Before & After: A Modern Boost for a Dated Brooklyn Bathroom

A few weeks ago, when I wrote about square tile being the new subway tile, the response, from a lot of you, was a hard no. Many people in the comments agreed that subway tile was classic, whereas square tile reminded them of either truck stops or icky, bland ’70s and ’80s bathrooms. I’m still stubbornly a fan of the square tile, in the right application, but our commenters have been somewhat vindicated, because today’s ‘before’ is… an icky, bland ’80s bathroom with square tile. And it is not good.

The owner, an Italian doctor newly arrived in the US, picked this Brooklyn apartment because of the neighborhood’s history and character. The bathroom, on the other hand, was lacking anything resembling history or character, having been remodeled sometime in the ’70s or ’80s in a distinctly unremarkable style. The owner, who is passionate about design, wanted something that felt “nice and fresh” but still packed a little personality.

In the new bathroom, a sleek, modern wall-mounted vanity has replaced the clunky old one. It floats gracefully above the floor, which gives this small room a more spacious feel. The mosaic floor tile continues the black-and-white color scheme — and gives a distinctly modern bath a bit of a classic touch. (The homeowner really wanted a black toilet, but when that proved hard to find, he settled instead for a white toilet with a black seat.)

The square 4 x 4 tile in the old bathroom has been replaced with — you guessed it — subway tile. This subway tile has a matte finish, which adds a bit of a modern feel, and means that fingerprints won’t show. A subtle black metal edge caps the tile and adds a welcome bit of contrast.

Overall, the bathroom is sleek and streamlined, with just a bit of a classic touch — a lovely balance of old and new.

This homeowner found his contractor on Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with local general contractors. You can read more about the project, see more photos, and find sources on the Sweeten blog.


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