This Bathroom’s Luxurious Redo Has a Hidden IKEA Hack


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While you probably don’t expect or need your bathroom to be giant, a too-cramped bathing space can be tough to use on a daily basis. There are workarounds — like outfitting small bathrooms with equally small bathroom sinks — but sometimes, the best answer is just making the area bigger.

That was the thought behind this bathroom renovation from homeowners Anne-Laure (@annelaurelievense) and Bob Lievense. When the couple moved in, the bathroom was about 20 to 30 years old, and it looked it. “I disliked everything about it!” Anne-Laure says of the bathroom. “It was exactly what a bathroom shouldn’t be — cold, impersonal, and definitely not a space where you can relax and take a breath after a busy day.”

Aside from all that, the space “felt like a very small box,” she adds. Anne-Laure and Bob knew they wanted to renovate, but decided to move their project up on their to-do list after some exciting news. “We did the renovation a bit earlier than expected because we were expecting a little baby boy!” Anne-Laure says. “And for us that was a reason to prioritize a comfortable, big bathroom with space for a changing mat and a bath.”

Cement walls and floors created a character-filled base.

Over about five months, Bob, a bathroom renovation pro, took on the project himself. The couple doubled the size of the bathroom, keeping the same layout for the toilet and sink but expanding the footprint of the bathroom to include a large shower and a soaker tub.

“Because the whole house is quite colorful, Bob really wanted something a bit more neutral and natural, and I was fine with that,” Anne-Laure says. To achieve the neutral look, they selected a cement finish for the walls and floors, which created a modern, minimalist base for the bathroom. It’s efficient, too — “No joints to clean, and very practical,” Anne-Laure says.

A new layout created design opportunities.

In an earlier stage of the renovation, Anne-Laure and Bob had already raised the roof in the part of the house that included the bathroom. At that time, they also added a new window (it’s the one you see above the tub).

Expanding the bathroom’s footprint meant that the couple had to follow the natural slope of the ceiling. An old beam above the sink helps balance the high-low feel, and gave Anne-Laure a place to add both hanging lamps and hanging plants. “It makes the room feel much more cozy, and everyone thinks that beam was there all along, that it was original to the house,” she says.

Because of the modern walls and floors, “We decided we would add furniture and taps that were a bit more traditional so the bathroom fits in with the rest of our house and interior,” Anne-Laure says. She chose vintage lighting and a vintage mirror (customized with paint) to bring that character. Travertine tile under the tub adds even more charm and personality.

The clever DIYs include a partial IKEA hack.

Anne-Laure and Bob created their new vanity from an IKEA base and DIY fronts, with a high-end result. (The stunning vessel sink on top is by Woodio.) They also used waterproofed MDF with small cuts in it to create the look of a “planked” ceiling for a lot less. And the curtains? Anne-Laure made those from bed linens.

A new tub and shower make the bathroom lots more functional.

There’s now room for a tub, as well as space for a shower that’s walled off from the toilet and vanity area. The total cost for this bathroom came to about €11,000, or about $11,700. While it was a major renovation, the fact that Bob was able to do the work himself certainly kept costs down.

The new bathroom is exactly what Anne-Laure had hoped for. “I love that it’s light and open!” Anne-Laure says. “It’s south-facing, so we have lots of sun.” All that light means she’s been able to pack it full of live plants.

Now, she says, “The space feels peaceful and soft, and luxurious but not in a loud way.”


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