Last month, I shared my basement bathroom makeover with you. It was the first of two bathrooms to be renovated last Fall, with the second one being our main floor bathroom.

As I mentioned in previously, there were features that I was sure I wanted upstairs, before I completed the basement bathroom. Once the basement bathroom was finished, I realized that some of the same features would not work upstairs. The glass shower door was one such feature. The other was under-floor heating. We like the heated tiles in the basement, but decided they wouldn’t make enough of a difference upstairs, so we went without. We haven’t regretted either of these decisions.

The upstairs bathroom became a combination of high and low budget items. Although I’d like to say that I had a master plan in mind before we began the demolition, I will admit that I only had this room partially composed before the work began. The ‘retro’ style sort of evolved unintentionally.  The tiles came first, including the accent wall. Then came the vanity design. When I saw all the elements together, I realized that my vintage fabric would be the perfect finishing touch.

This is not a trendy bathroom, like the basement one. It’s a blending of a bunch of elements that I like, and it’s extremely practical. It’s also a work in progress. Hubby doesn’t know it yet, but that art is just temporary!


This bathroom was a mish-mash of original items plus inexpensive updates that did nothing to enhance the style of the space. I hated having the garbage and laundry bins on display. This room also functions as the powder room for guests, as there is no other bathroom on the main floor.

BEFORE — How did we live with this for so long? The wall tiles are original. The floor tiles and inexpensive vanity were added later and are only marginally better than the originals.
BEFORE — Most of the useful storage space is in that linen tower. However, having it separate from the vanity was an eyesore. Ugh!
BEFORE — The tile around the tub had gotten so bad that we had one of those acrylic liners dropped in over the tile. We loved having towel bar inside the shower, until it broke!


There was nothing worth saving in the old bathroom. The plan was to create a new vanity with all the storage we would need, including a space for garbage and laundry bins. All new plumbing fixtures were a must. Better lighting and more ‘pretty’ were also badly needed.

IN PROCESS – We took everything down to the studs
IN PROCESS — New tub, new tile. And, because our main floor is half a story up from the entrance to our house, we gained a storage niche in the wall above our main entrance closet. 
IN PROCESS — I spotted these sunflower tiles on a trip to my favourite Habitat for Humanity Restore. It took me a while to figure out how to use them, but I like the way they bring the grays and browns together.
IN PROCESS —  These plank tiles also came from the Restore, and worked well with the sunflower tiles, so of course I took them home.

For continuity with the rest of our main floor, we chose a weathered gray finish on white oak for our vanity. This ties in nicely with our hardwood floors outside this room. Note that storage in this vanity is almost all drawers. The only cupboard doors are below the sink. Although there is only one sink, there are two mirrors and plenty of space for two people to primp and preen. Installing two tall mirrors actually made the room feel much taller and larger.

AFTER: The custom vanity has tons of storage. I prefer drawers to doors for keeping toiletries organized. Under the sink is a pull-out garbage & recycling bin, as well as an outlet for charging small appliances, like our toothbrush.  Countertops are quartz. Faucet is from Costco. I added a built-in soap dispenser to do away with the messy soap bottle. Wall colour is AF-80 Jute from Benjamin Moore. The ‘art’ you see here is temporary. It’s actually wrapping paper that’s been framed like a poster. It has a bit of a vintage travel vibe. When we find something more suitable, we will replace these pieces.
AFTER: I decided to install all the sunflower tiles together to create a ‘carpet’ on the wall. I love the texture and the way they pull together the vanity and floor colours. Our guests have mistaken this feature for metal, or old tin ceiling tiles. 
AFTER:  One of my favourite parts of this vanity are those last two pullouts on the right side. They hold full size laundry bins that I can remove to transport them to the basement laundry room. I put a lot of thought into this end of the vanity, as it’s the side that you see when the door is open. In order for this bathroom to double as a powder room, that sight-line was very important. Instead of an ugly linen tower, you now see a mirror that reflects the pretty flowers and colourful drapery fabric.
AFTER:  Yes, we opted for a traditional alcove tub in this space. We don’t use a tub, but in our neighbourhood, the next owners will likely have kids, and they will need a tub. The shape of the tub only adds to the retro feel. The Delta HydroRain showerhead allowed us to have a rain showerhead without dropping  it from the ceiling. We adding a recessed light over the tub, and installed towel bars at one end so that bath towels can dry out of sight. As you can see, our floor tiles were also installed on the ceiling of the shower. The fabric is vintage, and it adds punch to the neutral scheme while pulling together the grays and browns.

We love our new bathroom, and the fact that it functions both as a day-to-day family bathroom and a powder room for guests. All the messy stuff, like garbage and laundry, are tucked out of sight, and the lack of clutter is very calming. The vintage fabric around the tub adds an elegant drapery element, even though there is no window. I had that fabric stored away for years, ever since I spotted it at an art fair. Once I saw how the room was coming together I pulled it out of storage, et voila! It makes me smile every time I walk in the room.

Jeanne Grier is an award-winning interior decorator and owner of Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors. With over 25 years’ experience in the Toronto area, she has completed hundreds of makeovers. Her expertise extends to fireplaces, and she is an NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialist. She and her husband Colin operate a retail showroom in the Toronto area, featuring over 50 electric fireplaces, as well as wall coverings and fireplace accessories. 

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