Interior designer Kirsten Blazek has two words to describe the ’80s-era bathroom in her Brentwood Traditional project: mirrored hell. “My first thought was, who would ever want to be naked in here?” she says, laughing. “There were literally floor-to-ceiling mirrors everywhere — it was just too much.” 

Armed with statement wallpaper, Semihandmade Tahoe Impression fronts, and plenty of white paint, Blazek and team managed to take the space from ’80s glam to modern escape in a matter of weeks. “It was a total gut job,” she shares. “We ripped out the mirrors, floors, cabinets, countertops, bathtub, wallpaper, shower — everything.” 

Mirrors aside, the lighting and the layout proved to be the two biggest challenges in this project. “It’s a very long, narrow bathroom — almost galley-style,” she explains. “Coupled with one window and poor natural light, we certainly had our work cut out for us.” 

Ahead, see how Blazek and team gave this dated bathroom a modern yet elegant facelift (all without knocking down walls or restructuring the space).  

Before

White bathroom with 80s tub

After

White clawfoot tub with stool in the bathroom

Create “Design Moments” to Transform a Long, Awkward Space

Making sense of the narrow layout was the first order of business for the AXB team. “We decided to create little ‘moments’ throughout the space to make the long layout feel more intentional,” she explains, referencing the free-standing soaking tub, statement vanity, and cozy bench nook. “Dividing the space up really made it feel purposeful and organic instead of awkward.”

White corner bench in the bathroom

Vintage rug by Blue Parakeet Rugs

Add Art & Millwork to Bring Warmth into a Bathroom

Traditionally speaking, bathrooms tend to err on the utilitarian side. But Blazek and team wanted this space to blend seamlessly with the rest of the house. “We added wall art, textiles, and shiplap to make the space feel warm and inviting — not just a bathroom, but an extension of the home,” she explains. “There’s actually shiplap in the kitchen, too, so the bathroom really plays off of that aesthetic.”

The floral wallpaper is actually a nod to the adjoining bedroom. “There were a lot of mauve tones in the bedroom, so we just ran with that color palette in the bathroom,” she explains. “The pattern really ties into the traditional feel of the home, but set against frameless oak cabinets and clean white countertops, it still feels modern.”

Before

Narrow bathroom with lots of mirrors

After

Mauve wallpaper in a warm wood bathroom

Lighten & Brighten With Bone Hardwood and Reflective Gold

White paint is always a foolproof way to lighten and brighten a space, but Blazek and team wanted to take it a step further.

“We added seven light fixtures to this bathroom,” she explains, referencing the four wall sconces and three ceiling pendants. The flooring was also a key factor in lightening up the aesthetic. “I didn’t want the floors to clash with the light oak Tahoe cabinets, so we went with a light, bone-colored hardwood,” notes Kirsten. “They really reflect what little natural light the space gets, and I love the way they turned out!”

Finally, the gold accents speak to the spaces’ classic feel while reflecting light around the room. “I think the gold light fixtures, mirrors, and drawer pulls really tie the space together — they’re modern in style but traditional in color,” she adds. “I think we nailed the modern yet elegant feel!”

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.
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