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These Awesome Bathrooms Will Make You Forget Boring, Basic White

Bathrooms done up in unexpected colors, patterns, and accessories.

Hello, Sunshine

Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.
Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.

To get to this bathroom in a 1920s house in Del Ray, you have to pass through a turquoise-and-orange family room, then a bright-yellow laundry room. All of that, says interior designer Susan Nelson, “sets the stage” for this tiny showstopper. The Schumacher wallpaper is the obvious focal point. But subtler details—the Ikea mirror, the way the floor tile culminates in a solid black border—add to the room’s charm.

Though Nelson selected those finishing touches, the bath-room’s overhaul was part of a larger remodel led by Case Design. The firm swapped out a tub for the shower and found all the plumbing fixtures, including the vintage-inspired vanity console. The result, says Case’s Allie Mann, “is just this little jewel.”

Jungle Gem

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

It’s not easy to convince clients to take risks with wild colors, but the young couple who live in this Mount Pleasant rowhouse were braver than most. When interior designer Kerra Michele Huerta suggested a teal tub for their main bathroom—the one shared by two upstairs bedrooms, including the master—she says they didn’t flinch. So she hired Virginia Bathtub Refinishing to glaze the original white tub in Benjamin Moore’s Naples Blue.

The designer chose white penny tile, a black bullnose border, and a minty coat of Benjamin Moore’s Tropical Pool for the walls. “I just wanted it to be so fun,” she says. A jungle-inspired shower curtain from Urban Outfitters and an Andy Warhol cat print helped her complete that mission.

Primary Season

Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.
Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.

For now, this bathroom in a rowhouse near the U Street corridor is used by a four-year-old boy. But architect Carmel Greer kept the colors tame enough that the space can grow up with him, or transition to a bathroom for grownups should the current homeowners move.

“A lot of our clients are working families, where they worry about resale value,” says Greer. But that doesn’t mean color is off-limits: “If you did a whole wall in red, you might get sick of it. But just the vanity—it’s not so overwhelming.” That vanity was a bargain from Ikea—the under-$300 Godmorgen model. Pair it with hex tiles from Architectural Ceramics and you get a space playful enough for a preschooler, sophisticated enough for his parents.

In the Black

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.
Photograph by Jeff Elkins

You might assume that renovating one’s own space would be a cinch for a professional de-signer. Not so, says Kiera Kushlan, half of the interior-design firm Residents Understood. “It’s more difficult working for yourself, just because you’re exposed to so much. The options are limitless—you’re looking at pretty tile every week.”

When it came to redoing the guest bathroom in the Kalorama condo she shares with her husband and their 20-month-old son, she at least knew she wanted to nod to the Harry Wardman building’s 1920s origins, as she had while remodeling other parts of the home. Walls of white subway tile and a classic black-and-white color scheme allowed her to achieve that part. But to give the space the “updated twist” she desired, she sought bolder elements, too.

She found the graphic, patterned floor tiles at the Cement Tile Shop and the vanity at Wayfair. But, says Kushlan, the black metal frame for the shower—custom from Coastal Shower Doors—is what really “made the space.”

This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.