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    Creative director and designer Sarah Sherman Samuel and her husband, Rupert Samuel, an ad exec, like to tear things up together. After overhauling a Michigan lake cabin on their own, they moved on to their current project, a 1940s LA bungalow in need. We recently spotlighted their ingenious kitchen remodel using Ikea cabinetry and upgraded cabinet fronts: See The Semi-Handmade Ikea Kitchen. Today we're taking a look at their most recent accomplishment: a small, unused back bedroom transformed into a high-style master bath. We've been watching it in progress on Sarah's blog, Smitten Studio. Here are the results.

    Photography by Sarah Sherman Samuel.

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Much like the kitchen, the new bath is a deft combination of modern/vintage and high/low elements that telegraph glamour. Inexpensive subway tiles and a vanity built from a 1950s credenza—"vanities can get so pricey," says Sarah, "I was looking for a more affordable and more interesting alternative"—are finished with splurge details such as brass faucets and a marble counter and shower ledge (made from leftover kitchen counter slabs). The hanging lights are the Fjord Rod Pendant, $149 each, by Cedar & Moss of Portland, Oregon—see A Bright New Lighting Company—who also supplied the Gold-Tipped Bulbs.

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The his and hers square basins are Kraus Vessel Sinks, $109.95 each, from Home Depot. They're paired with wall-mounted Kohler Purist Faucets in a finish called French Gold, $555.49 each via Amazon. "They were the biggest expense and also the most satisfying detail," says Sarah. The round mirror was custom made. The subway tiles are three-by-six-inch Daltile White Rittenhouse Square Wall Tiles from Home Depot with Delorean Gray Grout, which took two tries to apply correctly (there's always an unanticipated challenge, right?). See below for details.

    After experimenting with different tile configurations in Adobe Illustrator, Sarah went with a herringbone pattern—"a classic for wood floors," she writes in her blog, "but I hadn't really seen it translated to subway tile (until I Googled it, that is, and found a bazillion examples...)." See our Remodeling 101: White Tile Pattern Glossary for more ideas. As for the palette, Sarah says: "I stayed with a monochromatic look that allows me to play up all the different patterns and textures." 

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The herringbone subway tile continues in the custom-built glass box shower. Our favorite detail: the tiled niche. The floor has classic white hexagonal tiles—Merola Metro Hex Porcelain Tiles from Home Depot.

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel | Remodelista

    Above: "Subway tile is simple, clean, white, readily available, and affordable (win, win, win, win)," says Sarah. The Kohler Purist Shower Head, $94, and Kohler Purist Faucet, $595.16, from Home Depot, are companions to the sink faucets. 


    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bedroom that she tranformed into a bath | Remodelista

    Above: The room was one of two nearly identical spare bedrooms that Sarah describes as "little yellow boxes with two windows," each only big enough to hold a crib. The other bedroom is being extended into the backyard to "add a little breathing room." (Sarah and Rupert are expecting their first child.)

    In Progress

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel in progress | Remodelista

    Above: Sarah sourced the 60-inch-wide vintage walnut credenza from West Coast Modern, in Culver City, California. She and Rupert retrofitted it for the bath themselves: "That turned out to be a pretty easy project. We just cut off the legs, reinforced the back a bit, and secured it to the wall."

    The trickiest part? "Adjusting the drawers so they could slide in and out around the plumbing was a one-day job: we cut out a large notch in the back of the drawer big enough to accommodate the pipes, and then we built up the sides of the notch to make a barrier so that things in the drawer don't fall through." 

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel in progress | Remodelista

    Above: Sarah and Rupert lived in the house during construction; to speed up the process—which took four months and included work on other parts of the house—they contracted out the plumbing, tile work, and shower and counter installation. Shown here: The vanity with plumber-installed sinks and marble counter.

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel in progress | Remodelista

    Above: The shower niche being built.

    Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio bathroom remodel in progress | Remodelista

    Above: The toughest part of the project? "No question is was the tile job," says Sarah. "After the grout went in, the color was blotchy and uneven. The guy who did it assured us that it just had to finish drying and would be uniform. Well, we waited and waited and the blotchiness never went away (it's a bit visible in this shot). We tried to get the guy back but could never track him down. Finally, just when I was about to give up and have our new shower and floors look like old, dirty ones, one of the crew who had been working on the rest of the renovation came in, scraped out all of the grout, and redid the entire space. And the angels sang."

    Up next for Sarah and Rupert: their other bathroom, "a mauve two-by-two-foot box." Go to Smitten Studio to see more of their projects. Also, have a look at our posts Ikea Upgrade: The Semi-Handmade Kitchen Remodel and Reader Rehab: Cabin Color That Takes Its Cue from the Landscape.

    At her online shop A Sunny Afternoon, Sarah sells household objects that she designs and her father fabricates. Gardenista singled out her Woven Wood Picnic Basket as a new classic.

    More Stories from Remodelista

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    Think like a mariner and outfit your bath with space-saving storage solutions and accessories designed to keep things shipshape.

    Moroccan Tile Bath with Nautical Mirror | Remodelista

    Above: We're all obsessed with Titanic-like bath mirrors, complete with storage shelf; for sourcing ideas, go to Design Sleuth: 5 Bathroom Mirrors with Shelves.

    Nautical Towel Hooks | Remodelista

    Above: For a while now we've been championing the idea of cleats as towel hooks. For sourcing ideas, go to Nautical Hardware: 7 Cleats for Home Use.

    Canvas Marine Water Bucket as Bath Storage | Remodelista

    Above: Janet uses a marine water bucket as a place to stash towels, etc. See more at Marine Canvas Water Buckets as Bath Storage.

    Wall Mounted Nautical Soap Dish | Remodelista

    Above: I grew up in a New England house with wall-mounted soap dishes (a good way to minimize sink clutter). For sourcing ideas, go to Etsy or eBay.

    DIY Towel Bar Rope | Remodelista

    Above: Such a good idea: a towel rack made from rope. Consult DIY: An Instant Towel Bar for Under $10 to re-create the look.

    Julie Carlson Bath in Mill Valley with Recessed Pulls | Remodelista

    Above: In my own (very small) bath, nautical-style recessed cabinet pulls help keep things streamlined. For something similar, consider Baldwin's satin nickel Recessed Cabinet Pull; $15.40 at My Knobs.

    S Hooks in the Bathroom as Storage | Remodelista

    Above L: S Hooks turn a towel bar into storage space for bath accessories. Above R: Sally Schneider of An Improvised Life came up the genius idea of using S hooks hung from a shower bar for extra towel storage.

    Go to Nautical Style to see more of our marine design discoveries, including Rope Bunk-Bed Ladders; on Gardenista, see Nautical Bulkhead Lighting.

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    Eileen Fisher Urban Life, Remodelista

    Clothes you don't have to think too much about. That's the concept that inspired Eileen Fisher to found her company. "From the beginning, I wanted to make clothes that are about comfort, ease, and elegance," she says. "Things you can throw on and wear with confidence through your day." Eileen Fisher's new Urban Life Collection pushes the idea a step further by presenting staples that take you from breakfast into the evening, no change of outfit required. 

    The m.o. behind the line is downtime gone upscale. Made of soft fabrics, Urban Life Pieces take inspiration from athletic wear, but they're also sophisticated looking—and they continue Eileen Fisher's commitment to sustainability and socially responsible manufacturing.

    Bonus for Remodelista readers: Get $50 off a $100 purchase and receive free shipping now until October 26, 2014. Enter promo code 546400 at checkout.

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above: An ensemble that captures the Eileen Fisher's Urban Life look. The Knit Shawl Collar Doubleface Coat in brushed wool is detailed with leather-trimmed pockets and hidden hand-finished seams; $598. The Skinny Jean, made in the US of organic cotton stretch denim, has a lustrous, leather-like waxed finish; $178. For work or play, add the Drawstring Backpack of black, pebbled, soft Italian leather. It's made at a family-owned factory in New York City, one of the last in Manhattan's leather district; $298. Want to know more about the slip-ons? See below. 

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above: A sweatshirt that you can take anywhere, the Organic Cotton Twisted Terry Box-Top is soft-spun organic cotton with a two-tone texture; $178.

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above L: Knit in Peru from the wool of alpacas raised high in the Andes, the Fluffy Alpaca Chainette Sweater has a comfy, straight fit. It's shown here in Dark Pearl; $278. Above R: Pair the pullover with Boyfriend Jeans, which are made in the US of organic cotton stretch denim with an Aged Indigo finish; $178.

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above: The Funnel Neck Cocoon Coat in Baby Alpaca has an artfully oversize shape. The luxurious alpaca is double-faced—roll up the sleeves for a glimpse of contrasting color inside; $498.

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above: A silvery quilted jacket with an eco-story: It's made of 70-percent recycled nylon, partially sourced from discarded fishing nets. The Recycled Nylon Puffer features an asymmetrical two-way metal zip and a subtle shirttail hemline. It's down- and feather-filled and shown here in Ash; $398.

    Eileen Fisher Urban Life Collection, Remodelista

    Above: Casual and comfortable but with an edge, the oiled black Italian nubuck Kick Flat just might be the perfect about-town shoe; $175.


      Eileen Fisher Urban Life, Remodelista

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    We've been longtime fans of High Road House, a London hotel and members' club (it's part of the Soho House group), so when we noticed that it had recently been overhauled by Alexander Waterworth Interiors, we took note. Located on the site of the historic Fouberts Hotel, in Chiswick, West London, High Road House opened in 2006 with a whitewashed, color-accented interior by Ilse Crawford. The team at Alexander Waterworth has taken it in a moodier direction, with a midcentury vibe and an art collection featuring works by London artists. 

    Club Bar

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: A seating area in the club bar; the mix of materials—black-and-white tiled floors, whitewashed brick fireplace, and polished pine floors—adds warmth to the high-ceilinged space.

    High Road House Lounge | Remodelista

    Above: A view into the club bar.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: "The brass detailing adds a refined element to the design," according to the team at Alexander Waterworth.

    Club Rooms

    High Road House Soho House Lounge | Remodelista

    Above: The team sourced many of the midcentury pieces from Mar-Den, a London purveyor of 20th-century furniture.

    High Road House Lounge | Remodelista

    Above: On display: The High Road House art collection features works by Elizabeth Price, Ryan Gander, Mark Wallinger, and emerging British artists.

    High Road House Lounge | Remodelista

    Above: "Velvet upholstery and traditional rugs keep the atmosphere warm," according to the designers.

    High Road House Meeting Room | Remodelista

    Above: A private meeting room.

    Tiny Room

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: The tiniest rooms start at $250 a night and include an en suite bath with shower; the Shaker peg rails provide ample storage opportunities.

    Small Room

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: Jielde reading lamps flank the bed.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: A view into the tiled bath.

    High Road House Bedroom | Remodelista

    Above: A pair of yellow-upholstered lounge chairs add a dash of color to the space.

    The Playroom

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: The largest rooms feature freestanding bathtubs.

    High Road House Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: A seating area with midcentury pieces.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: A rolltop bath and Cowshed toiletries.

    High Road House, a combination hotel and private members' club owned by the Soho House group, is located in West London. For booking information, go to High Road House.

    See High Road House in its original incarnation in our post Steal This Look: An Ilse Crawford-Designed Bedroom.

    Alexander Waterworth Interiors is a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory. Have a look at their work on a farm estate in Italy in our post Italian House Tour: Pastels Go Rustic.

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    Yesterday we featured the High Road House Revamp in London by Alexander Waterworth Interiors: The firm tweaked Ilse Crawford's standout 2006 design by introducing dark accents and a more muted color palette.

    We especially like the en suite baths in the Tiny Room and larger Playroom, which use traditional faucets, antique mirrors, and classic porcelain accessories against a Shaker-style paneled backdrop. Here are some key elements to replicate the look.

    N.B.: For a look at Ilse Crawford's rendition of the hotel, see Steal This Look: Ilse Crawford Shaker-Inspired Bedroom.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: The 215-square-foot Playroom has a bathtub in the bedroom and paneled walls incorporating Shaker peg rails.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: A rolltop freestanding tub sits on a square of tiled floor.

    High Road House London Redesign | Remodelista

    Above: In the Tiny Room: a miniature wash basin and just enough counter space.

    The Basics

    Farrow & Ball Mizzle Gray-Green | Remodelista

    Above: Farrow & Ball's Mizzle is a soft green-gray paint (shown on the main walls) that the company says, "resembles a west country evening mist"; $95 per gallon in an Estate Emulsion finish.

    Father Rabbit Peg Hooks | Remodelista

    Above: From Father Rabbit in New Zealand, the Father Rabbit Peg Hooks are pine with a white satin paint finish and come in two precut lengths: 700 millimeters (about 27.5 inches) for $56 NZD ($43 USD) and 900 millimeters (about 35.5 inches) for $64 NZD ($50 USD). Custom lengths are also available. For more on Shaker pegs, including additional sources, see Remodeling 101: How Shaker Peg Rails Saved My Summer.

    3-by-6 Inch White Ceramic Subway Tile | Remodelista

    Above: A patch of subway tile sits behind the wash basin: Three-by-Six-Inch Ceramic Tile is available from Subway Ceramics; inquire about showrooms and pricing.

    Faucets & Fixtures

    Rohl Edwardian Perrin and Rowe Floor Mount Tub Filler Faucet | Remodelista

    Above: Rohl's Edwardian Perrin and Rowe Floor-Mounted Tub Filler Faucet features a hand shower and cross handles; $3,150 at Vintage Tub and Bath.

    Victoria and Albert Cheshire Freestanding Bathtub | Remodelista

    Above: Victoria and Albert's Cheshire Bath is made of a composite material called Englishcast, a blend of volcanic limestone and resin that results in a naturally white tub. It doesn't have a surface coating that can chip or peel and has better insulating qualities than traditional cast-iron tubs. With white feet and a chrome drain, it's $1,785 at Home and Stone; other options are available. See more tubs in 10 Easy Pieces: Classic Freestanding Bathtubs.

    Sagittarius Churchman Basin Taps from Tap Shop 321 | Remodelista

    Above: Sagittarius Churchman Basin Taps, £72 ($115) for a pair from Tap Shop 321, offer a deck-mounted variation of the traditional faucets used at High Road House. For more ideas, see Design Sleuth: The British Cloakroom Basin Tap.

    Lefroy Brooks Ceramic Bath Wash Basin | Remodelista

    Above: The Lefroy Brooks Rectangular Ceramic Basin can be deck mounted like the Tiny Room basin; $651 at Quality Bath.

    Kohler Bayview Utility Sink | Remodelista

    Above: The Kohler Bayview Utility Sink ($899.25) is another good option; it can be paired with the Kohler Wood Sink Stand ($627.48).

    Lighting & Furniture

    Bestlite BL7 Wall Sconce in Black | Remodelista

    Above: The BL7 Wall Sconce from Bestlite in matte black and chrome is $359 at Horne.

    Design Within Reach Piana Folding Chair in Black | Remodelista

    Above: Piana Folding Chairs in black (available in five other colors) are $250 each at Design Within Reach.

    Jielde Loft Desk Lamp D6060 | Remodelista

    Above: The hotel's beds are flanked by Jielde Loft Desk Lamps (D6060) available in a range of colors and finishes; $1,428 at Horne.


    Cowshed Bath and Body Products | Remodelista

    Above: Bathrooms at High Road House are kitted out with Cowshed Bath & Body Products; priced at around $25 each from Cowshed.

    Restoration Hardware Turkish Bath Towels | Remodelista

    Above: Restoration Hardware's white Turkish Bath Towels are $28 each. For other options, see 10 Easy Pieces: Basic White Bath Towels.

    Muji Porcelain Bath Tray | Remodelista

    Above: The Muji White Porcelain Bath Tray measures about nine by four inches; $13.25 each.

    The White Company Ceramic Soap Dish | Remodelista

    Above: The White Company's Ceramic Soap Dish is £8 ($13). For more ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: Best White Soap Dishes.

    Elvang Knitted Hot Water Bottle Cover in Black | Remodelista

    Above: The Elvang Knitted Hot Water Bottle Cover is made of black alpaca wool; £70 ($112). A black Hot Water Bottle insert is £8.50 ($13.50) at Labour & Wait.

    Mar-Den Vintage Folding Dressing Table Mirror | Remodelista

    Above: The hotel's vintage floor and wall mirrors were sourced from 20th-century furniture specialists Mar-Den in London. A midcentury Folding Dressing Table Mirror is shown here.

    Black Sheep (White Light) Spotted Icelandic Sheepskin | Remodelista

    Above: From Black Sheep (White Light), an Extra Large Spotted Icelandic Sheepskin is $245 at The Line.

    For more memorable en suite baths, see our post on J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons's place in Steal This Look: Bohemian Bath in Brooklyn, and visit 10 Favorites: Baths in the Bedroom.

    More Stories from Remodelista

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    Arguably the most nicknamed piece of plumbing in domestic history—and certainly one of the most life improving—the flush toilet was invented by John Harrington, poet and godson of Queen Elizabeth I, in 1597. His creation was promptly installed at Richmond Palace for royal use but remained unavailable to the general public for another 250 years. In 1778 a US cabinetmaker acquired a patent for the flush toilet and Thomas Jefferson installed three at the White House.

    Still, this modern convenience remained exclusive—and notoriously unreliable—until it was exhibited at London's Great Exhibition of 1851. There, 800,000 visitors queued to see, use, and marvel at the attraction. What set the new version apart from its processors was the addition of a U-bend pipe and cistern that used its own tank of water for each flush. We have Thomas Crapper to thank for this added refinement (his name purportedly became popular slang when American GIs saw it emblazoned across toilets in Great Britain during WWII). Crapper went on to introduce the ballcock to the cistern, helping to conserve water. Toilet looks haven't changed a great deal over the centuries. Here's a selection of traditional shapes and styles that pay homage to the golden age of plumbing. 

    Above: A flush toilet beside a window with red privacy glass at Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. Photograph by architect Rafe Churchill, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory.

    Five to Buy

    Above: Baileys Home & Garden in the UK offers the 1930s Bathroom Kit, which includes a pedestal sink with chrome faucets (shown left), a toilet with an oak seat (shown right), plus a steel bath; £998 ($1,603.74) for the ensemble. Read about Baileys in our post Beauty & Utility.

    Above: Deborah Bowman, winner of the 2014 Remodelista Considered Design Award for the Best Amateur-Designed Bath Space, sourced her Deco-inspired toilet from Kohler. The Kathryn Elongated One-Piece Toilet is $1,039 and comes in a range of colors, including black. A more affordable option is the American Standard Portsmouth Champion Elongated Toilet, which starts at $357.99 at Vintage Tub & Bath. 


    Above: The Universal Elongated Watercloset Seat from Waterworks has a mahogany seat and is available with chrome, nickel, and other hardware fitting finishes; prices start at $993.

    Above: The 1930 Floor Standing Toilet from Duravit has a Deco appeal—it was first presented in 1930; $490 from Plumbtile (bidet sold separately).

    Above: The Vintage Connector Toilet Suite incorporates design details from the Australian Federation period with a dual-flush system; $1,460 AUS ($1,279.40) from Caroma, an Australian company with a global reach.

    Stay tuned: Later this week in our Faucets & Fixtures column, we'll be presenting five favorite water-conserving toilets.

    Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of essential everyday objects presented in the Remodelista book. Watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons, including the Hardware Store Porcelain Socket, the British Great Cloakroom Basin Tap, and the Aga and Its Lookalikes.

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    The great thing about bloggers? They chronicle their remodeling adventures and share their sources and DIY wisdom. Here are 10 great case studies (now there's no excuse to live with a bathroom that you don't love).

    Jonathan King Bathroom Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Jonathan King of East Yorkshire chronicles his remodeling adventures in his blog, 47 Park Avenue. See the whole project at Before and After: A Victorian Bath Transformed.

    Smitten Studio Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio, in Los Angeles, recently turned an unused guest bedroom into a high-style master bath. To see the project, including before, after, and in-progress shots, go to Rehab Diary: A Spare Bedroom Turned Glam Master Bath

    Meredith Swinehart of Remodelista's Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Remodelista features editor Meredith Swinehart overhauled her rental bath a while back; go to Steal This Look: The Bath in Black for ideas.

    The Merry Thought Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Caitlin of The Merry Thought recently fixed up her rental bath; the results are impressive. (We especially like the DIY towel holder; watch for it here on Thursday.)

    Daniel Kanter of Manhattan Nest's Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: New York blogger Daniel Kanter remodeled his rental bath a couple of years ago; to see more, go to Manhattan Nest.

    Caitlin Long's Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Caitlin Long of The Shingled House shared her step-by-step guide to refinishing teak with us: see DIY: How to Refinish Household Teak.

    Emma Reddington Marion House Book Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book shared her black-and-white revived bath with Design Sponge.

    Anna Dorfman of Door 16's Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Anna Dorfman orchestrated one of our favorite econo bath remodels ever; see the project at Door Sixteen.

    Sarah Lonsale's Rental Bath Makeover | Remodelista

    Above: Remodelista editor at large Sarah Lonsdale shares her tips on upgrading a rental bathroom in this Friday's Expert Advice column (stay tuned). To see the rest of her house, go to Sarah's Refined Rental in St. Helena. 

    Kitka Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: John and Juli, the owners of Mjolk in Toronto and writers of the Kitka blog, did a quick and easy remodel on their cottage bath; their splurge was a Marimekko shower curtain.

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    Blame it on the fact that I live in California, but I believe that every bathing experience should be an opportunity for another spa treatment. Here's a genius idea from Free People for instantly transforming your morning shower into a meditative moment.

    Photography via Free People.

    Above: Bundle a few boughs of fragrant eucalyptus into a bath bouquet—also known as a Tussie-Mussie—to hang from the showerhead arm. The soothing scent of eucalyptus oil is used in aromatherapy to clear the mind as well as to reduce swelling in your mucus membranes. 

    Above: All you need to make a eucalyptus tussie-mussie is a few branches and twine. A Preserved Eucalyptus Branch with long-lasting scent is $8.99 from Dried Decor and a ball of natural, unpolished Jute Twine is $1.93 from Dick Blick.

    For step-by-step instructions, see Free People.

    Above: For fragrant bouquets you can make for the bath, see DIY: Toss in a Tussie-Mussie.

    To see hundreds of Spa Baths, browse the Remodelista photo gallery. Also, check out 10 Architect-Designed Spa Spaces at Home.

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    The best room in the house for your plants is the bath. Houseplants perform well with natural light and shower mist; as an added bonus, they also purify the air. And since you probably don't have an outdoor bathtub, they also bring a touch of green indoors.

    Above: House Balalla Kavanagh in Australia by Tribe Studio Architects.

    Above: A light-filled courtyard of schefflera plants in a bath by Suppose Design Office of Japan.

    Above L: Houseplants near a window lend an outdoor bathtub feel; photograph via Skona Hem. Above R: Potted rosemary in a black pot that works with a two-toned tub in the home of Jason Gnewikow and Jeff Madalena; photograph via Design Sponge.

    Above: Mother-in-law tongues from our post Houseplants as Camouflage.

    Above L: Wild ivy wraps around a shower rod; photograph via Blood and Champagne. Above R: Succulents at the Sanitarium Spa, in San Luis Obispo, California.

    For a real outdoor bathtub experience, see 5 Favorites: Outdoor Bathtubs on Gardenista. And consider trying Erin's DIY: Maidenhair Fern for Bathroom Greenery.

    In the market for a tub? See Remodeling 101: Freestanding vs. Built-In Bathtubs. For design inspiration, have a look at our roundups of Paneled Baths and Modern Black Baths.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on Gardenista on January 29, 2013, as part of our Haberdashery issue.

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    Toilet-paper holders are not the most glamorous fixture in the bathroom, but they are undeniably essential. In 2011 we dove into two subcategories: Modern Toilet-Paper Holders and Traditional Toilet-Paper Holders. Since then many more have stepped onto the scene; here are 10 designs we're admiring.

    Ferm Living Toilet Paper Holder | Remodelista

    Above: The recently introduced Brass Toilet-Paper Holder from Copenhagen-based Ferm Living is $44 Canadian dollars ($39.30 USD) from Rove Concepts (it's currently on back order at the Ferm Living site).

    Koizumi Studio Porcelain Toilet Roll Holder from Japan | Remodelista

    Above: Koizumi Studio's White Porcelain Toilet-Paper Holder includes a beech rod. Contact Koizumi Studio in Japan for availability and shipping information; ¥4,935 JPY ($46 USD). The same design is rendered entirely in wood as well.

    Onefortythree Tissue Roll Holder in White | Remodelista

    Above: Made of bent steel with a durable powder-coat finish and a solid brass knob, the Onefortythree Tissue-Roll Holder is $30.

    Ace Hotel Los Angeles Toilet Paper Holder | Remodelista

    Above: At the Ace Hotel, in Los Angeles, Commune Design created this genius leather toilet-paper holder (we're planning to DIY this one).

    Studio Andolina Toilet Roll Holder | Remodelista

    Above: Made in Seattle from polished stainless steel, the Studio Andolina Toilet-Paper Holder is $58 via Etsy.

    Pete Oyler Roll With It Toilet Roll Holder in Brass and Stainless Steel | Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Pete Oyler, the Roll With It toilet-paper holder comes in combinations of brass, stainless steel, aluminum, and walnut; $130 at Assembly Design.

    Koizumi Studio A-W Toilet Roll Holder from Japan | Remodelista

    Above: Japanese design studio Koizumi makes the A + W Toilet-Paper Holder of aluminum and wood from the Japanese Parozu, maple, and Tagaya trees; ¥3,900 JYP ($36 USD) at T-Kiki, in Japan.

    Labour and Wait Toilet Roll Holder in Wood | Remodelista

    Above: Labour and Wait's Toilet-Paper Holder is made in England of solid oak; £22 ($36 USD).

    Diablo Toilet Paper Holder | Remodelista

    Above: London-based Yang Ripol Studio was inspired by sailing gear in their design for the Diabolo Holder for Vandiss. It's available in black or orange rope with a chrome hub at YangRipol.

    Vin Tin Toilet Paper Holder Etsy | Remodelista

    Above: The Hand-Forged Iron Modern Industrial Toilet-Paper Holder is available as part of a set (towel bar included); $73.30 from Vin Tin, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, via Etsy.

    Prefer to get creative? See our posts DIY: Cleat as Toilet-Paper Holder, Nautical Edition and Bathroom: Low-Tech Toilet-Roll Holders.

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    John Lee and Masha Bogdanova bought their first house, a three-story Victorian in Toronto, knowing that it was in need of major repair. Armed with a modest budget and an architecture degree each, they poured love and money into the neglected former rental: They rewired the entire house, replaced the windows, and gutted an entire floor. They also rehabbed one particularly unsightly bathroom that had been the victim of a 1980s-era remodel and was in bad shape.

    The couple couldn't afford to expand the five-by-seven-foot bathroom, but they established an initial $5,000 budget to brighten it up. They kept costs down by using basic white subway tile and hanging a long linen shower curtain instead of installing a glassed-in shower. In the end, they succumbed to some pricey extras: "We wanted it to feel like a gem in our simple house, so we splurged on marble mosaic tile, heated floors, and quality fixtures," says Lee. Still, they didn't go over budget much: The total tally came to $5,500. Take a look at the difference.

    Photography by Tiffany Chiang. 


    All-White Bathroom Renovation | Remodelista

    Above: Lee and Bogdanova established an all-white palette to brighten up the small space, and hung a wall-width mirror to give the illusion of depth. They installed the mirror and wall hooks themselves, but hired contractors to do the bulk of the work.

    This, says Lee, is where people often underestimate costs: "It’s easy to get caught up with the supply side, because it's definitely the more glamorous and fun-to-research part." He emphasizes factoring in realistic labor costs. See "Remodeling Reality" in the Remodelista book for advice on how to predict expenses and set a budget.

    All-White Bathroom Renovation | Remodelista

    Above: The couple no longer feels claustrophobic in their bathroom. Their only regret is that they failed to add enough storage space—"but elegant storage solutions, like niches and medicine cabinets, tend to be expensive or space-hungry, so we’ve learned to live with it."


    "Before" Bathroom of Toronto Bath | Remodelista

    Above: Lee says that, as was, the bathroom was not only badly designed but also badly kept: "It gave us the heebie-jeebies." 

    "Before" Bathroom of Toronto Bath | Remodelista

    Above: A full bathtub made the already small space feel smaller.

    Looking for more Reader Rehabs? See Danielle's DIY Kitchen Remodel for Under $500, Rental Rehab: Small Kitchen Makeover, and Reader Rehab: A Photographer's Kitchen in London

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    The space under my bathroom sink was a chaotic mess and a source of longstanding guilt for me. But every time I set out to conquer it, I felt overwhelmed and would quit before any progress was made. Finally, to streamline the process, I mapped out five ways to tackle the beast. My method worked—and I can now report, it's a simple and affordable way to maximize hidden space. Here's my five-step plan.

    Cabinet photographs by Dalilah Arja

    DIY Bathroom: 5 tips for organizing the space under the sink, storage | Remodelista  

    Above: A place for everything: My newly tamed under-the-sink cabinet has more storage, and I can put my finger on whatever I'm looking for.

    1. Pare down.

    Every organization project begins with clutter removal: Part with the stuff you don't use anymore and products that have expired. I was amazed to discover that after doing some editing, the amount of things I had to organize was actually quite manageable. 

    2. Eliminate packaging.

    Remove cotton balls, toilet paper, Q-tips, etc., from their plastic and cardboard and give them dedicated jars and baskets. 

    DIY Bathroom: 5 tips for organizing storage under the sink, jar | Remodelista

    Above: My cotton balls are compactly stowed in a Glass Canning Jar, $3.95-$11.95 at Sur la Table. See Gardenista's Favorite Canning Jars and our Canning Jar Object Lesson for more options.

    DIY Bathroom: Bobby pin organization for under the sink storage | Remodelista

    Above: The days of strewn bobby pins are over: Instead of keeping pins in their packaging (or where ever they happen to land), they're always on hand in a small polypropylene container from Muji.

    3. Utilize the vertical space.

    Invest in a shelf or pair of stackable bins to maximize the air space in your cabinet. And install hooks on an inside door or wall to hang things, such as a blow dryer and washcloth. Searching for the perfect hook? Peruse the Hooks in our Shop section.

    DIY Bathroom: Sink Organization Project, 5 Tips for Better Storage | Remodelista

    Above: Since I'm a renter, I'm hesitant to install permanent shelving. A good temporary solution is a freestanding design, such as this Wire Stacking Shelf; $12.74 from the Container Store. 

    4. Bring back the lazy Susan.

    We're not big fans of 1970s-style rotating circles on dinner tables, but for cabinets, they're invaluable. They make it possible to access items that would otherwise be stuck in the far back. 

    Concrete Lazy Susan via Etsy | Remodelista

    Above: In my search for a Lazy Susan, I discovered that the majority are made of either wood or plastic. I wanted to keep plastic to a minimum in my bath, and I worried that wood would be impractical (think leaking pipes), so I turned to Etsy and found some good alternatives. I have my eye on this handmade Large Concrete Lazy Susan; $85 from The Makerage. 

    5. Consider hierarchy.

    Organize under-the-sink products by how often you use them: Place high traffic items near the front in arm's reach, and less frequently needed goods in the back. 

    DIY: Bathroom Sink Storage, Organization Project | Remodelista

    Above: Products that I reach for daily are corralled at the front of a Linen Storage Box ($15.25 at Muji). 


    Before: DIY 5 Tips for Under-the-Sink Organization | Remodelista

    Above: A look at my sink cabinet before editing and organizing it. 

    Looking for more bathroom storage ideas? See Design Sleuth: Net Market Bag as Bath Storage and DIY: Bathroom Storage as Art Installation. And for the kitchen, consider 14 Storage Tricks to Steal from the Bathroom.

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    Lately we've been noticing the humble Alape bucket sink in washrooms everywhere (we first spotted it at Labour and Wait in London). Here's a roundup of spaces, plus a source for the sink.

    Alape Work Sink Germany | Remodelista

    Above: In the Melbourne home of Simone and Rhys Haag, an Alape sink with a ladder as towel holder. Photograph by Armelle Habib for Urbis Magazine.

    Orchard Keepers Bucket Sink | Remodelista

    Above: The Alape Enameled Bucket Sink at Orchard Keepers, in Australia, works as a small washbasin. Photograph by Sharyn Cairns via Est.


    Alape Bucket Sink

    Above: A humble bucket sink in the Old Library Restaurant washroom, designed by Australian firm Hecker Guthrie, is elevated by the addition of exposed copper piping and a painted wall mimicking tiles. 

    Alape Bucket Sink | Remodelista

    Above: Another Alape sink in the home of Simone and Rhys Haag. Photograph by Armelle Habib for Urbis Magazine.

    Alape Bucket Sink

    Above: The glazed Alape Bucket Sink features a dark PVC edge; it can be found at Labour and Wait, in London, for £140 ($225 USD).

    See our posts on Farmhouse & Utility Sinks for more ideas. For Outdoor Utility Sink inspiration, go to Gardenista.

    This post is an update; the original story ran on February 26, 2013, as part of our Bath & Spa issue.

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    For a long time, I shuddered at the thought of a bath in the bedroom. It conjured up images of an over-pouffed B & B with a tub stuck at the end of a bed. I am not sure where this image came from, but the recent spate of well designed bedrooms with tub on full display has me rethinking. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite finds:

    Casa Olivi Bedroom with Tub Remodelista

    Above: The master bederoom in Casa Olivi, a renovated rental villa in Italy. Photograph by Giorgio Possenti for Elle Decor Italia.

    South Africa Hotel

    Above: The bedroom in a South African beach bungalow in Bakoven by Pieter Silberbauer via House and Leisure. (See our post on how to Steal This Look.)

      Cubby House: Remodelista

    Above: The Cubby House designed by Edwards Moore in Australia features an Agape Spoon tub.

      HIgh Raod House

    Above: A shaker-like guest bedroom in London's High Road House designed by Ilse Crawford.

    Jenna Lyons Bathroom

    Above: Jenna Lyons' Bathroom in Brooklyn. (See our post on how to Steal This Look.)

    Bella Pollen: Remodelista

    Above: A guest bedroom with bath in the corner in Bella Pollen's Country House, via Vogue.

      Bedroom with bath: Remodelista

    Above: A London home via Nicety.

    Llyod Hotel, Amsterdam: Remodelista

    Above: A guest room with tub (and swing) at the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam.

    Rick Joy: Remodelista

    Above: A tub with a view in a home designed by Rick Joy Architects in Vermont.

    Antonio Virga Paris Loft:Remodelista

    Above: A loft in Paris by Antonio Virga.

    This post is an update; it ran on July 9, 2009, as part of our Summer Bedroom issue.





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    Bathrooms may be small, but their power needs aren't. Space constraints, the scope of activities, and soggy conditions all call for care when planning where to install electrical outlets (and how many). Here's the key to finding that perfect balance between utility and aesthetics when powering up your bath.

    Have an ingenious electrical outlet solution? Please share in the Comments below.

    N.B.: This is the fourth in our series of electrical outlet primers; scroll to the end for links to our posts on kitchen and living room outlets, as well as the latest flush-mounted wall outlets.

    Sheila Narusawa Bathroom, Remodelista

    Above: In architect Sheila Narusawa's Cape Cod bathroom, electric outlets are placed on both sides of the counter, eliminating the problem of cords snaking across the sink and allowing two users of small appliances to share the space. See the whole house in the Remodelista book. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

    Know electrical code rules and restrictions

    The first step is to educate yourself about the requirements and restrictions defined by the International Residential Code, National Electrical Code (NEC), and any local codes. The good news is that the rules primarily focus on the minimum requirements for outlet placement (by number of feet between outlets and from corners, etc.). Those minimums may be exceeded, so you can generally add outlets where necessary and desired.

    Because bathrooms are wet, they come with their own specific electrical requirements, including but not limited to the following.

    • All outlets must be GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters), to protect from electrocution.
    • There must be an outlet placed within 36 inches of the edge of the sink.
    • No installation of outlets in a face-up position on the countertop.
    • Outlets must be on at least one dedicated circuit that doesn't include the lights, so that high-watt appliances won't trip the entire bathroom electrical system and leave you in the dark. 
    • Outlets cannot be located above or closer than 36 inches to the bathtub.

    GFCI Outlet In Bathroom, Remodelista

    Above: GFCI outlets prevent electrical shocks by tripping and disconnecting the circuit power if they sense an imbalance in current flow—something that can be caused by, among other things, the presence of water. Photograph via Mocobaca Construction Materials.

    Assess your bathroom's power needs

    1. What electrical appliances do you use in the bathroom? 

    Outlet placement and number are important considerations. It's easy to underestimate your needs. Hand-powered grooming and cleaning tools are being replaced by high-tech, electrical devices—so try to take stock of bathroom appliances present and future. 

    Also consider whether electric-powered devices will be run simultaneously; if so, more circuits and outlets can be added to accommodate the load. For instance, do you have two teens who are likely to be running hair dryers at the same time? Do they also need a curling iron or hair straightener plugged-in and heating up while they're drying their hair? Plant your outlets accordingly.

    2. Where will devices with cords need to reach?

    A pet peeve of mine are hotels that place outlets where the hair dryer can't reach the mirror. Don't make the same mistake in your bathroom. Consider how and where you operate each cord-dependent appliance, and place outlets at their point of use. For some this will center around the mirror. For others, sink location is key. It's also important to locate the power so cords don't drape dangerously across water sources.

    Do you share a bathroom? Locate outlets near each user to keep battles over outlet real estate to a minimum.

    Michaela Scherrer Wash Your Hands Bathroom, Remodelista

    Above: Designer Michaela Scherrer, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Design Directory, equipped this LA bathroom with a vintage schoolhouse sink, bicycle tire mirrors, and an unapologetic utilitarian outlet. Photograph by Andrew French.

    3. Do you have bathroom appliances that charge while not in use?

    Toothbrushes, shavers, and electric skin cleaners are a few items that work cord-free but require outlets to charge while not in use. Consider placing power sources inside appliance storage areas to keep your counter clutter-free. Outlets can be installed inside cabinets and drawers, and on shelves. 

    Medicine Cabinet with Outlet, Remodelista  

    Above: Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson's favorite detail in her custom medicine cabinet is its built-in niche for an electric toothbrush. Some prefab medicine cabinets come with outlets, such as the Robern Mirrored Medicine Cabinet; $470 at Amazon. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Klopf Architecture Bathroom Nook Outlet, Remodelista

    Above: A storage nook is thoughtfully detailed with an outlet design by Klopf Architecture, in San Francisco.

    4. How tall are you?

    While code dictates distances from the sink, it offers flexibility on the height of outlet placement. To avoid deep-knee bends as part of your morning bathroom routine, position outlets in spots that make the act of plugging and unplugging comfortable. 

    5. Do you use phones and tablets in the bathroom?

    Bathrooms may be largely tech-free but not for much longer. As iPads replace magazines, and smartphones replace shelf music systems, charging electronics in the bathroom is a reality. Plan accordingly. 

    Klopf Architecture Bathroom Outlet, Remodelista

    Above: An outlet is strategically-placed below a toilet-side magazine rack in a San Francisco bath by Klopf Architecture.

    Plan with aesthetics in mind

    Small details have a large impact in bathrooms. When planning outlet placement, there are three paths to take: conceal, camouflage, or complement. In bathrooms, sometimes all three routes are taken. 


    Hiding outlets doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require advance planning. With space in short supply, the best solutions pair power with storage by placing outlets in medicine cabinets, drawers, and cabinets. 

    Bathroom outlet in drawer | Remodelista

    Above: Outlets installed at the back of bathroom drawers are convenient for hidden hair-dryer power. Photograph by Francesca Connolly for Remodelista. 

    Haptic Architects Oslo Bath, Remodelista  

    Above: Power outlets can be tucked out of sight under vanity cabinets, a solution often used in kitchens. Photograph via Haptic Architects.

    Kohler Tailored Vanity Electrical Outlet Shelf, Remodelista

    Above: Power strips installed in cabinets are perfect for charging and using bathroom appliances. Photograph via Kohler


    Outlets that fade into the background reduce visual clutter and improve the overall look of the bathroom. The first line of defense is to color-match outlets to the walls they're on. Other tactics: Lay outlets on the horizontal or run them with the grout lines in tiled backsplashes to minimize their profile. Also consider Flush Outlets that are barely noticeable when not in use.

    Loading Dock 5 Architecture Broome Street Loft Bath, Remodelista

    Above: Loading Dock 5 Architects of New York City specked a mirrored outlet cover that integrates the power source into the bathroom mirror in their Broome Street Loft design.

    Sargisson Robbins Bathroom, Remodelista

    Above: Placed for convenience, a white outlet is oriented horizontally to fit the flow of the tile in the bathroom of a Brooklyn brownstone renovated by Elizabeth Roberts, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Design Directory. See A Brownstone in Brooklyn, Reborn to tour the whole project. Photograph by Sean Slattery


    Another approach is to highlight electrical outlets, using them as a design element in the space. 

    Jessica Helgerson Design Tiny House Bath, Remodelista

    Above: Black vintage-style Push-Button Light Switches pair with outlets in a small bathroom by Jessica Helgerson Design, in Portland, Oregon. Photograph by Lincoln Barbour.

    Not remodeling soon? There are ways to reduce outlet blight. See 10 Easy Pieces: Switch Plate Covers and Switch Up Your Switch Plates for ideas.

    Read all of our electric outlet primers:

    Remodeling 101: Where to Locate Electrical Outlets, Kitchen Edition

    Remodeling 101: Where to Locate Electrical Outlets, Living Room Edition

    Remodeling 101: Flush Electrical Outlets

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    Last December I painted my bathroom black. I had always wanted to paint a room black and I'm not afraid to try something new to see how it looks. But I'll say this: I got it out of my system. For my bathroom, it was just too dark. 

    Don't get me wrong: I love a black bathroom, but I realize now that a black bath needs size or natural light—or both. (For examples of black bathrooms I envy, see Dark Water: 10 Modern Black Bathtubs.) The bathroom in my rental apartment has neither elbow room nor natural light, and my choice of the blackest black (Behr's Broadway) was not working. 

    But how does one go about painting a room from black to white to pale gray? It's about as easy as it sounds (it's hard). See where I started in Steal This Look: The Bath in Black, and read on for the enlightening details.

    Photography by Meredith Swinehart, except where noted.


    Bathroom Painted in Farrow & Ball's Lamp Room Gray, DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: My newly bright bathroom is now painted in Farrow & Ball's Lamp Room Gray. I kept the cabinets and trim the same white I had chosen when I painted the room black: Behr's Polar Bear. I painted unfinished wood candlesticks in the same shade and lined them up on top of the medicine cabinet. My light is a hardware store porcelain socket (learn about its history and where to find the nicest versions in Object Lessons).

    Bathroom in Farrow & Ball's Lamp Room Gray, DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: I had to make some decor changes in my newly not-black bathroom: I swapped my black wastebasket for a Perry Dark Basket (on sale for $14.99 at Pottery Barn) and whitewashed the formerly unfinished wood floor register in Minwax White Wash Pickling Stain ($22.76 from Amazon). I also added a white bath mat to further brighten the space; the Isaac Floral Sculpted Bath Rug is $32.50 at Pottery Barn. I left my Muji cotton shower curtain unchanged; it's been my favorite detail in the room from the moment I put it in. 

    Bathroom Artwork Above Toilet, DIY Painting Project | Remodelista

    Above: I kept a black pendant light overhead (see it in Steal This Look: The Bath in Black), and after I vanquished all the black in the room, I wanted one more dark element to relate to the lamp. I picked up a print of "A Party at Murano," a painting by Eugene de Blaas for $10 at a local antiques store and put it in an old wood frame from my grandmother's basement that I painted in Farrow & Ball's Off-Black. It hangs over the toilet. 

    Toilet Paper in Wire Bin and Birch Wood | Remodelista

    Above: In the formerly useless space above the rear cabinet, a stainless steel wire basket now holds toilet paper.

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: I'm still in love with the nautical cleats that I installed as towel hooks in my last bathroom redo. For sourcing information, see Nautical Hardware: 7 Cleats for Home Use

    Bathroom Accessories in DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: I hung a small shelf above the toilet using a four-inch-wide piece of pine that I had cut to size at Home Depot. I whitewashed it with the same pickling stain that I used on the floor register, and decorated it with a few light-catching objects, including a small jewelry display box from Loved to Death on Haight Street in San Francisco.


    Black Painted Bathroom | Remodelista

    Above: The bathroom in black; see more in Steal This Look: The Bath in Black. Photograph by Liesa Johannssen for Remodelista.

    The Process

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: I'd heard—from my mom—that the way to paint from black to white is by introducing a battleship gray in between. I used Vulcan from Dunn-Edwards, a medium gray-blue that I happened to have on hand. (See Expert Advice: Architects' Top 10 Gray Paint Picks for other recommended grays.)

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: The battleship gray was already a dramatic change from the black—so much lighter!—but was still too dark. With only one of the room's two lights on, shown here, Vulcan looked almost like black.

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: The biggest obstacle to choosing the perfect paint color for my bath is the pink and gray marble tile surrounding the tub and shower. It's not de facto ugly—I could see the tile looking beautiful in the right setting—but my bathroom is not the right setting. 

    I painted swatches of some contenders on the wall. On the top, left to right, is Benjamin Moore Linen White, Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin, and Farrow & Ball Lamp Room Gray. On the second row is Benjamin Moore White Heron. I learned from this exercise that I would need to use a primer before painting my final choice. All of my swatches are comprised of two coats—and none succeeded in covering the Vulcan gray paint. 

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: To get a better idea of how a paint color might look all around the room, I painted small canvases in a few picks. Shown here is Farrow & Ball's Lamp Room Gray, my final choice—it was the one color that gave me hope for complementing the pink marble tile. 

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: For primer I decided to be economical and go with the white paint I had on hand. This happened to be Behr's Polar Bear, the same color I used on the cabinets and trim back in December. So no straight lines required.

    DIY Painting a Bathroom from Black to White | Remodelista

    Above: Once the Polar Bear had dried, I was very happy about two things. First was my decision to prime the walls yet again before painting my final color, because the suggested black-gray-white method wouldn't have worked. The white absolutely failed to cover the medium gray. 

    Second, my suspicion was confirmed that a bright white paint would have looked terrible in the room. Though bright white is ideal for making the most of a small space, pure white walls make my pink tile and cream-colored bathtub—the two things that I don't want to stand out—stand out. 

    Black and White Print in Gray Bathroom with Decorative Shelf | Remodelista

    Above: Black still has a place in my bathroom—just not painted on the walls. 

    Browse more before and afters in Makeshift Society in Brooklyn, Scandi Whitewashed Floors, and Rehab Diary: Cobble Hill Kitchen Makeover. And see astonishing garden Before and Afters on Gardenista.

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    Trying to reduce your household water consumption? Look no further than your toilet, the No. 1 water guzzler. One of the all-time thirstiest fixtures, toilets are estimated to be responsible for upwards of 30 percent of household water consumption. And those predating the 1992 federal restrictions of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) are especially inefficient. Thanks to technological advances, a new breed of toilets offers increased efficiency and performance (early adopters may still wince at the less-than-stellar flushing capabilities of the first low-flow models). Replacing an older model with a high-efficiency WaterSense-certified toilet will reduce water consumption and lower your costs.

    We've singled out five notable toilets that meet EPA flushing guidelines of 1.28 gpf or less, and use at least 20 percent less water than the celebrated 1.6 gpf models. This is especially important if you live in California, which now limits toilets sold in the state to the 1.28 gallons per flush standard. See Sarah's 21 Tips: How to Save Water, One Drop at a Time for more ways to dry up your household.

    Kohler Persuade High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: Izabella installed the sleek high-efficiency Kohler Persuade Toilet in her guest bath. The two-piece vitreous china toilet with an elongated bowl features a top-mounted flushing button that offers the choice of 0.8 or 1.6 gallons per flush; $328.35 through Amazon (seat sold separately). Photograph by Izabella Simmons.

    American Standard Clean High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: The American Standard Clean High-Efficiency Elongated Two-Piece Toilet receives the highest marks in the WaterSense 1.28 gpf category from Consumer Reports. Made of vitreous china, it features a siphon-action jetted bowl and an Everclean surface; $219 at Lowe's.

    Toto High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: From Toto's line of high-efficiency toilets, the Toto Drake II Close Coupled Toilet has a 1.0 gpf operation that uses the company's Double Cyclone technology ("a state-of-the-art, hole-free rim design that offers a dual-nozzle bowl cleansing system that creates a centrifugal, cyclonic cleaning action"). It also features a Sana-gloss coating on the chinaware surface, an ion-barrier glazing that helps keep the toilet bowl clean; $364 at Homeclick.

    Caroma Sydney Smart High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: From Caroma of Australia, the Sydney Smart 305 Dual Flush Toilet is a one-piece, high-efficiency toilet that offers 0.8 and 1.28 gallons per flush options (and an average 0.89 gpf of water savings); $343.95 through Waterwise Technologies. Also available at plumbing retailers; visit the Caroma Retail Locator to find the nearest distributor.

    Duravit High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: Duravit's Starck 3 Two-Piece Toilet (Model D19062) has an elongated seat and siphonic jet action. It offers 1.28 gpf and is made of high-performance ceramic; $301 for the complete set at National Builder Supply.

    Kohler Wellworth High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: Highly rated for performance coupled with water savings, the high-efficiency, 1.28 gpf Kohler Wellworth Elongated Toilet touts "class 5 flushing technology"; $220.35 through Amazon.

    Niagara High Efficiency Toilet, Remodelista

    Above: The Niagara Conservation Stealth Toilet has a 0.8 gallons per flush operation, saving 37 percent more water than regular high-efficiency toilets. Made of vitreous china, this ultra-high-efficiency toilet uses a vacuum-assist mechanism for flush performance with very low noise; $173 (for the round seat model) at Plumber Surplus.

    Ready to fully embrace modern toilet technology? Having recently visited Japan, home of high-tech toilets, I am seriously considering investing in The Best Seat in the House.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 26, 2013, as part of our Bath & Spa issue.

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    The three women behind the blog The Merrythought have been coming up with some great DIY projects of late. We especially like Catilin McGrath's simple, elegant DIY towel holder made for her own rental bathroom. I plan to make one for my kids' bath and another for our mudroom to use as a scarf hanger. 

    Photography by Caitlin McGrath via The Merrythought.

    DIY Towel Ring by Merry Thought I Remodelista  

    Above: Satisfyingly elemental, the towel holder is made from a black leather strap, a metal ring (that Caitlin opted to paint copper and finish with a waterproof clear coat), and a nail (choose a color that works well with your ring). 

    DIY Towel Ring by Merry Thought I Remodelista

    Above: Cut a leather strap six to eight inches long, fold it in half, and place the metal ring in the crease. Add glue to the inside of the strap and hold together. Finally, use a nail or screw to install the towel holder to the wall. 

    DIY Towel Ring by-Merry Thought I Remodelista

    Above: The holder is sized perfectly for a hand towel. Take a look at our post on the DIY Magazine Rack for a similar leather-strap project.

    The Bathroom of Caitlin McGrath I Remodelista  

    Above: For step-by-step instructions, go to Caitlin's DIY Hand Towel Ring, and see Caitlin's Rental Bathroom Makeover for ideas to steal. 

    Check out the Remodelista Photo Gallery for more bathroom inspiration. And go to DIY Projects for more of our favorite easy ideas. Like the look of leather? See a DIY Wall-Mounted Knife Rack, Braided Leather Drawer Pulls for $1.25 Each, and 10 More DIY Projects from Leather.

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    What's the modern answer to Mary Tyler Moore's Minneapolis studio apartment? Take a look at this masterfully planned mini loft located in a century-old rescued row house in Antwerp, Belgium. Designed for Caroline Van Ranst, a young video producer making the leap from renter to owner, it's the work of Belgian architecture firm Komaan!—translation, "Come on!"

    Photography by Lisa Van Damme.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: The 430-square-foot space was initially divided into tiny rooms—the building had been converted from a house into apartments. Caroline bought her place from developers who had gutted it and were about to start building walls. She stopped their construction plans and called in Katrien Van Doren and Jerzy Bakker of Antwerp's Komaan. "I asked them to arrange the interior in the most efficient way while keeping a spacious feeling and being creative with a limited budget," she says. 

    Using a palette of white paint and plywood, the architects left the space open while providing a place for everything. In the entrance, shown here, a built-in vestibule artfully divides the living room and kitchen zone from the bedroom. To add texture, the living room entry wall is paneled with painted fiberboard.

    Provincie apartment Antwerp by Komaan! Architects Lisa Van Damme photographer |  Remodelista

    Above: Caroline works for Antwerp production company Rococo and furnished the apartment with finds from vintage stores. Asked whether it's hard to live with so much white, she says, "I love the all-white interior. White makes my small space look big, it keeps everything light, and it's easy to decorate. There's plenty of built-in storage, so I store everything in cupboards. Also not having much stuff helps. I like it bright and simple." Looking for a lamp like hers? See Object Lesson: Noguchi's Iconic Akari Lights.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: Built from pine plywood, the vestibule has shelves on one side and hooks on the other. It also encompasses a tiny room with a toilet.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: Caroline sticks with all-white bed linens and curtains.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: The sloping wall opposite the entry is a complex puzzle: "It embraces a bathroom [shower and sink], built-in storage, and kitchen, all in one volume," Jerzy says. The contractor, he tells us, built the bathroom sink to the architects' specs from MDF clad with polyester.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: Caroline sits on an Eames Chair at her Ikea kitchen table. The floor is painted oriented strand board, a kind of particle board.  

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: The kitchen cabinets were custom built. The hanging lights are by Zangra, a Remodelista favorite—see Belgian Basics Arrive Stateside.

    Provincie apt in Antwerp by Komaan! architects, Lisa Van Damme photo | Remodelista

    Above: A tiny terrace opens off the bedroom. What more could you want?

    Provincie apt by Komaan! of Antwerp | Remodelista

    Above: Komaan's plan for the studio: zones within an open space, and a tidy but hardworking kitchen area.


      Before shot of Caroline Van Ranst's apt in Antwerp | Remodelista

    Above: When Caroline bought the apartment, developers had gutted it and were getting ready to do their own remodel. "It looks like four walls and a lot of rubbish," she says.

    Figuring out how to make do with very little space? See our posts Survival Guide: Life in a Tiny Apartment, Brooklyn Edition, Expert Advice: 10 Tips for Living in 240 Square Feet, and A Shape-Shifting Studio Apartment in London. On Gardenista, take a look at a Garage Turned Studio Apartment.

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    Several months ago, my close friends Serena Cameirano and Ron Keizer bought their first place together, a two-story 1930s row house in San Francisco. The structure is in great shape—I'm more than a little jealous—but a few rooms and the entire basement floor leave something to be desired. Since the purchase alone stretched their budgets, the pair resolved to do all home improvement work themselves. They even thought it would be fun. 

    Not knowing where to start, they first took aim at the basement, a dingy dungeon with red vinyl-upholstered walls reminiscent of a padded cell. But two weeks later, having direly misjudged the time it would take, they quit to welcome houseguests and resolved to pick up the project after their company left. That room is still a mess, but between then and now, the basement bathroom became the most polished room in the house. How? Together we learned there's nothing like a deadline to make amazing things happen quickly. 

    Photography by Meredith Swinehart.


    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Knowing that Remodelista's DIY Bath Week was impending, I suggested to my friends that we redo their bathroom together as a firsthand story. Feeling this just might be the impetus they needed, they gamely said yes. They now have a shiny new bathroom. 

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: How did we do it on such a short timeline? My friends had a contractor in mind—a friend of a friend (more on that later)—and he was available to start right away. We shopped for tile on day one, looking only at options that were already in stock. For the shower surround, we chose basic white subway tile—to me, the best choice if you're on a budget. We used Daltile Rittenhouse Square Three-by-Six Modular Wall Tile in white; $22 for 12.5 square feet at Home Depot. (In addition to being affordable, it's made in the US.) 

    Above: For the floor, we selected 12-by-24-inch natural slate tile from Ceramic Tile Design in SF for $5.10 a square foot. It wasn't in stock, but could be shipped from another store free of charge within five days. We knew the contractor could start on the shower in the meantime, so that was good enough. 

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: My friends' sink was in fine shape, so we left it and the faucet alone. We had the contractor remove two rusted, wall-mounted soap dishes, a toilet paper holder, and a towel bar, and we replaced those with basics from Home Depot: a Lyndall 18-Inch Towel Bar for $24.98 and a Lyndall Single-Post Toilet Paper Holder for $19.98, both in polished chrome from Delta. For the trash bin, we used a Curved Storage Basket made of eco-friendly water hyacinth; $29 for the small basket at West Elm. 

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: We struggled with the mirror. As was, the bathroom sported an aging mirror with partly rusted hardware over a custom-made medicine cabinet. We tried and failed to find a mirror that would cover the dimensions of the recess, intending to hang it with hinges so it would function as a working cabinet. In the end, we purchased a cheap mirror from Home Depot and tucked it into an Ikea Ribba Frame in medium brown; $19.99 for a 19-by-27-inch frame. We hung it over the cabinet like a piece of art, so the recessed cabinet is no longer in use. We placed a Bestående Detergent Dispenser on the sink as a soap pump; $8.99 at Ikea.

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: Serena put in a special request for a few succulents perched in the well of a pass-through window (which for some odd reason opens into the garage). We found three small plants at Home Depot for $2 each and repotted them in two White Porcelain Sencha Teacups ($4.75 each) and a White Porcelain Yunomi Teacup ($4.75), both from Muji and made in Japan.

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: A new Ticking Stripe Shower Curtain ($59 from West Elm) now hangs from a 72-inch Tension Rod in chrome; $16.99 from Home Depot. We used Bringen Shower Rings from Ikea; not listed on their website, but $5.99 for a set of 12 in store. 

    The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The last of the accessories: an Acacia Square Plate; $6.50 from Muji, and a Mixed Weave Bath Mat—100 percent cotton and made in India—for $29 from West Elm. 


    Before Photo, The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The existing bathroom was surrounded in 1970s-era, blue faux tile. Yes, you read that right: faux tile. The walls were covered in huge bands of plastic—the three of us had never seen this before, and we hope to never see it again. 

    Before Photo, The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The showerhead and bathtub faucets were old and leaky, so my friends asked the contractor to remove them prior to installing the new tile. He took off the surface fixtures but didn't remove any of the actual plumbing, so this is one fix that didn't make the deadline. The contractor is now figuring out how to install new shower fixtures around his new tile. (We're guessing he can't, and that some of the beautiful new shower tile will need to be destroyed. Fingers crossed that this is not the case.)

    Before Photo, The Two-Week Budget Bath Remodel | Remodelista

    Above: The floor was covered in dotted green linoleum. Beneath that was dark red, 1940s-era ceramic tile. 

    The Budget

    Serena and Ron wanted to keep the cost of their bathroom remodel under $2,000. That didn't happen. See the next section for lessons learned about labor costs; here's the breakdown of their actual expenses.

    Slate tile, 70 square feet at $5.19 per square foot: $396

    White subway tile, 90 square feet at $1.76 per square foot: $173

    Installation materials purchased by contractor (shower sealant, grout, tools): $700

    Installation materials purchased by homeowner (paint, slate tile sealant): $52

    Labor for two contractors at $40 per hour (removal of existing faux tile and flooring, installation of shower and floor tile, painting of walls and ceiling): $2,700

    Decor (shower curtain, wastebasket, bath mat, lighting, outlets, towel bar, toilet paper holder, mirror, frame, accessories): $311

    Total = $4,332 

    Lessons Learned

    • Be mindful of labor costs. Serena and Ron hired one contractor—the aforementioned friend of a friend—at $40 an hour to do an estimated two to three days of work. Two people showed up, each at $40 an hour, and took five days to finish the job. Had they to do it over again, my friends would have gotten competitive bids from tile setters and held them to it. 
    • Be clear with your contractor about at what point the work is finished. After the crew was "done" tiling, we spent a lot of energy cleaning up—scrubbing excess grout off the shower walls and painting over accidental swipes of black grout on white walls. 
    • If something can go wrong, trust that it will—and everything takes longer than you think it will. We did quite a bit of the work ourselves—everything but removing the existing finishes, installing the new tile, and painting the room a fresh coat of white—and it was, well, quite a bit of work. My partner in crime, Serena, had never done anything like this before, and I am notorious for misjudging how much time a project will take. For example: Swapping out an existing light fixture sounds like it might be a 10-minute project. But while removing the fixture, the head of an ancient screw popped off, and we had to pry out the screw with pliers. The arcane electrical wire was about as easy to bend as a rock—it took us 45 minutes to wrap it around the new fixture without snapping off when we shoved the wires back in. And we did this in the dark because we had to turn off the power in the bathroom, but we misjudged the source of electricity for one of the outlets. (Next time: Invest in a Voltage Tester). Thankfully, both of my friends live to tell the tale—and plan to take a lot of relaxing baths to recover from their first remodel. 

    For more bath renovation chronicles, see Reader Rehab: A Budget Bath Remodel with Little Luxuries, Rehab Diaries: A Spare Bedroom Turned Glam Master Bath, and the Remodelista Considered Design Awards 2014 Best Amateur-Designed Bath Space.

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