Modern Traditional Bathroom Renovation

Our 1962 home is a four-story split level. On the ground floor, there is access to the garage, a closet, a bedroom (turned home gym), a set of stairs down to the basement, and another set leading up to the kitchen and “main living area.” I don’t think the bathroom had been updated at all since 1962 other than perhaps fresh wallpaper or paint- it was a time capsule!

When we started our home renovation, the bathroom was not high on the priority list because we had a few other projects to focus on (see above for links to our kitchen and main living area renovations). However, our main floor renovation rolled into the entry level thanks to replacing stairs and ripping out drywall, which led to ripping out the floors, which led to gutting the bathroom! Gotta love that “scope creep” with a major renovation!


The Before

This was (and still is) a small 3/4 bathroom: in about 40 sqft, there is a shower, small vanity, and toilet, with not much room for anything else! The shower wall tile appeared to be original, though the floor had two layers of tile, so apparently it was in fact “updated” at some point. A sliding glass shower door, painted-over wallpaper, basic vanity light, and painted-but-clearly-old vanity cabinet did not really do anything pleasing for the eye. Let’s just say it was functional but desperately needed an update! Oh, and because everyone always asks… the door behind the toilet is a laundry chute! It dropped off right next to our water heater and the chute itself was very small and not functional, plus it really wasn’t necessary anymore because this bathroom is really only used by guests.

1960's to Modern Traditional Bathroom Renovation: Sima Spaces

The Design Plan

I wanted this space to feel cohesive with the rest of the home and living space that I had designed thus far, but wanted it a little bit of it’s own personality as well. Our home has a modern traditional style, so I carried that through in the details of the vanity, hardware and fixtures. I selected a traditional wallpaper that is a warm beige, a color that has been repeated in every area of our home, and decided to go bold and paint the ceiling a dark forest green (Forest Floor by Benjamin Moore). A warm beige subway tile shower base plus a charcoal gray penny tile shower floor complements the rest of the finishes and gives a clean, updated, yet traditional vibe as well. I had originally chosen a polished white penny tile, but thought it looked to stark against the black slate, so had a last minute change-up from the original plans.

1960's to Modern Traditional Bathroom Renovation Design Plans: Sima Spaces

We carried the slate tile floor through from the entryway and hallway in the same herringbone pattern. We also replaced the window at the same time as the other windows on our main level, so the clean white window with 6 panes on top lends a more updated traditional look as well. I finished off the window with a striped linen roman shade, which contrasts from the wallpaper and adds some warm texture to the room.

We chose to do a shiplap on the ceiling because we know that we will be renovating the bathroom above it and will need access to the plumbing. This way, we’ll be able to remove a few planks in order to be able to access the plumbing above when it’s time! I painted the shiplap with a satin finish paint (Forest Floor by Benjamin Moore).

1960's to Modern Traditional Bathroom Renovation: Sima Spaces

The Renovation Process

Without going into a lot of detail, I’ll just say that this renovation took some TIME. Josh did all of the electrical and plumbing work and it took some time to get it all inspected. The tile was not fast either… turns out laying natural stone tile in a herringbone pattern is one of the most complicated tile jobs to do, ha! And then there was the wallpaper. Oh, the wallpaper. I didn’t know what I was doing and it all fell off. Yep, you read that right! It fell OFF THE WALL! Luckily I was able to salvage most of it but did end up using every last scrap of paper that I had ordered. (Tips: “book” the paper by pasting glue on the paper and letting it sit before installing. Also be sure to close off any air vents that could affect your drying pattern!)


The Reveal

Ok, I will admit that I actually revealed the bathroom on my Instagram account way back in July. I am just verrrry behind on keeping up to date on the blog here, sorry! Without further ado, here is a closer look at our “new ” bathroom!

1960's to Modern Traditional Bathroom Renovation: Sima Spaces

We added a towel rack in the shower for some extra storage for towels and the bath rug when not in use. The handheld shower was also a somewhat last-minute add-on. We realized that this will be the primary spot that we’ll give Dexter (our dog) his baths, and a handheld shower makes that job a lot easier!

The combination of materials in here really adds so much interest and depth to the space. I love how the slate tile and the charcoal penny tile pair with each other! And how fun is that wall-mounted planter?

One more look back at the before:

And those same views today!

We’re so happy with how this bathroom remodel has turned out. As of right now, there isn’t anything I would change about it! I’m just glad it is checked off the to-do list and we finally have a dedicated guest bathroom as we head into hosting for the holidays.


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Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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  • Wow! Just the inspo I needed for my small primary bathroom redo. The low profile toilet is a great idea. The heavy hitter is the hand held shower fixture. Great for dogs AND when cleaning the shower.