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Brady Gives a Refresh to His Vintage Bathroom

Hey Folks, Brady here, and today on the blog Emily has given me full liberty to talk about a very important issue, her morning routine. I kid, but everyone has one: Kesha “brushes her teeth with a bottle of Jack, ” Gweneth probably steams her _______ (you know what) before applying edible face cream which saves the environment and baby pandas, and well… then there is mine. It used to be pretty dismal until just a few weeks ago when my rather drab rental bathroom got a major facelift.

Brady's Bathroom Makeover Takeover White Turquiose Gold Tile Before and After 1

As you can see on the left in the before pic, it wasn’t great, but it did have some majorly great aspects that I loved and allowed me to look past the disgustingly dirty floors, the unusually low sink, and the small size of the room. The vintage basketweave tile, the cast iron tub, and the tall ceilings all meant it had major potential to go from 2012 Kylie Jenner to 2016 Kylie Jenner, for those of you that might not fully get that reference call me as we have a lot to catch up on.

Let’s start with the major fixes. The toilet and sink. These may seem like HUGE projects but are relatively easy and can make a big difference in your space. 5 years ago if you wanted an affordable toilet or sink, you had very few options and got the look of a budget toilet or sink. But, nowadays there are some very good looking toilets and sinks that are definitely rental and pocket-book friendly (and don’t worry we have a huge roundup of those coming very soon).

For those of you that are renters, I would definitely check with your landlord before you go in and start ripping things apart and replacing hard finishes in your place. But if they are open to it and it is something that you want to do then I would definitely recommend swapping them out. There are just some things that 20 thorough cleanings of clorox can’t wash away on a 15-year-old toilet and sink. Needless to say, my new toilet, new sink, and faucet make me so much happier than those sad dated ones that lived in there previously.

Brady's Bathroom Makeover Takeover White Turquiose Gold Tile Before and After 2

As the apartment is vintage, I wanted to find something that would echo the charm and character of the place so I ended up going with this toilet, this sink, and this faucet which I could not be more happy with. They both work so well together and, even just having those three new pieces in the space, made a world of difference.

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Brady's Bathroom Makeover Takeover White Turquiose Gold Tile Before and After 3

I also added a new brass shelf above the toilet to fill that huge empty space, as well as a new towel ring because well…. the one on the left just wasn’t working for me and all of those pretty new pieces that were going to live next to it.

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise_007

We all know that good light is important in a bathroom, and as I only have one small window and previously a one-light-flush-mount, it was time to upgrade to something more useful and more pleasant to look at. I went with this chandelier which I love. I had it made to come down 28″ inches from the ceiling, which you would think would make the space feel smaller but in fact having that depth to the light extends your eye line up to the tall ceilings. It also hides your wrinkles, diminishes hair loss, and makes your muscles look bigger. (I swear).

Now that we have talked about what I did to some of the hard surfaces in the space (light, sink, faucet, toilet, shelf), let’s talk about how you can bring some life into a rather bland bathroom with some very quick and easy fixes. I am no professional stylist, nor will I claim to be, but there are a few things to help your space feel more lived in, more you, and more comfortable.

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise _3_012

Scent: This one is big in a bathroom (DUH… cue potty humor jokes). This candle has been my go-to for a long time both in and out of the bathroom. The scent is amazing (Gramercy Park Hotel actually uses it for all their products and burns it in all public spaces) and it doesn’t burn too fast like other candles. Basically, if you have a clean surface to create an area for a candle and a few matches, then you should do it. You and your guests will appreciate it.

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise_010

Mirror: Depending on your bathroom this is one of the easiest and most impactful fixes. My bathroom previously had a built in medicine cabinet with layers and layers of paint on it. I knew that I couldn’t rip out the medicine cabinet so instead I just popped the mirrored door off by the hinges which left me with a flat surface which allowed me to mount this brass beauty from Restoration Hardware on top of the old medicine cabinet recess.

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Be Your Own Guest: Trust me when I say I don’t live a life of luxurious bubble baths and champagne toasts everyday. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fantasize about it and create your own little bathroom oasis. My bathroom is SMALL and when I say small, I really do mean small. It is about 5’x5′, so I didn’t have room for a cute curio cabinet with bath salts and all my “lotions and potions”, as my dad likes to call them. But I was able to add a little side table stump, a small bud vase, and a sponge and face cloth (for all those days that I use a face cloth and sponge)… who am I kidding, throw that shit off of there and bring in a bottle of wine, while you have the Kardashians on your laptop which is cantilevered on your toilet. Isn’t that what all good side tables and toilets are for?

Brady's Bathroom Makeover Takeover White Turquiose Gold Tile Apartment Rental Redesign Side by side

Make it Personal: No matter where the space may be in your house/apartment, if you just fill it with pretty things, it will just be a room filled with pretty things. Always bring in something to really make it your own. Mine happen to be a few polaroids of some of my best friends and family I have tucked into the edges of my mirror – and they’re doing a damn good job of getting my butt to the gym every morning. Just a bunch of skinny minis and my little sister, sporting a full six-pack only a few months after popping a baby out. If that isn’t motivation to do some planks every day I don’t know what is.

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise_009

All in all, I could not be more happy with my little bathroom oasis, what do you think? If you are ready to create the look yourself, head on down below where I have pulled together a get the look with everything I used.

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise _001

Apartment Rental Bathroom Makeover Takeover Redesign Brady Tolbert White and Turquoise_Roundup

1.Magical Thinking Pompom Shower Curtain | 2. Le Labo Santal 26 Candle | 3. Jacquard Bath Towel | 4. Newport Brass Bathroom Faucet | 5. Kohler Pedestal Sink | 6. Satellite 6 Chandelier in Natural Brass | 7. Brake Angle Brass Shelf | 8. Astoria Pivot Mirror in Antique Brass | 9. Kohler Two Piece Toilet | 10.Coyuchi Mediterranean Towel | 11.Two Men Collage by Scott Bergey | 12. Irvine Modern White Frame | 13. West Emory Ring Holder | 14. Diamond Dot Ceramic Bath Tray | 15. Warm Metal Waste Basket (similar) | 16. Morgan’s Toothpaste | 17. Morgan’s Wood Toothbrush | 18. Courtesi Wood End Table

Enjoyed this makeover post? Check out these: A DIY Kitchen Redo Under $400,  Scott’s Bedroom Makeover With Leesa,  A Rustic Mid-Century Family Room, Sara Updates Her Childhood Bedroom – The Reveal, The Easiest Guest Room Makeover Ever, Brady’s DIY Peel and Stick Kitchen Flooring (For Under $50), How To Layout A Narrow Living Room, New Kitchen Project and Design Plan.

***After photos by always lovely and handsome, Zeke Ruelas

For more of Brady’s Apartment: Brady’s Bedroom Makeover with Parachute | Brady’s Kitchen Reveal | DIY Channel Tufted Headboard | Brady’s Living Room | DIY Kitchen Flooring | Brady’s Living Room Refresh with The Citizenry


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116 thoughts on “Brady Gives a Refresh to His Vintage Bathroom

  1. Nice reno! I have a half bath in need of some love…. Including a gold/brass towel ring. Can you let me know where you got that piece as well?


    1. I have the same one–I got it at Urban Outfitters maybe 3 years ago. I’d love to know if Brady got one recently, because we just sold our house and I did not want to part with it, so I replaced it with a less-cool one from Menards. I only felt a little bad. 😉

      1. It was from Urban and still shows up on their site however right now it is showing it is out of stock. It’s an awesome towel ring though!

    2. UGH I got so excited when I saw that because I thought maybe UO was selling them again… alas; no link. Hopefully they’ll bring them back because they are AWESOME.

  2. Oh for crying out loud, Brady! Are those wands at the end of your arms instead of hands? You are a wizard of taste and style! I love your posts.

  3. I love it! You made it really beautiful! Even the turquoise tile doesn’t look at dated anymore…nice job!

  4. This is so beautiful! I love what you did in a small rental as I live in one too. But where is all of your bathroom stuff? You said the bathroom is so tiny, so where do you put it? Did replacing the mirror mean you also lost the storage in the medicine cabinet? I currently live in a bathroom your size so was wondering what storage suggestions you have. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! Luckily there is a small walk through wardrobe/office area just off the bathroom. It is a door just to the right of the sink. So there is some storage in there that I throw the essentials in.

  5. This is seriously amazing. Now we just need some pointers on how to refresh a 90s era bathroom without a gut reno!

    Kudos, Brady – you are rocking it!

  6. This is awesome! Quick question, is it because the tile is so pretty that you didn’t use any rugs on the floor? I have plain white tile in the bathroom and am currently debating the rug situation…

    1. Yes, I love the tiles on the floor so much and it is such a small space I decided not to place a bath mat or rug down.

  7. Wow. This was seriously impressive and gives me hope that small changes can go a really long way. Your landlord should be paying you for making this rental so much more appealing!!

    1. Thank you! Wishful thinking… But I am happy with the changes and living in a space I love makes it worth every penny.

  8. SO spectacular. wowza. love the style of the toilet and the layout space on the sink. – the perfectionist in me wants a view of the mirror from the side, but I bet it looks great if the rest of the room is any indication 🙂

  9. Man, you guys knock it out of the park every time! Just a note to say dang, your content has been insanely good as of late! I And also I couldn’t appreciate the realness & sense of humor of the EHD team more! And I mean all of it–the design posts of course, but also the mom/style posts (I’m a new mom, and I adore and applaud your mom posts, Emily.) I’m such a fan girl. Just wanted to say thank you for the daily inspiration! You guys are awesome. xx

  10. love! amazing work. i have a very similar bathroom in my rental (but the blue tile is everrrywhere). my sink is also identical to the before but i’m not able to replace. i don’t hate, hate it but it’s just so… locker room. i’ve considered trying to put some sort of “skirt” underneath but do you think there’s any way to do it without it being shabby chic? (that is no offense to Rachel)

    1. Totally, I think you could do a tailored skirt around the sink with flat panels rather than the ruffled panels you see in a lot of country/shabby chic decor. Definitely send along a pic if you end up doing anything.

  11. 1. BEAUTIFUL!
    2. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE include at least 1 well-priced NOT COMFORT HEIGHT beautiful toilet in your round up! My 5’1 person find comfort height toilets SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE FOR BUSINESS and I’m having a hard time finding a lovely normal height toilet for our powder room remodel!

    Sorry about the panic. I’m worried if I don’t get a normal height toilet now, they will ALL BECOME COMFORT HEIGHT FOREVER.

    1. Word. I hate comfort height and I’m 5′ 7″. Though I have it on good authority from my mom that as we grow older we may appreciate a taller toilet so there’s that to look forward to.

      1. Being 6’2″ I definitely appreciate a taller toilet and skink but we will for sure include some sizes for everyone on the roundup 🙂

    2. I once found myself a short person stuck living with a tall toilet I couldn’t change and I finally broke down and ordered a squatty potty. Not for the reasons they advertise them, but because it helped stay on the seat since my toes barely touched the ground. It was both embarrassing and hilarious at the same time.

      1. I’m in the same boat. My gorgeous renovated bathroom now has a fugly squatty potty as well. SIGH….

  12. SO beautiful! I’m in the midst of planning for a bathroom / kitchen remodel myself right now. Emily: I look to you as the expert on all things brass. How does it age in a wet environment? Does it get a patina overtime like copper?? I imagine it will just get more beautiful with age. Would you recommend only using solid brass (as opposed to coated) in places like the bathroom??

    1. My faucet which is linked up in the site comes in a ton of different brass finishes but I got it in their “Satin Brass” which has continued to see the beautiful bright brass color as it is not unfinished. I love the color and feel of it and would definitely recommend it. Most companies now make brass options that do not tarnish. Hope that helps

  13. So excited to see you kept the original tiles! All my adult bathrooms have had that tile and even though I’ve always been a renter and couldn’t change them if I wanted to – I wouldn’t want to! We did a walk thru of a house we might buy and reno (!!) and when I told the contractor that I wanted to keep the original 1955 blue/black/white tile situation he looked at me like I was insane. Basket weave bathroom floors 4-eva!

  14. Love it Brady!! I must say I am just shocked that some landlords out there actually advertise their rental units in such appalling condition. As a landlord myself, I must be one of the rare ones who actually prides themselves in offering tenants a clean, updated unit. I am so glad to hear that they were on board with your changes to the place. Looks great! 🙂

  15. Wow, this is such an amazing job! I love the way the brass looks with everything. It’s warm color combined with the teal tiles makes the bathroom look like an elevated vintage beach. Hearts!

  16. I kind of love the idea of using cheap(ish) but really pretty fixes for your rental. I feel like you are making the world a prettier place since rentals are always neglected.

  17. The ‘before’ picture with the horrific lighting, lack of any mirror, toilet gaping, broken showerhead on floor… it looks like a prison cell. I think your ‘after’ is beautiful but the severe difference in just the lighting in the two shots I think is often responsible for a ton of the improvement.

    I’d be more impressed with a well-lit photo of the bathroom clean in both shots, so the styling and improvements could take center stage, y’know?

    Nice job!

    1. I imagine the difference is that the ‘after’ was professionally lit and shot and the ‘before’ was not worth paying a photographer for so was done with a phone – and as good as phone photos are getting these days, professional photos make a surprising amount of difference

    2. YES. I’m sure the work is good- but it would be even better if the before and afters were given the same treatment.

  18. Brady, not only is your bathroom reno absolutely stunning, your posts crack me up every time, especially this one. Thank you for the Friday morning laughs. Can we be friends? 🙂

  19. What a HUGE impact! Such a cute bathroom. As a landlord myself- of a very charming older building, I wanted to add here that if a renter ever proposed these kinds of changes to me I would offer to contribute financially. Since the upgrades stay once the tenant moves out, a cool landlord should have no problem splitting costs with the renter, even if it means reimbursing if the landlord doesn’t have the finds to contribute up front. My one caveat is that the work has to be done by licensed contractors/plumbers/electricians for liability reasons. I would love to have a Brady as a tenant! 😉

    1. How should someone bring this up to the landlord in a tactful/non-awkward way? Basically just say you’re considering replacing some of the items and ask if (1) they would be okay with it and (2) if they would be willing to chip in since you think it would increase the value of the property?

      1. This is what I was wondering about as well. The bathroom looks fantastic of course! But Brady shelled out over a thousand dollars (prob closer to 2k, I couldn’t get the links for the toilet and sink to work) and all this stays after he moves out. What the what? It’s important to feel at home in your space but as a renter, I wouldn’t sink this kind of cash into my place unless the landlord was at least willing to split the costs.

        1. EXACTLY this. This looks PHENOMENAL, but technically everything you permenantly install in a rental (ie fixtures) become the property of the landlord. Yes Brady could swap out all these cool spendy fixtures (like the light, the mirror, the faucet) for a cheap alternative when he moves but the landlord COULD insist he leave them. I thought when he said there were good looking inexpensive options he was going to install a $100 toilet, not a $300 toilet. I guess it’s all about perspective.

        2. I LOVE this update! But I was also clicking on all the links, adding up how much was being spent on a rental bathroom. Pretty sure it’s over the 3K mark. Brady? Want to chime in here? Just wondering about your thoughts on sinking so much money into this place. Although seriously, if it makes you go from hating to loving it? Maybe worth it!

      2. Teresa, that’s pretty much what we did in out last rental. What we had going for us, though, was that the condition of the sink and medicine cabinet (the two things we wanted replaced) were objectively bad. We had the same sink as Brady’s old one; it was pulling away from the wall so it sloped forward and water didn’t fully drain. And the medicine cabinet was literally falling apart. IIRC, we told the landlord that we would pay for a new medicine cabinet if she allowed us to change it out (we desperately needed the storage and were truly willing to eat the cost). And, after explaining the issue with the sink, we offered to split the cost of an Ikea sink and facet. Because she was a good landlord, after she approved our choices we bought the stuff and she reimbursed us in full for both the medicine cabinet and sink/facet. She also had her handyman do the install. If you have a good case for why things should be changed, and have a decent landlord, it can’t hurt to ask.

  20. Sensational refresh, thanks for sharing. Not sure what I enjoy more your content or great content.
    That is a lot of visual difference and feeling for not much $
    Also like how well the sink and toilet look together, better than matching the same brand.
    Excited to see the toilet round up, love the flat top of this one for practically of being able to place things on it.
    Thanks again, great job!

  21. That’s seriously beautiful and right up my alley, style-wise. My bath might be about the same size as yours. Unfortunately I need that space in the medicine cabinet and I don’t think I could replace my tiny sink that’s sagging off the wall.
    But question: how did your existing tile go from gross gas station bathroom to milky pink and cerulean blue? Your blue tile in the “after” shot went from opaque to opalescent–how? Was it photoshopped? Or was the “before” photo just that bad?

    1. The wall tile has always been a cream and mint green and the floor is white and dark green it just got a very thorough cleaning by me in between photos.

      1. I was going to ask, the pretty styling and foofing was a decoy so you didn’t have to share how in the world you were able to clean that tile? I paid my daughter $10 to use a scrub brush and bar keeper’s friend on the old tile in the kitchen. Totally worth it (she’s available, folks). Can I just ask about the tape measure on the shelf above the toilet, and what sort of use that has? Or is that even publishable?

  22. This is Goooorgeous! Very inspiring. I’ll have to check out your candle suggestion, I am Very sick of the Anthropologie Blue Volcano candle.

  23. Ha! I thought the cover photo was the before and was like what in the world is wrong with that bathroom? They better not take out that gorgeous mirror! Duh! It look stunning! Nice job!

  24. The renovation is lovely, and clearly shows how a few cosmetic changes can enhance space. Bravo. Did you replace the sink and toilet, or did a plumber take care of those items? If a plumber changed out those items, how much was it?

    1. Brady’s dad was in town, so he actually took care of it 🙂
      But I think between $300-$500 is pretty typical.

  25. OMG, this is so so good. You really made that space amazing. We have a small (even smaller than yours if you can believe it) bathroom, and this is inspiring.

    Thank you!!

  26. BRADY!! This is amazing! I wouldn’t have thought much could be done, but you made it into a gorgeous, classy room and totally did its inherent vintage charm justice!

  27. Love it Brady! You, sir, have excellent taste. Thanks for a fun and inspiring post! 🙂

  28. You had me at Gwyneth steams her _____!! Hilarious. The bathroom looks amazing, I mean all those brass accents make it spectacular. I always love your posts, keep em coming!

  29. Wow, that’s a big improvement! I think the little bit of greenery in the space makes such a difference and it’s something I’ve got a figure a way to add to my own bath.

    I do worry that brass fixtures may not have a long shelf life, but I’m also a believer in saying “screw trends” and doing what makes you happy.

  30. Now, finally somewhere to ask this weirdo question: when you replace an old toilet, have any of you found holes, rust marks, difference in colour etc still showing on the floor tiles because the new toilet has a smaller footprint?
    We’ve had this happen in our downstairs bathroom and cover it with an awkwardly-placed bathmat. But now we reeaally need to replace the toilet in our main bathroom and I’ll be bummed if it happens again. What do you reckon?

    1. I don’t have experience with this, but have you tried Bar Keeper’s Friend? It might help.

    2. There definitely was a dirty rust ring around where the old toilet used to be – Brady scrubbed it with Zep which worked so well!

  31. Love it! It has the vintage Art Deco ’20s look with a bit of mid-century modern Hollywood sparkle. I am a big fan of the colorful vintage California ceramic tiles & wish I had some of those lovely blue-green tiles..they don’t make them like they used to & the colors are just not the same. You’ve clearly shown you don’t have to gut a room of all its original charm to get a fresh look. Ah, and I love the fun Pom Pom trim..and Pom Pom flowers that echo it. And, the pretty Palm..I’m definitely gonna refer back to yours when I finally get around to doing my bath. 🙂

  32. Brady! Fantastic post. You really showed how some basic changes and very tasteful accessories are what matter most in a bathroom. Such great style. I’m totally using that mirror in my next bathroom project. It’s perfection. More Brady posts please!!

  33. LOVE IT! The two men collage reminds me of smeared poo, but everything else is amazing.

    And this: “throw that shit off of there and bring in a bottle of wine, while you have the Kardashians on your laptop which is cantilevered on your toilet. Isn’t that what all good side tables and toilets are for?” LOL, yes.

  34. Brady….you are a rock star. Simple classic and remarkable vintage. I love the transformation.

  35. This is amazing! I wish we were able to make changes to our rentals in Australia – you need permission to knock a nail into the wall – and I would LOVE to update our very poorly laid out bathroom.

    1. This. Those matches are so cute! I’m glad I’m not the only who was wondering about them.

  36. This is PERFECT! Seriously, I live in a rental too. After 9 months, I’m still slowly working on my spaces, but they’re coming together! Just low budget decor changes. Though, sad, I found a pretty liquid soap dispenser that was actually appealing (I don’t want bar handsoap) and it broke like… instantly. Speaking of which, where’s your hand soap? Dirty dirty! (jk) Anyway, my bathroom also has a moisture problem and my new pink salt candle holder started “weeping” too. One day! I’ll keep trying! You’ve inspired me to keep working toward a space that makes me happy. 🙂 Also I just ate a lot cookies that I told myself would be my fancy lady “tea biscuits,” so apologies for the erratic post.

  37. lovely! really nice. brady, your makeover post are my fave! one day maybe i can afford it all like you!

  38. I love love love this post! Brady your writing is hilarious and this bathroom redo is all kinds of goodness!
    Your humor in your writing makes me wonder do you and Emily (and other co-workers) just have the best time ever working with each other and where do I apply!

  39. This post is giving me LYFE!!! Not only do I love all the ideas you gave me for my two impossibly small bathrooms, but the humor! Brady has got JOKES! Glad I’m not the only one who watches tv in the bathroom. 🙂

  40. I’ve lived in many a rental and have never ever dreamt of putting this much TLC into a bathroom. But this looks so good you have me rethinking my track record entirely. Also let’s talk about THAT LIGHT FIXTURE (inserts heart eyes emoji).

  41. There is a noticeable difference in the floor between “before” and “after.” How did you get it so clean?

  42. This bathroom GLOWS!! Love the broad edges of the sink and how the lighting makes that dim glow. I like the way you write, very descriptive and I can totally relate to you! I don’t have a big bathroom either, but at least I’m able to buy the highest quality replicas of some of the most beautiful pieces on the market through France and son. Just bought a table and a mirror from their website to add some aesthetics to my tiny bathroom.

  43. This is a beautiful makeover. Nicely done! One question: where, oh where are you placing the TP? Do you have one of those freestanding butlers or are you going to hang a holder on the wall?

  44. This made my vintage soul so happy. It’s wonderful to see there are still folks out there that appreciate the craftsman of old and are willing to make the investment to bring it back to life. Love, love, love it Brady!!!!

  45. Quick question about that gorgeous mirror! What size is it: the 18″x 24″ or 18″ x 36″? Thanks!

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