A Sneaky Addition Took This Bathroom From Dreary to Light and Bright
Tips to steal from a dramatic renovation.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:58 AM
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Between the sparkling white plaster shower, the teak furniture, and the pops of greenery, it’s tough to imagine that Molly Madfis’s bathroom was ever anything other than a bright oasis. But it was actually the gloomiest room in the house—there was only one tiny window—full of dark furniture and dated fixtures. It had to go.
“We went really simple for our guest bathroom, so we wanted the master to feel more luxurious,” says Madfis, who runs the blog Almost Makes Perfect. The challenge: creating a space that vibed with the rest of her home—which is super-neutral—but also felt special. Two sun tunnels, one gut renovation, and five weeks later, the space was transformed.
The details are what make this bathroom sing. Twin terracotta-colored sconces flank the simple, hardware-less vanity, which looks like it belongs in a chic Joshua Tree, California, Airbnb (in fact, Madfis lives in Los Angeles). An open wood shelving unit was a last-minute addition—the product of an Instagram poll gone right (if you’re ever feeling stuck, crowdsource your decor ideas!). Then there’s the vintage rug in Madfis’s favorite color, a pink-y orange, just the thing to keep the tiny space from coming across too one-note.
We asked Madfis to shed some light on how she made the remodel happen.
Keep Your Distance
“If you can, go stay somewhere else during the demo—especially if you have kids!” says Madfis of her cardinal rule of remodeling. The constant dust, lack of working fixtures, and general hectic nature of a renovation will get old fast. Set up all the necessary deliveries beforehand, so once the construction begins, you can relax from afar.
Don’t Buy the First Thing You Like
Madfis’s vanity was a passion project: She shopped around for a while before landing on this current one. Her patience paid off—it ended up being a third of the cost of her original pick. “If you find an item you love, keep looking around to see if you can find something similar for less,” she says. “Also, you can buy coupons on eBay! We ended up saving 15 percent on the vanity with one.”
Make Little Updates to Tide You Over
If you’re still saving up for your remodel, try small upgrades to make your bathroom feel as much like you as possible in the meantime. For Madfis, that mini project was painting. “Before renovating, I did a little makeover by painting the existing vanity and changing out the hardware. I once lived in an apartment with hideous tile that they let me paint white, too; such a giant fix without having to retile!” she explains.
Bring in the Light
Madfis originally wanted to put in one massive skylight, which wasn’t feasible. Instead, she built in a pair of smaller (but just as impactful) Velux sun tunnels—and it ended up working out better. “They made the biggest difference!” she says. “The room is bright without being hot.”
Carve Out Storage Wherever You Can
The tinier the bathroom, the more important this tip. “I opted for a vanity with both drawers and cabinets, and even though medicine cabinets aren’t usually my favorite, I was so excited when I stumbled across these,” she explains. If you don’t have the square footage for bulky furniture, Madfis also recommends hanging some wall shelves—check out Urban Outfitters for affordable options.
Measure, Measure, Measure
There was one design hiccup along the way, a snafu with the vanity and mirrors—everything was originally much too high. “I’m only 5 feet 1!” says Madfis. “We freaked out that I wouldn’t even be able to see myself in the mirror, so we cut three inches off the legs of the vanity and it really helped.” It might not be something you think of when you’re in the design process, but height is just as important as width.
See more bathroom renovation ideas: A Daring Bathroom Makeover Where Bold Paint Choices Pay Off A Breezy Bathroom Before and After That’s 10 Years in the Making 5 Rules for Choosing Colorful Bathroom Tiles