Timeless Black and White Master Bathroom Makeover

A bland and boring master bathroom is reborn as a bold, beautiful, black and white retreat.

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November 25, 2014

Classic + Elegant Bathroom Makeover

Because of its lackluster appearance and contractor-grade materials, the master bathroom of this Decatur, Ga., home was the eyesore of the house. After saving up a budget of $7,500, the homeowner worked with an interior designer to create something classic and timeless strictly using shades of black and white.

Black and White Retreat

This modestly sized 9-foot-by-10-foot master bathroom was completely reinvented as a cool, calm and classic retreat. Focused on making choices with high ROI (return on investment) while also avoiding style or color trends, the design features all black and white design elements including: white subway wall tile with black grout, chalky black porcelain floor tile with white grout, glossy trim and ceiling paint, and an ebony-stained console table which was repurposed as a dual-sink vanity.

Brand-New Black Flooring

Since shiny black floor surfaces tend to draw attention to imperfections, large-scale, rectangular porcelain tiles featuring a dulled, chalky finish were used. In order to add graphic impact to the floor and highlight the lines of the tile, the contractor used white grout.

Shiny Black Ceiling

To help ground the eleven-foot-tall ceiling of the master bathroom and add a feeling of coziness, both the ceiling and its surrounding trim were updated with two coats of black semigloss latex paint.

Entry Console Turned Double Vanity

Chosen for its antiqued black finish, this entry console was retrofitted as a custom vanity, which contrasts sharply against the white, subway tile-covered walls. To blend different finishes against the all-black-and-white palette, antique brass knobs were installed along the vanity’s drawers and door fronts; polished chrome farmhouse faucets were used to accompany the white porcelain vessel sinks; and zinc-framed mirrors were installed on the wall to help pull together the silver and brown tones of the brass and chrome.

Modern Vessel Sinks

Vessel sinks are commonly available in white, off-white and black finishes. Although the black is elegant, striking and glamorous, it's difficult to keep clean and wears much more quickly than white. When choosing vessel sinks for retrofitted consoles, chests or dressers, keep in mind that you'll need approximately four inches of extra space along the front and the back (eight inches total) to account for proper functionality.

Crisp Subway Tiles

An excellent way to add architectural interest to a bathroom is to cover its walls in classic black or white subway tile. To enhance the lines of the tile and create a high-contrast look, charcoal grout was used. Keep in mind when sourcing grout that it's not available in a true black. Although it may appear black in the package, once dry, it takes on medium-to-dark charcoal coloring which becomes apparent when used between black tiles, resulting in a mismatched look.

Glass Wall Sconces

Lighting is a crucial design element in bathrooms, especially those packed with black surfaces which absorb light. For effective, flattering light, consider having diffused-glass sconces installed, centered on each side of the vanity mirror. When lit, the filtered white light evenly illuminates the face without any harsh shadows. Furthermore, by adding dimmers to the sconces, the entire bathroom can take on an ambient, spa-like feeling at night.

European-Style Chandelier

To add an Old World European touch to this all-black-and-white bathroom, an aged iron chandelier with rope-clad rods was chosen. In addition to its classic lines, the neutral tones and rough textures of the chandelier's mixed materials help throw the overall look off slightly.

Globe Light Bulbs

To put a modern spin on the traditional chandelier and add contrast against the black-painted ceiling, standard flame-style chandelier bulbs were replaced with bright white globes. The clean round lines of the fixture's 12 bulbs are an excellent juxtaposition to its 12 elaborate arms.

Updated Shower Stall

Since changing the footprint of a bathroom will result in hefty plumbing and electrical costs, both the shower and the bath tub were left in their existing spots. To capitalize on the abundant natural light streaming in through the bathroom window, the shower was updated with a seamless tempered-glass enclosure fastened to the walls with polished chrome hardware.

Polished Chrome Fixtures

Polished chrome fixtures were used throughout the space to keep the overall aesthetic clean and classic. When putting together a black and white color scheme for any room, keep in mind that black, white and silver is a gender-neutral combination which works well with any style or genre of interiors.

Slate Shelving

A popular way to integrate storage into a shower is with a wall niche; however, since wall niches involve reframing drywall before covering the interior and sides of the recessed niche with backer board, tile and grout, these features can come with added expense. An excellent cost-saving alternative is to use a mitered piece of tile installed into the corner as a floating shelf. The only added labor this involves is the cutting of the shelf tile itself as well as any wall tile to which it will be attached.

Easy Door Update

Contractor-grade homes often feature hollow-core interior doors which appear flimsy or cheap. To give the existing doors a designer update with little expense, their surrounding case molding was replaced with one-inch-by-four inch MDF (medium density fiberboard), then the doors and the molding were both painted with high-gloss black latex paint.

Pretty Tub Surround

Fiberglass soaking tubs, while functional, can appear as eyesores. Since the soaking tub is properly scaled for the space and in fine working condition, it was left in place, then updated with subway tile cladding as the walls. In order to create a seamless look, the front of the tub was framed out with two-by-four lumber, then covered with backer board before being tiled and grouted.

Touches of Menswear

When conceptualizing the look and feel of the black and white master bathroom, elements of menswear were a major request. To add a tailored, clean and classic look associated with men's fashion, a custom Roman shade was made from black and white linen featuring a houndstooth pattern.

Playful Accents

Many designers believe that every high-end space should have a few playful elements to add personality and whimsy. To play up the weathered textures of the chandelier, zinc vanity mirrors and vanity hardware, a pair of iron robe hooks featuring male and female rabbit heads were installed above the soaking tub.

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