Basic Bathroom Gets a Graphic, Modern Renovation

When I think back to how many places I’ve called home throughout my life, I realize just how many boring, basic bathrooms I’ve lived with—and the answer is “too many.” I mean, they’re fine in that they were functional, but for a design-obsessed person like myself, they were enough to make me cringe on a regular basis.

When we chose to partner with TOTO earlier this year, we decided that the gorgeous TOTO fixtures were way too amazing to live in my basic bathroom (see before photos at the end!). That led to the decision to try to elevate the rest of the space to do those fixtures some justice. As we mentioned before, we brought in designer Joyce Elizabeth Tranchida, of online interior design platform Decorilla, who graciously helped me hone in on what I liked and wanted after I obsessively pinned for a few weeks. After some back and forth with Joyce, here’s the mood board I finally decided on:

Decorilla magically turned the mood board into 3D renderings that looked so incredibly real that I wanted to fast forward to the finished product. However, unlike on television, renovations take time—which I quickly learned!

3D rendering by Decorilla designer Mladen Čvokić

3D rendering by Decorilla designer Mladen Čvokić

As you’ve probably heard from anyone who’s ever done any kind of renovation, issues come up that delay the project and that’s what happened here, but more on that later! It’s time for the final reveal because it’s finally DONE!

Once the TOTO products were selected, the rest of the design all started with that incredible tile from TileBar that I completely fell in love with. For the floor, we went with elongated hex tiles in a matte black and for the shower and main wall, the hex penny tiles in matte white with black grout. I can be slightly afraid of color, especially for something that’s permanent, so black and white was the perfect way to start the space. I highly suggest hiring a professional tile person and not just any contractor, especially if you’re planning to do any kind of small tile like penny or mosaic. Penny tile is much harder to install and can easily be done incorrectly… and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened the first go-round. After learning my lesson, I brought in an expert to finish the job and it was definitely the right decision!

To finish off the shower, we worked with Coastal Shower Doors, who created a custom door that worked for my space and shower setup. I love the thick glass and black frame, and how it goes almost all the way to the ceiling, while still allowing some ventilation around the door. They were very helpful in selecting the right design and helping me find an installer.

The space isn’t that large and there aren’t any windows, so it needed lots of white to brighten it up. IKEA makes really great bathroom vanities and I got mine in glossy white, which I think gives it an even higher-end look. It came with white handles, but we opted to go with matte black ones so they would pop against the white doors. The vanity came with a ceramic sink and we chose a TOTO faucet to pair with it to make it look more custom.

The bathroom has always been dark, as the only three windows are on the opposite side of the apartment, so lighting was key. It’s hard to find great bathroom lighting, but luckily Sonneman makes  beautiful, sleek fixtures and I knew I had to get one. I love the minimalist look of their Stix Bath Bars. On the opposite wall, a sconce was added in matte black to blend in with the paint.

To break up all of the black and white, the space needed a pop of color. I’m not normally a green person, but once I spotted those Marimekko towels with the green band, I was sold! When the green was decided upon, we scoped the artwork over on and chose this Lula print in Emerald Green—it matches perfectly. At that point, we thought bringing in another metal besides the chrome of the TOTO fixtures would warm it up, so we selected copper and ordered the Minted print with a copper frame. One copper item isn’t enough, so we scoured the internet for copper accessories and landed on a copper trash can from Umbra.

Various accessories (see below) were incorporated from CB2, H&M, Target, and ones I already owned, like the Boxcar Set of planters from Revolution Design House, which I repainted green to match and filled with succulents for texture and more greenery.

While I’m not ready to jump on another large renovation right now, I would definitely consider doing one in the future. I feel like the first one is just a major learning experience where things are going to go wrong, your timeline will triple, and so will your budget. That being said, I have no regrets and I’m really happy with the outcome!

Source List

TOTO Products
Toilet – Carlyle II Connect+ S350e One-Piece Toilet – 1.0 GPF
Washlet – Connect+™ WASHLET® S350e
Faucet – Soirée Single Handle Lavatory Faucet, 1.5 GPM
Showerhead – Modern Series Aero Rain Shower 8″ – 2.0 GPM
Shower Control – Nexus® Pressure Balance Valve Trim without Diverter
Towel Holder – Neorest® Bath Towel Holder
Hand Towel Holder – Neorest® Hand Towel Holder
Robe Hook – Legato® Robe Hook
Toilet Paper Holder – Legato® Paper Holder

Tile (Courtesy of TileBar)
Floor – Aliante Porcelain Tile
Shower + Wall – Eden White Hexagon Matte Ceramic Tile

Shower Door (Courtesy of Coastal Shower Doors)
Modified version of Synthesis

Lighting (Courtesy of All Modern)
Vanity light – SONNEMAN – A Way of Light Stix 40″ LED Bath Bar in Satin Black (40″ no longer available)
Sconce – Federica 2-Light Wall Sconce in Carbon – Matte Black

Art (Courtesy of
Print – Lula in Emerald Green by Parima Studio

Vanity – IKEA GODMORGON / ODENSVIK Sink Cabinet with 4 drawers in high gloss white
Vanity handles – Berenson 1068-4055-P Satin Black Bravo 9-1/16 Inch Long Finger Cabinet Pull
Shower shelves – Kohler Choreograph 14″ Floating Shelf and Kohler Choreograph 14″ Floating Shelf in Anodized Dark Bronze
Trash can – Metalla 3 Gallon Waste Basket by Umbra (Courtesy of
Bath towels – Siirtolap Towels by Marimekko
Hand towels – Siirtolap Hand Towels by Marimekko
Wall shelf – Diamond Cross Planes Shelf from Urban Outfitters
Copper candleholders – Metal Tea Light Holder from H&M
Green/wood planters – Boxcar Set from Revolution Design House
Plus sign bowl – Cheeky Memphis Mini Bowl at Target
Black & white cube – Catchall from Nate Berkus for Target
Copper bowl – Push Solo Bowl by Fundamental
White bowl – Small Scallop Bowl from Element Clay Studio
‘W’ cup – Design Letters Melamine Cup
Black bath accessories – Rubber Coated Black Bath Accessories from CB2
Wall paint – Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa Paint in black
Outlets – Legrand Adorne Collection

Before photos:

After photos by Raymond Goodman.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.