Cottage Bathroom ‘Before’


I’VE BEEN OUT AT MY COTTAGE in Springs, Long Island, the past few days, enjoying the serenity, the scenery, and the snow. And moving right along to my next renovation project: the bathroom. When I bought this place in May ’09, the bathroom, above, was like something out of a trailer park, circa 1972. It still is, in fact: rolled vinyl floor, chipped formica vanity, stained beige plastic bathtub, below. But not for much longer.


In an effort to get the place ready for spring and summer, I’ve hired a contractor from several I  interviewed. He was recommended by my plumber, whom I like and trust, so I didn’t even bother checking his references. His portfolio was full of South-of-the-Highway celebrity bathrooms. I’m sure he’s up to the task.

I’ve already made one big change: replacing the small window with a door, below, leading outside to a new shower deck (those are some of my houseplants wintering in front of it). Everything else is being replaced, except the toilet, but staying where it was.


My decorating concept is so simple as to be boring. I don’t want anything fussy. It’ll be a white cottage bathroom, period. Ideally, I would have liked a claw foot tub, but they’re too pricey. I made very quick work this morning of ordering the fixtures and fittings, all American Standard, middle-of-the-road, befitting my modest cottage in the woods. The tub, below, has a “rope twist” design around the rim and is a bit deeper (17″) and wider (32″) than the norm, so I have hopes of actually taking a bath in it. And yeah, it’s acrylic — the only material this style comes in, and I saw no reason to make the guys schlep cast iron. The tiles on the surrounding walls will be your cliche white 3″x6″ subway tiles.


The sink is from a Brooklyn salvage yard, below. It served me last summer as a planter on the front deck. There will be white painted beadboard on the wall behind it, naturally. The faucets will be chrome with white porcelain handles, as if you couldn’t guess.


And the floor, below, will be white hexagonal tiles — no surprise there. But I did go wild on the grout; I special-ordered a color called Ocean Blue.


The reno starts next week.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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13 Responses to Cottage Bathroom ‘Before’

  1. Elke says:

    I too like colored grout…..just a hint/question….is the tile sealed so the color does not stain the tiles during the installation process????


  2. cara says:

    The tile is glazed, if that’s what you mean, Elke. The contractor didn’t seem to think there was a problem, except he questioned why the tile store sold me 1 box of ‘sanded’ and one box of ‘unsanded’ grout, which they did. Ah, he’ll figure it out.

  3. Astor C. says:

    Well, this should be interesting: How to make a major difference without redesigning the footprint… Major savings on the plumber, at the very least.

  4. Nick A says:

    beautiful, classic finishes. you can’t go wrong. love the idea of colored grout on the floor tile.

    are you in the light, dark, or no-grout camp for the subway tile? i personally love a thin dark grout against white subway tile.

  5. cara says:

    hi AC, yes, it’s a fine layout, I see no reason to change it.

  6. cara says:

    hey Nick, glad you approve;-) The subway tile on the walls is also going to have the blue grout. Gotta introduce a bit of color somewhere.

  7. Joe says:

    Maybe one type of tile (wall vs floor) needs sanded grout, and the other one needs unsanded? Good luck with the project!

  8. Adrienne says:

    Like! I’m considering something similar…….we’ll chat!

  9. Jo says:

    I love your blog, Cara – always a treat when you find time to post.

    Wondering if you considered installing a door to replace the shower curtain? Suppose its a personal preference thing.

    Love all your other choices, especially the Ocean Blue grout. Looking forward to the ‘after’ shots.

  10. cara says:

    hi Jo, thanks for the kind words about my blog:-) On the subject of shower door vs. curtain, I much prefer curtain. It feels claustrophobic to me to take a bath inside a glass wall (and so I haven’t, when I’ve been stuck with them), and it’s fun to be able to change shower curtains periodically and get a whole new look and color scheme for cheap. Joe, I think you’re right, but I’ll let the tile guy figure it out;-) Adrienne: Well, we do have similar tastes (in houses & probably other things!)

  11. hamptontoes says:

    I too am about to embark on tackling our master bathroom out East. It is my last room to renovate…makes me happy. Can’t wait to see your finished project.

  12. Wainscott says:

    I am in the process of pricing a new bathroom to create a proper master suite – a lot more expensive than I had anticipated. Please post your contractor’s info if he is good to you! Good luck with the renovation, sounds like a great idea! My architect reminded me that Restoration Hardware is currently having a bath/fixtures sale if you are into that look for any accessories.

  13. cara says:

    Re the contractor, Wainscott, let’s see how it goes! Email me in about a month and I’ll let you know. Looked at the Restoration Hardware bath sale catalogue — I mean, there it was in my mailbox, weighing about 10 pounds — but didn’t see quite the right thing. Everything is very sleek and modern, or else bronzey and Santa Fe-looking. I want funky 1930s. I think I’ll find something at a place like

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