This Designer Turned a Motel-Like Bathroom Into a Serene Sanctuary

Sleek marble bathroom with freestanding tub.

Design: Heather Kirk; Photo: Julie Mannell; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My clients had just moved into their first home, and a primary bathroom reno was at the top of their list,” interior designer Heather Kirk says. “They wanted a place where they could relax after a stressful day, something with spa-like vibes. Luckily, they had the room to work with—but everything in the space needed a rethink, including the color palette and flow. With a second baby on the way, they are happy the construction is behind them.”

Meet the Expert

Heather Kirk is a principal at Kirk Riley Design in Seattle, Washington. She is a self-proclaimed “design nerd” whose love of vintage and use of color is exemplified in her West Coast design style.


Dingy white bathroom with skylight.

Courtesy of Heather Kirk

“The old space looked and felt like a cheap motel bathroom with its dated white cabinets, track lighting, walled mirrors, tile countertop, and bland beige ceramic floor,” Kirk shares. “A ginormous tub took up way too much space, and the shower and toilet were hidden in another room. Reimagining the layout was key to a successful outcome.”


White bathroom with marble shower and dark wooden floating vanity.

Design: Heather Kirk; Photo: Julie Mannell

“We swapped spaces, turning the old toilet and shower area into a new clothes closet and moving the toilet into the old clothes closet” Kirk explains. “A sleek soaking tub and no-threshold shower give the space a modern, yet serene feel, while a stylish walnut vanity includes lots of storage. Natural light is always a welcome feature in a bathroom, so we kept the original window and skylight.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Natural materials combined with neutral colors result in a soothing and relaxed palette.
  • Vanity: The white quartz countertop juxtaposes with the dark walnut wood and black hardware.  
  • Faucets: Modern chrome fixtures add classic style in an easy-to-maintain finish. 
  • Floor: Concrete-inspired porcelain floor tiles are easy to clean and ground the space. 
  • Mirrors: Dual frameless mirrors conceal storage for toiletries. 
  • Sconces: Streamlined LED sconces add to the overall modern vibe.
  • Windows: A white woven shade provides privacy while still allowing in light.
  • Shower: A glass shower adds to the room’s open feel while a niche in the wall provides storage for products.
  • Wall tile: The bold veining on the gray and white porcelain wall tile creates soothing drama in the shower. 
  • Tub: A large, acrylic soaking tub fits in with the room’s spa theme. 
  • Stool: A small wooden stool provides a place for a glass of wine or candle while in the tub.
  • Clothes closet: The spacious custom clothes closet features a space-saving functional gray sliding barn door. 
  • Wallpaper: A turquoise starburst patterned wallpaper provides a hit of color in the water closet. 
  • Basket: The woven fiber basket is both functional and textural.

Shop the Look:

Sliding barn door in bathroom that opens to closet.

Design: Heather Kirk; Photo: Julie Mannell

Teak Organic Round Stool
TJMaxx Teak Organic Round Stool $40.00

“A stool by a tub or shower creates a landing spot for décor or bath items,” Kirk says.

Dimmable LED Vanity Light
Wayfair Dimmable LED Vanity Light $175.00

“Placing a linear style sconce over a mirror frees up wall space and puts the focus on other things in the room,” Kirk shares. 

Large Banana Basket
TJMaxx Large Banana Basket $40.00

“A woven basket adds texture in a bathroom plus it’s great for towel and slipper storage,” Kirk says.