before and after: bathroom renovation

I’m always amazed when I look back at the before photos at the end of a project. I kind of forget what things were like before the walls came down and floors torn up because soon into the start of a project the end result is already in my mind. The photos speak volumes to the changes and confirm the decisions made along the way to better the space. This project is no exception. A long time client of mine recognized it was time to not only update her basement bathroom from a style perspective but create a space far more efficient and practical then what she currently had.

The ‘before’ bathroom was a divided space, a sink/vanity area out in the open (notice the carpet!) and through the door, a shower, toilet and additional sink. Not practical and certainly lacking in style, my clients requested a makeover.  On the list: create a stylish, yet practical bathroom with tub, shower, vanity AND storage. With the bathroom 6′ wide by 10′ long and still a rather small space, decisions had to be made carefully and thoughtfully. We also needed to take into consideration the grandchildren who would use this space as it is close to the ‘play room’ and TV watching area of the home.

If you’d like to see our initial concept please visit the bathroom reno sneak peek.


The tub was one of our first selections, a Victoria & Albert free standing beauty. We offset the white tub with black granite tiles on the wall to create a dramatic visual from the doorway as well as a surface with easy maintenance for any splashing from the tub. After all, creating drama in a space need not compromise practicality.

We opted to make the surface area of the custom vanity smaller in order to accommodate a pantry style unit, floor to ceiling, offering the space a huge amount of storage. To give a more spacious feel we lifted the vanity off the floor allowing the tile to continue to the wall. This a great tip in making spaces feel larger!

Because this bathroom is in a basement we needed to deal with a foundation wall we could not move. Embracing the ‘issue’ we created a ledge for display and decorative storage. Renovations do bring about surprises but finding creative solutions will often yield great results.

The bathroom is also a mix of masculine and feminine touches and rich textures. We used cafe mocha colours along with dramatic black, yet softened the space with finishing touches of pinks and a hint of red. Along with the graphic black and white geometric prints, three custom canvases from Bijou et Boheme‘s shop Wink of Pink add the perfect amount of softness in the space. If you’re not familiar with Christine’s new shop you must check it out. Please!

We used a mix of natural stone and porcelain tiles, a give and take approach to the budget. The natural stone mosaic ‘area rug’ is surrounded by less expensive 12″ x 12″ porcelain tiles to offset the costs and allow the carpet to take center stage. Natural stone in the shower adds texture and interest, a great visual through the glass shower walls….

….which is another way to create an open and spacious feel in a small bathroom. This way the site line is not impeded by walls and the flow of natural light carries throughout the space, even with such a small window.

Let’s recap: Here are 5 tips for a small space bathroom renovation

  • use glass to create an open feel and let natural light flow through the space
  • lift vanities off the floor to make the floor space feel larger
  • use height to your benefit with ledges, shelves and floor to ceiling storage
  • custom cabinetry yields the ideal size and depth to suit your space
  • bring drama and impact into a small space by mixing textures and adding high contrast such as black and white.

I’m pretty thrilled with the results, as is my client. And that my friends is a great feeling!

Nyla Free Designs is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs also offers an online design service through Design in a Box.


Comments 10

  1. Nyla….the bathroom is GORGEOUS!!! I’m beyond honoured that you chose my artwork to help complete your vision- thank you, thank you!!!! xoxo

  2. Nyla,
    What a gorgeous bathroom renovation and such a dramatic difference! I particularly like how you have lifted the vanity off the floor and the high contrast colour.

  3. Just gorgeous, Nyla! Those were some pretty bad before pics. Your clients must be loving the new space!

  4. Wow, what a gorgeous bathroom! Great work Nyla!

    My parents just bought a condo downtown that’s in need of work and I’m trying to convince my mom to buy a free-standing tub. I’ll definitely send her these photos. :)

  5. Wow, amazing job! Hip, functional and timeless – great work – dealing with basements can be tricky!

  6. Love it! That vanity and storage is fabulous, I love the legs.

  7. Fantastic Reno! Do you mind me asking who did the custom cabinets?

  8. Looks fantastic. Both our bathrooms are in dire need of a reno. I’ll definitely keep you in mind. We were recently on vacation on Maui and our condo had a light in the I want one..but both bathrooms are basically a total gut.

    PS Nyla, I loved finding your blog. You probably don’t remember us from the home group we all used to attend together thru Grace Baptist Church.

    take care

    • @Kathy in Calgary

      Hi Kathy, of course I remember you! Those were good times :)
      Good luck with the bathroom renos. Hotels are always great for inspirations…especially Maui! I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting.


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