Master Bath Magic

Al had this really nice condo when we met, complete with an enormous master bath- I love the size of it, we are spoiled. It was in need of a bit of an update- the wallpaper installed by one of the several previous owners was beginning to peel in spots, the faucets had some corrosion and even the light fixtures and towel bars had seen better days, rust was beginning to show up here and there. The wallpaper had to go, although we both kinda sorta liked it, and a fresh paint color needed to be selected to pull the room together economically. Assessing the situation, we newlyweds worked together (although I was the instigator) on discussing how much or little to do and a design direction that worked for us both (and budget, don’t forget the budget!) We planned on new light fixtures, more centered over the sinks, new faucets and towel bars, and paint.

 Master bath -Before (in all our messy glory)
Before (in all our messy glory)

Al really likes that print over the tub, so the color scheme was built around that and the brass fixtures that would remain in the space.  Since brass isn’t popular right now, new  fittings are either special order or expensive (or both) and we really didn’t care for them. Other options were to mix up the metals of the fittings, or spray paint something we liked. Since we like deep, warm colors, browns and blacks and use a lot of natural outdoorsy things in our decor, we opted for oiled bronze fittings over chrome or nickel and found reasonably priced, good quality faucets, light fixtures and towel bars to replace the old, worn out ones.  You can see a bit of a preview of the lights sitting in the tub in the above photo (we seldom use the tub- it made a great place to store stuff during the project).

Our first glitch came with checking out the electrical supply behind the existing ugly Hollywood style lights. Not only was the wiring not even close to centered over the sinks, it was a different distance from the center of the vanity, and partly behind the nearly 10 foot by 4 foot mirror sitting on top of the vanity and glued to the wall. Hmmmm. After a little creative thinking, I decided that a wood cornice could be built and mounted above the mirror to mount the lights in the right place with the wiring running behind to the right place. And it had to be remove-able for access to the wiring.  Cool! a project in creative engineering requiring more than a few trips to the local big box stores to scout out stock moldings, lumber and fittings to achieve the look and function the way it needed to. Lots and lots of measuring, drawings, test cuts with the miter box,  and assembly were needed before the whole thing got painted to match the trim in the bathroom.

lovely, isn't it? master bath lighting before
lovely, isn’t it? 12 each 40 watt bulbs. No wonder they put up such a dark wallpaper.

Glitch two came with the removal of the wall-covering. We barely survived it, doing it together. It took an entire Saturday, very little of it came off in large pieces. The walls were not prepped for wall-covering, so the drywall underneath tore away in several areas along with the wallpaper backing. Yeesh. Good thing I’m a great patcher! It took an extra day, but I got the walls smooth again, and primed the walls and the ceiling well before applying any of the paint we selected. Prepping the walls is the most important step in any paint project. The ceiling was painted a soft blue/grey I found in our feature print, the walls a rich deep gold called ‘Warm Apple Crisp’ to pull together the remaining brass tones, the new oiled bronze fixtures and the warm hues of the print. The goal was to create a look that integrated everything, rather than looking half done ( a common problem when only some fittings are changed to a different metal). It’s amazing what the right paint color can do.

On completing the painting portion of the project and the cornice for the lights, Al and I tackled installing the cornice and light fixtures. My Dad came up with a great idea to hang it, which I implemented (a french cleat system) to great success! Again, this was an all day project, lots of trips up and down both flights of stairs, but at the end of the day the results were gorgeous! We love the lights and the cornice looks like it has always been there, fitting with the architecture of the entire home. The following Saturday, we installed the new faucets- gorgeous!

The light cornice in the master bath, after.
The light cornice and faucets look awesome in their new home in the Master Bath

Ta-da! We were done with that portion of the project that required Al’s expertise- plumbing and electrical, and he did an awesome job. I’ve done my share of both in previous homes and really appreciated that he was the one to handle the business end of the pliers this time around. I was content to just be the helper here.

Love the new towel bars and fixtures in our new master bath!
Love the new towel bars and fixtures!

After some touch-up and clean up, I installed all of the new towel bars and decided to also change the vanity hardware to the oiled bronze to complete the look of our new master bath. Most of the accessories in the room remain the same as before- decorative, yet useful.

We didn’t really need new towels, but I found some I really liked and embellished them with some embroidered ribbon.

A fancy machine embroidery stitch on gross-grain ribbon adds just the right touch to these towels in the new master bath
A fancy machine embroidery stitch on gross-grain ribbon adds just the right touch to these towels


I used the same embroidered ribbon as trim on a simple canvas valance over the window and on the closet door curtain (the walk-in closet door was removed long ago for better access to the room)

The window valance coordinates with the light cornice and softens the look of the window in the master bath
The window valance coordinates with the light cornice and softens the look

The print went right back up in it’s original location and we both love it there. Across from the mirror is my ‘Barn’ painting. It has a lot of the same colors in it as the print so it looks great in there.

Look what we found to add to the window! So pretty. It’s a vinyl window film that is really easy to apply and is completely removable. It offers both privacy and a pretty look for an economical price.

Stained glass  in the master bath
Stained glass

I love that the room itself is fairly neutral in color scheme with the deep, warm gold walls and soft blue of the ceiling, but the accessories and artwork bring in lots of color and excitement. It’s a warm space, elegant and welcoming with a lot of personality. It suits us both well.

What do you think?



Ellen Leigh   

'Life is a great big canvas, throw all the paint on it you can!'

4 thoughts on “Master Bath Magic

  1. LOVE it!! our master bath was updated very recently by the previous owners with paint, new tile and new light fixtures. It’s a nice warm saffron throughout, but I was thinking new cabinet hardware would add a nice finishing touch. And the window film covering is great!

    1. New hardware is an easy switch, and really can make a difference. The old knobs were just simple brass ones and still in good shape, but these new oiled bronze ones I picked up at Target fit better with the lights and faucets. We have talked about redoing the shower- the tile upkeep is sort of a pain. If we do that, then we’ll change out the brass shower doors. For now, with other brass accents in the room, they look fine.

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