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Our Guest Bathroom Makeover

We love our home, but after 18 years, it's finally time for upstairs updates. Our guest bathroom got a makeover!

It was definitely time. I'm constantly getting great ideas when being welcomed in client's homes to organize for them and I've seen a wide variety of trends, layouts and inspiration over the years. While I love bold color, unique wallpaper and on-trend design, when it comes to my own home, simple is better.

My vision was a classic, neutral palette with subdued texture. I wanted something durable and easy to clean that I could mix in with other pieces that can be swapped in and out as our home's style and needs change.

In the sea of color and pattern available today, staying true to that wasn't easy. There were several times I found myself with beautiful patterned tile samples in hand. While I love the looks in today's modern design, I also know that replacing trendy tile and plumbing is messy and expensive. I prefer to keep the foundation basic and update the look with things that are easier and more budget-friendly to replace.

Guest Bathroom Makeover Vision

I started by looking at trends in my own home and on my Pinterest boards over the years to see what looks are consistent over time. Black metal is a staple look for me and one I never tire of. I already have it for our downstairs faucets and shower heads, and I still love it just as much.

Warm tones are another favorite. Although I added some gray to my home's palette when that hue became popular, it's in small doses on rugs, bedding and towels. My foundation pieces are rich browns, warm woods, creamy beiges, ivory, black and white.

I rely on neutrals and texture to bring interest. I love nubby fabrics, leather, classic stripes and organic forms to bring my rooms to life instead of bold color and pattern.

With these things in mind, I pulled together the look and tried to keep the design firmly in my lane.

The Renovation

The guest bath tub and toilet area is tiny with a decent-sized vanity and linen closet attached but separated by a door. We added floating shelves above the toilet last year for some extra storage but otherwise the bathroom was the same as it was when we moved in. Here's the Before:

We'd love to enlarge the bathroom, and there is room if we cut into the adjacent attic space. Since that involves moving walls and plumbing, we're going to pass on that expensive idea.

With the footprint staying the same, that simplified the decisions we needed to make. I started planning with flooring, the biggest item in the budget. One much-anticipated item to replace is carpet under the sinks (ewww). We didn't notice that was the default selection when we built the house and we'll be thrilled to see that go.

Two other practical features we wanted were 1) tile that wasn't slippery when wet and 2) something that hides chips. We chose this porcelain tile from Daltile. It's called Linden Point in Beige in 12" X 24". You can see from the photo that it has some subtle texture to keep it from being dangerous when wet. Porcelain is a better choice than ceramic tile for hiding chips as well.

The oversized, rectangular tile adds an updated look but as added bonus, it means less grout to clean. I wanted a visually seamless look so I went with a grout that blended with the tile color. We chose Straw by Maipei, a creamy beige. Tip: If you're deciding between dark and light grout, you can get an idea when the tile is laid but not yet grouted. The shadows between the ungrouted tiles mimic dark grout. Take a look:

Next we selected new faucets, drain covers and toilet levers. The bathroom faucets are the Caldwell series by Moen in Matte Black. The shape is on the traditional side but the matte black is versatile. It's consistent with the black accents throughout our home. The matte black is currently out of stock but here's a link to the bronze so you can see details. The drain cover and toilet lever here matches the matte black we chose.

Our old shower head was set quite low, so we took the opportunity while the walls were open to move that up several inches. Now it's more comfortable for taller guests.

We added the shower wall insert to hold toiletries. I absolutely love this! It was inexpensive and easy to install. No more shampoo bottles on the tub rim or on a rack dangling from the shower head! I only wish I went with their larger size. I got the 14" x 16", but in hindsight the 20" x 16" double shelf or even two of the 14" x 16" would have been better.

For paint, we went with Sherwin Williams Dover White. We've used it throughout our home so it's visually consistent to use it here. A slightly creamy white, it's bright without being stark. For contrast, we painted the lower cabinets Sherwin Williams Iron Ore. It's a chalky black that I've used in our library and powder room, so again we'd have visual consistency.

With the big decisions in place, we moved on to the smaller details. Starting a room design with a rug is always a good idea. I ordered two different rugs from Amazon to try out. The first was this printed rug with spice and blue tones. It really liked it at first, but it appeared more red that rust, and I wanted something a bit more subdued. It was also hard to make it work in such in a small space since the bolder colors competed with other accent pieces.

Instead, I went with this subtle printed rug from Loloi (69% of responders on my Instagram story agreed). It's very soft under bare feet and dark enough to hide any dirt. Its low pile is easy to care for as well. In person, the rug's charcoal color is very similar to the cabinet paint color and the rust tones are closer to the cabinet pull color. The creamy beige blends well with the tile color. Those details helped to tie everything together. As I added in other decor elements, it allowed them to coordinate instead of fight for attention.

I loved this gold-toned mirror from Amazon. It added a slightly retro-modern twist which I love. I paired it with a black and gold light fixture for a bit of drama. With no natural light in the room, upgrading to four light heads from three brightened the space considerably.

Decanting bathroom products elevated the bathroom quickly. I found these pump dispensers with labels on Amazon. I went with plastic in the shower instead of glass, which is slippery when wet. The gold and black accents on the dispensers pulled the tones from the mirror and light fixture into the tub area.

To bring the darker accents into the tiny area without overwhelming it, we added small doses of matte black accessories. The shower curtain rod and shower curtain rings along with the clock, wire basket and wash towels subtly ground the space. The gold details in the accessories helped pull things together as well.

The leather cabinet pulls were a fun find. I purchased them from Etsy a while back and never installed them. I've linked some that are similar.

I added Turkish towels for texture. I already have them in our primary bath and love the look as well as how quickly they dry. They absorb differently from typical bath towels and for that reason, I also keep standard towels on hand in the linen closet for guests who prefer them.

Next up was art and accessories. With the room's neutral foundation in place, I wanted some on-trend but reasonably priced items I can switch out easily. I found most everything I was looking for at Target from the Studio McGee and Hearth + Hand collections. Eventually I'd like to replace my shower curtain with a longer one that goes to the ceiling for a more custom look, but I do like the charcoal and ivory stripes.

I like to add something a bit unexpected in every room, and in the bathroom it's this wooden bluetooth radio. It's tiny so it fits the small space, and the wood retro look is a fun detail. Now guests can listen to their favorite music or podcasts while getting ready for the day or unwinding at night. I move it around the house when the guest room isn't in use and it looks good everywhere I put it.

Naturally, I reorganized the cabinets. I used a divided turntable and long bins with wheels from The Container Store under the sink for items our guests might need such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, nail files, feminine hygiene, hair and body products. It's a good way to use hotel toiletry bottles we bring home from various trips. Custom labels look nice and make it clear products are here for the taking.

The linen closet holds extra towels along with cleaning supplies and backstock items. I left an empty shelf for guests to store their own things and a basket on the floor for used towels.

The finished room came together the way I envisioned. I'm happy with the updates and can't wait to welcome friends and family! Because the foundation is classic and neutral, I can easily update the room as trends evolve. Simple changes of artwork, rugs and accessories can take the space in a new direction, whether I want to make minor changes according to the season or bigger changes according to new design trends.

Our guest bedroom makeover is in progress now...more to come on that soon. Stay tuned!

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