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Black and white bathrooms can be a timeless update. But the details matter. I’m sharing my sister’s bathroom renovation and the design details that make it timeless.

My sister Elizabeth renovated her upstairs main bathroom just before the pandemic. I know 😬  and I’m only NOW getting around to showing it to you. Photographing and styling a room for pictures takes EFFORT.

However, my sweet nephew Markus and I recently decorated his bedroom so I had them both photographed on the same day. Stay tuned for that reveal coming soon. 

She lives in a Colonial with a wrap around porch that was built in the 80s. 

Before she moved in, the kitchen had been renovated in the Tuscan trend and if you’ve been following me for many years, you’ll have seen all the updates I’ve helped her with.  Here’s a summary in case you missed it.

Photography by Macy Yap

Timeless Black & White Bathroom Design Details

Here’s the before:

We added sconces instead, which is usually preferable to a bar light, although bar lighting has come a long way. Here’s a few good ones if you’re shopping for timeless vanity lighting.

In order to patch up the hole caused by the removal of the light, we would have had to drywall this entire area, so we covered it up with a picture of the family instead. #designhack

Read more: The Evolution of the Ugly Bar Light

Same vanity here | Similar here, here & here

You’ll notice, I’ve done some advanced mixing of metals here by combining a chrome faucet and towel ring (also the shower fixtures), with a brass and black mirror, black sconces and brass knobs. If you find this too difficult, remember, you can stick to one metal, as long as it’s not all black

I love her vanity so much! We found it off-the-shelf (it came with the Carrara marble countertop) but the design is almost identical to the custom vanity in my primary bathroom. It looks so much prettier (another detail to think about) as a free standing vanity – more like a piece of furniture.

Read more: Is Brass Out? How to Mix Metals Like a Pro

Chrome faucet | Black Wall Sconces | Mirror from HomeSense Similar

There is nothing and I mean nothing that is staying with the styling I’ve done. So before you say that there are no men in this house when you see the towels stacked on the blue and white garden stool below the toilet (below), just know that they were there for about an hour, haha.

If this was a powder room, obviously the decor could be permanent but this is the main bathroom.

The daisies in my garden are just gorgeous this year. That’s where this fresh bouquet (above) came from:

Shall we count the many different undertones in her old bathroom? Before you scroll under this photo – TEST YOUR EYE – how many undertones can you accurately identify?


Now, let’s take another look at the after. Of course white subway tile made an appearance in the shower surround, as it should for the most timeless look.

Black & White Tile

You can see I also specified chrome for the plumbing fixtures. My hottest tip for you as we are deep into the black and white trend is to avoid black plumbing period. Or Especially in a white bathroom because the contrast is too high. More about that here.

We also went with timeless black and white floor tile with black grout so we don’t need to worry about dirty grout.

If black grout will not work for your bathroom, here’s my second choice.

Read more: 5 Design Trends to Ditch right now and What to do Instead

Here’s another look at the mish mash of undertones in the old bathroom, which is all too common in bathrooms (below). It’s hard enough to get white right, why even bother with beige or grey tile truly.

This is the reason if all else fails and you don’t know which tile to choose, choose white or cream. This way you can change up the decor and paint colours whenever you want, like I did in my main bathroom last year.

Read more: The Best White Bathrooms

My Sister’s love of blue continues in this bathroom. And yes, the towels are beside the toilet. Relax already 😉 I just wanted to repeat the blue and white with the garden stool here for the photo.

Shower curtain and garden stool from HomeSense. | Black and white tile here

You’ll also notice we’re mixing patterns here which is something I don’t usually recommend. However Carrara marble is always good in a white bathroom and I continued the pattern mixing theme in the shower curtain and blue and white porcelain.

Read more: Does your Floor tile Have to Match your Countertop or Surround?

Here’s what the towel bar wall looks like:

Let’s see the before again shall we?

This black and white bathroom design is so good now and totally timeless. Remember, a beautiful bathroom or kitchen is all about the details.

Here’s another HOT TIP. If you want sconces in your bathroom you need to have them chosen, along with the mirror BEFORE your renovation begins so you can get the placement exactly right. 

Read more: How I saved $1500 in my Bathroom Renovation

Vanity | Similar here, here & here

The other detail I want you to note here, is that all the drawers have knobs, NOT pulls. I prefer this look because it is way cleaner. And, since they are small drawers, we don’t need pulls here. Also this vanity is not farmhouse, because that’s not the style of this home either.

Read more: Less is more for Kitchen & Bath Hardware

What’s the paint colour?

Curious about the paint colour I went with in this bathroom? It’s a pale blue white, with a slight purple undertone.

If you are a member in my Killam Colour Academy facebook page (You can join this private community when you purchase my Shop Online with Colour Confidence Course or Virtual Specify Colour with Confidence workshop) the exact paint colour is available for you there.

Get the look

Black and White bathroom mood board

Towel Ring | Wide Spread Faucet | Brass Cabinet Knob | Wall Sconce | Ginger Jar Decor | Brass Cranes | Round Mirror | Shower Curtain | Bathroom Vanity | Black & White Tile Floor | White Texture Towels | Ginger Jar Garden Stool

Learn how to specify colour like I do in two days!

Stay tuned for some BIG news coming in Monday’s post! If you’re following me on my Instagram stories, you’ll already know what my big news is!

I have three Fall dates available for my virtual Specify Colour with Confidence workshops,

October 5 & 6, 2022

October 15 & 16, 2022 (Weekend dates)

November 10 & 11, 2022

Register here.

Related posts:

My Sister Elizabeth’s Fresh (but still Tuscan) Kitchen Makeover; Before & After

Tour of my Sister Elizabeth’s Home Makeovers; Before & After

My Sister’s Fresh New Backsplash; Before & After


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  • M says:

    Wow, beautiful, huge improvement! Soon as I saw the pic my first thought was who lives with that much decorative stuff on their vanity! I could never. then I read you comment about staging. Hilarious and thanks goodness it’s not just me (who can’t help splash all over a vanity) who would have that thought!
    That said, it would be nice to see real life photos too, especially when mixing metals. I’m still not a fan, especially gold, and while I love the mirror, sconces and chrome fixtures, I don’t really like them together. the chrome looks too contemporary to me in relation to the gold and black elements and wonder would the disparity be even more apparent without the gee gaws on the vanity? But I do love them individually and the mirror with the sconces.
    the vanity and floor are beautiful and clever way to avoid the added expense of drywalling that hole.

    Love sis’s exterior, especially the huge wrap around porch. And those shutters do look like they would close over the windows. See Maria, I’m paying attention and think of that every time I see shutters. 🙂

    And your garden is gorgeous!

    Thanks for sharing all!

    • Char says:

      I’d love to see some real life photos too! The staging is beautiful, but I’m curious how the mixed metals and such look once the styling is dialed back to allow for living and kids, haha.

  • Brooke says:

    Lovely!! Elizabeth, I adore your blue accents. Maria, I’ve been watching your wonderful renovating series and I’ve been looking at this exact tile. I was going to do the all white version with medium gray green grout. This tile with the black accent and black grout is beautiful! If there had been no other black in the bathroom would you have still done the black tile accent and black grout? Timeless perfection. Thank you!

  • pamela says:

    Beautiful bathroom! I love the mixed metals, super glam. But… towels should not be next to the toilet, every time it gets flushed it spews bacteria if not a super solid close. I always shudder when towel racks, bars, holders are near the toilet.

    • Sheree L says:

      Hi, Pamela! I know you mean well, but please read the post carefully. Maria tells us that the towels are there only for staging the photo. She was trying to avoid a lot of comments about having towels next to the toilet; she knows that towels don’t belong next to the toilet 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Looks beautiful Maria, simple & classic! Elizabeth is blessed to have such a talented sister! Love how you have to calm the crazies before they lest loose on you about towels being next to the toilet! lol!

  • coco says:

    As always, I couldn’t figure out why I loved this new look so much until you mentioned the vanity knobs. Knobs look so much more classic and custom than pulls. And the mix of metals is fantastic. With a look like this swapping out the curtain, adding a rug, and/or changing the mirror (rattan, pagoda, etc) can change the entire look. Truly timeless!

  • Sheree L says:

    Maria, absolutely beautiful! I love every timeless detail. All the changes you’ve helped with in Elizabeth’s home are wonderful! Looking forward to seeing Markus’s room 🙂

  • Anne Wilbur says:

    I just installed the same faucet in French Gold in my powder room! Cost a small fortune but it’s the focal point…as you would say…the jewelry of the bathroom. I love how my renovations are turning out now that I’ve learned your timeless and classic decorating principles. Makes a world of difference! Lovely bathroom!

  • Connie says:

    The real question is do the men in the house CLEAN this gorgeous bathroom?

  • Ashley P. says:

    I LOL’d at “Photographing and styling a room for pictures takes EFFORT” Amen to that! I had to block out a full day to photograph my kitchen remodel and with a 1 year old crawling around….. let’s just say I did NOT get the money shot.

    Absolutely beautiful bathroom Maria! I just painted my powder bath this same exact color and my floors are grey/white checkerboard pattern- I love it! I will have to send in some pictures.

  • Nancy DeVries says:

    Fabulous renovation Maria and Elizabeth! I love the whole look. And Maria, thank you for pointing out that these beautiful renovation photos are made possible by decorating the space. Our Pinterest-loving eyes cannot live on white tile and bare countertops alone.

  • Carol says:

    Absolutly Stunning!!!!

  • Holly says:

    Lovely, Maria! This is what I had in mind for my friend’s bathroom (and exactly what I’ll do when I persuade my hubby to redo our master bathroom in a few years) and I never even considered the grout color. I always thought black grout might be too trendy, but this looks perfect and great for busy growing families!

  • Sherie says:

    Big improvement and very fresh. I can’t unfortunately get on side with the “design hack” the photo hiding the old light box looks soooo weird IMHO.

  • Christina says:

    I love the small, black and white photo above the commode! What a beautiful touch!

    But, I’d recommend patching the hole above the mirror – it’s really a fast and simple project to feather a patch into the rest of the drywall. I’ve done it many times myself. This is definitely a case of “Don’t believe everything your contractor tells you”.

    • ClaireSN says:

      I agree, beautiful renovations! About the picture covering the former light position: you can’t just patch it over unless the wall wiring coming and going to that box is also disconnected. Modern building codes insist on being able to easily access any wiring connections such as are in that box. The reno may have used the box to feed the wiring to the new sconces, and there’s still a junction box of some sort in the old position. We have a nonsensical fake outlet in our kitchen that is just a junction box, a placement mistake by the builder. We couldn’t tile over it. We have to keep a blank outlet plate over it instead. Here, a slim access panel could work in the bathroom, but I like the picture better. Kudos!

      • Christina says:

        Yes, as an architect and contractor, I am aware of that code in most areas (but not all). However, from my experience, I suspect that’s not the case in this instance. Plus, there are so many ways to solve that issue that doesn’t include leaving it there.
        My point really was that it’s important to ask questions and seek reasons why when talking to contractors. Some people don’t know how, some people just don’t want to do it, some people don’t want to bring in someone else, and some people are too busy to finish that detail. Don’t let their reasons get in the way of your design.
        Knowledge is power.

  • Mary T. says:

    Beautiful renovation. My favorite part- the simple streamlined tub (I want a tub like that so bad) and the white subway tile. White subway tile in the shower is the best!

  • Sydney85 says:

    Wonderful renovation. Can you tell me where you got the black vase that holds the daisies. Loving a little black in every room.

  • Liz says:

    I’m not sure l like towels stored at the same level as the toilet seat…..just a thought. I love the blue in the room, especially the pretty shower curtain.

  • Cindi says:

    I would love more details about how you chose those metals. First, the decision to have 3. That is rarely seen. Then specifically, why the gold knobs, why the chrome towel bar, etc. I’m doing one in nickel and brass and struggling with which one to put where, as it seems arbitrary. And maybe that is the answer, that it is kind of arbitrary as long as it’s spread around somehow?

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