Neutral territory

by Andrea Haraldsen
Final Bathroom sink area

When it comes to planning a bathroom makeover, it helps to have a solid plan and vision for the room. I had three things I wanted to accomplish in this space to give it a fresh feel.

First, I wanted to open up the shower. The original enclosed shower felt confined and blocked the natural light from entering the space. Second, I wanted to update the vanity; it was short, stout and lacked counter space.

Shower after picture


  1. Keep the existing footprint. Since I didn't move any bathroom fixtures, it kept the costs down and helped avoid any unforeseen issues.
  2. Rework the vanity. The existing vanity was solid wood and had a bit of vintage charm, so I decided to work with it. I painted it a lovely grey tone to match the shower pan and updated the hardware. I added height to the countertop by including a large bevelled edge, making it look like a chunky slab sink.
  3. Choose clearance tile. Smaller bathrooms don't need a ton of tile, so you can often save money by checking out the clearance section, where the quantities might be lower, but so are the prices. I selected a simple white artisan tile from the sales section of the hardware store. I love that I didn't have to wait for it to be ordered, and the unique look of the artisan tile makes the bathroom look more expensive.
Before Bathroom image

Finally, I wanted to brighten up the overall space. I have to admit, part of me loved the vintage wallpaper, but it was better suited for a quirky rental unit. So, with my clear vision, I got to work. For tile selection, I kept it modern and sleek. I chose a simple white artisan tile for the shower surround, a grey hexagon tile for the shower pan and a ceramic tile for the bathroom floor.

The original shower was dark and tiny, not the ideal washing experience, so I knew I wanted to tear down the shower wall and open things up. The original plan was to tear down the wall entirely and move the shower faucet to the back wall. I ran into a snag with this plan, as the back wall did not have enough depth to contain the plumbing. And since you can't have plumbing on an outside wall, my only choice was the wall we were tearing down. The thought of keeping that wall was not an option. As a compromise, my contractor ended up building a pony wall for the shower faucet with a glass wall to the ceiling. This solution worked out well, because the pony wall acts as a shampoo shelf and the glass wall still lets in lots of natural light.

I decided to keep the palette neutral in colour with hints of black contrast – this keeps the space looking fresh and modern. I also added a few DIY touches, such as the faux marble towel ring.

In the end, I am so pleased with the way this tiny but mighty ensuite makeover turned out.