Before & After: A Dingy 1970s Bathroom Becomes Bright and Modern

They almost didn’t buy their dream house because of this room. As Michelle and Charlie toured a light-filled, mid-century house in Reston, they knew they had found The One. Then, upon stepping into the master bath, they promptly changed their minds!

Before and after master bathroom modern renovation


This dark cave of a bathroom had dingy, wood paneled walls that surrounded a corroded copper bathtub. “It had a Finnish sauna feel, but was so trapped in the 70s that you could almost see the hanging ferns and macrame,” says Michelle. Finally the couple decided not to let this bathroom keep them from buying the home. They set out to design an updated room with a minimal aesthetic that pays homage to the era of the home.

Before and after modern bathroom renovation


If it wasn’t for the skylights, you wouldn’t even recognize it as the same room!
Before and after master bathroom modern renovation

They hired contractors OHI Design for this project. OHI removed every element, including the dividing wall between the sink and the toilet. They left the plumbing in place, but added double sinks and a rain shower. The couple also widened the entry and added several types of lighting.

Before and after master bathroom modern renovation

Michelle and Charlie selected Heath Ceramic tile in Blue Opal for the shower, which was laid vertically, and a Corian countertop with integrated sinks. “The integrated sinks posed a bit of a challenge for the contractors who install granite in 95% of their projects” Charlie tells us, “It helped that we had specific images of what we were looking for.”

 Before and after master bathroom modern renovation

The dark, slate countertop was replaced with white Corian integrated sinks with Kohler fixtures.

Before and after master bathroom modern renovation

Vertically run subway tile offers a contemporary design element to the room. The cobalt color is a rich feature wall, while the white tile keeps the room feeling fresh and sleek.

Before and after master bathroom modern renovation

The paneled cabinetry was replaced with a sleek floating vanity in a cherry wood finish with discreet pulls. Lifting the vanity off the floor gives the appearance of a more spacious room. The Kohler fixtures were chosen by Charlie, who wanted to “bring a little bling” to the restrained design of room. The couple was inspired by the mid-century designer Arne Jacobsen, and looked for fixtures with a similar feel to his designs.

The light fixtures are from West Elm and were selected for their retro shape and subtle presence in the room.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the final product. The room is incredibly bright and airy, and we no longer cringe when we walk in. I took my first shower in this bathroom 4 years after moving in!” says Michelle.

Many thanks to Michelle and Charlie for sharing their bathroom renovation. Do you have a great before/after story to share? If so, please contact us!


Photos by Charlotte Geary

  • Jeff Herge-Realtor

    As a realtor and a handyman, I’m sure that Michelle and Charlie made a great investment in their home. Their return will be the joy of their new bathroom as long as they live there and a strong financial return when they eventually sell their home. Bravo!

    If anyone needs a realtor or a handyman in the Northern Virginia area, please visit my company’s website:

  • Staci

    This is just the kind of inspiration I need for my own 70s bathroom!

  • Polix9

    The original was much funkier – just another couple of bourgeois vandals!