The descriptor “original” isn’t always a plus when it comes to the bath, but neither is a long-ago reno. This primary bath, stuck in the 1990s, was a notable low point in a 1937 house in Portland, OR. The awkward layout had the tub marooned in a corner and clunky sink cabinets that wrapped a corner. “It just looked dated and wasn’t the homeowners’ style,” says designer Max Humphrey, who was called in to reimagine the room.
Skylights allow in abundant natural light, but trim tile with a sculpted surface and elaborate cabinetry felt dated. Vanities that wrapped two walls and trapped the tub in a corner didn’t make the best use of the space.
To start, Humphrey separated the vanities—a homeowner request—along one wall with the tub jutting out between them. “It seems counterintuitive,” he says, “like it would split the space, but it was a magic trick that actually made the room look bigger.” Streamlined cabinetry, matte-black hardware, Carrara marble surfaces, and black-and-white tile give the setup a clean, fresh look.
Under-foot, Humphrey created a checkerboard floor with a twist: The sections are made up of 2-by-10 rectangles. “It’s a classic design that you see in older homes, but with a modern touch,” he says. The owners’ reaction? “They love the result,” Humphrey says. “The look is bold enough that it doesn’t feel like we were playing it too safe, but classic enough that it still respects the architecture of the house.” Balancing act mastered.
Timeless Carrara marble on the vanity tops, tub deck, and backsplash gets an update from elongated, rectangular black and white floor tiles. Angularmatte-black pulls contrast with polished-nickel faucets, and six-globe chandelier (seen opposite) perks up classic tulip-shade wall sconces on either side of the oval mirrors.
Shown Right: New Carrara marble tile covers the existing shower—hexagons on the floor, and 3-by-6-inch subways on the walls—and ties back to the vanity and the tub. A new rain shower adds another touch of luxe.
Updating the classic checkerboard floor: sections made up of 2-by-10-inch black and white tiles. Vanity pulls in matte-black mix with clean-lined inset vanity drawers and cabinet feet with a graceful curve.
The footprint remained the same, but small layout changes—and all new finishes—made a dramatic difference.
- Separated the two sinks, each with its own vanity, per the homeowners’ request. Keeping them along the back wall—and adding oval mirrors flanked by sconces above them—creates a clean, symmetrical look that’s easy on the eye
- Liberated the bathtub, which had been crammed in a corner, and positioned between the sinks. Letting it extend into the room made it accessible from three sides, and centering the filler faucet on one long side put it within easy reach. An under-mount-style tub created a more comfortable perch than the existing drop-in.
- Kept the existing location of the toilet, give or take a few inches.
- Retained the shower in its spot but lined it with new tile and refreshed it with new fixtures; the rain shower was positioned farther away from the door.
Get the Look
Timeless finishes meet updated shapes and styling to create a modern-meets-traditional bath.