Affordable Bathroom Fixes With Big Impact

 

Hi Everyone,

Today, I’m going to talk about my two bathrooms and some bathroom fixes I’m thinking of.

But, before I do. I just want to say that both of these bathrooms are already the two nicest bathrooms I’ve ever had. In addition, I hope the current owner isn’t reading my blog. Or, if she is, I hope she isn’t offended. Or, if she is offended, maybe she’ll feel better if she sees my little bathroom that is nothing to write home about.

 

None of this was my doing, except for the wall color, shower curtain and towels.

Oh, and the little outdoor rug from Dash and Albert.

However, before we get into the bathroom fixes that won’t break the bank, I would like just to go back and talk a little about the stairs situation.

 

It’s about the elevator that many of you want me to have.

 

I know that you guys mean well, but I very much am hoping that we can end all discussion about the elevator that is absolutely, definitely, positively NOT going to happen. I’m not trying to be difficult but, it’s not possible.

1. One, you can’t just drop an elevator into a duplex apartment in a 140-year-old brownstone. There is no basement, for one thing.

2. The ONLY place I would even consider the idea is where I would close up the closets. However, I don’t own the space below that. There is a common hallway below that area.

3. The only elevator I would want would be elegant and cost far more than I can ever afford.

4. I’d have to get permission to do such a thing.

5. Plus, I’d have to spend money getting it inspected and maintained every year.

6. Would you like me to keep going?

 

I could, but I’m not going to bore you any further.

 

Thank you. Oh, and there’s easy access from the outside to the lower level through the back entrance. How cool is that!

However, if you’d like to help me, help me pack and unpack. lol

At this moment in time, I’m healthy and strong. Thank God!

It’s going to be okay. And besides, I’m a big girl now. I’m even potty trained!

 

Speaking of which, yes, the bathroom fixes. LOL

 

You’ve seen the galley kitchen. However, I haven’t shown you the bathrooms.

While I will focus on the downstairs bathroom fixes, here is a peek at the lovely upstairs bathroom.

 

There is a clawfoot bathtub on the other side.

 

Okay, we’re going to go downstairs now.

 

And, hang on, please, because we’re going to take the existing spiral staircase and walk through the doorway. To the right is the spacious bedroom with a curved wall. You can see photos of the bedroom here.

Actually. No. You can’t see the photo because I don’t believe I ever posted it.

Here it is! And that is one of two entrances into the downstairs from the ground level. No stairs. One thing that’s unusual is that this lower level has a ceiling height of at least 8.5 feet. Most of them are 8 feet or less.

 

Straight ahead of the stairwell/ little office is the huuuuuuuge walk-in closet.

And, to the left is the bathroom.

 

Let’s look at the floorplan again.

 

stairs with turn bedroom level

I suspect this isn’t accurate. I did change the doorway across from the closet.

 

One of my fears is that the bathroom is getting in the way of being able to fit in a comfortable staircase.

 

If I were starting from scratch, I would most likely have taken back about 18″ of the bathroom and given it to the office. The only thing is that there is a fuse box on that little wall just before you exit the stairs. And I think that’s what is not drawn here. Of course, when I go back in, I’ll be able to measure and revise this.

Okay, let’s take a look at the master bathroom.

This photo was taken from the old real estate listing.

This bathroom is what I would say is “on-trend.”

I googled the image to see if it came up, and it doesn’t. However, here, you can see many other bathrooms that look a lot like this one.

The rest of the images are ones I took during my second visit on September 28th.

 

First, let’s look at the positives.

 

1.The bathroom is relatively spacious. Hey, no more burning my arse on that hot pipe in my tiny bathroom!

 

bathroom fixes

 

2. There is a lovely walk-in shower with a gorgeous marble subway tile. The tile is gorgeous in person. Me like!
3. There is radiant heat floor.

There is nothing nicer in the winter than a radiant heat floor in the bathroom. Nothing at all!

 

What don’t I like?

Well, there’s nothing I hate in here except for the lighting. (please check out one of my favorite bathroom posts.)

And, I know that some of you are going to disagree, and that’s fine. That’s what makes the world go ’round. However, anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I pretty much despise bright white LED lights. I mean, they make me feel like sticking a fork in someone’s head.

 

Okay, that was a little dramatic. But, you get the point. I don’t like bright white LED lights in residential settings.

 

Mona Lisa cleaning
Bright white LED lights are fabulous for operating rooms and airport runways. I’m an old-fashioned girl. I want romance and candlelight.

Sigh…

One day.

Soon.

I’m ready now.

bathroom fixes - marble subway tile

The marble tile is beautiful.

60" vanity - bathroom fixesI prefer a simpler stone. And, I feel there are too many different stones in here; four, to be exact.

Okay, let’s say that the bathroom size is not a problem with the new staircase.  Then, I won’t change its size. However, if necessary, I guess I would see how much it would cost to shave off about 18″.

 

The existing vanity is 60″ but 36″-42″ would be just fine.

 

I don’t fault the owner for this bathroom because most of us have been brainwashed to think this is what we should have. However, it looks like she didn’t have a designer help her coordinate the shades of gray. There are at least 50 of them. ;]

If I could wave my magic wand, I’d change the floor, vanity, and shower partition.

I keep going back to Steve Cordony’s gorgeous bathroom for inspiration.

 

 

Best neutral color scheme - white walls - Steve Cordony -I love the sophistication of this bathroom. And, it feels appropriate for a Victorian-era home.

 

Steve Cordony exquisite bathroom inspiration

Bradburn Home mirror Wayfair_sku_44331744I found nearly the identical mirror at Bradburn Home!!!

 

Mark D Sikes dark blue bathroom

 

I also adore this bathroom by Mark D Sikes. And, I desperately would love to have that mirror from Made Goods. It comes in two sizes. This is the smaller one.

 

But, what about the floor?

Well, this is funny.

It’s hilarious!

 

During my research for bathrooms and bathroom fixes, which went on for hours today, I came across this image of Darryl Carter’s fabulous bathroom. It was in this post from 2.5 years ago about bathroom vanities.

 

I adore this one, too!

photo Frank Tribble via One King

photo Frank Tribble via One King’s Lane black and white bathroom

 

 

So, what’s so funny?

Look at the floor.

Now, please scroll back up and look at my bathroom floor.
They’re almost identical.

Fine. We’ll keep the floor.

But, I really love that handsome black vanity!

 

Amy Studebaker design - handsome powder room bathroom

Amy Studebaker design – handsome powder room bathroom

 

I feel like I’d love the bathroom to have dark walls. Or, maybe the one upstairs. Or both.

 

gil schafer classic marble bathroom

Another favorite bathroom by Gil Schafer

 

86 Pondfield Rd west - stunning marble pale gray and black bathroomFrom a real estate listing near me last year.

 

Okay, it’s late now. But, I had a lot of fun messing around.

 

I found a black chest to use as a vanity, and here’s what I came up with.

 

My Mistress Bathroom

 

And, here is one idea I have. I love the colors and the richness of the furnishings. The idea is to introduce some black, a deep, rich blue. That is Farrow & Ball Hague Blue, if interested. And, gold.

I included a template for the (Kelly Wearstler design) trim on the drapes, here.

 

Oh, yes. “mistress” bathroom.

 

I can’t call it the “master.” There IS no master. Yet. But, I’m sure he’ll be on his way shortly! :]

 

Below is a mini widget with some of the items on the board. And also some others that I was looking at, today. Please click on any image if you’d like more info.

Of course, I need more than two sconces in the bathroom. But, I’m not fond of the recessed lights.

In my opinion, lighting is the most important element in a room. I mean, you could have the gorgeous design, but if the lighting is bad, it’s like a gorgeous woman who hasn’t washed her hair in a month.

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of my ideas for bathroom fixes. There’s a lot that can be done with paint, different lighting, some art. (here are some sources for free or cheap art)

 

That reminds me. Melissa and I are working on a major update of Laurel’s Rolodex.

 

It will be coming out before Thanksgiving. If you are a Laurel’s Rolodex owner, you will automatically get an update. Please note, however, that you can use any download link you’ve ever received from me. Your download link never changes.

Although, I do send it out. I will announce when it’s going out. If you don’t receive it or this message makes you remember that you have no idea where your Rolodex is, please search in your email for “Sendowl” or “Rolodex.”

However, included in the 7th edition of Laurel’s Rolodex will be a HUGE Etsy guide. I’ve found dozens of amazing resources. You can see some of them in this post. But, the guide will be up-to-date and also have at least 100 sources.  There is no additional charge for it. And, if you order a Rolodex now, you will also get the update.

Thanks so much, Guys!

xo,


PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES. There are some awesome sales going on right now!

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Patti - November 1, 2020 - 9:40 AM

    Congratulations again on your new place!! We’re still redoing our new house…it seems like each element that gets a makeover results in us deciding to redo another thing! Because of this, I am SO excited to hear that your rolodex is being updated!!ReplyCancel

  • Erika Hunt - October 31, 2020 - 12:48 PM
  • Kim Gaza - October 27, 2020 - 8:48 AM

    I know this isn’t a kitchen post, but upon seeing Dakota Johnson’s kitchen, I thought of you! Check it out!ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - October 26, 2020 - 9:59 PM

    That sink in the first bath is my dream sink. At least you have lots of good elements in your bathrooms and will only need a little tweaking.

    There are Soft White LEDs. I put Soft White Full-Spectrum LEDs in a rustic rental house and they were beautiful. The full-spectrum effect made the abundant wood look richer than regular Soft White LEDs.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Gosselin - October 26, 2020 - 6:39 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    This is my first time commenting but I have been following you for a few years. I love your new place! You are very thorough in your thought process and obviously are a very good designer. Do what you love and you can’t go wrong. Thanks for sharing this with us!
    I love your work. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Linda - October 26, 2020 - 5:24 PM

    Always love that Steve Cordony bathroom! Of course, I also love options with deep color walls. So many choices! And you are going to make fabulous choices! I can’t wait to see! Wishing you good health and happiness in your new condo. Glad to be going on this journey with you. Thanks so much.ReplyCancel

  • Morgana - October 26, 2020 - 4:20 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I know you are tired of hearing about elevators BUT you have some incorrect/incomplete information.New elevators 1. Do not need a sub floor installation and 2. Do not need annual inspection and 3. Can hide in a closet and 4. Are about the same cost as your stairs. They install in a day or two and operate without much noise. You can get platform lifts, vacuum lists, or a pneumatic elevator or an overhead cable drum elevator. You can get a battery powered elevator. You can get a phone in a home elevator. You can get any design you want. Since you have a critical stair issue, I believe that you owe it to yourself to see what is out there. The only problem is that there are SO MANY OPTIONS that it would be difficult to make a decision. Since the possibility of losing power is your main concern, that might make it easier to select/rule out elevators as a potential solution.
    These three say that they are the only battery operated elevator 😉

    I absolutely loathe spiral staircases. We are about the same age, and carrying stuff up and down stairs has lost any appeal it might once have had (!). Not arguing FOR elevators, Laurel, just informing you that your knowledge base is 20 years out of date and that you HAVE more options.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 27, 2020 - 5:02 PM

      Morgana,

      I’m sorry, but I am removing the links in your comment. Please forgive me if this is insulting, but I would never put anything that looks like one of those in my home. I don’t expect you to read every word I write or read all of the comments, but I will say this as long as I need to until people stop talking about an elevator.

      I am not putting an elevator in my apartment.

      It is not possible, nor is it anything I would ever want for a wide variety of compelling reasons. But, but all means, if any of you would like to put an elevator in your own home, that of course, is fine. It’s not for me.

      If the stairs were a problem, I would not be purchasing a duplex. And, I cannot buy a place with the idea that it might not work for me at some point. Some point isn’t here yet. There is only today.

      ReplyCancel

  • Marianne - October 26, 2020 - 3:56 PM

    hi Laurel, I love love love your new place and so much more than the home you had I past! I cannot believe so many people think they should tell you, a designer, what to do. Don’t they know how expensive things are? I guess its easier to spend someone else’s money. Priorities people! I cannot wait to see what you do.

    MarianneReplyCancel

  • Tara Imani - October 26, 2020 - 3:49 PM

    Lois,

    That’s a great point about seeing the old blueprints. I hadn’t thought of that. I hope Laurel has access to them and can share.

    Have a great day!

    TaraReplyCancel

  • Tara Imani - October 26, 2020 - 3:45 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Congratulations again on your new place! It’s beautiful and fun.

    I’ve been following the stair vs elevator debate and was wondering what the other condos in your building have done. Do they all have spiral stairs, too?

    I love the Blue Hague wall color you’re considering and the black vanity. That will be gorgeous as shown in your Moodboard.

    I saw a commercial for Elite Singles… have you tried that one? Regardless, I can’t imagine you not finding Mr Right (Mr Wonderful). 😉 in Boston with all the walking you’re going to do.

    I love your blog and writing style. And your impeccable taste and wicked sense of humor.

    All the best,
    TaraReplyCancel

  • Tracie - October 26, 2020 - 3:38 PM

    Remember that if this is your forever house to make sure you can still get around it safely and easily in ones old age. Sometimes we have to be practical in what we choose if we intend to stay well into our senior years. It would be heart wrenching for you if you couldn’t use that staircase. I guessing you know this already but one has to not let their heart rule their head.
    If you were to sell later on you may need to think about how much money to invest in the renovations and would you get this money all back if you sold? Renovations are expensive. But you’d know this because you’re a designer., I’d live in the house for a while first and then decide what really needs doing to it.
    House is gorgeous Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Lois - October 26, 2020 - 3:18 PM

    I am looking for a ceiling fan with no light for my living room. (I hate them but it is necessary) I love the one in your bedroom and now making it my missions to find that one.

    I really enjoy your blog and would love to see the blue prints of the house before it was broken up. I would love to know what your space was actually used for.

    Thank you for sharing your life.ReplyCancel

  • LISA HENDERSON - October 26, 2020 - 3:07 PM

    Love, love, love!! It is going to be Gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it when it is done – and while in progress, too!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - October 26, 2020 - 12:31 PM

    Hi, me again, your real-estate fairy.

    I’m just piping up to say to your readers that, if Laurel can’t handle a flight of stairs, she can’t live in Back Bay, either. We walk everywhere, we walk for miles every day, and she will stay in shape just doing errands. Also, those elevators you’re so crazy about don’t exist here. At all. I’m assuming it’s probably because our building code won’t allow them. Or it might be the Taste Police, although they sure do give the renovators around here a pass on a lot of other montrosities.

    I’m also here to remind you, Laurel, to be a good neighbor and DEFINITELY get a contractor who follows the rules and will get the appropriate city permits for your construction, and build your new stairs, etc. to code. You will most likely need to inform the other owners about your plans, per your condo docs, and they will be relieved to see that you are doing it all legally and correctly. If the condo docs don’t include that rule, it’s still courteous to do it anyway.

    I love the apartment and think you are going to be very happy there!

    PS: I hope you know where the owner is moving. If not, I do. . . . . Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • ALISA - October 26, 2020 - 11:49 AM

    Your new place is fantastic and seems to be perfect for you! One thought about the materials in the mistress bathroom. I suspect that the floor tile is not natural stone and that having that in such close proximity to natural stone emphasizes that it is manufactured. Manufactured “stone” can look great but putting it next to the real thing will be a dead give away.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - October 26, 2020 - 11:40 AM

    This may be an impertinent question, but I missed what happened to your previous boyfriend. Love your new home, your blog, and your excellent taste.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - October 26, 2020 - 11:35 AM

    I would not dare to give you decorating advice. You are the decorator and I am not☺️ Love your new home! I am in the burbs of Atlanta and moving to the city sounds wonderful to me but my husband would never do it. My only comment would be that I am just converting a dark bathroom to a light one and I love the light!!! Just saying!ReplyCancel

  • Joanne Ralph - October 26, 2020 - 10:57 AM

    My mind just went crazier then normal. How about moving the sink into the closet and making a huge office into the sink open space area? (I have no dimensions so this is a guess). Or, making the closet into an office then the open area next to the stairs a smaller closet? You don’t need that huge sink as a smaller sink has much more pizzas in my opinion. This idea will open up the stair case area. I love everything you chose for the bathroom.ReplyCancel

  • Carole Baker - October 26, 2020 - 2:49 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I agree, ditch the idea of importing from China. Another idea instead would be a frameless fixed glass screen with a hinged frameless door that opens to make the whole shower area watertight and then folds into the shower to give a visually roomier bathroom when the shower is not in use. I’ve done it recently and it worked a treat. However, you must have what brings you joy. I am looking forward to vicariously renovating your new home.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Thomson - October 25, 2020 - 11:16 PM

    Laurel, Please look at the website I’m listing below, just in case your stairs don’t work out. Put it aside as your ace in the hole.
    I had one of these in my last house. It was a real life saver. It is considered a lift, does not require a basement, permits, or a ton of money;-). Mine was the larger one and cost $19,000, the smaller one was about $5,000 less, if my memory serves me. I put mine in the coat closet;-). It was so handy for moving boxes or laundry.
    Stiltzlifts dot com. The Stiltz Duo Home Elevator has one of the smallest footprints of any residential lift available and takes up less than 7 sq. ft. It can be placed at any angle and the remarkably small footprint means there are almost limitless spaces where our lift can be installedReplyCancel

  • Laura from Birmingham - October 25, 2020 - 11:00 PM

    My goodness gracious! What a pretty upstairs bathroom! Please show us the claw foot tub soon. We are considering a bathroom reno and a free-standing tub (maybe clawfoot) is an interesting idea. That marble floor is gorgeous! Might copy that, too! Learning from the best. Thank you, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - October 25, 2020 - 9:45 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’m a firm believer in making things your own. And anything can be changed or fixed if you throw enough money at it. Fortunately your bathroom looks like it doesn’t need much. A new countertop & maybe painting the vanity would go a long way.ReplyCancel

  • Valerie Leeds - October 25, 2020 - 7:34 PM

    Oh, the view of the garden through the door and the curved wall! How relaxing & serene.
    I’m wondering two things: will a dark bathroom with lower lighting make it hard to do makeup and hair? The Mark Sykes bathroom is so lovely, but will it be enough for YOU to continue to look lovely when you’re out in bright daylight? I’m a bit older than you, and I need a magnifying mirror and bright lights to do my makeup. You must have a trick?! Please share!
    Secondly, I agree that radiant floor heat is fantastic in the winter. I have heard that it’s prohibitively expensive to mess with tile above radiant floor heat.:-( I hope this isn’t so, so you can steal those 18″ to get your straight stair run.
    I’m so glad it’s all coming together for you; you deserve it. You make me miss living on Beacon St, even though my digs were not nearly as nice as yours.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 26, 2020 - 1:38 AM

      Well, I definitely need magnification. But, I’ll also have the ability to turn on more lights. Dimmers on everything. And, even in my current place, I have to go in my bedroom where it’s very bright to do a final inspection with my glasses on! Sometimes, I’m horrified by how badly I botched things. hahaha. Fortunately, that one’s easy to fix.ReplyCancel

  • Anne-Marie - October 25, 2020 - 7:22 PM

    Congratulations on your new home. It looks beautiful now but also full of potential. I’ve been enjoying your blog for some time and especially now as we have just embarked on our own renovation of our c1900 terrace house. We also have settled on a black panelled bathroom vanity with white stone top and hope our bathroom turns out somewhere near as lovely as Steve Cordony’s. I particularly loved your comments about bright white LED lighting in homes – I hate it! It is reassuring that you, as a very experienced professional designer, feel the same, as cool white LEDs seems to be most favoured these days for task lighting, such as over a vanity. Perhaps it’s just feminine vanity, but not only is it unflattering, (and maybe this is irrational) I find it plain irritating! I am so looking forward to following your renovation to its conclusion. Good luck!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 26, 2020 - 1:34 AM

      I am so longing to say “we.” It is such a beautiful word!

      And, yes, those bright lights give me a headache and just make me feel uneasy, in general.ReplyCancel

  • Gemma - October 25, 2020 - 6:39 PM

    If I’m reading your blog, it must be Sunday morning! Thank you for being such a stabilizing comfort in these unstable times.

    Quick question: is there room for a chair in your mistress bath? Many of those gorgeous bathrooms you showed had one….. and now I want to squeeze one in my own bath, too !ReplyCancel

  • Pam - October 25, 2020 - 6:07 PM

    I adore your “mistress” bedroom. And I’d be willing to help you unpack just to get a peek at it and wish I had it! Kick me now, I almost bought a condo in that area in the early 80’s for 45K. Thought it was too dear.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Herrmann - October 25, 2020 - 5:46 PM

    In support of stairs and boyfriends… Laurel, there is a direct correlation. Stairs works the buns. Buns eventually find their rightful place on your backside (where they lived for many years before children and gravity). Want a boyfriend? Work those stairs. Want ass in rightful place faster? Take ’em 2 at a time! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 26, 2020 - 1:29 AM

      Honey, you’re preaching to the perverted. I meant, converted. hahaha But, I’m also a ballet dancer. nuff said. lolReplyCancel

  • Judy - October 25, 2020 - 2:36 PM

    The vanity that you have will work out jut great if you paint it a dark color and put a white quartz top that goes better with your grays. Add the gold knobs that you like and add gold sconces and you will have your dramatic bathroom. This way you will be ready for the next trend or have money for a much deserved vacation!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - October 25, 2020 - 2:29 PM

    Elevator!!!!!!
    I hope you will never wish you had listened to those who are suggesting an elevator. But I expect, unless you have an expectation of getting younger, you will. I strongly suggest you put in an elevator!!!
    Cost. In your shoes I would at least do a complete and proper plan with a budget, to compare the cost of all the changes you are planning to redo the stairs with the cost of one of the new in-house elevators. You do NOT need to have a basement to put one in.
    Seems to me you, like many of us, are having tunnel vision about the elevator issue, and also assuming you will always have mobility that allows you to climb those stairs. At least get all the information while you have this opportunity that many of us wish we had.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - October 25, 2020 - 2:22 PM

    I’m pretty tired of advice that my home for my (soon-to-be, I hope) retirement has to be designed for a 90-year-old. No stairs. I’m not there yet!! And I live in a fourth floor walk up. You have so many good ideas. The Steve Cordony bath is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:25 PM

      I couldn’t agree more, Lynda. I’m currently on the third floor and always take the stairs unless it’s 95 degrees outside and I just lugged home 20 lbs. of groceries 6/10th of a mile, mostly flat, but a little incline at the end. But, even then, I try to take the stairs. I am so looking forward to being able to walk to just about everything in Boston. It’s an amazing location. I’m so lucky!ReplyCancel

  • Em - October 25, 2020 - 1:15 PM

    On the staircase debate, have you considered a bat pole?

    Also…I love all the light fixtures in this and previous posts. Are over-the-mirror lights a no no? Clearly the side sconces are prettier, but all our vanities are wired for an over-the-mirror light.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:48 PM

      LOL, yes, I believe I mentioned that the other day as a joke, along with the spiral slide pic. No problem, I don’t expect people to read every word or every comment!ReplyCancel

  • Roberta - October 25, 2020 - 12:45 PM

    Oops, just noticed the small tree in a vase in the Gil Schafer bath, guess I have to quit Instagram now. 😉 It’s still my favorite, the Amy Studebaker is nice alsoReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:20 PM

      haha. Well, in Steve’s case, you know he’s a stylist and his partner an equally talented landscaper. So, they are always bringing in branches and flowers to style their rooms. Well, at least for their pics. Do they always have that going on? Probably. That’s what interns are for. lol In Gil’s case, that was styled for the photo. I love the greenery in the rooms. And, there big gorgeous bouquets and branches feel quite stylish and oppulent to me. But, that’s just me.ReplyCancel

  • Roberta - October 25, 2020 - 12:41 PM

    Again, as others have noted, thanks so much for taking us along (vicariously) on this journey with you. I’m sure whatever you choose for your new abode will be absolutely lovely. I know Steve Cordony is the current darling, but if I see ONE MORE shrub or small tree in a vase, I’m quitting Instagram. I’m also tiring of black and white everywhere. Glad to see some creamy colors coming back. My favorite is the Gil Schafer bath. He gets timeless classic right every time, yet it’s never boring. Have fun and good luck with all of it.ReplyCancel

  • vanessa - October 25, 2020 - 12:33 PM

    Hi Laurel – That Darryl Carter bathroom has been my inspiration for a while. I think the difference between his tile and yours is the cut; his looks like a cross-cut and it is less busy and lighter. I worry about the upkeep of marble in the bathroom and I have been through several design iterations that led me from marble to a large grey stone look porcelain tile but it never looks quite right. I have never seen a porcelain tile not look cheap in the application. Any thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:14 PM

      Yes, Darryl’s tile is more refined and elegant. Marble has been used for centuries for floors and stairs. I had a Carrara marble floor in my old townhouse. It wasn’t difficult to maintain. I love marble floors like Gil Schafer has in his bathroom!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Murphy - October 25, 2020 - 12:28 PM

    Before you make any changes, please reconsider moving your entry & doing the stair design sketched by Dan. You shouldn’t have any structural issues and you’ll be happy about it for as long as you own the apt, especially if you ever sell. Best of luck. It’s a lovely apartment.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:10 PM

      Hi Kathleen,

      You mean David, right? I think you must’ve missed the part where I said that I don’t own most of that area below the current entry. That is part of the common area where there are storage lockers, a workspace that is pretty cool, and a small laundry. In addition, moving the front door would be exceedingly problematic for a lot of reasons. Even if I did own the entire building. This would be incredibly expensive. At that juncture, we are almost definitely going to run into issues with ductwork and support beams.

      However, it is always good to weigh all of the possible options. This is what my training in design school taught me to do.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - October 25, 2020 - 12:07 PM

    Steve Cordony’s bathroom is most beautiful. Thank you for posting it again. The garden off the lower level bedroom is heaven. I’ve vacationed in the Back Bay, loved it and look forward to your “posts of progress”. Best wishes.ReplyCancel

  • Vivian Luce - October 25, 2020 - 11:07 AM

    OK Back to spiral staircase. when designing
    the new staircase with whomever you choose try to get the widest depth stair you can.
    Would give you more safety as you meander up and down. Love your new home and know you will do a great job making it your own..ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:03 PM

      Yes, I will. The living room is 15.5 feet deep. So, I can safely give up three feet, which will give me enough room to walk between the sofa and stairwell.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - October 25, 2020 - 10:55 AM

    Lovely post! I’m glad to see your plans for changes in the new home. I wonder, though, that most of the gorgeous examples had natural light from a window. Do either of your baths have windows? Might be good to have dark finishes in a room with a window, bu in the dark days of winter, I’d rather have a light mistress bathroom.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 3:01 PM

      That is a great point. Of course, I wish the bathrooms and kitchen had windows. Alas, it’s WINDOWS or nothing. However, this is the way I look at it. A room without windows is like a room with windows, at night. (with no outside lights on, of course). And, it’s going to give me a wonderful opportunity to show how to make the most of the room. Actually, what I discovered was that when my walls were Tropical Dusk which is pretty dark, my bedroom was soooooo gorgeous at night. I had never had a dark room before and while my new bedroom is soft and very, warm and lovely at night, it’s not as sexy as before. So, I actually think that a windowless bathroom that’s dark has the ability to be incredibly dramatic and magical, even.

      I helped my frient, (not a typo client + friend) Mary, who I’m seeing later with her powder room in 2015. It is black with Chinoiserie black and gold wallpaper. We painted the ceiling a cinnabar red. It is gorgeous! I have some horrid pics of it here.ReplyCancel

  • Patti - October 25, 2020 - 10:46 AM

    Love your ideas for your new bathrooms, especially the dark colors with the gold fixtures! If you remove anything from your bathrooms, you can resell them on nextdoor.com or facebook marketplace. As for the stairs, my parents are 99 and 97 and still living in their home with stairs. I attribute their good health to going up and down those stairs every day.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:53 PM

      Amen. And, God bless your parents and hopefully, they’ll enjoy several more years of good health!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - October 25, 2020 - 10:19 AM

    I really love the curved room with the door going out to your secret garden. So unique and special. It’s so much fun being included on your new home journey Laurel. Thank you for that.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Rideout - October 25, 2020 - 9:22 AM

    Good morning Laurel
    I love that curved wall and your garden area, I can’t wait to see it when you are moved in. I love your bathroom, its the look I want In my small guest bathroom. Maybe I’ll pass on Galapagos Turquoise and go for Hague Blue if I can find somewhere that sells Farrow & Ball. My current vanity is only 19 deep but it is about 34 inches so I figure a small stand alone will work. I think there might be an old chimney behind it, I can’t get up in the attic to figure out the original configuration of the house. Oh to be young and spry and SKINNY! Have a wonderful Sunday! SarahReplyCancel

  • Alice - October 25, 2020 - 9:22 AM

    You will note that [almost] all of the baths that you featured have side lighting for the vanity mirror. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to feel that you look your best with overhead, and “cold” lighting? Try applying your makeup in any hotel/motel bath and feel that you are looking better than the bride of dracula. Of course, if you are still 25, then this does not matter.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:46 PM

      Yeah, tell me about it. lol I keep slathering on that La Mer and then I say, STAY! hahahaha!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 25, 2020 - 9:07 AM

    Hi Laurel – love the curved wall and garden entrance to your bedroom – so unique and lovely! And thanks for sharing the bathroom ideas – I am in the middle of looking for finishes myself for a master bath and this helps. In terms of your bathroom, it seems like you could replace the glass shower panel, add some pretty sconces, paint the walls and the existing vanity black or at most have new doors made for it, add pretty mirrors without doing heavy construction? I really like the thin marble slab on Steve Cordony’s vanity…going to steal that idea. This post actually made me think I could work more with what I have for my project, so thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:45 PM

      Yes, you voiced far better what I should’ve said but didn’t as I believe I billed this as being affordable. It’s difficult being a designer because 98% of what’s out there is not what I would’ve done. But compared to what some people have done, this is VERY nice!ReplyCancel

  • Lorrie - October 25, 2020 - 8:59 AM

    I love your blue/black bathroom ideas.I agree there are way too many types of stone in the bathroom. I would replace the vanity stone with something plain, a classic white, perhaps quartz. Then find a small rug for the floor. Maybe you can try to resell the vanity stone on Facebook marketplace since it is a common size.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - October 25, 2020 - 8:57 AM

    Your blog is a favorite of mine! I like that you explain your thought process when making selections/recommendations. Your rolodex was a fabulous investment that I continue to use for my clients. Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - October 25, 2020 - 8:55 AM

    I’d be living downstairs instead of up – love that you can walk out to your own little garden space like that. Is it below street level? After looking at these photos I want to redo my own relatively new (but that I now think is pretty “blah”) master bath! You are an expensive inspiration Laurel :))ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:40 PM

      This is brownstone living in Boston. The bedrooms in these duplexes are almost always on the lower level. It is 100% at street level, not below. The front of the house is below the sidewalk level, but they have dug out the entire front so that nothing is below ground level. Behind me is the alley shared by my neighbors.ReplyCancel

  • Mary T - October 25, 2020 - 8:46 AM

    The new place looks lovely. I’m totally taken with the Steve Cardony bathroom. I love that you are planning to use the iron and glass shower partition in your downstairs bath. It will be stunning. Congratulations! It will be fun to watch you make this your dream home from afar.ReplyCancel

  • Kimi - October 25, 2020 - 8:19 AM

    The marble tile really is gorgeous. I’d probably paint the vanity dark and just throw a rug over the flooring. Something colorful but classic. Like you 😉

    Love the idea of the upstairs bath being dark too. Can’t wait to see what you do!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:34 PM

      Thanks Kimi,

      I think both bathrooms need more in the way of mouldings. In fact, the bedroom currently has nothing. So, it’ll give me a chance to show how much they can transform a space and give it bones. Of course, I’ll need to use flexible mouldings on a count of the curve. Of course, one can use wood, but it’s a lot more difficult to install, and once painted, no one will know the difference.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - October 25, 2020 - 8:11 AM

    I love the bathrooms you choose as examples; the black and white ones are stunning. If you lop off 18″, you can make the vanity top match/harmonize with the shower tile. The fact that there is no threshold to the shower is super! If you are careful, this bathroom will see you through ups and downs of ageing in place. Where does the curtain go?? I would prefer sconces with fabric shades however.

    Once again, I feel you have raised my taste level. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:31 PM

      Good question about the curtain. I wouldn’t want it on top of the toilet. lol Maybe it could go where the shower opening is.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - October 25, 2020 - 8:07 AM

    Laurel, could you do a mini-post on lightbulbs? I hate harsh lighting and always have— even as a kid I always felt like crouching under harsh white light. (My own kids would rather read in near-dark than turn on the oppressive lightbulbs my husband buys.) Where do you find bulbs that mimic the old incandescents?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:24 PM

      Oh, there is one. Now, I just have to find it. I think I linked to it in the post. Can you tell I’m not all here? I was having so much fun “designing” that I “forgot” I had to actually produce a post. lol Hence, the very late night. Hang on. Here it is!

      And, this post too.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa from MT - October 25, 2020 - 7:18 AM

    Just loving the good bones you’ve got in your new place. The upstairs bathroom is right as rain with just a few minor changes. Your design for the bottom bathroom is exquisite! Can’t wait to see what you ultimately do with that staircase.ReplyCancel

  • Carole Baker - October 25, 2020 - 6:41 AM

    Laurel.

    If you paint the walls and vanity Black or darkest gray , then the pattern of the vanity top will almost disappear, visually. The Cordony black steel partition can be cheaply and easily obtained from a Chinese manufacturer in China. I’m not sure of USA import tax, however I have saved thousands of dollars on a renovation, importing similar screens and doors to Australia.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:13 PM

      Hi Carole,

      Yes, I’ve seen them pretty inexpensively available from lots of sources. There’s one on my hot sales bed and bath page. – I’m not sure of the tax either, but it makes me nervous. I once had an armoire shipped from Paris. I wrote about the calamity somewhere on this blog. It ended up costing $2,500 to get it to my client’s home where the gorgeous antique arrived horrifically damaged. My client paid all of the shipping charges, however. I was so lucky! However, I had to cough up $1,500 for the repairs. Lesson learned.ReplyCancel

  • Margarita - October 25, 2020 - 6:12 AM

    Dear Laurel, My English language is bad I’m from Germany but you’re so polite and gorgeous and kind, I wish you new boyfriend and Mark D Sikes mirror and I need these too, how did you find it I couldn’t and I tried. I never renovate a thing before, my question might be dumb but I wonder who decides how to finish tile edge in the bathroom shower, if your marble shower tile (say 3×6) wasn’t finished at the edge that goes into the other wall how would you finish the edge to be beautiful? Take care!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:00 PM

      Hi Margarita,

      Your English is better than a lot of Americans who only know one language. We’re lazy in that regard because we know we can get away with it. lol That’s a good question about the tile. When the tile does not meet a wall, it is finished usually, with a bull-nose tile, it’s called. It has a rounded finished edge, like the edge of a plate, but has to turn 90 degrees to be flush with the wall. If it’s a separate piece, it’s called a quarter-round because it’s effectively 1/4 of a circle.ReplyCancel

  • Pat - October 25, 2020 - 5:39 AM

    Where are you finding the time to update your Rolodex while planning updates to your new abode? You must never sleep. Thanks for including us on your personal journey. It’s fun for me to know you’ll be in my old hood. Love your ideas for your bathroom.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 1:56 PM

      Lovely, lovely Melissa is helping me. She’s a God-send! Please come back and visit!ReplyCancel

  • Carol - October 25, 2020 - 4:12 AM

    Congratulations on your lovely new home! I’ve been laughing at all the comments about the spiral stairs. Now I admit I haven’t been to Boston for a few years, but unless the drivers there have all developed better driving skills you’re safer on those stairs than crossing the street. I always thought the pedestrian crossing signs in Boston should be “don’t walk” and “good luck”ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 1:55 PM

      haha! YES!!! Driving in Boston will take years off of one’s life.

      My darling son, Cale worked as a bike messenger for a few years during his time there. I felt ill when he told me he had taken that job and was enjoying it. You see, he almost died before that, in a horrible bike accident, in early 2013 (yes, I had just moved) With his hands in his pockets because he forgot his gloves, he went flying over the handlebars and landed on his face knocking out his two front teeth and requiring dozens of stitches. His helmet undoubtedly saved his life, or at least prevented a serious traumatic brain injury. He was out cold and they rushed him to the hospital.

      He spent dozens of hours in the dental chair after that. No insurance. He went to students at Tufts Dental School!ReplyCancel

  • Deb - October 25, 2020 - 4:01 AM

    Laurel,

    You are quite right to reject the elevator concept. Add to your ‘impossible list’ a 8 by 8 foot mechanical room, block walls and footings.

    We all just think you are dazzling and deserve a plush arrival to your Mistress Retreat.

    BTW the curved wall and private garden are fabulous.

    I vote straight run of stairs. 100%

    There is no construction without drama.

    Best wishes,
    DebReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 1:46 PM

      I love it that some of you, not you, Deb seem to think I own the entire building. There are four other apartments including the husband and wife who created the condominium in 1979 and live on the top floor!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - October 25, 2020 - 3:54 AM

    Almost identical is not identical and looks messy. Match the countertop and floor to the tile in shower that you like. And yes that partion really dates it, go clear. Try a mirror that has a recessed cabinet behind it that is mirrored and is lit inside when you open it. The look of the black vanity with the lighter marble sounds great.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 2:26 PM

      There is that type of mirror already. A real mirror concealing a medicine cab would be fine. But, I’m also fine with
      putting stuff in the vanity. 42″ would feel huge to me after living with my horrid 25 incher for eight years.ReplyCancel

  • Martha B. Higgins - October 25, 2020 - 3:48 AM

    The mirror you featured on this post is out of stock. It is lovely, hope it’s back soon.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 25, 2020 - 1:41 PM

      Hi Martha,

      Wayfair says it’s coming back on December 7th. I love that feature on Wayfair. Sometimes those dates do get pushed back. I always say. “Welcome to my world.” Or, rather, my old world.ReplyCancel

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