Before & After Renovations

Before And After: Black and White (And Wood and Gold) Bathroom


I love, love, love, LOVE my bathroom. I say “my” bathroom even though it’s the bathroom in the hall (as opposed to the master bathroom) because from the time we moved in it was the only bathroom with an actual bath in it – and we all know how I feel about baths. So while it was the kids’ primary bathroom, too, I sort of adopted it as my own.

When I set out to renovate this bathroom (before and after pics are below, but you can take a look at what it looked like when we moved in, and then it’s first evolution before the major renovation here), I wanted to make sure that it worked for the kids…but I also thought, what the hell: I’ve always felt like my bathroom is my sanctuary. So if I’m going to put in the work to fix it up, I might as well go ahead and make it everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

floor plan small bathroom renovation

First, the floor plan.

I’ve always gotten the icks from taking a bath right next to a toilet, so my first priority was to figure out how to get the damn thing away from my bubbles.

I took detailed measurements and played around with arrangements for the three main elements (tub, vanity, toilet), and found that the only real place where I could make the toilet fit (and not be next to the tub) was across from the vanity. We ended up knocking out the wall behind the vanity and moving it back about 4″, which gave juuuust enough leg space for the toilet.

Now let’s break down all the specifics, whee!

bathroom renovation with black clawfoot tub and gold fixtures

Black fish scale tile, YES.


While I was doing initial research, trying to figure out the overarching bathroom style I wanted to go for, I found this bathroom on HomePolish and thought…oh. Yes. All of that, please, starting with the black fish scale tile floor. Villa Lagoon – the same company that made the tile in our entryway – offers a fish scale style in encaustic cement, and you can choose from in-stock shades, or create a custom order in any color you want (black, plz).

I wanted it to be super glossy, so after laying the tile and sealing it with regular bathroom floor sealers, I added several layers of a high-gloss sealant. I know this makes me sound very fancy and professional, but sealing tile is actually a pretty unscrewupable process, as home renovation projects go – you just have to be super careful to keep the floor completely dry while sealing, because any water droplets will create spots on the tile.

On the wall around the tub, my plan was to go for white glass square tiles (not white all the way through, more like transparent with a white back), and then I discovered that these specific tiles are confusingly expensive, and subway tiles are confusingly inexpensive. Yeah, the white-subway-tile-with-black-grout look is a little overdone – you see it everywhere these days – but I feel like it’s jumped into “classic” territory, and think it created some nice graphic contrast in the room. (The massive grout line you see is a mistake; the floor wasn’t level, and so the tiles weren’t lining up in the corner; I had to use a level and start a new tile line so that they’d meet where they emerge from behind the tub. I’m also going to neaten this part up a bit, but got too impatient to wait any longer to show you this renovation.)

bathroom renovation with black clawfoot tub and gold fixtures

bathroom renovation with black cement tile and white and gold


I spent months puttering around on various bathroom furniture sites, looking for one that had the balance of design, price, and quality that I was looking for, and ended up discovering Signature Hardware. The tub was my first purchase from them, and I ended up getting pretty much everything for our other bathroom (which will be done soon) from the site.

Oh my god, I love this tub. I’ve always dreamed of having a clawfoot tub, but my bathroom was too tiny for a traditional one. Enter: the Miya Black Slipper Clawfoot, which is only 54″ long and tucks neatly into a smaller space. (And if you’re wondering, yes, it’s totally comfortable for a me-sized adult – plus, the kids love how deep it is.) And, of course, no clawfoot tub is complete without a polished brass shower kit with vintage-y hand shower attachment.

For a vanity, I went with the one that you guys overwhelmingly voted for in this post: the Tiffany 48″ with a single sink and a marble top. (I didn’t love the handles, so I replaced them with simple brass ones.)

reclaimed wood details in black and white bathroom

reclaimed wood details in black and white bathroom

reclaimed wood details in black and white bathroom

THE CEILING (and wood detailing)

I love my contractor – Todd von Kaenel at Dynamix – so much. I mean, I better: we’ve been basically living together for the past eight months. But having worked with tons of different contractors over the years, there’s something really amazing about finding someone who really gets your style, and is willing to experiment and have fun with the process.

Todd and I had talked about adding wood elements to the ceiling to offset all the glam black/white/gold stuff and give it a rustic vibe (and also to line that weird tunnel-like skylight, thereby transforming it into a design element as opposed to something that looks kind of like a mistake) – and he not only found the exact wood I was looking for, but then added little details – the backs of the inlaid shelving and a frame around the mirror – without even having to ask me, because after working together for so long he knew I’d love them.

Spoiler: I did.

gray Malin beach ball print

reclaimed wood details in black and white bathroom


Finally, a quick rundown of all the remaining details I added:

  • Polished brass gooseneck faucet – which, as an aside, is not easy to find at a reasonable price point; the one I purchased was virtually the only semi-reasonably-priced one I found for this particular style.
  • Gray Malin beach ball print from the Coral Casino collection (a gift from Gray).
  • Fringed shower curtain: The one I bought is no longer available, but this one has a similarly feminine vibe.
  • Black switch plates: Cool, right???
  • Vintage Pivot Mirror: No storage, alas, but when a mirror is this gorgeous, my feeling is that’s what drawers are for.
  • Double Globe Sconces: Possibly my best find, these are knockoffs of verrrry expensive midcentury globe fixtures…and, having checked out both, I like these better. One caveat: the mounting plates are a little smaller than traditional ones, so if you’re replacing an existing light fixture with these, be aware you might have to patch the drywall around them for a clean look.

So there you go. Before and after picks are below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!

gold fixtures and wood details in bathroom bathroom renovation with black clawfoot tub and gold fixtures bathroom with black slipper clawfoot tub and black tile bathroom renovation with black fish scale tile and gold fixtures


  • kb

    wow!!! I think this is your best renovation work so far. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and the wood details just shoot it into a whole new level. I love it, and want this exact bathroom to magically appear in my house.

    • kb

      one question — what color are the walls? There’s a bit of a pinky look to these pictures, but I can’t tell if that’s a filter or the actual walls. gorgeous either way.

      • jordanreid

        they’re white – because the bathroom only gets natural light from that skylight-thing I had to brighten up the pics a lot, which alters the color a bit. It would have been better to use a wide-angle lens, but I don’t have one, ugh.

    • jordanreid

      oh thank you!!!

  • anonymous

    hi Jordan, I’m curious about whether you can publish a how-to about how to afford this? I love the bathroom but it makes me feel bad because I still can’t afford it. I’m your age, went to elite college and grad school, but alas I am single and my family does not support me. I work very hard in Publishing and live in New York City. I’m so far awy from being able to afford this 🙁

    • Cate

      Not to reply for Jordan, but she mentioned in a previous post about taking out a home equity loan? I think. To help offset these costs.

      • Anonymous

        But I mean….owning the home in the first place? I’m just extremely far from being able to afford this kind of thing. After a hard day of work this post is bumming me out and making me feel weird and bad about myself.

        • Lili

          Seriously? Why are you reading this blog then? I’ve worked in publishing. There’s very little money to be made. I could barely afford my rent. I get it. But Jordan has written many posts in the past about home buying and she’s been real and upfront about the costs involved. She does all of her renovations on a budget and is one of the most transparent lifestyle bloggers when it comes to telling her readers how much she spent on her projects. This is a gorgeous bathroom renovation post from a lady who’s worked her ass off to make it happen. If reading about other people’s success is bumming you out, then maybe it’s time to get offline.

          • Anonymous

            It’s not HER success though, unfortunately. She gets help behind the scenes. If she were truly transparent she would admit that this isn’t all achieved through sheer independent work. It would not be achieved without reliance on a safety net, whether that’s her family of origin or spouse. Pretending all the material stuff she loves is purchased independently is the unsettling part.

          • jordanreid

            I’m not sure what you mean by “help behind the scenes” in this context. I’m married, so yes, we are a dual-income family (which is nice because there’s the potential, at least, for a flotation device when one person or the other is making less than they want to for whatever reason), but there are plenty of expenses that come along with that, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent agonizing over whether I can afford the help that realistically I need if I’m going to keep my sanity (and currently, if we’re keeping score, I don’t have either – help or my sanity). Home prices in our area went up, which gave us equity in our house – and I did well enough last year to qualify us for a HELOC, so that’s how I afforded most of the big things (including the contractor who I mentioned in this post – I most definitely did not do all the renovation work on my own, although I was proud of the stuff I *did* do because I got to learn a lot in the process).

            So sure, I’ve done well over the years, but there’s also the reality that I’m currently experiencing financial stress as a result of fluctuations in my industry; I wrote about that awhile back. Do I wish I could have all the money I spent on renovations back so that I could invest them in something with a more concrete, ongoing ROI (like a rental property)? Yup. But I made the choices I made, and regardless of how it shakes out, I’m happy to have made a little corner of the world a little prettier and more special, whether it’s something I get to appreciate for the long-term, or someone else gets to inherit. And it’s no small thing that given our current circumstances, I’m extremely stressed about the possibility of having two independently functioning households on our shared income. All is not easy-breezy over here at the moment, cute bathroom or no.

            Everyone’s circumstances are different, and there’s no reason to feel crappy about your own – working in publishing (!) and taking care of yourself should make you feel like a badass, not bad. Also, FWIW, our generation is uniquely screwed in terms of finances, so regardless of where we’re at in terms of material issues like home owning and renovating and such, we’re all in the same why-isn’t-my-hard-work-paying-off-like-i-thought-it-would boat.

          • Questions

            I think what you said here about our generation is exactly why OP is asking–it’s really hard to be thirtysomething and afford a home. Your first house in Tarrytown was, based on comps, not cheap. Kendrick was maybe in school when you bought it, or went back to school shortly thereafter, and business school is incredibly expensive. Then you moved to the most expensive area in the country, bought a house, and did renovations. It’s confusing to figure someone is bringing in roughly X amount (and yes, plebs know roughly how much bloggers and eBay dudes make–Glassdoor is a hell of a thing) but has expenses that seem in the ballpark of 5X. It makes you think, maybe that person is really making 5X and I just can’t figure out how to do that because I’m not as smart. Or it makes you think that person maybe has help you don’t. The math has never really checked out, Jordan. I think you know that. Maybe you have heaps of credit card debt! Maybe you have residuals from child acting/modeling! Maybe you got a payout from IASIP. Who knows! And whatever it is, it has no bearing on how hard you work. Lots and lots of people work really hard and don’t make a living wage. No one said you didn’t earn your success, or even your income. The person is asking you to be transparent about how you afford these things. And you can say, that’s an element I choose to keep private. But it seems to me an eminently reasonable question.

          • jordanreid

            this is a little frustrating: I don’t know how much more transparent I can be without giving you my tax returns and publicly disclosing my salary, which isn’t something I’m comfortable doing.

            when we got our first house, I had just booked the dove ambassadorship, and kendrick was working at Morgan Stanley, and we used an FHA loan that his parents cosigned on as guarantors (not putting any money into it, just to be held liable if, say, we foreclosed), so we only had to put 3% down. we sold the house for a pretty good profit, and that combined with the fact that I’d had two very good years – my best ever by FAR – while kendrick was in school meant that we had enough money for a down payment on our present house. I put our renovations on my American Express so that I could get points from the purchases, and then paid off the credit cards with the lower-interest HELOC rather than taking money directly from the HELOC. I don’t have any credit card debt at the moment. the mortgage payments are high, though, and the HELOC interest payments are low this year but will turn variable (e.g. significantly higher) next year, and yeah, we have business school loans to pay off, and I’m STILL paying off my loan from my stint at NYU grad school. given how much my income fluctuates, it’s not particularly easy, but (for now, perhaps not in the long-term), we’re making it work. that’s it.

            I’m happy to (and am planning to do) a post on the pros and cons and how-tos of home renovation, but I’m honestly kind of exhausted by the constant insinuation that I’m hiding some secret income source that made everything easy for me, and that negates the fact that, over the years I’ve figured out how to at least semi-handle some very challenging situations, including a husband gong to business school in another state while I have a toddler and an infant and a job and a house, and figuring out how to sell a house and buy a house on opposite coasts at the same time while also moving a family of four across the country, and now a separation. I went to great schools, and had parents who paid for me to go to those schools, and those facts confer some dramatic advantages in terms of getting a head start, but come on: enough of this implication that I have a trust fund, or money streaming in from unknown sources. please. enough.

          • Val

            It would have been 100% reasonable and appropriate for you to tell these people it’s none of their fucking business. There is no rule – implied or otherwise – that bloggers must reveal how wardrobe, home renovations, dining out, and other expenses are funded (unless it’s an ad, and I remember the days when lifestyle bloggers ran ads all the time without disclosing they were paid for the opinion, but that’s another conversation entirely). You disclose when you run an ad or paid promotion of a product on your site or social media, and that, to me, is enough. Your personal financial situation is NOT up for discussion here and never should be. In my eyes, any time you’ve volunteered information about how you’ve paid for things, you’ve been more thoughtful and open and generous with that info than almost any other blogger I’ve ever read. It’s one thing to present a renovation post with costs listed for the different elements, and explain how you cut corners in order to save money; it’s another thing completely for a reader to expect you to tell them *exactly* where the money came from to pay for the thing. Also, this questioning just feels petty and mean and DUMB. Like, you and your husband both went to Ivy League schools (and not the “lesser” ones) and Kendrick has completed at least one graduate degree and has been working in finance and tech. It’s not like anyone should be assuming you guys are either paupers OR explosively wealthy, but this amount of needling about exactly how much income you have and where it comes from is just crass. I don’t know the salaries of most of my closest friends; I certainly don’t expect or want to know yours. You’re a fucking ANGEL SAINT SUPERPERSON by the way, Jordan. I know things are shit right now, but your composure here has been impressive. <3

          • Jay

            First time commenter – I agree with this. Coming into the comments and being like “Jordan you have a fancy bathroom and I don’t – make me feel better!” is so immature I can’t even.

            I can understand that people get frustrated when bloggers project a lifestyle that isn’t exactly honest or whatever. But feeling bad about oneself and putting it all on you is ridiculous. Even if you did get help from your family, it wouldn’t be this person’s business. They need to handle their own emotions. Bitterness is a choice. And it’s very generous of you to even entertain this line of questioning on your own blog.

            You’re really good at blogging. One of the best. I know the industry is getting tough, but I hope you continue to do it.

          • Kimberly

            Totally agree with all of this. You my friend are a good person. It takes a special type of goodness to not tell commenter(s) like “anonymous” or “questions” to fuck off…because it’s is quite apparent that their only intention behind these comments is to be an asshole.

          • HopeV

            Okay, I’ll be the one to do it, these people coming on here being so unbelievably rude acting like they have some right to demand you disclose your income in some way shape or form is absolutely unbelievable to me. You’ve been so incredibly forthcoming in so many ways in all the years I’ve followed you and this just absolutely takes the cake for me. I’m horrifically offended on your behalf and frankly they can all just fuck off.

          • em

            Hi, I’m a first-time commenter and relatively new reader, and I agree–don’t feel the need to defend yourself! You seem like you worked hard, made smart choices and how you got there or paid for something is not something you need to explain. The comments demanding you do so or even suggesting you should sound cray.

          • jordanreid

            haha – thanks 🙂
            re: “smart choices” – I think some of the choices I’ve made have been smart, and others less so (as an example, I think we’re overextended in this house, and I’m starting to feel like downsizing will give us some much-needed breathing room – but I’ve tried to be honest about all sides of things. we’re all sort of mucking through this “adulthood” thing; I don’t know that anyone has all the answers, and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think I do.

          • Jenn

            It’s really not reasonable though. It’s invasive, rude, passive-aggressive, and transparent. If reading blogs fills you with envy and makes you demand explanations for how those bloggers afford their lifestyle, stop reading blogs. You aren’t entitled to jack shit.

            I have enormous student loans, and I also bought a house in my early 30s with no help from anyone. i am Jordan’s age but single and childless, and I help my parents out financially most months. Here’s how I bought my house: I worked my ass off, I stayed home when I wanted to go out and have fun, I took shitty staycations for most of the last decade, I’ve driven a piece of shit car for almost ten years, I saved as much as I could, I researched my options and educated myself (with free books from the library, mostly) on the smart way to buy a house, and I bought a house.

            One things I didn’t do to buy a house? Read blogs and post passive aggressive comments because they have what I don’t.

          • jordanreid

            *standing ovation*

      • jordanreid

        Yes, in this post:

        And here’s my how-I-bought-a-house post, including info on first-time home ownership and FHA loans. (I’m not sure how much of the loan info is still relevant considering that I wrote this several years ago, but there should be some helpful info in there regardless.)

  • Diane

    I love all of your choices! Especially that gorgeous mirror!! It rocks!!!

    • jordanreid

      thank you! it was a budget stretch and I toyed with the idea of holding off and looking for a vintage version, but I couldn’t resist.

  • Emily

    Hi Jordan! Just curious why you didn’t continue the tile all the way up the side of the wall with the bath?

    • jordanreid

      because I ran out of tile 😉

      to comply with code, tile only has to go up a certain way around a water source (like a tub) – say 6″ of tile extension beyond the edge of the tub. so I brought it to code, and then figured I can always add more later – or maybe use the space for something more interesting, like more recessed shelving or something.

  • Emily

    Hi Jordan–just curious why the tile doesn’t continue all the way up the side of the wall with the bath?

  • jordanreid

    I’ve definitely thought about it, but I’m leaning towards moving more into content strategy and development, since that’s really what I’ve been doing these past few years (albeit with myself and my own story as the focus, which I’d like to move away from in terms of my business, haha).

  • Stephanie

    I’m sorry, I’m normally a sunshine and roses commenter, but this is just bad. You can’t go back and “neaten up” a massive gap in the tile after you’ve grouted it- you have to carve out the grout lines and wedge every single tile off the wall below your level line, likely breaking most of them, scrape the mastic off the wall and start again. And remove your tub while doing it. And while “always add more later” more possible, it’s not good to just have drywall behind tile, although the curtain makes it better and you would still need to get the cap you put on off, which will also likely break tile.

    Most of your projects looks good, but this is a disaster.

    • Val

      Oh man, tile is one of the few things I would definitely not attempt to install myself, but I only know that because I’ve seen how easy it is for it to go wrong, even when a professional is doing it. Tile work is HARD, but unless you’ve done it yourself, I can see how a small tile job like this wouldn’t seem daunting. Sometimes the best way to find out is by trying. 🙂 I get what you’re saying, though – re-doing tile that’s been installed imperfectly isn’t an easy fix; it’s an expensive, wasteful, time-consuming nightmare. I’m guessing Jordan has bigger fish to fry than a weird grout line at the moment, though. I love the rest of the room so much and think Jordan made great choices in all the other elements here.

      • jordanreid

        lol – re: bigger fish to fry, yes.

  • Sara

    Hi Jordan – first time reading your blog, and I have to say you did a stunning job and kudos to you for pitching in on the work! Would you mind sharing what type of wood you used on the ceiling? It’s just gorgeous, and I’d love to incorporate it into an upcoming reno of my own.

    • jordanreid

      Hey Sara! It’s called grey-wash wormwood – you can get it at Lowe’s (or at least my lowe’s); the holes are made from beetles, I believe, and then the pale wood is treated with a grey wash.

      • Sara

        Very cool – I will definitely check that out. Congrats again on your beautiful new bathroom!