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She thought they were renovating the kitchen, he worked with a Seattle company on a bigger surprise

30 years into their marriage and nearly 20 years in the same house, Alvin and Joanne were ready for a refresh — not the marriage, Alvin emphasizes.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! We still feel like newlyweds who got married yesterday,” he says.

But the house was starting to feel a little dated, and the couple heard from a friend that Granite Transformations did really great work. As a former interior designer Joanne took the lead on most decisions, and then Alvin came up with a plan to celebrate their love at the same time.

“I said honey, I don’t think we can afford to do all this, and convinced her to postpone the fireplace and bathroom renovations. But of course in my head I thought ‘I’m going to make sure we get this done.”

Alvin worked with Granite Transformations to orchestrate a surprise, and they completed the bathroom and fireplace renovations while Joanne was away working as a flight attendant.

“The crew from Granite Transformations were great about working on the surprise. They’d bring paperwork to the school where I volunteer, separated invoices to keep things secret — things like that.”

Gorgeous transformation

Alvin emphasizes that his wife was the decision-maker for all the gorgeous design details, and he just said, ‘yes dear.’ But if he didn’t know her preferences, how did he pull together the surprise?

“The fireplace matches the marbled countertops in the kitchen, so that was a no-brainer,” Alvin says, and Joanne had already started to pick things out for the bathroom before they put the project on hold. “I said why don’t you put all your top picks in the folder for later on? And then I took all that to Granite Transformations.”

FURTHER READING: Your easy-clean kitchen never looked so good!

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The One Trick to Faking a Bigger Bathroom

In our dreams, our bathrooms have a stand-alone soaker tub, twin sinks with ample storage and a private stall (lined in marble, natch) for doing our business. But until we win the lottery that day comes, we’ll be employing “tone-on-tone” to fake a larger lavatory. This easy-peasy decorative technique is a fabulous way to add depth to small quarters of any function. Allow us to break it down for ya.

RELATED: 8 Dreamy Design Ideas for a Master Bathroom

Simply put, it means working with a single color—creating interest with different shades, saturations, materials and textures. By layering multiple hues in the same family, you create cohesion and depth (aka roominess), as opposed to the flatness of monochrome color schemes or the jarring visual breaks you get with several colors. Example A: This lovely, airy bathroom by Coterie member Taylor Anne, which uses varying shades of buttercream, ecru and gray to fake depth and add all the breezy spa vibes.

The best part about this trick? It can often be achieved with just some new paint and accessories. Here are the three major points to consider when pulling it off.

Step 1: Pick your palette. Above, a “warm whites” directive led designer Anne Hepfer to choose satin wall paint, a cream-colored vanity, matte bone tiles and ivory drapes to add dimension while tying together this modest-sized bathroom. Supremely serene, no?

Step 2: Mix your materials. Texture play is a huge component of tone-on-tone design—and it’s where things really get fun. In this gorgeous bathroom by Amber Interiors, earthy zellige tiles and a stark cement trough sink add tons of depth and visual interest to a black palette.

Step 3: Incorporate subtle motifs. We love how designer Lindsay Pennington peppered this rustic,

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Freestanding tubs, bigger showers are changing bathroom design

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Bathtubs used to be simple things. They were attached to the wall. There was a shower head at one end. You pulled a curtain to keep water from going where it wasn’t supposed to.

But like many other aspects of home decor, tubs and showers have gone uptown.

“People want their tubs to be the masterpiece of the bathroom,” said Thomas Phan, principal owner of Lifestyle Fixtures in Huntington Beach, Calif. One of the most popular ways to achieve that aura is with a freestanding bathtub, which sits in a prominent place and doesn’t abut any wall. “A freestanding tub sits in the middle of the bathroom,” Phan explained. “It says, ‘Look at me!’ ”

Clearly, you need some space for such a large hunk of plumbing hubris. But there are a variety of freestanding tub sizes now, so even smaller bathrooms can accommodate the look.

There are some challenges, Phan warned. “If you install one in a downstairs bathroom that’s on a concrete pad, that’s a little more work. You have to jackhammer through the cement floor to get your plumbing in. But in a second-floor bathroom it’s much easier.”

Another advantage of freestanding tubs: “They’re easier to clean around,” Phan said.

Freestanding tubs usually mean separate showers, and there are a couple of trends developing in that realm: size and accessibility.

“Bigger showers are getting popular,” said Joel Warners, president of Faucets N’ Fixtures in Orange, Calif. “It’s part of the growing acceptance in our industry that people shower 85 percent of the time. The shower shouldn’t be an afterthought or some small cubicle.”

Another trend sweeping bath and shower design is the concept of aging in place. “People want a shower and bath that are accessible and easy to use as they get older,” Warners

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