Before and After: This Bathroom Keeps Its Original, Beautiful Tiles

When I first saw these dreamy blue tiles, I held my breath that they would survive this bathroom’s makeover. And when I saw the results? Legitimate gasp! This Before & After is so, so fun and incredibly well done.

This is glorious! I would never have thought of that wallpaper with these tiles in a million years; fortunately, Carrie Hayward of Disney Travel Babble has a lot more vision than I do. This bathroom is now cheerful, glam, playful, elegant, energizing, and generally living its best life. And while we’ve seen a lot of sputnik chandeliers in recent years, this one—the Arteriors Hanley Flush Mount—fits perfectly into this retro room. And don’t get me started on those tassels!

Here’s how this transformation came about:

I am a huge fan of wallpaper and had put it all over the rest of the apartment. It began to dawn on me that finding a wallpaper to complement my beloved turquoise tile could be what was needed to cinch the bathroom elements together.

I’m not going to lie, wallpaper can be a dicey prospect in a heavily used bathroom without proper ventilation. The wallpaper in our guest bath has held up like a champ because the shower is only used once or twice a week. But this is our main bathroom, and there’s no fan, so all we can do is leave the door and window open. A few of the sheets of wallpaper nearest to the window (aka the steam escape route) did begin peeling off after about a year. However, our professional wallpaper installer only charged us 50 bucks to come back and rehang them. To me, it is worth $50/year to get to enjoy the wallpaper in this bathroom.

And don’t worry, Apartment Therapy readers: The runner is only in the photo to cover the huge floor crack. We don’t really keep a hair- and dust-collecting rug in the bathroom!

The bidet is from Amazon—”We bought this the moment we got back from Japan; they will also change your LIFE!”—and that curvaceous faucet is from Amazon.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with our bathroom before, except for the large crack spanning the tile floor. The original 1950 turquoise tile in this bathroom is actually what sold me on the entire apartment. I would never rip that tile out, even if I could. But the room was quite austere, with its beige walls and endless hard surfaces. We added colorful towels and hung some art, but it never felt finished.

A large crack in a tile would cause a much more dramatic reaction in a lot of people, but our Carrie is just thrilled about the amazing tile itself.

Every accessory is perfect in this space. The orange accents tie the lower half of the room together with the upper, and the gold accents add to the glamorous vibe. Bonus points to Carrie: It’s not easy to combine gold (faucet, handles, pot, stool) and silver (towel bars, vent, toilet paper holder) in one room, but it was done here and it works.

I had been in love with Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon wallpaper forever, but it was so ungodly expensive that I spent at least a year trying to make some other wallpaper work in here. I plastered the space in scores of wallpaper samples, regularly rotating in new batches, but nothing ever felt quite right. I finally realized I had to tighten my belt and save up for that Aquamarine Chiang Mai Dragon wallpaper, because it was the only thing that would truly make the space sing.

I also designed a Roman shade in the coordinating fabric and had it created by my drapery guy. I wanted an elaborate cutout border with complementary ribbon trim and tassels. Locating bright orange tassels turned out to be surprisingly difficult, even at the super high-end trim places in the Pacific Design Center. I finally found what I’d had in my mind’s eye on eBay’s UK site.

Among the other improvements we made were replacing a jelly jar light fixture with a deeply discounted Arteriors sputnik light (but we kept the Fifties Fabulous “log” light over the vanity!) and swapping the builder-grade cabinet hardware with vintage bamboo pulls.

This photo makes clear how one element can completely change another: the “log” light could have looked strange and dated, but with the new crystal chandelier (and the retro-fabulous makeover in general), it now looks exactly right.

These art prints are by Chris Turnham; they’re great, and I enjoy the way the white frames coordinate with the white vanity. That towel bar there is classic, and there’s a story behind it:

At some point before we moved in, one of the original bathroom towel bars had broken, and somebody installed a new one directly on the wall, leaving the ugly cleats of the old one stuck in the tile. I wanted an uninterrupted run of wallpaper on that wall, so I removed the mismatched towel bar and repaired the wall. But we still needed a second towel bar, so I started scouring eBay. Sure enough, I was able to locate the exact 65-year-old towel bar that had once hung above our tub, being sold as deadstock (i.e. it was brand new, still in the box). It matches the remaining original towel bar and fits perfectly on the leftover cleats.

Is it weird to love a bathroom? I love our bathroom! It’s been almost two years, and I still smile every time I walk in there. I’m someone who cannot get enough color, and this place envelops me in it!

It is definitively NOT weird to love a bathroom—especially this one. I’m so happy that this room is still bringing Carrie joy years later, and that I got to admire it from afar.

Thank you, Carrie Hayward of Disney Travel Babble!

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