This Designer Took an '90s Bathroom From Outdated to Contemporary

Sleek bathroom with large double vanity and tile floor.

Design: Mindy O’Connor; Photo: Wendy Concannon

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.

“My clients moved into this house almost ten years ago and initially only updated the kitchen and living areas," designer Mindy O’Connor says. "The mom is an avid bath taker and was eager to create a beautiful new primary bathroom where she could enjoy her time in the tub. But, it wasn’t until some big repairs were needed that they dug into this project.”

Meet the Expert

Mindy O’Connor is the principal architect and designer at Melinda Kelson O’Connor Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She crafts simple yet elegant design solutions, often introducing a modern sensibility to historic homes.

Before:

Large primary bathroom with dark wall color and outdated tile.

Courtesy of Mindy O'Connor

“With its brown and rust-colored porcelain tiles, old spa bath and vanities, olive green wall paint, metal window blinds, and poorly placed lighting fixtures, this very large bathroom needed a fresh update,” O’Connor says. “The double-height ceiling also left everything in the room feeling out of balance.”

After:

After shot of sleek contemporary bathroom.

Design: Mindy O’Connor; Photo: Wendy Concannon

My goal was to create a more open feel that emphasized simplicity but had a hint of drama," O’Connor notes. "So I created a ceiling cove that features a multi-globe light fixture to help reduce the room’s overwhelming height. Then, I added fresh white and gray tiles, black vanities, and mirrored medicine cabinets for a more modern feel.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: White, gray, and black define the minimalist palette.
  • Vanity: The white engineered quartz countertop creates a visual contrast to the L-shaped black custom cabinets, which resemble furniture pieces with their drawers, turned feet, and beaded panel detail.
  • Mirror: The dual medicine cabinets are covered in 3-panel mirrors and framed in black cabinetry wood to add more definition to the walls.
  • Sconces: The four antique brass sconces have white glass shades to illuminate both sides of the mirror. 
  • Walls: Whitewashed matte striated porcelain tile planks have the feel of textured wallpaper yet are more durable in humid spaces. 
  • Ceiling pendants: The modern yet classic white and black 7” globes are suspended from a silver ring to add accent lighting to the space. 
  • Tub: The freestanding sculptural tub offers a place to relax along with a view of the outdoors. 
  • Wall tile: The Thassos marble subway tile below the porcelain planks work seamlessly into the large shower. 
  • Floor tile: The arabesque-shaped concrete tiles add a bit of whimsy to the floor.
  • Shower: A stone cut out in the wall provides a place for bath products, while a teak bench keeps towels nearby; a striated mosaic porcelain floor tile coordinates with the other tile in the room. 
  • Closet: The built-in closet at the base of the shower has a stylish polished nickel horizontal pull and holds linens and bathroom supplies.  
  • Shelving: The three V-shaped teak shelves display bottles and accessories while tying into the other wood elements in the room. 

Shop the Look:

Large walk in shower with bench.

Design: Mindy O’Connor; Photo: Wendy Concannon

Drunmore Single Sconce
Circa Lighting Drunmore Single Sconce $449
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“The modern crystal accents on the end of the brass stems add an unexpected twist to these sconces,” O’Connor says.

Elise Tub
MTI Baths Elise Tub $Price Upon Request
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“The elegant yet organic and sculptural shape of this crisp white tub is ageless,” O’Connor shares. 

Dip-Dyed Stool
Serena and Lily Dip-Dyed Stool $78
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The dipped ends of these handcrafted stools come in white or black," O’Connor says. "I went with the latter to connect with the room’s color palette.”

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