A Black, White, and Vintage Master Bathroom



Well, look what we have here! The master bathroom makeover three years in the making. Or at least three years in the thinking about and a year and a half or so in the making.

Today there will be many pictures and then later on I’ll post a source list and probably have a couple of small posts about individual projects.

But first let’s look back at where we started:

This is the bathroom way back in the days before we even lived here. We took so long to do anything in here, that I actually started to like the old wall color. But I painted over it anyway.

It’s always been a little difficult for me to figure out what anyone who came before was thinking with this bathroom. I don’t understand why whoever designed the house, in the mid 80’s, back before such things were commonly done, made it so big. The bathroom and our closet are over our garage, and when we first pulled up to the house I assumed a bonus room would be up here (that we could use for a 5th bedroom, which we have a lot more use for than a master bath the size of a small country).

And then there was the strange assortment of finishes. Carpet, which will never make sense to me in a bathroom. Mixed metals from before mixed metals were cool. Some sort of faux louvered? cabinets that appear to be homemade, in the worst possible way. The longest vanity in the world coupled with a tiny shower.

Someday a full scale reno with a big old shower and a more attractive tub and a new vanity will happen, I hope. But for now, we mostly made surface changes…..except, of course, for ripping out that carpet and tiling. But it’s still a pretty big change:

black and white master bath with red rug

The first thing we did in here was replace the old boob lights; that one in the foreground here is from a thrift store, found by my friend, Kristi, who texted me a picture of it and asked if I wanted it, and…..yes! of course I did. $10! Those following along closely will notice that it used to be crooked and is not anymore. Dave finally put a few little blocks of wood up there to straighten it out. Which is not the most elegant solution, but the only one we could find.

I think that light fixture plus the idea of bringing the campaign chest in kind of set the tone for the room. I knew I wanted the black and white and then lots of vintage–almost art deco, except I don’t really know enough about art deco to intentionally do art deco, but that was in the back of my mind (there was a really fabulous art deco waterfall dress I almost bought for in here, but it was just a little too big).

Then we pulled up the gross carpet and put down the slate tile, a project so exhausting that we had to take a months long break from working on the bathroom at all. But then we back in there and tore down the ugly + sort of messed up giant mirror and gave the vanity light a quick, cheap update with spray paint and fancy light bulbs.

mirror gallery wall in bathroom

We painted the cabinets black with Benjamin Moore Advance (the same Jet Black as the rest of the black in here). I kept waffling about hardware (there was none before) until it was too late to order any anywhere, so we ended up with simple (and cheap!) brass handles from Ikea.

Want to know a secret about those faucets? The one on the left doesn’t work yet. I ordered really simple and really cheap faucets from eBay, and we’ve run into a few different problems with them (and with getting the 30 year old faucets that were there before UNinstalled). I always scoff at the people on House Hunters and the way they act like if you don’t have a double sink you might as well be living in a prison camp, but, I have to say, after 12 years of always having two sinks, it’s a little hard to learn to share again. But that part shouldn’t last too long (knock wood).

We went back and forth for a long time on what to do with the vanity and counter, but finally decided to just leave it as is and replace the faucets. I wasn’t thrilled with this because they’re off white cultured marble, but, really, surrounded by so much black it doesn’t really stand out to me anymore (before the cabinets were white and the cream was much more annoying).

black cabinets and black wall in bathroom

I was worried that the black wall, with the black cabinets and black floors and black trim, would be too dark, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. Perhaps because of my first ever WHITE walls!


Incidentally, Kristin from Bliss at Home just finished up a gorgeous bathroom makeover recently that also has white walls and black trim. I had already been planning to paint mine that way before I saw hers, but I also have the same shower curtain….and I totally copied her on that. I looked all over for another one as well priced that I liked as much (this one’s from Target), but it was no use: Kristin had already found the best one.

Bath mat is also from Target, and I also spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick one out. I was worried this one would be too patterny next to the striped shower curtain, but I think I worry too much:


We went with bamboo shades in here in a really dark stain (to echo the mahogany campaign chest); I thought they were going to be a little more opaque based on the description, but I think opaque bamboo shades are just tricky to find. I thought we might need to get liners for them, but I think they’re okay (they don’t look quite as transparent when you’re not fighting a camera to get the right amount of light).

I’ve had this campaign chest for years, but just brought it up here recently. I’ve been collecting black and white pictures for the gallery wall for awhile now; I’ll do a separate post with more detail on it:

master26s master05s master13s master18s master12s master11s

The shelves with vintage planters were part of my plan from very early on. I’ll do another short post on those at some point, too….the shelves involve an incredibly simple Ikea hack. Not even a hack really.

Ikea shelves with vintage planter collection

There wasn’t room for all my planters on the shelves, even. There’s that big old dog on the campaign chest and then another, smaller dog on the counter:


It’s so nice to be finished in here. I’m still in that stage where I get all happy every time I walk in the room, seeing it all finally done (you, know–except for that faucet). I’ll be back with all the sources and more details soon!

master09s master08s master07s

Black, white, and vintage master bathroom makeover at Boxy Colonial

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A Black, White, and Vintage Master Bathroom — 42 Comments

  1. This looks so good! I’ve loved the look in all your updates among the way so I knew the final would be good, but this blows me away! The slate tile is extraordinary and I love the white and black withe that rug. Amazing job!

  2. Gretchen – this looks SO SO GOOD. I just can’t stop looking at all your photos – the black and white is so chic. And all the details – from the black trim to the dresser to the mirrors (so clever) to the lights. It just all looks amazing. Wonderful work! Pinning the heck out of this, friend.

    Also, I need/want/must have that curtain in my life. It’s so good.

  3. Gretchen this turned out spectacularly. I love the moody black everywhere. This was well worth the wait. The dresser, the rug and the black and white photograph are just the perfect touches. It must be fantastic to get ready in this space each morning. Love it!!

  4. Wow, what a transformation! Such a compelling argument that you don’t need to do a gut job to make a room feel completely different. I love so many things in this–but maybe the ceramic dog planter most of all. 🙂 I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to do so much black, but could be now that I’ve seen how great it looks. I remember my grandma remodeling her bathroom back in the 70s, and she did black and white, which was not the thing at the time. She still has her black and white bathroom–and it still looks great. Very classic and classy.

    • Isn’t the dog planter great? I was afraid he was too big for the shelves, so I was glad to find another place for him :). The white walls are the part that felt brave to me; I do dark walls all the time (although I guess I’ve never done black before, come to think of it), but white is new territory for me.

  5. I love so much about this, Gretchen! The tile, the dresser, the large black & white print, the contrasting trim and the gallery wall. Beautiful. It feels modern, vintage and high end!

    • Thanks, Brynne! I remember thinking back when I started that too many bathroom makeovers look great, but lack anything quirky or fun. I’m pretty much incapable of not inserting quirky into a room, though 😉

  6. Simply gorgeous makeover! I love everything about it and your personality totally shines through! I am embarking on my own bathroom update and will probably be stealing the black trim idea as well. Enjoy your new space!

  7. I had to laugh at “three years in the thinking”. We have lived in our home for 4 years now and so many things have taken way longer than I thought they would (and some are still ongoing :)). I really like your use of all the different mirrors. Thanks for sharing such a great space!

    • Thanks so much, Cat! Everything always takes longer than I expect…but we have no plans of moving, so I guess there’s no big rush 🙂

  8. It’s stunning!! I don’t care if it took you 5 million years it looks incredible! I love the black and white. Your rug with the wood dresser just makes it perfect!

    • Thanks so much, Amber! I’m pretty sure getting our den done WILL take 5 million years, so in retrospect the bathroom makeover will look downright speedy!

  9. I LOVE the makeover, it’s stunning!

    Okay, mostly I’m still amazed at how large this room is … and I’m still not sure why one would build it like that. But now I’m also very amazed & impressed by your work. The black walls are gorgeous and so is the mirror-wall over the vanity!

    And also, I’m glad that there’s finally someone who also puts so much decorative stuff into the bathroom. Here noone of my friends gets it, they don’t think, bathrooms need to be decorated – I disagree!

    Have a great weekend (Umm, soon. I have tomorrow off, so… For me it’s already weekend, sorry.)!

    Love, Elena

    • Thanks so much Elena! It’s a total mystery why the bathroom is so big. It’s fairly common to make them this big (or bigger!) here in newer houses with tons of square footage….but it’s weird in a house as old as ours (30ish years) and with the sizes of the other rooms.

  10. Gretchen, wow, it came out so great! Like, super great. The colors are so rich and chic. I can’t even get over this change, fantastic!!

  11. I have a really small bathroom but I am seriously thinking of painting it black with all the trim and extras in white. The black with the mirrors is awesome!!

  12. Gretchen, just love it all! Especially the planters! What is the print above the larger Robert Doisneau, the one of the couple with the shirtless man? I’d love to get a copy!

  13. I think this is the first time I’ve ever left a comment to a blogger in my years of looking at blogs! Why now? Because I’m seeing something non-farmhouse. I like farmhouse alright, but whew, your bath is YOU. It is classy, artsy, original. I mean, who puts knick knacks in a bathroom and makes it amazing? Great job on your bathroom. If I knew where you lived, I’d stop and ask to use your restroom. JK!!!!

    • Thanks so much!! I know what you mean–I like farmhouse stuff fine, but it’s just EVERYWHERE these days! I’ve never been very good at staying on trend, so I don’t even try ;).

  14. I was reading your post on Hometalk about the mirrors and I was so intrigued by the way you did the mirrors, I wanted to see the finished bathroom. I was thrilled when I saw the link for the finished bathroom! Your bathroom is gorgeous! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the changes and seeing it finished. You and yours did a magnificent labor of love in this bathroom. I hope you enjoy it for many years!

    • Thank you so much! We finished it 2 year ago now, I think, and we’re still really happy with how it turned out. I appreciate you stopping by to see the finished product!

Like all human bloggers, I love comments :)