Behold this Stunning, Small-Scale Bathroom Remodel

Here's how to make the hardest-working room in the house work.

By Marty Patail April 24, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Nicole Wear’s beehive-tiled bathroom remodel maximized a seven-by-seven-foot space into a bright, airy, sanctuary for her family of four.

What makes a bathroom great? Nicole Wear thinks she knows.

Wear, 37, is a finance drone turned interior designer with a soft spot for local makers. She often stages homes for her real estate agent husband. Last year, she gutted and redesigned her family’s “dysfunctional,” 45-square-foot bathroom. Her goal: make it accommodate the ablutionary needs of two adults and two young girls during their daily bedlam.

“It’s amazing how so many of us live with one bathroom or one and a half,” she says. “It’s a small bathroom and it gets used constantly, but I still wanted it to feel fresh and inviting to guests as well.”

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Wear replaced the pedestal sink with a refurbished buffet cabinet and tore out the laundry chute (a “death trap for my kids”). She added glossy, hexagonal, affordable tiles from Daltile, and painted black trim around the windows for a pop of contrast. To keep light pouring into the room, she opted for frosting the window instead of curtains: “If the neighbors see anything, then, you know, let them see it.” She mounted the shower curtain rod directly to the ceiling, with the curtain suspended on short rope chains. (A tension bar can make it feel like you’re in a rental, Wear says.) Finally, a rotating assortment of ferns and succulents adds a splash of life.

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According to Wear, her clients fall into ruts easily in their own spaces. Her job, she says, is to help people “fall back in love” with their homes. Sometimes it’s as easy as hanging existing art in new ways, or adding some simple flourishes. Wear, who describes her aesthetic as “eclectic Scandinavian,” says basics are key: white walls with strategically layered colors and textures.

“Now the bathroom’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. It feels so fresh and new. It feels like we’re in a spa, even though it’s tiny.”

As for cleaning, Wear says the lack of dark paints, matte tiles, or a glass shower enclosure (“People always want glass, but I don’t think they think about the maintenance”) means that a couple of wipes with a vinegar-water solution is about all the room needs.

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