Half-Bathroom Before and After

I detailed the half-bathroom renovation drudgery in previous posts, so now it’s time for a whole bunch of before and after photos! All of the sources are linked at the end of this post.

Before:First Floor Bathroom.jpg

After:Half Bath Under Stairs.jpg

The moulding around the door was replaced with a simple Craftman style that is more appropriate for our 1913 bungalow. I used Metrie architrave (the part above the door) plus trim from Home Depot. The vintage five panel door is what would have been in the house originally – I picked it up for $20 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore here in Chicago.

Before:Door Before.JPG

After:Five Panel Door.jpg

Five Panel Doorknob.jpg

The previous tile was overly high: it crowded the window and made the room feel short. I chose the beadboard height so that it was as tall as the faucet – that way when people turn off the handles, there’s little risk of water splashing on the wallpaper.

Before:Half Bath Monet.jpg

After:Powder Room After.jpg

Another choice that helps make the room feel taller is continuing the wallpaper up the sloped ceiling. The Cole & Sons wallpaper is so beautiful; it looks hand-stenciled.

Wallpaper on Sloped Wall.jpg

There’s an odd wood stump up there from a staircase beam, so I put a vintage brass duck on it because why not.

Brass Bird Flying in a Bathroom.jpg

I love the new matte white hex tile from EliteTile. Porcelain mosaic tile feels perfect for a bungalow bathroom, and the black grout will be easy to keep clean.

Before:Half Bath Toilet Before.jpg

After:Kohler Toilet.jpg

The support post bump-out fits in with the room a lot better now that the beadboard and baseboard wraps around and continues down the rest of the wall.

Before:Half Bath Tile Tower.jpg

After:Bathroom Bump Out.jpg

Another big change I’m very happy with is the window trim. The window previously looked really rough – you could see the brick around the edges. Now it looks like a feature of the room, not an afterthought.

Before:Window Before.jpg

After:Glass Block Window.jpg

Jarrod is a birder, and he’s always admiring the John James Audubon Birds of America book on display at Northwestern University, where he works. I sent him a link to Joel Oppenheimer’s Audubon listings sorted by ascending price, so we could find an entry-level piece. Jarrod selected boat-tailed grackles, and I picked up the print at Oppenheimer’s beautiful gallery in Chicago. It’s a 1856 hand-colored lithograph.

Tip: All of Audubon’s Birds of America illustrations are available for free download as very high-resolution files (10,000 pixels!) via the Audubon Society’s website.

Framed Audubon Print.jpg

This print is the only art I have in here; I may eventually hang something over the toilet, but for now I’m letting the wallpaper do the work. I’m keeping the windowsill simple as well with a woven tray, tissue box, and plant.

Bathroom Window Sill.jpg

One more photo just because I like this detail!


The bathroom finishes are a mix of matte black and antique brass. The Tolson toilet paper holder from Rejuvenation matches the vanity knobs.

Brass Toilet Paper Holder.jpg

I reused the bathroom’s existing sink: there are very few sink options available with such a shallow depth (14″), and this one was in perfectly fine shape. It looks so much better with a new black faucet and a new vanity.

Before:Half Bath Sink.jpg

After:Bathroom Sink.jpg

I customized an IKEA SILVERAN vanity with paint, tapered legs, and brass knobs. I also reduced the depth of the vanity to fit the sink. This was one aspect of the powder room that I thought might be a total fail, but I ended up being 100% pleased with it. So, I am super glad I did not waste money on an expensive custom vanity (all of the quotes I got came in around $1k). I’ll share details of this IKEA hack in a follow-up post.

Before:Half Bath Vanity Before.jpg

After:IKEA SILVERAN vanity hack.jpg

I purchased the rug, tissue box cover, and antique brass bird hook when I redid our apartment bathroom. There’s actually an identical bird on eBay right now – but she’s $175 and has a candleholder on her head! Looks like my $14 bird “hook” used to be a sconce before her hat fell off.

Brass Bird Hook.jpg

Going back in time, here’s what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house.


Interim:Half Bath Mirror Before.jpg

After:Dark Vanity with Brass Mirror.jpg

The light fixture was lowered and replaced with a Schoolhouse Electric sconce. I love those faceted shades. The switches and outlet were moved next to the door, which is the logical home for them.

When we bought the house:downstairs13

Interim:Bathroom Door

After:Bathroom Five Panel Door.jpg

When we bought the house:downstairs10

And now:Powder Room.jpg

I love this view:Round Brass Mirror in Bathroom.jpg

Portrait of a Lady who is Relieved this Bathroom Renovation Wasn’t a Huge Mistake:Round Brass Mirror.jpg


Previous posts

23 thoughts on “Half-Bathroom Before and After

  1. This is SO GORGEOUS and you are so talented! I just love it. ENJOY! (and if you’re ever in Boston, please come help w. my 1920 colonial…)

  2. Absolutely STUNNING, Marti! I love every single decision you made! Also, how in the world do doors get that filthy (from your before photos)? Like, how? Anyway, bravo.

  3. wow! i had not noticed and now really appreciate the wainscoting height! why the hell was that tile so high? and that window was very ugly! it all looks so beautiful now: in particular the view of the toilet paper handle plus vanity and faucet. crouching on the floor next to the toilet for that photo really paid off!

    1. Hahaha, thanks for your support, Jarrod. I know how much you love that toilet paper holder. The tile was so high because the previous owners didn’t want to have to cut the hideous tile they used!

    1. Great question! The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are really just for show. I added adjustable feet to the bottom of the wood legs, and I can easily twist them to raise/lower, which lets me slide the rug under!

  4. It’s gorgeous, Marti! It took a little heartache to get there, but I hope you are thrilled with the result.

    You have a such a talent for pulling everything together. I love all of the design choices that you made.

  5. Switching out the door was SUCH good decision…and the vintage brass “because why not” duck had me cracking up. If this were my home, would smile every time I saw that little guy. I mean, maybe we should all learn to cover up the things we don’t LOVE in our homes with vintage ducks. It’s a life lesson, for sure. :)

    1. Thank you! I am so happy with the new door – swapping one white door for another is surprisingly impactful. Glad you appreciate the duck, too.

    1. The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are really just for show (though they do add secondary support). I added adjustable feet to the bottom of the wood legs, and I can easily twist them to raise/lower, which lets me slide the rug under!

  6. Can you tell me what frames you used for the Audubon prints? And how do you find having a wool rug (that I assume isn’t washable) in a bathroom? I love the look of a vintage rug but I’ve never been able to figure out how people manage this…?

Leave a Reply to Marti Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s