A Bath Refresh: From Leaky to Luxe

A renovator redoes her bath out of necessity and finds the beauty in it

Project: Fix leaky plumbing in a Manhattan co-op and while you’re at it, renovate the entire bath

Before: When commercial photographer, Veronica, moved into her Upper West Side apartment in 2014, she considered it move-in ready.  “All I had to do was paint and tile the kitchen,” she explains. “I hoped to redo the bathroom one day, but it seemed like an overwhelming and big job—and especially expensive in New York City.”

Cut to a few years later. She received a complaint from her neighbors directly below and after investigating, it turned out her tub was leaking into their apartment. “I had a plumber check it out, and he confirmed I’d have to get the tub replaced to fix the leak,” says Veronica. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that meant the attached surrounding tile would need to be replaced. “It kind of became a domino effect of redoing everything, but I figured it was a good time to make some upgrades,” she says. 

Veronica was more than happy to get rid of the outdated beige tile and grimy old jet tub and posted her project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects. “I was really looking forward to designing a bathroom that had a walk-in shower with a glass door,” she says. The light fixture didn’t work and the vanity was small and crammed in next to the shower so it was a no-brainer to replace those as well. 

After: The bathroom was transformed from a basic beige bathroom into a rich, modern space. Through Sweeten, Veronica found the contractor who would renovate her space with her vision in mind. “The bathroom got very little light to begin with so I decided to embrace the cave-like atmosphere and go dark,” Veronica says.

Black bathroom tile

She added matte brass fixtures for warmth as well as marble floor tile for texture. “My favorite thing is the walk-in shower,” says Veronica. “It’s so much easier to clean, it makes the tiny space feel more open, and it gives a modern look and feel.” 

Having a wall-mounted sink without a vanity also opened up the room. Veronica was “glad not to have crammed in an 18-inch vanity that doesn’t hold much anyway and visually disrupts the room.” Initially, the plan was to install a wall-mounted toilet but found out that it was out of the budget and required permits.

black and gold bathroom

Bonus: A cabinet above the bathroom door serves as added storage for towels and other supplies.

Style finds: Metro collection floor and wall tiles in graphite: Nemo. American Standard Decorum 20″ sink: Build.com.  Kohler exposed hardware, #K-9018-BDG p-trap with long tubing outlet; set of two npt angle supplies; Glassware House frameless fixed glass panel, #GW-SFP-35.5-PB; San Souci elongated one-piece toilet: Wayfair. Mirror: Pottery Barn. Dewdrop Globe vanity light: Shades of Light. Paint in Day’s End: Benjamin Moore. Cabinet above door: Ikea.

Thank you, Veronica, for sharing your new bathroom with us!


Check out another stunning renovation born out of a water leak.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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Luxe on a Dime: 15 High/Low Hacks for Using Marble Scraps, from the Remodelista Archives

Lately one high/low hack has been popping up everywhere we look: using bits and pieces of discarded or leftover marble around the house for a luxe look on a budget. Case in point: When we wrote about this Two-Week, $1,000, 500-Square-Foot Rental Overhaul in Bushwick, Brooklyn, design student Kristina Line revealed that she scoured nearby marble scrap yards for unwanted pieces to create shelving and backsplashes in her DIY apartment; the restauranteurs behind the design-forward Portuguese wine bar Cervo’s did the same for the restaurant’s statement-making front counter. And when we looked back over the archives for more ideas for using marble odds and ends we found, among many ideas, some expert encouragement from Anthony D’Argenzio of New York City creative agency Zio & Sons: “Marble can be turned into trim around backsplashes, thresholds, door saddles. It can be cut, so it’s more versatile than tile,” he told us in Expert Advice: What to Source from Salvage.

Head to your local marble yard or retailer and see if they’ll give you discarded pieces for free or at a discount, or use the odds and ends left over from a remodeling project. Even the smallest, scrappiest pieces can be repurposed. Here are 14 ways of using marble scraps to great effect—from small, simple hacks to architectural ideas.

1. Prop up bookends.

Clarisse-Lucile-Demory-House-Call-08 Above: Marble scraps as bookends in Done/Undone with Clarisse Demory in Paris.

2. Turn a radiator into a sideboard.

Jacky Parker Paris Apartment Above: Top radiators with thin marble pieces to create an instant sideboard or place for display, as seen in An Artfully Appointed Parisian Flat.

3. Create an ad-hoc backsplash.

Kristina Line and Anton Bak Bushwick Apartment Kitchen Above: In her Two-Week, $1,000, 500-Square-Foot Rental Overhaul in Bushwick, Brooklyn, design student Kristina Line sourced discarded marble scraps from a nearby stonemason. Among them: a jagged piece repurposed as a sculptural backsplash in the kitchen. “They don’t see the beauty in the broken leftovers, or what in their eyes is trash,” says her partner, Anton Bak.

4. Frame a sink.

Kitchen in Fabr Studio Kitchen in Williamsburg, Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista, Cropped Cover Image Above: Here’s an example of a marble-remnant backsplash that has a more finished look. In Fabr Studio’s office kitchen, a slab of marble, left over from a kitchen project, serves as oversized backsplash. See Kitchen of the Week: An Architecture Firm’s Own DIY Kitchen in Williamsburg, Ikea Hacks Included.

5. Mount open shelving.

Red Chair_Hudson home_copper_Marili Forastieri Above: A practical use for multiple small scraps: open kitchen shelving (supported by sturdy brackets), as seen in A Historical Hudson, NY, Home Reimagined (European Antiques Included).

6. Install a scrap-marble ledge.

Interior of Cervo's NYC, Photo by Erin Little for Remodelista Above: Another artful shelf/counter: The statement marble ledge in the front window of NYC wine bar Cervo’s started as a discarded piece at a marble yard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “They have lots of scrap pieces left over from bigger jobs,” the owners say. “We spent a couple days going through all these marble scrap yards looking for one that would work with the rest of the color palette.” For a full tour of the interiors, see Cervo’s: 15 Design Ideas to Steal from a Tiny Portuguese Wine Bar in Manhattan.

7. Lay a tiny kitchenette counter.

Kitchen at Passer Domesticus in Greece by 157 173 Designers Above: Add sophistication to even the tiniest kitchen with a small piece of marble as countertop, as seen in Passer Domesticus: 12 Ideas to Steal from an Idiosyncratic Urban Getaway in Greece.

8. Hack an instant kitchen station.

Barbara Chambers Coffee and Tea Station Above: Architect Barbara Chambers topped a metal slatted shelf in her kitchen with a small piece of marble to create a functional surface, which she uses as a coffee and tea station. See the rest of her house at An Exercise in Order with Architect Barbara Chambers.

9. Build a DIY table.

Kristina Line and Anton Bak Bushwick Apartment Main Room Detail Above: Another of the marble scrap hacks in Kristina Line’s Bushwick apartment: a two-legged marble table that rests on the windowsill. File this under Don’t Try This at Home (or call a professional): Line and her partner built it out of plumbing pipes and a length of discarded marble.

10. Line an architectural niche.

Bedromo in Fala Atelier Lisbon Apartment with Marble Details Above: A small wall niche makes an impact when lined in small marble pieces; photograph from A Narrow but Glamorous Marble-Clad Apartment in Lisbon.

11. Design changeable shelves.

Kristina Line Bushwick Apartment Shelf Detail Above: Another marble hack in Kristina Line’s DIY Bushwick apartment: Discarded marble pieces fit onto a simple timber frame to create an ever-changeable, multipurpose shelving system (that looks more expensive than it is).

12. Transform the washing machine.

Karin Montgomery Spath New Zealand Studio Bathroom, Photo by Matthew Williams Above: In a small-space bath in an Auckland studio apartment, designer Karin Montgomery Spath topped the washing machine with a piece of marble from an old table that the client owned. Now, it’s a functional countertop for folding clothes and storing laundry and bath accessories. See A Glamorous Studio Apartment in Auckland that Feels Like a One-Bedroom, Hack Edition; photograph by Matthew Williams.

13. Hang a deconstructed bathroom vanity.

Tom Givone Floating Farmhouse Upstate New York Above: A workaround for a bathroom counter fully clad in marble: a small slab anchored to the wall forms a deconstructed vanity, as seen in The Country Rental: A Floating Farmhouse in Upstate New York.

14. Install luxe room trim.

Remodelista Mimi Seating Area, Photo by Alison Engstrom Above: The idea that started it all: using marble as trim, as seen lining the banquettes at Mimi in New York City. Instead of maxing out the budget for the small bistro, the team used marble as an accent: “We found a lot of images from Vienna and France where marble was used instead of wood. This gave us the general concept of using marble as an outline, because we couldn’t afford to have the entire bar or floor be marble.” Read on in French Glam on a Budget: 15 Ideas to Steal from Mimi, New York’s Sexiest Bistro.

15. Create a striking fireplace surround.

Simmons Living Room Above: For a hack that makes a big impact, make like Remodelista contributing editor Izabella Simmons, who used Carrara marble scraps left over from her kitchen countertops to surround the fireplace. See the full house in Before & After: Remodelista Contributing Editor Izabella Simmons Shares Her Scandi-Inspired Remodel.

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published on April 2, 2018.

More high/low remodeling ideas and hacks:

  • Expert Advice: 23 Genius, Reversible, Budget-Friendly Hacks to Transform a Rental Apartment
  • Remodeling 101: 6 Budget Backsplash Hacks
  • 11 Zero-Cost Room-Changing Ideas

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