June 12, 2023
When a couple in Chicago were getting ready to sell their home, they knew the primary bathroom needed an update to add market value, and they didn’t have to look far to find a designer. April Gandy, principal designer of Alluring Designs, just happens to be their niece, and she was happy to take on the project – and its limited budget.
Initially, her relatives wanted a classic look in white and gray, but Gandy said from a design perspective, she wanted to make the home more memorable for potential buyers. She achieved this eye-catching look with a bold black-and-white palette and some other not-so-traditional elements, but there was a limited budget with which she had to contend.
“My aunt and uncle had a laundry list of other projects to complete throughout the rest of the home before it could go on the market, so they were limited with what they could spend on the primary bath,” said Gandy. “The new-and-improved space was a nicety to build up interest, but they did not want to overinvest in it and not get the return for which they were hoping.”
Bathroom Beauty on a Budget
The designer had some clever solutions for staying on track and still ensuring a luxe look, including installing stock kitchen cabinets in white for the vanities. They were a more modest choice over a custom option and had the longer measurements the space needed. The 72-in. vanity ended up being about the same price as a custom line would have been for a 60-in. size.
Gandy initially wanted to include a feature wall of tile on one side of the bathroom, but the custom shower floor was going to take more from the budget than she had planned. Instead of using tile, she simply painted the wall black, which achieved the same effect.
She sourced off-brand plumbing fixtures, and the porcelain floor tile was less than $2 per square foot. She replaced the former Hollywood glam lighting with two moderately priced fixtures. Separating the electrical to include two fixtures was a bit pricey, but the Gandy didn’t have to install recessed lighting because of the bright color scheme and natural light that flows through the upper window.
The designer didn’t want to incur the cost of going into the wall and installing a niche for storage by the tub, so she found sourced shelves on Amazon for a more economical solution. As for the striking artwork on the black feature wall, Gandy purchased the image on Etsy for $5 and then had it printed and framed. Her aunt loved it so much, she took it with her when she and her husband moved out.
The designer spent a bit on the marble tile in the shower to create a grander look, but it is a small space, so not much of the stone was needed. She opted for a custom quartz countertop, sinks and shower ledge.
“The more intricate the quartz, the more it costs, so I just chose white, but it is still durable and beautiful,” said Gandy.
The tub was a bit of a splurge, as these fixtures are typically higher-priced items in the bathroom, but she specified the smallest one she could – 55 inches – that would still stand out in the space. The custom shower floor was poured with concrete, as Gandy said the small size would not permit the use of a shower pan. She offset the cost with penny tile, which cost less than $2 per square foot.
When having the bathroom budget conversation with her relatives, Gandy said she was given a number and asked to make it work. She worked with the contractor during the construction phase to discuss any surprises and ensure she was on par with all her selections.
“Although my uncle was against the bold black-and-white palette in the beginning, he was really blown away by the results,” said the designer. “They wished they had undergone the renovation sooner, but when they move into their next home, they will hire me again to enjoy the fruits of our labor sooner than later.”
—By Chelsie Butler, KBB Executive Editor
Designer: April Gandy, Alluring Designs
Photographer: Laquisha Love of LLove Studios
Accessories, Hardware, Lighting & Plumbing Fixtures: Amazon & Etsy
Floor Tile: Floor & Decor
Tub: Home Depot