Before and After: 3 Family-Friendly Bathroom Refreshes

The family bathroom might be the hardest-working room in the house, especially when considered on a function-per-square-foot basis. Not only does it need to accommodate the changing needs and tastes of growing kids, aging adults and occasional visitors, but we also want it to look good doing it. These before-and-after photos show how tweaking layouts, upgrading finishes and injecting whimsy can transform blah, inefficient bathrooms into fun, practical and flexible spaces that keep everybody happy, often without breaking the bank.

1. Pattern Play

Bathroom at a Glance
Who uses it: Two young children
Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
Size: 40 square feet (5 by 8 feet); 3.7 square meters
Designer: Katrina Bogart of Bogart Interiors
Contractor: Mike Bogart of The Bogart Finish

Before: A 1980s or ’90s remodel resulted in the bland beige-and-brown color scheme of this Massachusetts Colonial’s bathroom. The homeowners tapped designer Katrina Bogart to give it some personality and make it sophisticated enough to grow along with their kids, ages 5 and 8.

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Bogart Interiors
After: The star of this bathroom is its blowfish wallpaper, whose playfulness is kept in check by a neutral color scheme. A nautical-style light continues the theme without being too on the nose.

A custom-made vanity covered in green enamel paint has a drawer for each child, plus one to share. Avoiding a matchy-matchy look, Bogart mixed the metals — the hardware and mirror are brass; the faucet and light fixture are polished nickel — which she says makes the room feel more curated and intentional. The countertop is a quartz remnant left over from the kitchen renovation.

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Bogart Interiors
Black penny tile covers the back of an oversize niche and the floor, while the walls of the shower-tub combo are clad in classic subway tile. In addition to suiting the architecture of the home, the tile’s classic style and black-and-white color scheme will age gracefully.

Family-friendly takeaways:

  • Choose classic styles for more permanent elements, such as tile, and add whimsy via easy-to-change cosmetic elements like paint colors.
  • Opt for sophisticated palettes when using playful patterns, to increase longevity.
  • Give each user personal storage space.

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2. Open Access

Bathroom at a Glance
Who uses it: Two little girls
Location: Scotts Valley, California
Size: 92 square feet (7 feet, 9 inches by 11 feet, 10 inches); 8.5 square meters
Designer: Christie Hausmann

Before: When it came time to update their bathroom for their growing family, this California couple hired designer Christie Hausmann, whom they found on Houzz. “The bathroom was dark and dingy,” Hausmann says.

Christie Hausmann Design
After: To create the light, bright, modern and clean-lined look the homeowners were seeking, Hausmann opted for crisp white subway and hexagonal tile in the shower, and Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace on the walls. She replaced the existing window with a smaller one due to privacy concerns, and installed a solar tube to make up for lost natural light.

The new shower is curbless and has a linear drain, which makes the shower versatile and accessible for all ages and physical capabilities. That said, because the primary users are young children, the homeowners wanted a handheld shower head for washing a child’s hair in the tub, as well as for washing the dog in the shower and for cleaning. Placed between the tub and shower, it serves both spaces.

Christie Hausmann Design
The owners opted for a trough sink with two wall-mounted faucets to eke out more counter space than two separate sinks would allow. A 3-inch ledge atop the backsplash, along with niches next to the vanity and in the bath area, provides even more surface area for storing and displaying items.

The niches are backed with blue hexagonal tiles that match the vanity — a pop of color recommended by Hausmann to make the mostly white space more appealing to kids. And to make sure the space could hold up to wear and tear by kids, the owners chose durable polished quartz countertops that have the style of concrete but few of the maintenance challenges.

Family-friendly takeaways:

  • Use durable, easy-to-maintain materials, such as quartz, for surfaces.
  • Increase counter space by installing wall-mounted faucets and a trough sink.
  • Opt for a curbless shower with a handheld shower head to serve a range of ages and abilities.

Read more about this bathroom remodel

3. Fun and Functional

Bathroom at a Glance
Who uses it: Three sisters ages 7 to 9, plus guests
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 60 square feet (12 feet by 5 feet); 5.6 square meters
Designer: Lieve Saether of Turnstyle Design

Before: A narrow, beige, windowless bathroom with an awkwardly sloped ceiling, a single sink and minimal storage space presented a challenge (or should we say an opportunity?) to designer Lieve Saether. She was tasked with making the space inviting and functional for three sisters — two of them twins — who often use it simultaneously.

Turnstyle Design
After: Rather than blow the budget on moving any walls, the homeowners invested in high-quality, resilient materials and used new lighting, mirrors and frosted glass on a widened door (not visible here) to add a sense of spaciousness and brightness. Since this family and the designer herself are big fans of color and pattern, they went big in these areas, bringing in geometric-pattern ceramic tile designed to look like cement tile, as well as matching Calacatta Gold marble hexagonal floor and wall tiles.

Saether also replaced the shower-tub combination with a walk-in curbed shower with a glass door, to make better use of the space.

Turnstyle Design
A new quartz-topped double vanity painted in Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball adds a much-needed second sink and deep drawers for storage. Next to it, a linen cabinet bought on Houzz and painted in Flamingo Pink by Benjamin Moore offers additional storage, including space for items that the couple might want to keep out of reach of the younger girls.

Among the quirkier elements of the room are the vanity mirrors. Saether installed the top halves of the two vanity mirrors on the ceiling, to bounce light around the windowless room and add a playful element.

Family-friendly takeaways:

  • Use deep drawers instead of cabinets to improve visibility and accessibility.
  • Keep items out of reach of young children by adding high shelving.
  • Prioritize organized storage in small spaces with multiple users.
  • Use mirrors to bounce light around and make a space feel larger.
  • Embrace a “more is more” mentality if your family has a big appetite for color and pattern.

Your turn: What are your tricks and tips for making your shared family bathroom inviting and functional?

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