A Dark Bathroom Goes Hollywood-Glam

Exposed bulbs and graphic tile create an unforgettable look

Chelsea bathroom renovation

Project: Update and brighten a small bathroom in a Chelsea studio

Before: The bathroom tub, fixtures, and drain in this circa 1964 co-op had done their job, but were now way past their sell-by date. “The shower and tub had gotten a little scary,” says Kristen, the homeowner of this 700-square-foot studio. Peeling paint on the tub and set-in hard water stains on the tiles didn’t help matters. Plus, the windowless room was dark, with floor-to-ceiling slate tile and inadequate lighting. And there was no medicine cabinet or built-in storage.

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After: Knowing that she wanted the bathroom to be bright and modern with classic elements and storage, Kristen posted her project on Sweeten and was matched with a general contractor. Because of building regulations, she wasn’t able to reconfigure the plumbing, so the work was solely cosmetic. Flash forward to the finished room…now, the crisp, light lavender-gray walls and tub paired with the black-and-white floor tile, white- and gray-veined porcelain shower, and Hollywood-glam mirror lighting brighten up the bathroom considerably. “I’m glad I chose porcelain over marble because it requires less upkeep,” said Kristen. She decided to pass on installing a vanity, the absence of which adds to the illusion of more space—as does the stripe pattern on the floor tiles. A free-standing cabinet is part storage and part display. The overall feel of the space hits the modern yet classic style she was looking for.

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Finding all those items that could work together was Kristen’s biggest challenge. It was difficult, she said, narrowing down selections, “considering the many options out there,” though her contractor, “provided a lot of information to help make decisions.” In addition to supplying a Renovation Checklist, Sweeten’s client services assisted Kristen with a list of products and materials to order for her project. “I checked off each item once I had sourced it. This was really helpful because there are some things I never would have thought of, like a new vent for the wall,” Kristen said.

Having an organized list also allowed her contractor to make sure it was all compatible with the space. Sweeten, she said, “helped incorporate eco-friendly elements into my renovation, telling me what to look for in a toilet, showerhead, and faucet.”

Bonus: Her other challenge was that she was traveling during the renovation. But her contractor took care of any bumps, even going directly to the manufacturer when there was an issue with a showerhead. At one point, she said, while she was at the airport waiting for a flight, the Sweeten contractor’s tile installer called with a layout question. “Luckily, this airport had a lot of tile,” she said with a laugh. “So I walked around and looked for different layouts to help reinforce my decision.” Who needs subway tile when airport tile offers loftier inspiration?

Style finds: Floor tile: Cement Tile Shop. Battiscopa Renaissance Calacatta porcelain wall tile: AKDO. Shower and sink fixtures: Brizo. Pedestal sink: Signature Hardware. Toilet: Toto. Lighting: Illuminate Vintage via Etsy. Hutch: Target. Medicine cabinet: Robern. Art: Neue Galerie.

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Marissa created a glamorous bath with high-contrast design, combining black walls with gleaming tile and a sparkling chandelier.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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.

  • mary

    At first it was the floor tiles, that garnered my full attention …
    but then it was shower head, hutch, the vanity light vintage gorgeous
    …but I feel I’ll see spots in my eyes!

    Just love this !

    …one thing—hate when sweeten does all the gimmicky stuff flashing lights or the opening/ closing medicine cabinet….so annoying & distracting from good design

    • Tisha Leung

      Hi Mary, We’re so glad you liked this bathroom too. We find some people like the animated photos and some don’t. We’ve made note of your perspective! Thank you. Tisha

    • Mona Lisa

      Please keep the animated photos and gifs coming!! I love them!!