Photos by Kim Anderson

A bathroom covered in monotonous pink tile, top, is now a delightful room with character.

If you want to update your tired interiors you can invest in new living room furniture, you can paint the bedroom walls and buy new bed linens, or you can replace the tacky hall lights and closet doors.

But when it comes to the bathroom, sometimes a new towel set and some art prints won’t cut it. Too much of this room is fixed like, well, fixtures: toilet, sink, tub. If you’re very unlucky, you’re saddled with acres of tacky wall tile. The outdated bathroom is one of those spaces, like the kitchen, which can make the place feel dowdy and cheap, no matter how much attention you create in the other rooms.

In short, sometimes a reno is required. There are magazines devoted to the bathroom reno, but the following Vancouver example reveals big results from a not-so-big reno.

The before photo shows the bathroom stuck in the ‘80s and beyond the kind of help any paint and pictures can provide. Situated on the main floor, the dusty-rose tile-a-rama was hard to ignore and a far cry from the owner’s taste, which tends toward classic Craftsman style. However, the after photo features a room full of character. Some highlights:

  • A combination of whimsical chickadee-patterned wallpaper and white wainscoting for the walls.

  • Since the bathtub was not in use, it and the institutional tile was removed to make way for a custom vanity made from an antique dresser, stained to match the new walnut flooring.

  • Removing the vanity made way for a bath cart and enough wall space to feature an artwork display.

  • The owner kept her budget in check by choosing a pre-made granite counter top with undermounted sink already installed, and by using MDF beadboard paneling instead of relying on costly custom beadboard installation.

  • Antiqued bronze fixtures provide visual weight and impart a traditional feeling.

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks ( She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.

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