Before and After: A Coastal-Meets-Industrial-Meets-Farmhouse Bathroom

A guest bath goes from builder blah to coastal chic, all on a balanced budget.

To say the Knutsons have a lot of irons in the fire is putting it mildly. By day, Bill Knutson is a real estate developer. His wife, Angela, is an interior designer. And a photographer. And she owns a fitness studio. And she’s opening a second one.

Oh, and then there’s the baby.

Mere days after their first son was born, the Knutsons began a total renovation of their 1950s ranch home in Phoenix—while living in it. It’s the first project by Driftwood Homes, a portfolio of coastal-inspired residences with a modern edge that Bill and Angela are building together. It only made sense that the couple’s first official undertaking would be their own home.

“All day long I’m building homes for financial purposes,” Bill says. “But these homes are our passion projects.” Angela agrees: “We love what we do, and it’s not work to us.”

Thanks to their professional experience, the Knutsons knew how to keep the project on track—and on budget. Even though they were living among the renovation chaos (with the plastic drape barriers to prove it), they were strict about maintaining scheduled work hours and family time. And they knew better than to go all-out on design splurges, so instead focused on long-lasting aesthetics and durability, balancing budget finds with high-end surfaces.

One of the home’s most startling transformations is the guest bathroom. The old space wore a blah shade of “builder’s beige” and contained lots of travertine but virtually no luxury. And though the room’s footprint was large, the restrictive sliding shower door made the tub area feel really small. But the basic layout worked, so the Knutsons ripped the room down to the studs and started fresh.

The rebuild began with white walls: In the shower stall, near-black grout contrasts with traditional (and budget-friendly) subway tile. The remaining walls were dressed in spendy white tongue-and-groove horizontal panels, evocative of nautical-style shiplap. Connecting the two is exterior molding—weather-resistant for the high-humidity space.

For the vanity area, the couple repurposed two unused cabinets from another home Bill had torn down; each got a coat of dark gray paint, one-piece sink tops and Cassidy two-handle centerset faucets. The cabinet pulls are Ikea finds.

Above the sinks, matching mirrors from Target and pricier Crate & Barrel sconces pull the warm metallic finish upward; the lighting also echoes the walls’ delicate maritime touch.

Back in the shower, the Knutsons raised the Cassidy shower head up to a nice, roomy 7 feet—a must for Bill, who’s 6 feet 4 inches tall. But that meant a standard shower curtain would never work; instead, Angela bought 98-inch window curtains, also an Ikea score.

The room’s crown jewel is underfoot. They splurged on white-and-mint patterned cement tile—not cheap, and more labor-intensive than standard tile, but worth it for the high-impact look. “I had been wanting to use this tile forever, and this ended up being the perfect space,” Angela says. “It’s a relatively small space, so we could justify the expense.”

Angela calls the finished design “industrial farmhouse with a little retro-midcentury,” in line with the home’s other eclectic rooms. And while the renovation is nearly done for now, it’s not done for good. Bill and Angela plan to add an additional 2,600 square feet in two phases, plus a remodel of the backyard for their other babies: chickens and goats.


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