Anyone who’s ever watched an hour of HGTV in their life knows that master bathrooms and kitchens are usually what sell homes, and sell them fast, and sell them for a good price.
The master bathroom was not what sold me on this house. In fact, it was one of my least favorite rooms. So the plan from day one was always to do something drastic to it, especially before we planned to sell.
The problem? It was just too ugly to afford to update.
Or so we thought.
We lived with an ugly bathroom for a long, long time, paralyzed by the thought of ripping out it’s brass fixtures, including a brass framed glass shower stall, and even more terrified by the potential price tag.
These “before” pics aren’t even the real before pics. The original bathroom actually had wretched pin-stripe wallpaper that we had to strip from the drywall, then retexture the walls before painting them this poor, poor choice of jelly bean lavender. (Not actual color name, but it seems fitting.)
Beyond the dated shower, there were the builder-grade oak cabinets and all the basic white tile, and then there were the brass light fixtures.
And whatever this was in the ceiling.
I guess the bathroom could definitely have been a lot worse. Please know my perspective is skewed by all the new construction around us at dirt-cheap Texas prices.
It just wasn’t what we envisioned as a relaxing, stylish retreat, and it certainly didn’t match the rest of our house.
We always knew, though, that replacing that shower was at the very bottom of our priority list. For one, it’s in pretty decent shape for what it is. And also, it was just more money than we wanted to spend when we could put that toward stuff like hardwood floors and our new kitchen.
I contemplated painting it somehow, but figured that would only equate to a lot of wasted work on something we’d have to demo in 6 months when the paint started flaking.
Luckily for us (and you!), yellow and all things gold have been making a comeback for a while, especially when paired with a gray/neutral palette, so I ran with it, incorporating brass into the design, and making the shower look intentional and (maybe?) trendy-ish.
The first step was to tone the walls down with a cool gray. This shade is Gray Frost by Olympic from Lowes.
Our faucets were already chrome and brass, so bringing touches of chrome in was a natural extension. We replaced the brass light fixtures with basic chrome ones, like these.
I was careful not to eliminate the brass too much from the room, though, and actually brought in more gold/brass/yellow accents to make it feel more intentional. The gold rugs were from Kohls, and I added a brass curtain rod (from Walmart) and sewed a simple curtain with a bold yellow, geometric patterned fabric from Fabric.com.
We replaced those awful ceiling lights with an awesome focal point- the Maskros pendant by Ikea, which happens to make really cool shadows on the walls when it’s the only light on while I’m taking a bath at night. 10 points for ambiance!
And we painted the oak cabinets black, adding chrome pulls and knobs.
Now, we could have stopped here, and I think we would have, at the very least, achieved an updated room.
But we wanted to add a bit of wow to the room, and we also needed to replace the front panel of our soaking tub because it was warped. So, to kill two birds with one bucket of grout, we added some mosaic tile accents around the tub and to the front.
To start, my husband knocked out the top row only of the tile that was already around the top.
Then he simply added a row of the mosaic tile and another row of matching white ceramic tile back on top of that.
The front was a little more work, but not too much. We removed the plastic panel from the front of the tub completely. Then he framed in the front…
attached a cement board to the frame, and then tiled over the top of that.
That one little project gave the whole room a more custom feel, and it cost less than $150.
If you asked me when we bought this house if I would have been happy with a design that did not include entirely eliminating that brass shower, I would have laughed at you.
But I think, ultimately, we did a great job of working with what we had, and I’m thrilled with the way it came out. It’s updated and fits with the rest of our home. It even looks great from our bedroom.
If you’re looking to update your brass bathroom, the key takeaways here are:
1. Neutralize your space. Don’t try to compete with the brass. Bring in a cool gray to contrast the warm tones. Add lots of white.
2. Modernize and update everything else that you can. Paint dated cabinets. Switch out hardware when your budget allows.
3. Embrace the brass. Work it into other elements of the room, including fabrics and small accents.
4. Embrace dual finishes. Don’t be afraid to mix different metals.
Our house is officially under contract now, and I plan to share a few more posts about how we updated it over the next couple weeks before we have to move.
I’ve already made a note to myself to be sure we take REAL before pics at the next place.