to soften it. Can’t wait to see more!! (Sink amazing!! Tile amazing!!)

  40. Ashley says:

    Love everything about it!! Can someone remind me of the width of the room? I’m working with a similar powder room footprint and trying to visualize a console sink like this!

  41. Lindsay says:

    That sink has me DEAD. It is beyond gorgeous!! I love how all of this came together!

  42. Julia says:

    I love tiny moody rooms like this. You did great with this new style and I’m so excited to follow your stories. You seriously get stuff done while we have had our house torn apart for years. The one thing that stands out to me in photos is the round lights feel a little cramped in and out of place. Would they also cast unflattering light on faces being so low? If it were me I would consider cool modern light bars on each side to go with all the other vertical lines.

    • Amber says:

      I second this. AI can’t *not* see a face when I look at the sink wall – sconces being the eyeballs :) BUT still love the vibe of the room and so excited to see this tone and character carried through to the rest of the home!

    • Beth says:

      I love the lights, but for me, they’re hung way too low. And I just don’t like the way they appear to line up with the towel ring (which seems way to traditional in comparison). The floor is perfection!

  43. Kate says:

    It’s beautiful, Julia, and I can totally see how the rest of the house might flow from room to room now. Bravo on first room!

  44. Amy C says:

    When I first saw the mood board to be honest, I wasn’t blown away but knew it would turn out awesome regardless. WOW! It looks amazing and so much better than I thought it would. Great job as always!

  45. Marce says:

    Julia!! This is why I follow you and religiously see your stories every day.
    You’re willing to follow your intuition and step outside your comfort zone and design what you envision. These days on Instagram and Pinterest everybody’s bathroom looks the same it’s like a target ad. I deeply love how this powder bath turned out. It’s a chíc, timeless, and classic look. Loooovee!!!

    • Cici Haus says:

      Agreed! While this is beautiful, it’s not my style…but I’d still rather see this than 100 half-paneled, gray/taupe boring baths!

  46. Kristin says:

    The floor and the sink are perfect! Well done.

  47. Penrhyn Olsen says:

    So interesting that you went with silver faucets, etc. rather than golds. I love it!
    Also, how about “powder” for the plaque on the door?

  48. Kelly says:

    Julia, you always do such a great job of walking us through how you make choices in designing a room! This wallpaper is not my cup of tea, but I still learn so much from reading about your process of putting together the room. I got more out of walking through the decisions with you than I ever could out of just seeing a “tada!” reveal. Thanks for taking us along!

  49. Tracy says:

    Love it! Would you mind sharing the type of paint you used for the trim? I always use BM Advance but always wonder if there is something else I should try!

  50. Anjelina says:

    It’s bold and beautiful. A traditionally untraditional bathroom that makes you smile. And thank you for including the items that aren’t pictured, it helps!

  51. Barbara says:

    Could you move the mirror over just a bit so the stripe doesn’t look off-center?

    • I think I’d rather it be centered on the sink

    • Jennifer says:

      Barbara, the off-center stripe also caught my eye. It gives a visual illusion that the left light fixture is closer to the mirror than the one on the right. I think a different light fixture might also solve the problem, especially if the mirror needs to be centered with the sink. But ultimately they’re the ones living with it, and they might not be as bothered by it.

    • Sue F says:

      This is what’s so tricky about hanging a geometric wallpaper: it needs to be started on the whichever wall is going to require the most symmetry, once all of the elements are in place. In the case of a stripe, if the sink/mirror/light fixture wall was determined to be this “needs symmetry” wall, position either the dark stripe so that it is centered on the wall, or the lighter stripe, and then begin from there, working around the room. But a minor detail which many eyes won’t even notice…I had to refer back to the pic since I didn’t pick up on it initially.

      Overall, I truly enjoyed going along on your process, Julia, and I admire your willingness to try something bold and out of the ordinary. Those floors are my favorite! So very timeless and they tie the entire look together. Take a victory lap!🌟

    • Eve says:

      This jumped out at me too, the stripe not being centred on the sink wall, it’s the only think o would change. Looking at the other photos it seems the stripe was Center in the toilet wall, and then I guess followed down the wall meaning it didn’t centred on the opposite (sink wall). Probably I would have just centred it anyway as there’s so much symmetry on that wall with the faucets and wall lights), the stripe being off centre is distracting, but maybe in real life that would have looked weird on the corners.

  52. Rachelle France says:

    What did you do with the inside door? Paint in black too?

  53. Cami says:

    So cool and fun!
    Question- I have seen people hang the hand towel from the front bar under the sink (and not use a towel ring). Was that ever a consideration? Wondering for an upcoming project.

  54. Allison says:

    Soooo perfect! Every single element is so well thought out.

  55. Melissa says:

    Love your creativity! I’m planning my own powder bath reno and am considering painting the ceiling dark too, but the ceiling is low since it’s tucked under the stairs. Think it’s a bad idea?

  56. Lucy says:

    Love this little room and the fox is perfect!!! Love how you always stretch your comfort zone and ideas. Lovely!

  57. Kate says:

    I feel like all this needs is a little dish of Hershey’s mint chocolate hugs. Swoon!

  58. Karen says:

    Aaaaah! So gorgeous. I always love that your choices are something I never would have thought of. It always works. I love to learn how you create a space. Also, whew. I was worried about no plunger. Not really a concern with newer toilets, but there’s always that toddler putting something in there. With twenty five nieces and nephews, I’ve seen it all.

  59. Martha says:

    I really all of like the traditional elements you’ve used in this powder room – including the patterned penny tile and wooden toilet seat! (I was reminded of Daniel Kanter’s recent rejuvenation of his old toilet and wooden seat!) Such a great transformation!

  60. Ariel says:

    Love the modern twist on this! It feels timeless without feeling old and stuffy. I would have never thought to pair the black trim with the wallpaper but it’s such a nice touch.

  61. AN says:

    I love seeing your creativity come to life! It turned out beautiful!! Thanks for sharing your talents with the rest of us ❤️

  62. Jen says:

    Love love love. Definitely unexpected and fun in such a tiny tall room.

  63. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous – nailed it!

  64. Julie says:

    The wallpaper is probably not for me but I’m love with everything else. That floor is stunning and timeless!

  65. Maria says:

    Gorgeous ❤️ I love the historic vibe to it! It feels totally edgy and yet it was there the whole time. You guys have had such determination this year to keep plugging on even through all the challenges.

    • Mika says:

      I love it! I love how you’re listening to the house and your own personal style in decorating! It’s ok to change. And it’s still so modern truly. What’s more important to me is the cohesive theme which I can totally see! Thank you for sharing.

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