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5 VERY Relatable Kitchen and Bathroom Reader Design Agonies (And A Special Guest Is Here To Help)

A month or so ago, we did a call-out on Em’s Instagram for your design agonies. We deeply understand the mental torture that a design agony can induce so we love helping! There were so many awesome submissions that I decided to break them up. Today is all about kitchens and one dated bathroom that I think A LOT of you will relate to. But don’t worry, I (someone who has never remodeled anything) won’t be dishing out the main advice. My dear friend and design sister (and EHD Lead Designer Alum) Julie Rose was consulted heavily so everyone can feel extremely taken care of:)

I decided to pick kitchens and bathrooms as the first post because we know a lot of you are renovating those spaces (and I think we’ve said that a thousand times this past year but IT’S TRUE). And as I am sure like me, most of you feel they are extremely intimidating spaces to make decisions on. More than any other space those decisions feel so permanent and ARE more expensive. Making a mistake doesn’t feel like an option. So, by helping these wonderful reader’s agonies, hopefully it will give the rest of you some solid insight and confidence to get that kitchen and bathroom the way you want:) Let the problem-solving being…

Kitchen Remodel While Keeping Meaningful Spanish Tile Floors:

The Agony:

“Here’s my design agony: We’re about to finally do a kitchen remodel in our 1900 farmhouse in Massachusetts, a farmhouse with terracotta tile with Mexican tile accents and I have no idea what color cabinets and countertops to apply to the remodel. It’s been four years in the decision phase because I still don’t know how to incorporate the current tile. The previous owners put in a terracotta floor with Mexican accent tiles back in the 80s. While I’ll admit this floor is one thing that drew me to the home when purchasing, it is quite beautiful and unique (despite the fact it belongs nowhere near a farmhouse), it’s been a huge thorn in my side while trying to design a kitchen upgrade. We cannot afford to replace it because the tile is not only in the kitchen, it connects to an entrance hall, another hallway where it is in three rooms (laundry, pantry, and bathroom) as well as two landings of a stairwell. Plus, after meeting the owner of the tile shop who installed it, it would break my heart to have it removed (it was apparently his favorite floor he’s ever worked on and one of the tile shapes is no longer made).”

The Plea:

“What color cabinets and counters would you do with this flooring? As you can see in the detailed tile that’s scattered throughout, the main colors are royal blue, orange, green, and yellow.  I’m not a primary color person, but want to be sure we do this properly as it’s a huge expense and can only be done once. It’s currently a very cavelike room with the dark cabinets and soffits – but doing it all white may make the floor pop too much? Do we try to blend the floor or do we forget that it’s there? My favorite rooms are those with pops of color, which sums up the rest of my house aside from a darker cozy tv room which is off the kitchen.”

Julie’s Solutions (with Jess Commentary):

  • Green lower cabinetry with white uppers – We know that this is a beautiful combo because it’s what Emily did in her LA house. This way, there’s color with it still being bright and happy just the way she wants it.
  • Keep the white countertops, they will be a nice contrast to the green cabinetry – If she wants to replace what they have then great. However, Julie (and I agree) think that staying with white is the way to color color-wise.
  • Keep wood tone on the back of the island, it adds another layer of texture & character to the space without being an overwhelming design element – I mean it’s beautiful so don’t spend money where you can save! Plus it makes it feel more “farmhouse”.
  • Replace the floating shelves with natural wood tone to match the back of the island, if the uppers are painted white – To help with balance and continuity Julie thinks that switching out the white for a natural wood would look really pretty & add some more texture to the space.
  • If possible continue the white stone backsplash to match the original one behind the range at approx. 30″H and then add in some natural wood tone paneling above it similar to the back of the island. (reference image below) – This is where the “Julie magic” really comes in! The idea to extend the white backsplash for visual continuity and then add pretty wood paneling on top of that is farmhouse without screaming “FARMHOUSE”. Let’s look at her inspo pic…
design by jean stoffer design

Yep, it’s beautiful and is such a great idea! I really hope that this helps with some of Jennifer’s indecision.

The Classic Kitchen & Trim Agony:

The Agony(s) and Plea(s):

“1. Paint! I can’t decide if I should paint our trim? We have gorgeous trim and I’m struggling with painting it dark so it stands out more and my walls can be white… painting my walls darker so the white trim stands out… or painting the walls and trim the same color and being moody and fun. Another issue is that the trim goes all over our first floor including on pretty glass doors- so I feel like I have to commit for the whole house.

2. Our kitchen! This is my least favorite room in the house.. and where I spend 1/2 of my time. It’s dated, has no storage, is small, and generally blah. Here I’d love any thoughts on how to make it feel bigger (how to make it bigger? Fairy godmother?), what colors to paint at least the lower cabinets as well as a basic palette that might work, and how to get more storage. Also, what do people do with this awkward space above cabinets?? The cabinets are in great shape so I don’t want to replace them but ughhhh.”

Julie’s Solutions (with Jess Commentary):

  • Let’s start off with painting the lowers a classic navy blue color to add some contrast to the light wood tone flooring & save some dollars by leaving the uppers as is – Now you don’t know this but Erin lives in a historic neighborhood in Portland, OR. So a navy and off-white combo would be very appropriate and extremely pretty. Emily also did this combo in her Glendale home (even though the colors were brighter and it was meant for a midcentury modern vibe…it’s all about the right tones!).
  • Consider replacing the cabinet hardware with a brass finish for some added warmth – Brass is always going to warm up a space and if they choose to go with a more unlacquered finish, it’s going to bring A LOT of soul.
  • Swap the sink faucet with a taller gooseneck one for that extra “drama”, plus it’s always convenient to have your faucet a bit more out of the way when washing those larger pots & pans – Who doesn’t love some kitchen drama!? Well, the good kind at least. It’s small decisions like this that make a kitchen feel more designed and intentional.
  • Possibly replace the countertops along the u-shape space with a clean white quartz option since there is already a fun patterned tile backsplash – That island butcher block is stunning! But the other counters look like a refresh would really make this kitchen sing.
  • Now let’s address the gap above the upper cabinets, if possible talk with a carpenter about removing the existing crown moulding & add a flat piece of wood that meets the ceiling to enclose the gap. And since no home is perfectly squared off you can add a crown trim at the very top to cover up any unlevel areas. There will be a “seam” or “gap” between the original top of the uppers and the new flat piece of wood but that can easily be covered up by using a half-round trim piece like this one! – Something I wouldn’t have thought of but LOVE!
  • Beware of going dark when painting trim. It can either take a lot of your time to paint or it can be pretty expensive to have professionally done since it requires a lot of precision to mask off & cut in especially around windows. Another thing to consider: going dark and then wanting to go back will take more “layers” of paint & primer to get it to that crisp white look & if you have trim with more design details it can lose its look with paint build-up if not done correctly. – Basically, how much time and money are they willing to invest???
  • On the other hand, bright white trim will never go out of style – SO true. And if Erin ever plans on selling this home that’s for sure something to consider.
  • A good first step could be to play around with slight or drastic contrasting wall colors in a warmer tone similar to the dining area. That way you can get a better idea if the space feels like it should go all dark, trim included. – This is obviously a preference because if drama is what Erin wants then drama is what she should go with. But playing around with a softer contrast might also allow for some really fun darker decor pieces that otherwise might be “too much” with the heavy contrast of wall and trim colors.

Vintage/Dated Blue Tile Bathroom Agony:

The Agony/Plea:

What do I do with this vintage all-blue bathroom!? How do I modernize it without ripping out the tile?

Julie’s Solutions (with Jess Commentary):

  • When you walk into the room your eye focuses more on the two different scaled square patterns & the thick dark grout lines are what is keeping it feeling dated. There is a way to lighten grout colors or you can replace completely but in the end it might be worth swapping out the shower tile for a different pattern to break up the design – This is a question of how much time and/or money is Tracey willing to invest but very doable!
  • The floor tiles are a pretty standard tile so an easy fix could be to use a latex or oil-based paint. Also, consider lightening or replacing the grout for a lighter color because painting tile can be tricky to upkeep in high moisture areas (aka a bathroom). Temporary floor tiles is another quick fix option as well! – If Tracey isn’t interested in the grout option, painting or putting in temporary floor tiles is such a great and maybe a cheaper way of updating the floors.
  • If possible, removing the glass shower door and adding a shower curtain would add a soft texture to the space and make it feel more like a spa – Taking the door off might not be a possibility but if so I also think that would really help! But she could also just put a shower curtain up to hide most of the door:)
  • Try painting the vanity and medicine cabinet either white or for more drama & contrast to the rest of the space a dark blue. For additional drama, let’s add a fun wallpaper pattern to lean into that vintage feel – Let us not forget the INCREDIBLE no renovation transformation from Allison Pierce‘s beautiful home (see below). I vote for heavy drama:)
  • Add some hardware! – Don’t be afraid to make some new holes if you are a homeowner! I also think it would transform the space in a very cool way. Here is a great post that Julie did about hardware placement.
  • Replace the lighting, towel bar, and faucets with more modern (aka clean line) fixtures – Yes, yes, yes:)

All Wood Kitchen with Skylight:

The Agony:

“Let’s call this design agony “I have a perfectly fine, high quality, super functional kitchen that I hate”. As much as I love the idea of tearing out our perfectly fine, high-quality, super functional kitchen, filling up a landfill with its corpse, I’d much rather… not?

1. It’s incredibly wasteful and as a family we have always tried to take steps to be conscious of our impact on our environment.

2. We all know kitchens are a beast in terms of budget and I’d much rather spend that money on something more worthwhile like, say, the kids’ college fund, travel, or something super practical like a garage (we live in a Boston suburb where you can blow $1m on a house and STILL NOT GET A FREAKING GARAGE)

3. This kitchen is PERFECTLY FINE, HIGH QUALITY, AND SUPER FUNCTIONAL!!!”

The Plea:

“There are a couple of bigger issues that need to be resolved here, for instance, we need a backsplash and a proper range hood above the cooktop, and we are currently consulting with a Velux (!) specialist about expanding the skylight/chase to encompass the entire island area, but other than that we’d like to keep this update as budget-friendly as possible, utilizing the existing cabinet boxes (although replacing those arched doors is 1000% in the plan) appliances, and countertops.
The kitchen shares a space with what I like to call “the lounge”. It’s a cozy area where family and friends can hang and whoever is doing the cooking/cleaning can still be part of the action. We are BIG cooks and spend 80% of our time at home in this space. The kitchen is also very visible to the rest of the house (your eye goes right to the lovely over-the-range microwave as soon as you walk in the door) so my goal here is to be slightly less… kitchen-y? Obviously, we will never completely hide the fact that it’s a kitchen, but we would love to infuse a little bit more warmth and personality to this space. We are hoping to make aesthetic changes through creative uses of paint, lighting, accessories, wall treatments, art, etc. I’m a creative and married a good ol’ Iowa farm boy so we are DIY-ing as much as possible.

I have photoshopped this kitchen TO DEATH trying all the things (open shelving! graphic tile! removing uppers! creative paint combos!) but nothing has felt quite right yet. I’d love to get the EHD take on how to make this kitchen into the cozy, cool, and creative space it wants to be! Without, like, throwing it all in the trash and starting over.”

Julie’s Solutions (with Jess Commentary):

First here is a photo of “the lounge” so you can have a sense of why Julie is making certain suggestions:

So cute right??! Ok now onto the kitchen…

  • An all greige color for the cabinetry would be nice and keep it bright feeling & give a slight contrast to the rest of the walls, doors, & windows in the space – So pretty and would look so nice with the color scheme of the lounge.
  • To keep it feeling fresh a lighter veining stone for the countertops & backsplash would add some interest while being easy to clean. If you opt for the stone on just the countertops to save some cash then consider a small to medium size scale tile for the backsplash – Yes, please! So pretty if possible and will definitely not draw your attention so quickly to the kitchen.
  • Plaster hoods are having a moment and the best part, they are not a splurge design decision and yet still add some texture & style to the space. Top it off by flanking it with some wood open shelves to bring back some warmth into the space & pull in the wood tones of the existing flooring. – Chic & less “kitchen-y”, plus there will now be a lot of styling/personality opportunities with those floating shelves 🙂
  • A bigger skylight might mean no pendants over the island but now there is another opportunity for some special lighting moments over the open shelves flanking the range hood – As we’ve said before lighting is a key layer for any room in your home!
  • But where will the microwave go? Well…this is a bit more pricey but they could take the area to the right of the fridge & create a floor to ceiling small appliance/pantry cabinetry area. The microwave could sit inside it at counter height and there is even an existing outlet so no additional electrical work needed here! – If Holly could swing this it would be an awesome use of the space she’d be getting back the storage she “took away” from above the range. And of course, she could donate the demo’d cabinetry.

Kitchen With Soon To Be Replaced Counters Agony:

The Agony/Plea:

“Help! After a year of living and working at home, we are desperate to modernize our 90s kitchen by painting the cabinets, changing the hardware, etc. We are experienced painters, and have read/learned a ton about best practices for painting cabinets and are SO READY to take this on! 

Here’s the rub: we can’t afford to replace the countertops at this point, so we need a paint color combination that works with our current countertops (Silestone Kalahari, pictured), but would also work with our future countertops (we’re thinking a white/gray silestone). The plan is for the island to be a different color than the cabinets, but we’re stymied beyond that.”

First here is Mary Beth’s future kitchen inspo and her current countertops:

This is a good one because so many of us aren’t able to financially replace countertops and this type of stone is in SOOOOO many homes (my old apartment too under the plywood cover my dad made me). So I hope this is an example to help many of you struggling with the same agony! Take it away Julie…

Julie’s Solutions (with NO Jess Commentary:))

  • Keeping with the classics, a white or very light greige cabinetry along the sink wall & the island going a very dark dark green or blue or almost black color – From Julie: These colors will pick up the tones of the current and future countertops while adding some contrast they are wanting from their inspiration photo. It will also be such a nice contrast with those lovely wood floors!

Ok great now everyone in the world’s kitchen and bathroom agonies are solved. Thanks, Julie! What a great way to start the week. JUST KIDDING! But if you still have questions (and of course you do) we have A LOT of kitchen and bathroom content coming your way. But in the meantime here are some great posts to hold you over:

Your Pre-Weekend Dose of Serious Eye Candy: 10 Reader Before & After DIY Kitchens | 12 DIY Reader Bathroom Renovations (Full of Budget-Friendly Tips, DIYS + Real Cost and Timing) | Tile 101: Everything You Need to Know About Buying & Picking Tile | Countertops 101: All the Details on Marble, Quartz, Quartzite (& What’s Right for You) | Are IKEA Kitchen Cabinets Worth The Savings??? A Very Honest Review One Year Later | The RIGHT Way To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets and Save $$$ (Factory Finish Guaranteed)

Thank you as always for spending a little of your day with us!

Love you, mean it. And seriously… THANK YOU, JULIE.

Left Opening Image Credits: Home of Joanna Saltz | Photo by David Land

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18 days ago

Spanish Tile Dilemma – I think an off-white lower cabinet could work. The white needs to be a muddier tone (same with the green). I would wrap the bottom part of the column that intersections the island with the same wood. I wonder if she could have someone remove the colorful accent Spanish tiles and replaced them with terracotta tiles? My last suggestion is a nice deep clean of the flooring to make it shine. I hope we get to see an update!

Heidi
15 days ago
Reply to  Jenny

I live in New Mexico and I can’t stand seeing bright white anywhere in (or on the outside of) a Spanish style home!

Vera
18 days ago

Such a fun and helpful post! Design agonies are always a blast. Great to have Julie back – wonderful ideas as always! Thanks Jess and Julie!

i don’t see the inspo picture for that spanish floor tile one. am i missing something? also, i LOVE that floor.

Aly
18 days ago

im drooling over the spanish tiles!

for the second one, i’m sad that replacing the countertops was suggested. that looks like granite, which was mined out of the ground. its actually one of the prettier granites from the looks of it. i’d say to replace the tiles behind it before replacing that granite. for the third one, i immediately thought of the allison pierce bathrooms too! save the vintage tile! so many cool things can be done with it. for the fourth one (perfectly functional high end kitchen that you hate): OMG. this is almost MY KITCHEN (except mine also has the hideous faux tuscan look ceramic tiles) and my exact same agony for 13 years. well, dark countertops are back in. wood cabinets are back in. i understand this one because i’m the same. i hate hate hate wasteful renos. i’d say to find a way to work with those dark counters. paint the cabinets a sage green (sad to paint over good quality wood though – that’s why i never did, but i think that painting the cabinets is the only way to work with the counters). change the hardware to something nice and brass. remove some uppers and donate to lighten things up.… Read more »

Sarah
18 days ago

We were able to find a new loving home for the granite we replaced in our kitchen. It allowed us to change the footprint to something more practical for us, and the person who got our old granite was very happy to get some budget-friendly countertops!

Reply to  Sarah

oh, i’m so glad you found a person that would happily take your granite. that’s not sad at all! that’s a great way to replace granite.

Christina
18 days ago

I too was saddened/horrified by the suggestions to replace the countertops. Not cheap and super wasteful.

Maria
18 days ago

Honest question I would really love an answer to. Recently EHD had a post about embracing wood in kitchens but (unless I missed something/read wrong) it seems the advice on all the kitchens here, which have wood, is to paint them? May I ask what about these wooden cabinets make keeping them wood not ideal?

KP
18 days ago
Reply to  Maria

I had the same thought. I think for wood cabinets there’s a real difference between real wood and veneer. For a lot of these agonies the wood cabinets look to be builder-grade veneer cabinets. In many cases the design of the cabinet door is outdated and so is the tone of the wood. Since you can’t change the design of the cabinet door, the only option to modernize is to paint. Veneer is not something that can be sanded/stained. For an example like the bathroom, which looks to be solid oak cabinetry, I would definitely consider sanding and staining.

Eleanor
18 days ago

The Classic Kitchen and Trim Agony: it should have been pointed out that the 2nd level wood counter behind the stove is a safety issue. Please make safety a priority when making recommendations – good design is so much more than pretty.

Bekah
18 days ago

If the advice-seekers end up doing any of the work suggested or tackle these projects I would love an update!

liz
18 days ago

Spanish tile dilema-
We just speced a floor very similar to that in a restaurant we are designing. its great don’t remove it. I would have someone chip out the decorative ones and make it all saltillo.
I think the island should all be one color. I hate when materials look applied to the back sides of islands. But the recommended colors will work great here. I also recommend getting rid of the high low and making it all one counter height island. Get new counter there. The white counter seems generic enough you could match it. Or you could do a nice veined one on the island to make it more special.
One height will make this kitchen feel so much more open.

Erin
18 days ago
Reply to  liz

Yes to making the island all one height. We just knocked down our raised breakfast bar when we replaced our countertops, so now it’s all one big surface. Literally life changing. It makes the kitchen more open, and we spend so much more time sitting at the counter stools than we did at the bar stools since getting in and out is so much easier. Especially for the kids!

Susan
18 days ago

That blue bathroom grout is easy to change with grout paint made specifically for this purpose. I got mine at Home Depot. I had beige tile with black brown grout on bathroom floor and shower. The dark brown always looked filthy. I painted grout the same shade as the tile and all of the grid lines went away. Even in the heavily used shower the grout paint held up until we demoed it and went white. The floor still has 8 year old grout paint and no touchups needed. It’s just tedious work but not at ALL hard. An 8 year old can do it-grout paint wipes off the tile if you mess up

Rusty
18 days ago
Reply to  Susan

This sounds great!

Karen
18 days ago
Reply to  Susan

My old kitchen had square tile countertops – a beigey pale-skin color tile and FOREST GREEN grout. It was hoooooorrible! I too found grout paint, and carefully painted all the grout lines. It was an instant visual upgrade, however the paint chipped over time and re-painting was a pain; I didn’t find it to be the most ideal solution. We finally bucked up and replaced the countertops – I went with granite slab countertops and the same for the backsplash. Unfortunately I hated it (way too much splotchy granite). It’s no longer our kitchen, so all good but man there were a few consecutive BAD design decisions on my part…….

18 days ago

I paint for a living; the idea of painting a bathroom floor (given the additional problem with moisture), just feels like a big problem waiting to happen. I can not imagine that it would ever hold up. The stick-on tiles seem like a better option.

Rusty
18 days ago

Gosh, I think, by far, the hardest agony is that bathroom!
Removing the shower door would leave many drilled holes that’d be super-difficult to camouflage. Yikes!
I agree with the stick-on floor tiles. That’d brighten things up for sure.

The kitchens really aren’t anything terrible, but I understand wanting to tweak and refresh things.

I kinda think ‘If it ain’t broke’ paint it!!!
Less haste creating waste by changing counter tops, etc.

Emily (not Henderson)
17 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

You’d be surprised – that shower door may be held in with a few screws and a case of caulk. Our first house had a 50s style oatmeal speckle tile all over, with a mildew-coated glass shower door at the tub. We pulled the door out pretty easily. After scraping off all the caulk from the wall and tub edge there were only two pairs of tiny screw holes, which we filled with an off-white caulk and you couldn’t tell the shower door was ever there!

Amy E Jones
18 days ago

The homeowner of the second kitchen asked about more storage. She definitely needs it to rid the kitchen of all the clutter! Or she needs to get rid of things not being used. Maybe a wall cabinet across from the island if it fits? Or put some dishes and glasses in the dining room in a cabinet? Decluttering would make a HUGE difference! Just sayin’

Susan
17 days ago
Reply to  Amy E Jones

My friend complained she had no kitchen storage, but had SO much extra stuff on her counters that they didn’t use daily. Is it lack of storage or a need to purge and put rarely used stuff in a closet? We have a “kitchen closet” in an adjacent room for stuff we don’t use daily.

Cici Haus
18 days ago

I’m just adding that we painted our kitchen cabinets SW Connected Gray and it’s the perfect muddy sage! Highly recommend.

Deb
18 days ago

In the all-wood kitchen with the skylight, they could consider adding a speed oven to replace one of the existing ovens rather than adding a new microwave.

Kate
18 days ago

For the all wood kitchen with skylight – I think the advice of replacing the countertop is off mark, particularly since the owner wants to reuse as much as possible, specifically mentioning the countertops. Plus I like black countertops and think you can make them work! I would paint the cabinets navy blue – navy blue and black are such a cool combo, and not nearly as overdone as white+navy. Black hardware. I agree with taking down the upper cabinets on the stove wall. The good think about this is that you can very easily try this out today, and if you don’t like it, you can have them reinstalled. I would do a black based graphic wallpaper behind open shelves on that back wall – budget friendly and again easy to change if you decide you want the uppers back. Yes to relocating the microwave either to sit by the expresso machine (you would need to get a smaller version and donate the above the stove one), or the suggested cabinetry from the post, or as someone else commented perhaps replacing one of the ovens. OR taking the route of my house and eliminating the microwave alltogheter 🙂 although… Read more »

Jessie
18 days ago

This is so fun and helpful. These are the real life types of struggles we all have. For the dated bathroom, I think grout paint would do wonders. I have successfully used a Rustoleum Tub and tile paint product on ugly old sinks. I would use that to paint the tub and sinks, and replace the toilet with a white one. Thediyplaybook and blesserhouse have great tutorials on that product. These in addition to the suggestions already made.

Deb
18 days ago
Reply to  Jessie

My father’s bathroom had blue sinks from the sixties. He didn’t care however when the faucet handles became non functioning in one sink and we found out they no longer made a faucet to fit those sinks we had to do some scrambling as he did not want to spend money on a new vanity top. We looked around and found sinks that would fit the openings perfectly and with new white sinks and new faucets everything looked fresh and functioned perfectly.
I also think deciding on a color to paint the vanity based on a color in the new shower curtain would make a huge difference. The door doesn’t have to be removed if it would cause more problems than it’s worth. Just hang a curtain to
hide that door. My curtain is currently hiding my brown 60’s tub 😃 I did put in a new counter top and sinks and painted the vanity to pick up the pink in the watercolor print of the shower curtain. Just a few quick changes and that bathroom would look entirely different.

Meredith
18 days ago

ALL WOOD KITCHEN WITH SKYLIGHT
Are the columns on either side of the kitchen island loadbearing? If they aren’t, I’d for sure demo those so that you can square off the island.

Melissa
18 days ago

Love this post! Super fun and relatable! FYI – the inspiration pic for the wood cladding in the kitchen is Jean Stoffer Design.

anon
18 days ago

re: Kitchen Remodel While Keeping Meaningful Spanish Tile Floors I wish there was a close up of the colorful accent tiles so we could see the colors. What shade of green is recommended for the lowers? RE: The Classic Kitchen & Trim Agony About that “awkward space above cabinets”…. I agree about demoing the trim on the cabinets, but I’d like to ask why not retrofit some drawers or other enclosed storage for large flat things like trays, cookie/baking sheets, etc? even other household odds and ends could go there? I always have the same thought without the “toe kick” under lower cabinets. Why waste the space? Large flat things are such a storage problem. RE: Vintage/Dated Blue Tile Bathroom Agony Yes the dark grout is horrible, if possible to lighten go for it. The shower door and the wood is also very dating. Getting rid of the shower door and doing something with the 1980s looking wood (paint, replacing, adding stylish hardware, etc.) would probably go a very long way to improving this bathroom. I actually like the blue tub and toilet. It’s got old school charm. Going with a complementary color in a medium range on the gray… Read more »

Juanita
18 days ago

This is such a relatable post! For the dated bathroom: Have you considered tile refinishing? If you love the blue, definitely keep it and update the grout as others are suggesting (yay vintage tile!)—but given that it doesn’t look like high-quality tile that needs to be preserved, you can pay a professional to come in with a special spray paint/glaze and refinish it. They paint the grout too, so it’s a short-term solution, but makes a huge difference. I had my shower surround reglazed to bright white (from beige); it cost $600 and is holding up perfectly two years later. You’ll just need to re-caulk around the tub once they’re done. (Caution: The paint they use smells awful, plan to be out of the house for at least 24 hours afterwards!) Curious as to whether others have done this? I always wonder why I never see it proposed as an option—I hadn’t heard of it myself until my realtor suggested it, but it’s a relatively low-cost and high-impact solution.

anon
17 days ago
Reply to  Juanita

I wonder if the tub in my place was reconditioned some way. Some parts of it (the tops and few inches from the top) looks like beige latex paint that’s bubbled over oil paint and the rest of the tub is white. It’s horrible! Terrible to clean because of the texture and the two tone is obviously not intentional.

How long is something like that supposed to last and is it something that can be redone?

Juanita
16 days ago
Reply to  anon

Hm, interesting. I don’t think the spray refinishing is supposed to be done on parts of the bathroom in which water will sit, like a tub, sink, or toilet. But that doesn’t mean someone didn’t try it…

Shannon L
16 days ago
Reply to  Juanita

We did something like that for our tub and shower, along with the tiles. It was Miracle Method, and yes, they basically use a commercial grade paint to “re-glaze” the tub and tile without having to replace. I will say that it works best on tiles that are plain subway type with no texture. Ours lasted a little while before chipping, because they were textured. For us, it was a way to update RED TILE before selling.

Juanita
16 days ago
Reply to  Shannon L

Red tile!! Yikes.

Sarah L
18 days ago

For the geometric bathroom, a LVP floor might perform better than stick-on tiles- maybe in a muted charcoal color? (Assuming it can float over those chunky grout lines, but you’d have the same issue with a stick-on tile I’d imagine.) I agree with others that paint seems like a recipe for disaster.

Rather than wallpaper which would be annoying with that textured wall finish, lean into the geometry in the space but disrupt the right angles by painting an asymmetrical triangle or hexagon on the wall, along the lines of the bathroom pic here: https://clairezinneckerdesign.com/portfolio/commercial/birch-brass-rentals
I’ve seen some cute hexagonal drawer pulls online, which could be fun, along with some modern angular faucets

Sarah L
18 days ago
Reply to  Sarah L
Char
18 days ago

Love Julie’s ideas, and look forward to seeing the “after” pics no matter what the homeowner does.

Stacia
17 days ago

This is one of my most favorite posts!

Pat McRee
17 days ago

Lots of lovely ideas but maybe I missed the big question: Even if the floors tiles were expensive and now rare and absolutely adored by the installer, why would a person spend money decorating around tile she didn’t like? Most people might scream at the thought but someone in our family painted her pricey white marble tiled foyer floor because she hated it. The paint wore well and looked terrific. I hope this homeowner will consider that, then decorate the way she likes.

anon
17 days ago
Reply to  Pat McRee

That’s a very good point. If you don’t love something, why is it your obligation to live with it because someone else loved it? Those previous owners sold the place. It’s not theirs to influence anymore. If it added some future re-sale value and the person was going to sell it in a few years then maybe she could consider the “living with it” an investment but if she really doesn’t like it, then why the heck not get rid of it unless she can’t afford it?

Jessie
17 days ago
Reply to  anon

I think she did mention the cost to replace being problematic – it sounds like that tile goes throughout most of the common spaces in the house. She also mentions that the floors were part of what drew her to the house in the first place. So, the issue sounds like less that she hates the tile than just that it has a very specific look that she was struggling to design around, even though she generally likes the tile (or at least doesn’t mind it) and appreciates how special it is.

Samantha
17 days ago

Hey EHD – just a heads up that there’s a thread in the insider community about our thoughts about this post. It’d be great if staff could drop in to check it out.

anon
17 days ago
Reply to  Samantha

Is that why this post doesn’t have many comments? 🙁 because it’s all insiders now? :'(

Samantha W Zutler
17 days ago
Reply to  anon

Hi anon! I don’t think there are a ton of Insiders. But you did point out that my comment is vague – the Insiders post is about how Insiders would like more engagement from staff, including with posts like this one. It’d be great for staff to read it and respond.

k
17 days ago

Hi Samantha! Thank you for bringing up the Insider community. I’ve been wondering about how that is going (I am not a member) and thought that a post like this was the purpose of the community. I was also curious to see that there wasn’t a pitch for the Insider community in the post–seemed like a missed opportunity to drive people over.

Samantha W Zutler
17 days ago
Reply to  k

Hi k – yes, we are as confused as you are!

17 days ago

Wow this is the solution. I love the first one keeping the natural woods and replacing shelves with wooden things.

April
17 days ago

For the vintage all blue bathroom: I see a lot of potential for big transformation. Find grout close to the color of the blue tile in the shower/countertop, which will minimize the grid pattern and create a wash of blue color that will make the tile instantly look more modern and more high end. Since the grout lines on the floor tile are so wide, I’d carry that same light blue grout to the floor, creating a window pane pattern. Paint the walls in a shade of white with cool undertones that pick up some of the gray blue from the tile (include the ceiling since it’s a small space). Paint all wood a shade of blue pulled from the tile. Combined, this would create an immersive color scheme and make the room feel more spacious and pulled together. Ideally, you’d replace the tinted shower doors with clear glass. While a shower curtain also works, you’d have to patch/repair tile and tub if you remove that frame and a vintage blue tub is not going to be simple to patch. I’d keep hardware chrome to go with the cool toned vintage. There are frame kits for bathroom mirrors that you… Read more »

Rebecca Celotto
17 days ago

This was such a fun and HELPFUL post! Thank you.

margaret
16 days ago

What a fun, fun post! Thanks so much for getting my morning off to a pleasant start. ( :

Megan Spence
16 days ago

I really enjoyed this, would love to see more & updates!

16 days ago

Spanish Tile Dilemma – I think white is way too stark for that space. I suggest painting all the cabinets an off-white like SW Gossamer Veil or SW Shiitake. Replace the countertops with the same Quartz as on the bar. For the backsplash I would use a 4”x4” handmade tile in a color similar to the painted cabinets to give it a monochromatic look. Then for the back of the bar I think you should sand it down and stain in a lighter color like Maple.

Heidi
15 days ago

This is one of the best posts ever on this site! So practical, not wasteful, and beautiful.

Lauren
9 days ago

One of my favorite posts, fun to imagine how to tweak these spaces. Would love to see an update on these spaces in a couple months!

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