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How Ajai Added A Lot Of Character To Her (*Cough* Her Husband’s) Builder Grade Bathroom

Hi there, Ajai here, and I’m back with an apartment bathroom refresh. As you may already know, I’ve been making it my goal to characterize our apartment to represent the things we love, but this time around, I’ll be designing for my husband. I typically make a lot of decisions regarding the design of our home, and always try to keep in mind how we as a family function in it. That said, a lot of you may already know that we tend to enjoy a neutral color palette in our home. I recently shared the reason for this via my social media. I know that “colors evoke feelings, and neutrals are grounding. I’m in an industry where I’m constantly entering other people’s worlds and am always thinking along the lines of what other people need and how I can help them to function better in their space. So I like to have a place where I can come home to reset and feel grounded.” 

Before the pandemic, I would go out and work in someone else’s home, and then spend hours on a computer sourcing for that home and designing its floor plan, and after spending all day in someone else’s space, I’d want to go home and not feel overwhelmed. I needed to give my mind a chance to relax, and take a break from such specific, and sometimes, complex designs. I also mentioned how my husband used to travel 75% of the month to different states for work. Now that we are working from home, my husband deals with a new group of customers each week. Our work worlds consist a lot of assessing and aiding the needs of others. All that to say, this is why we enjoy neutral color palettes. To quote myself exactly, “they are simple and minimalistic – tones that give a feeling of being calm and provide stability – feelings that are a necessity for me and my family in our living space.”

Since my husband (Jonathan) is the client this time around, I took into account his personality and interests, but I didn’t want to stray too far away from the concept of the other bathroom in our home. What I found myself with was an artisanal and minimal oasis fit for my husband. Beginning with a neutral palette was a no-brainer for me, yet I wanted to pick Jonathan’s brain about what his needs would be for his space. This was quite fun, and I must say, he ended up being one of my favorite clients (this is more than likely because we are generally on the same page with a lot of things and enjoy many of the same hobbies… we even have the same quirky ways about us… we have an obsession with peg racks – they’re all over our home). When I asked Jonathan what he enjoyed most about our home, he responded “I enjoy how there’s not a lot going on everywhere.” I should mention that Jonathan and I both grew up in homes where there was always a lot going on…everywhere. You could say our mothers were a bit of what we like to joke about and call “collectors.” When we were growing up, they both had a bit of a hard time parting with things. In turn, I believe this has made Jon and I minimalists. So most of the time, we are thinking about how an item not only can look nice, but how it can also function in our home. So let’s get to this bathroom of ours… I mean, his. Here is the bathroom before:

Metal Shades

I mentioned in an earlier blog post, that we moved into a new build. So like many new builds, we’ve got the same generic glass lamp shades over the vanity in our bathroom – these had to go first. We replaced them with a new metal shade I found and spray painted. Jonathan wanted more black accents in his bathroom, so I wanted to make sure I incorporated it as much as I could for us… I mean, him. Along with the newly painted lamp shades, I sourced a black set of towels to go along with a flat weaved sand set. This way he could switch out the palette from time to time. He also mentioned how he enjoyed the antique and artisanal elements from the barbershop he used to frequent in Atlanta. It had considerably aged photographs with antiqued frames hung throughout the shop, this is what inspired the art I chose for his bathroom. I thrifted the piece that displays the two gentlemen with swords, and the print with the two ballerinas came from Juniper Print Shop (Jon and I love this print because it looks like two ladies are dabbing – you’ll have to google this if you don’t already know what dabbing is… lol). The frame I chose for the dab print was custom, and I chose it because it too had an aged/antiqued feel about it. 

Peg Rail | Woven Hanging Basket | Black Towels | Sand Towels | Shower Curtain | Rug

Sword Art (vintage) | Ballerina Art

Peg Rail | Sand Towels | Shower Curtain | Rug (vintage)

I wanted to add more texture to the bathroom, so I chose a waffle shower curtain that is tan, to keep with the oasis feel. My husband kept saying “I want my bathroom to feel like I’m in a hotel, a relaxing hotel.” This encouraged me to play on the white aspects of the bathroom, because a white hue is airy and clean – like relaxing hotel rooms. This led me to get rid of the boring towel bar and incorporate a white peg rack. The white peg rack allows for all of the items we hang on it to look as if they are floating – a pretty cool design aspect, along with them being very functional and creating much storage. I love hanging towels and woven baskets from our peg racks to create even more storage. To keep with the black accents, I added a black wastebasket, toilet brush, and vanity organizer. Also, I want to reiterate that my husband used to travel 75% of each month for work, so I’d consider him a professional hotel-stayer lol. He would always facetime me as he walked into each hotel room to show me what the room and bathroom looked like. Then he’d come back home with a synopsis on how the space felt and functioned (I have taken so many mental notes and stashed them away for future projects). 

Wastebasket | Toliet Brush

Hand Towel Stand | Hand Towel

Candle | Scent | Vanity Organizer

During these summaries, I noticed how he’d always mention how easily accessible hand towels were or weren’t. I wanted to make sure I met his hand towel expectations by having them easily accessible via the towel stand, and right next to the sink. He’d also mention how hard it was to squeeze soap from the little bottles left on the bathroom countertops in hotels, and how sometimes there would be no lotion. So I sourced the cutest little artisanal soap, lotion, and q-tip cotton swab jar set from HomeGoods, along with a jar I found to host cotton balls. To finish the look I searched high and low for the perfect runner. I was able to procure a one-of-a-kind Turkish rug from Etsy (I have so many rugs and consider myself a “collector” haha… I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree on this one… in fact, I have a blog that shares where my love for rugs began and highlights a few etsy sellers I love to shop with), and with the perfect dimensions. I also left out his favorite Vetiver (Jon’s favorite Scent) along with a Petit Grain 21 candle (another one of his favorites), because smells are everything when it comes to a bathroom. Jonathan is loving his bathroom refresh, and I’m so happy he is. 

Before and Afters, anyone??

It was important for me to give him a space of his own that he could enjoy. Because we live in an apartment now, he doesn’t have a “man-cave,” so having a space to retreat to groom himself was so fun to create. I hear him in there during the mornings shaving and singing, and I love how happy he is after a shower and a couple sprays of his favorite scent. He came to me just yesterday and told me how much he loves the sand towel set. He said he likes that it doesn’t get extremely damp like other towels after he dries off. He thanked me for making his bathroom special then kissed me on my head, and I melted. This is what I love about design, the psychology of a space and the effect it has on us, but I guess that’s a blog post for another time.

**Design and Photos by Ajai Guyot

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3 years ago

I love love love the idea of channeling our homes to reflect places that we love in the world. I can just imagine how your husband’s favorite barbershop might look, reflecting the vintage art, various bottles lined up on the counter, and fingertip towels at the ready. I admire the creativity and imagination you brought to the project, and feel inspired to do the same in my own home. Thanks!

3 years ago

I love the collection of items on the counter! It does look like a hotel!

3 years ago

This is great! Collected and calm; exactly what I want from my home too 🙂

3 years ago

The rug adds so much and really warms up the space, and I love the idea of peg hooks in a bathroom. I never seem to have enough hooks, and that is such a great idea.

I’m obsessed with the little cutting board wood stand. Do you remember where you got it?

Thanks for sharing. Such a great refresh!

3 years ago

Love this bathroom makeover and your lovely storytelling voice! It definitely gives me inspiration to make changes to my builder grade apartment.

3 years ago

Simple, serene, not overstyled. And sharing his reaction was super sweet

3 years ago

Spraying the shades black was a stroke of genius and truly changes the vibe. Kudos.
P.s. love the reasoning for your neutral palette, hopefully it curbs those color comments you’d surely see otherwise being yodeled into the peanut gallery (us).

3 years ago

So sweet – I can just hear him in there singing and shaving!

3 years ago

Ajai…you’re a magician!
I’m nit into hotels at all and I like this room! No hotel I’ve ever dtayed in had artwork in the bathroom!
It feels more spa-like to me.

I love the little mini-stool on the counter. I actually really likewooden accents in a bathroom.

I’m on the hunt for some dark brown bottles and dispensers to decant things from ugly bottles in my bathroom. I’ve only found big jars and such as opposed to bottles I could use for shampoos, etc. Still looking.

Brilliant job and I hope your husband kniws how lucky he is to have his OWN bathroom!?! 🤗

Caroline Leal
3 years ago

Can I just thank you for featuring a (seemingly) window-less bathroom? It’s SO hard to find ideas for these kinds of spaces and I really appreciate it!

3 years ago

Love the rug and colors! Not to be gross, but toilets spew aerosolized… things when they flush. People say that this is fixed buy closing the seat, but nonetheless… I personally don’t hang shelves or things to close to or at the level of my toilet, I don’t like the idea of … items hanging out …

Liz M
3 years ago

Love how achievable this makeover is! Also love the mix of masculine and feminine with the art! If it were mine – I might spray the vanity handles black as well as they would pop off the wood color nicer than the chrome. Now I want more hooks in my bathroom! 🙂

3 years ago

Such a great transformation! These are always so much more inspiring to me than gut jobs- bravo Ajai!!!

3 years ago

Love how you styled what you had to work with – so inspiring to see how easily you can spruce up an existing space.

3 years ago
Reply to  Kara

Exactly. And it looks wonderful!

3 years ago

This really looks great, and I love how customized it is to your husband’s preferences. “Hand towel expectations” was the funniest thing I’ve read in awhile. 🙂

Heather Amsden
3 years ago

Nice job Ajai! The dabbing ballerinas is the BEST! I love having artwork that gives me a giggle whenever I see it.

3 years ago

I love the way you decorate with neutrals to make a space cozy and serene! Are there any warm white paint colors you can recommend? I’m struggling to find a warm white/cream that isn’t too gray or too yellow for my north-facing living room.

3 years ago

Nice job!

3 years ago

Ajai, I enjoy your posts so much. I especially love how you explain your process and how you make it personal without over-sharing. Can’t wait to read more.

Kimberly Price
3 years ago

Your reasons are so incredibly sweet!! And the bathroom looks so fresh and modern and warm!! 🥰😍

Elizabeth Kennedy
3 years ago

I love the neutral palette concept. I never thought of incorporating black accessories, but they look great. I also love the hanging basket and peg rail. The whole effect is both calming and striking.

3 years ago

Would the rug get wet an go mouldy?

3 years ago
Reply to  Leah

I’m wondering that too. can we get a post about how to care for vintage rugs from a pro? I’ve never had a wool or natural fiber rug before And I would be hesitant to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on one rug and then permanently damage it. Like I regularly wash bath floor mats, almost obsessively to be honest, And you probably can’t do that with a vintage rug right

3 years ago

I love that long peg hook rack!

3 years ago

Ajai, You are such a creative person. Your husbands bathroom is so calm and serene. I’m sure you already thought of it, so I’m just curious why you didn’t spray the hardware and faucet black too, along with the light shades. Would it have been too much you think?

3 years ago

Ajai!! “He thanked me for making his bathroom special then kissed me on my head, and I melted.” This is so sweet. I melted too! Much love xo.

3 years ago

Sourced black towels at Target? Sourced glass jars (artisanal?) at Homegoods? I guess that means and me and everyone else I know are designers, cause most women do same all the time.

3 years ago
Reply to  Sherrie

Eesh, unnecessary nasty comment. Just because someone is a designer does not mean they want to spend $100 per towel or jar. Decorating is about how you make someone feel in their space, and how you pull random items together to make a home. Not about where everything comes from or how much it costs. Spew negativity elsewhere!

3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth


3 years ago
Reply to  Sherrie

It takes talent to make good choices in those stores

3 years ago

Love this. It’s serene. The only things that stand out are garbage can and toilet brush. I’d prefer those in a lighter shade or color so that they don’t draw so much attention. I like all other choices art and rug. Your cabineetry is actually great. Mine was old oak similar to shaker style. I wish to have had yours.

3 years ago

Love the wood stool and styling. Such a warm nice transformation overall.

Lisa Anderson
3 years ago

Well, it’s certainly very neutral.

this looks so good. it’s nice to see these kinds of makeovers. just a few minor tweaks completely changes a space.

Amanda McCullough
3 years ago

Great story telling….love your design!

3 years ago

It never occurred to me to replace a glass shade with a metal. Learned some new skills. Thank you very much!

3 years ago

Ajai is now my favorite writer on this site! I love that I can see relatable inspo as a renter. I also love the serenity of her designs. It seems like she’s great at identifying how small changes can elevate a space. Can’t wait to read more!