Simple Elegance Returns to the Bath

by Stacey Freed

Chic floor tiles and secret storage in an NYC landmark building

bathroom renovation, landmark building, subway tile, marble shelves, rain shower head

Project: Create a modern, updated bathroom in a Tudor City building

Before: Angela, an epidemiologist, had been renting when she first moved to Manhattan from New Jersey and loved it so much she decided to make the city her home. She chose to live at The Manor, a 1928 landmark building in the East 40s, because of its grand lobby and beautiful casement windows that overlook a neighborhood park and provide natural light. The only thing she wanted to change was the co-op’s dated bathroom.

bathroom renovation, landmark building

She lived in her apartment for a couple of years and did some research and planning before embarking on a renovation. She discovered Sweeten around the same time she found an image of a similar bathroom done by interior designer Andrea Brodfuehrer. “Everything just came together,” Angela said, and she posted her project.

bathroom renovation, landmark building

The bathroom had broken tiles, visible pipes, and water shut-off valves near the sink, and some poorly placed ceramic fixtures, including a toilet paper holder installed on the tile wall that was uncomfortably close to the toilet. It was dated and needed storage solutions that worked better than the existing storage areas—the floor, ledges, or open shelving behind the bathroom door.

Though she knew what she wanted, Angela said, “I barely knew where to start. Seeing blog posts like the ones on Sweeten gave me some insight into the process and helped motivate me to take the plunge with the renovation.”

After: Once she was ready to get estimates and interview contractors, Angela said, “Sweeten client services were there for me, ensuring I found [the contractor] who was the right fit for my project. It helped make the process feel a bit less daunting.” Her general contractor was in regular communication with Angela and her designer throughout the process and was responsive to questions, comments, and tweaks along the way.

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Stylewise, Angela wanted to keep things simple and classic yet unique. She fell in love with an Ann Sacks floor tile that Andrea had shown her, Liaison by Kelly Wearstler, and admitted it was her favorite part of the bathroom. But since the floor tile was bold, she chose a white subway tile for the walls with a light gray grout for contrast.

bathroom renovation, landmark building, subway tile, rain shower head, marble shelvesbathroom renovation, landmark building, subway tile, marble shelves

Angela also included marble niches and shelves, including one next to the sink that was similar to what she had seen in one of Andrea’s previous designs. In the shower, she opted for a rain showerhead and a handheld; Andrea also suggested including a hook above the shower niche for yet another shower option.

bathroom renovation, landmark building, hidden storage, subway tile

For more storage, a space between the shower and the wall that housed some pipes became tucked-away shelves, perfect for towels and toiletries and a hidden toilet paper holder.

At first, Angela thought that perhaps it was unnecessary to use a designer for such a small bathroom with no layout change. But now, she would highly recommend it. Once she met Andrea, they clicked right away. “She had amazing ideas and really helped pull things together in a way I never could have done myself,” Angela said.

Overall, the project went pretty smoothly, but Angela was surprised at how difficult it was to see the bathroom reduced to rubble. “Once the general contractor put everything back together, though, that phase of the work seemed like a distant memory,” she recalled.

Bonus: After initially meeting with a few contractors, Angela realized how important it was to nail down what she really wanted in order to ensure she got comparable estimates. It was essential to get a sense of a contractor’s personality and how well they would work together. “Our contractor made a great first impression when he braved an unusually busy day due to the Women’s March to come to see the bathroom and provide an estimate,” she said. “Renovating can be a relatively short but very intense process, so it’s important to find someone you can trust.”

Style Finds: Liaison by Kelly Wearstler Mosaics floor tile: Ann Sacks. Arctic White subway wall tile: Daltile. Hardware, towel bar, and hooks: Pottery Barn. Artifacts shower fixtures, rain showerhead: Kohler. Bancroft sink/vanity and toilet: Kohler. Sconce lighting: Bellacor. Mirror: Restoration Hardware.

Leah updated her Upper West Side bathroom with gleaming subway tile and gold finishes, revealing old-school charm that was once hidden beneath an outdated look.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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