How One Designer Gave Her Dark Bathroom a Fresh, Organic Feel

Bright farmhouse bathroom with double vanity.

Design: Nicole Salceda; Photo: Amy Bartlam; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“When we first purchased our farmhouse home, renovating the primary bathroom was at the bottom of our list, as we needed to focus first on the main living areas,” interior designer Nicole Salceda says. “But over the years, things in the bathroom started falling apart—the door hinges on the vanity broke and the linoleum floor tile began to crack—so we decided to gut the space and start from scratch. The room was a decent size, about 14’ by 7’, so we had space to work with—the tricky part was bringing in natural sunlight to make it feel brighter and more open.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Nicole Salceda, owner of Eye for Pretty in Danville, California, is best known for creating beautiful, neutral, and functional interiors for busy families.

Before:

Dark and dreary bathroom before photo.

Courtesy of Nicole Salceda

“There were just so many elements that weren’t working or that were just old—from the brown travertine floors to the vanity from the ‘70s to the clamshell sinks to the prefab shower—everything needed an upgrade,” Salceda notes. “Plus, the only light in the room came from a small window in the shower.” 

After:

After photo of bright and airy bathroom.

Design: Nicole Salceda; Photo: Amy Bartlam

“I wanted to create a spa-like feel that you’d find in a boutique hotel, something open and inviting,” Salceda shares. “I love how all the materials in the room work together organically, from the Calcutta marble on the walls to the rift white oak on the vanity to the brass and leather on the mirrors. When demolition started, I realized I had room to extend the ceiling height to nine feet, which made the space feel even larger. I also added a long window on the wall when you walk into the room to allow for more natural light.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Neutral colors combined with organic textures create a calm, spa-like vibe. 
  • Vanity: Reeded detailing on the vanity drawers projects an organic feel.  
  • Countertop: Double under-mount sinks were carved from an extra thick 5” slab of white and gray Calcutta marble. 
  • Mirrors: Matching oversized square mirrors hang by strips of leather. 
  • Walls: Pine was painted white and used in place of tile for a more rustic look.
  • Floors: A vintage rug protects the white herringbone matte porcelain floor tiles. 
  • Sconces: Streamlined brass sconces bounce light off the mirrors and feature linen shades. 
  • Shelves: Inset rift white oak shelves provide space for toiletries and decorative pottery.
  • Shower: Calcutta marble covers the walls in the glass-enclosed shower featuring traditional brass fixtures.
  • Window treatment: A woven grass Roman shade allows in light while creating privacy. 
  • Hooks: Double burnished brass hooks provide a spot to hang towels and bathrobes.
  • Bench: An elmwood bench gives the room a curated feel and a place to rest items like slippers.

Shop the Look:

Bright white primary bathroom with wooden bench.

Design: Nicole Salceda; Photo: Amy Bartlam

Laila Rectangle Mirror
McGee & Co. Laila Rectangle Mirror $425
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“The extra-large mirrors make any space feel twice as large,” Salceda says.

Antique Elm Wood Bench
HallstromHome Antique Elm Wood Bench $825
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“A bench is an easy way to work a vintage piece into a room,” Salceda notes.

Chatham Double Hook
Restoration Hardware Chatham Double Hook $52
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“In lieu of a towel bar, I prefer a row of functional and playful hooks outside of a shower,” Salceda says.

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