Hello, hello, it’s your pals at Madcap Cottage!

Now that summer is in full swing, there’s no better time to freshen up and add some kicky color and punchy panache to your pad. And what better way to get inspired than with a few before-and-after photos to really help illustrate just what you can do with a space, n’est-ce pas?

Come with us to the third floor of our Brooklyn brownstone. We transformed it a few years back from a tired and downtrodden attic into a suite comprised of an exuberant master bedroom and luxurious bath.

And, no, I am not suggesting that you run out and hire a general contractor and start tearing up entire floors of your home. Rather, I want these before-and-afters to offer inspiration on how paint, wallpaper, lighting, and accessories provided the perfect finishing touches to our renovation.

Before: A lifeless attic space.

So, let’s say that you have a white box of a bathroom. And you have lots of clutter. You hate the beat-up old floor, the boring builder’s light fixture hanging overhead, and the cracked mirror over your sink. What can you do to empower this bower?

Paint: John and I used a minty green hue in our bathroom to create a cool and soothing sanctuary. Happily, we have large windows in our bath, so the sunlight diffuses the green and the bath feels like a leafy and lush conservatory. The contrast of the green against the original wood floors that we painted white with deck paint is sensational.

If you don’t have windows in your bath that allow in a lot of light, stay away from greens and yellows, as they might make your skin look pasty. Opt instead for warm shades such as pinks and corals. Stripe your walls by employing painter’s tape and paint your ceiling. The results will be stunning.

After: An alluring, colorful retreat.

Wallpaper: John and I love using wallpaper in bathrooms. Just make sure that the room has good ventilation so that the paper doesn’t get too damp. In our bathroom, we used multiple wallpapers, including a bamboo print behind the mirrored sink, another as the backing in the antique cabinet that we picked up on eBay, and another on the wall that wraps around the shower.

Accessories: Just because it’s your bathroom doesn’t mean the space has to be clinical–note the vintage ceramic garden stool that we added to our shower, perfect for women who need a perch for shaving their legs. Warm up the room with accessories. Lay down that cotton throw rug you picked up on your travels: The rug will hide the faults in the floor and can be washed as needed. Hang artwork on the walls, and display objects in glass cabinets and atop shelves.

John and I are constantly changing out the accessories in our master bath: We have a throw rug from India, vintage trophies picked up in Iowa, artwork culled from flea markets in London, and a hot pink tole wastebasket from Target.

And don’t forget a good mirror! Hit the yard sales for a vintage model with great lines. If you find a great mirror but you don’t like the finish, paint it a bold color to create a focal point in the room.

John and I use canvas storage boxes in the vintage cabinet to hide our extra shampoo, soap, etc. There are plenty of bathroom storage options to help control your clutter. And why not add a plant or two, perhaps clivia or a dramatic topiary?

Lighting: There’s nothing worse than bad lighting in a bathroom. If you’re looking to add personality as well as illumination, visit flea markets for a vintage fixture that you can have rewired. If you have the ceiling height, add a chandelier to bring some Hollywood-style sensibility into your bath.

In our bath, we added a vintage faux bamboo lantern that we picked up in Arcadia, Florida and had painted lime green and then rewired. Plus, we have a gourd-shaped table lamp upon a chest of drawers. Why not use a table lamp in your bath? Don’t be afraid to bring furniture and fixtures from other rooms into your bathroom if you have the space.

So let’s go, weekend warriors! It’s time to take your banal bath and make it brilliant.

Designers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon run the New York-based Madcap Cottage Inc., creating designs that reflect a respect for tradition tempered with bold splashes of color and playful patterns.


Since 1873, Kohler Co. has been improving the level of gracious living among its customers by providing exceptional products and services for the home. As a recognized global brand, Kohler leads the way in design, craftsmanship and innovation. Kohler's product offering spans across all price points, offering consumers a wide variety of options in kitchen and bath fixtures, faucets, and more.

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