Don’t you just hate it when you are cruising around Pinterest looking for budget remodel ideas and you see these things that are just absolutely CRAZY?! Something like a brand new jacuzzi tub, moved walls, brand new hexagon flooring, and a comment in the post along the lines of “well my dad is a general contractor and my husband owns a home improvement store so we got the work for free and the materials at cost…but really this bathroom would cost anyone else $20,000.”
*Insert eye roll here*
I see that a lot online. I also see a lot of “we refinanced our home for ‘x’ remodel project” and “someone died and I came into some money.” As always, you will never get that here folks. I believe a budget remodel should be true to it’s word. Goods found at a discount, labor done by yours truly, and no debt required.
Since MG believes in living as debt free as possible, we live without credit cards, we don’t finance things (unless there is an extraordinary circumstance–like when Mrs. MG’s back was being murdered by our old bed, and we couldn’t afford to buy a new one up front. We find a 0% same as cash financing program at a local mattress shop and bought a $800 bed. Said bed is amazing, we paid off the bed in 3 months, and were no worse for wear.), and we would never take out a line of credit on our home to be able to afford to do something purely cosmetic to it.
Enter my new master bathroom. Not new in that it never existed, it has always been there. But new in that we recently switched bedrooms which meant switching bathrooms. When the MG family moved in, we gave the “master” bedroom (in this case, master = biggest room in the house) to the girls as they were sharing. We took the smallest room downstairs along with it’s corresponding bathroom next door. Split levels are tricky houses, but they’re great for families! We have two bedrooms, 1 common bathroom upstairs, and 1 bedroom with a common bathroom downstairs. This means that this house has no en suite master bath. We plan to change this in a few years by walling off the current entry, and moving a door to a wall within the master bedroom. This will help our resale by a LOT without costing us a heck of a lot of money. That still leaves the bathroom downstairs for the other two bedrooms and guests to use. No harm, no foul.
Now that MG child #1 is staying with her dad this school year and only home roughly 2 weekends a month, MG child #2 was having a hard time adjusting to this. They’d been together always for the entire 12 years of child #2’s life so it wasn’t easy for her to suddenly only see her sister on a handful of weekends at her dad’s house. We asked her if she’d like to switch bedrooms with us and gave her free range to change the decor and design of her room as she pleased. (Before/After of Master Bedroom coming soon in a later post.) She said yes and that afternoon, totes were being carried up and down the stairs for everyone involved! That meant that we relocated to the upstairs bathroom and took it over as our own.
I’ve said before, that our house is not terribly old. It is probably the most basic, plainly built Craftsman style split-level ever made in 2003. From searching around the internet I did manage to find some original condition photos from the previous owner and yikes. I didn’t know that it could be worse than all brown walls and sculpted foam trim in the worlds shittiest white paint, but all yellow walls, with cherry wood floors was NOT an improvement. Let me tell you. Anyway, I digress–my point here is that this house is NOT old, but through blood sweat and tears I find myself trying to bring it into modern times because every original feature was just so darn “blah.” This house is 1/2 our home and 1/2 an investment. We will be leaving the country when our youngest child graduates, so we need to make intelligent decisions about renovation in this house while considering how unique our neighborhood is at the same time.
I find that the more I do to this house, the more layers of fucked-up-ness I find. Just bad construction, and cut corners. I am never sure if I am blaming the investor who flipped our house after it sat abandoned for so many years, or the original builder. It’s a fun little game we like to play in our house called, “Who fucked this up?” The bathroom was no exception. In addition to our not straight walls — builder, we find that someone tiled over holes in the wall without bothering to put in patches — builder or investor? Then there is my favorite-a giant soap/shampoo/conditioner vessel that was attached to the shower stall with silicone caulking! W-T-F? Who does that? But nothing could prepare me for the giant mirror that was attached to the wall with liquid nails. I did a serious face palm when I began trying to pull that thing down. Since the walls were originally yellow, and the paint behind the mirror was brown, the blame goes to the investor on this one! Same guy who covered up the tile around the fireplace with a “mantle” made completely of various pieces of trim that was caulked and glued together. (Fireplace is also another future project.)
This house is an onion, ya’ll. The deeper I go on cosmetic updating, the more structural things I find that need correcting. I am not living here forever, but I won’t do things half-assed at the expense of the future owner.
Alright, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
The only thing left untouched in this bathroom was the original marble floors (which actually work in this room now!) and the bathtub/shower stall. We replaced or refinished the following:
- Light Fixture
- Wall Paint
- Counter Top
- Added Built-in Shelving
- Added Tile
- Added Open Shelving
I’ll post totals on each item below and how I found my amazing deals. But let’s get into the before and after pictures, shall we?
Actual Listing Photo, BEFORE
So here is our illustrious bathroom before. As you can see, it functions, but it needs to be brought into the current times. Can I just tell you that I have a crazy relationship with brown? When I built my first house, I apparently had an obsession I was not aware of. I became painfully aware of it when I began moving in and started opening boxes. I had my walls painted brown, brown carpet, brown cabinets, brown blinds, and then realized I also moved in brown furniture, brown rugs, brown throw pillows, and brown lamps. I had a serious problem with brown! When I bought my second house, I vowed to never have brown stuff again. Queue the new house of brown exterior, brown interior, and light brown hardwoods. In the three years I’ve lived here and stared at these brown walls, I’ve developed some deep loathing. The brown had to go.
First things first! I began removing the circa 2003 builder grade 4/4 white tile. Upon removing this tile, I discovered not 1, but 3 areas of MISSING DRY WALL AND/OR HOLES that the builder just tiled over. No big deal right? Between this and the mirror that had been attached to the walls with LIQUID NAILS, I was fit to be tied. It is basically 1st winter here, and patching dry wall in a bathroom with no direct heating did not bode well with me. There was a week of dry wall patching before we could move forward. MG was not amused. Don’t you just love that light fixture? Hello,the 70’s called, they want their lighting back.
While I worked on willing the drywall patches to dry, I decided to create a template for my tile wall and begin cutting it all down. I had a large cardboard box from my $35 Walmart Clearance Special Dining Room Set (Yeah…baby!) that I carefully measured and drew out the lines for the wall space between my vanity and the ceiling in my bathroom. I used this as my template for cutting my tile down to size. I did not have a wet tile saw, but a tile breaker. I removed a piece of the tile breaker that is meant to help stabilize big solid pieces, and found that it worked great to break off these mini pieces of tile. I saved every single piece, even the little half pieces that I cut off. When I was done, I had a clear visual of what my wall was going to look like, so I threw my new light fixture on top to make sure it was appropriate to size. I do this in a very official design way, which involves me literally eye-balling it and determining if I like it or not. The light fixture, is actually upside down from its intended design, because I liked it better this way. Besides, when you’ve got lights with globes like this–and you point them up, all the dust and dirt is going to settle inside the light fixture, and what a pain in the ass that is to clean!
And now we can talk about how I got two of the new materials for my bathroom at an amazing deal!
The tile is a very mini-subway tile. We found these at Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. MG LOVES HfH because they’re like a thrift store for home supplies and materials, as well as furniture. They have also recently introduced a great rewards program that earns you money off future purchases. Now, our store has a history of putting outrageous prices on things and I honestly suspect this is an attempt at staff to “save” things that they actually want by marking it up so no one will buy it. Otherwise, other things are very reasonably priced. This includes my tile. This tile is probably between $10-25 a sheet, just knowing average prices on high-end tile. I couldn’t find a brand name on the tile to research and I couldn’t find this exact tile online which is smaller than the ones I did find. My HfH store had it at $6 a sheet, but I came in on a day when there was an additional 25% off tile so I bought it all! I spent $75 after tax on this tile and a bag of white mortar/grout.
The light fixture is by Thomasville, and is part of their Crescent Heights collection. It’s supposed to be inspired by Hollywood glamour and the glass finish is opal. It is very pretty, but I liked that they looked appropriate to a Craftsman style home. I found them in boxes unopened at a community yard sale for $5 each. These light fixtures cost over $100 brand new. I got one for each bathroom, what a deal!
Then came the actual tiling. You’ll see here that I cut out a giant chunk of the drywall. Why did I do this? Storage! Our house isn’t huge, so I’ve try to become very creative in my approach to storage here. While the MG family is minimalist by nature, we know that most American families are not. We want this house to show the average American family that there IS enough space here. Buy it! Let us leave the country and enjoy our hard work on this home! Built in shelving is also very authentic to the Craftsman home. I’ve got a theme here, and I’m running with it! I cut a chunk of the wall out, and relocated the electric outlet about a half inch back so it would be “sunken” into the built-in. Things got fun when I got to the gigantic round hole in the wall for my light fixture. It is actually a titch too big for my new fixture (and any fixture really!) because some idiot had to use the biggest size in the wall for a bathroom light. (Blame – Builder!) So I had to get creative with my tile. We had to remove pieces one by one to allow for the tile to set over the hole, then I had to put that tile up one by one until it was finished. The hole can still be accessed, but the tile runs right to the edge. And since nothing is center in this house (Don’t get me started on the dining room light fixture) I had to shift the new fixture over to the right as far as I could possibly go. I would have just cut the dry wall and actually relocated it, but the electrician didn’t leave any slack in the line as it was run to the upstairs floor so I had to work with what I had. My light still isn’t centered to the vanity, but it looks better. Cutting my tile to a template was super handy because I could just throw the sheets right up there. At the bottom, I realized my counter wasn’t even so I had to make some last minute cuts to the tile. This was frustrating, but the gap was filled with caulk and no one’s the wiser.
My house has a funny thing about studs. We’re convinced this house is just being held together by drywall, nails, and maybe 5 studs total. There are no studs where there should be studs, and random studs where there shouldn’t be any. Luckily, when I opened this wall, I found studs exactly where I wanted them. Instead of building a box to fit into the stud, I made the stud part of my cabinet. This is a narrow gap, about 14.5 inches and I didn’t want to lose even more space by inserting a box. I stained the stud, and used pocket holes to insert the shelving. You can see that the back of the cabinet is wood, where before it was dry wall. These studs are 2 inches wide, so how did I do that you might be wondering? Well–this is the part I am the very most proud of. INGENUITY!
Remember when I remodeled my kitchen? I took out a peninsula cabinet. MG is a supplies hoarder. Every nut, bolt, screw, nail, and piece of wood gets tucked away into the garage. My grandfather did this, his father did this. Why am I going to throw something away when I might need it later? I knew that I needed a thin wood veneer to go along that dry wall, but didn’t want to spend the money on that, so I went digging through my wood pile and found my old cabinet doors. I separated the edges from the face of the cabinet door and voila! I had wood veneer, just the right thickness to be placed along the back. We stained it and used liquid nails (appropriately in this instance) to affix it to the dry wall so no nails came out the other side into our new closet. I had some left over veneer to make the box of wood that went around the electrical outlet to close it in. I could have left the space above it open, but I didn’t feel comfortable with things “sitting on top” of an electrical outlet. We plan to use that space to place our sonic toothbrush chargers so that was enough for me.
I trimmed the dry wall edges with some Hemlock trim from the home store, this stuff was just under $2 a foot, not cheap and not super easy to work with. Hemlock splinters easily and I do need to replace my saw blade. I used a combination of liquid nails and counter sunk screws to attach it to the wall. I had a phobia of it popping off if it was just liquid nails alone so I added the screws after the fact, then filled in the holes with wood putty.
Now we’re looking at the bathroom counter. I saw where someone turned their old laminate counter into faux soapstone and wanted to give it a shot. Her’s turned out amazing! Mine did not. I ripped off the laminate easy enough, and was left with this pocked surface to mimic the texture of the stone. The original poster said to use chalkboard paint so I made my own (which I’ve done before) with some black and white acrylic paint and my grout. Thing is, I believe she meant to say CHALK paint, which is a different beast entirely. Now I’ve got this rough surface that is snagging our clothes so I’ve got to refinish it. I’ll post pictures of that once it is finished, for now we’re just living with what we have. You’ll see here that I stained the cabinet box on the vanity. I just used the Minwax Gel Stain in Coffee that I had left over from the kitchen, and my left over Minwax Poly-Acrylic Top Coat in Semi-gloss. I like things to match, and this meant I didn’t spend any money. I did heavily sand most of the cabinet, but was completely unable to sand off the paint from the cabinet doors. So I settled for scuffing up the surface and staining. Looks great, and you could never tell! I left the inside of the box white because who cares?
My final step was to paint the whole room. Which admittedly, this was my first step. I used Sherwin Williams Silver Peony, also found at my HfH store for only $13! My entire house is now done in Sherwin Williams because of HfH! MG and Mrs. MG felt this color went with the Craftsman theme of light pastels, and very nicely complimented our other colors in the rest of the home. Plus, we fucking LOVE Sherwin Williams and now will not use any other brand of paint. Can we just talk about how gorgeous this color is for a minute?
Is it purple? Is it grey? It’s like the two colors had a beautiful baby and now that baby is on my walls.
This project took almost 3 weeks to complete. Between waiting on the various dry wall patches to dry, waiting on the gel stain to dry, grouting and cleaning the tile, and touch up painting it was a longer process than I would have liked. BUT it has been SO worth it! The after just give the strong effect of a stately elegance. A bathroom that looks like it is supposed to be in a Craftsman style home, clean, polished, and not too much. Here are your after photos!
This is not the same bathroom, right?! And anyone can do this. Literally anyone. Let’s add up my project so we can all see how this stunning transformation came in around $200.
- Light Fixture: $5.00
- Wall Paint: $13.00
- Vanity: leftover gel stain and top coat $0.00
- Counter Top: acrylic paint on hand $0.00
- Added Built-in Shelving: shelf lumber and backing already on hand, purchased trim. 9 feet at $1.91/linear ft $17.19
- Added Tile: $75.00
- Added Open Shelving: Shelving and hardware x 3, $60.00
- Mirror: $32.00 on Amazon
Total of $202.19 for a total bathroom remodel! The shelves were a splurge but making them from scratch wasn’t going to be any more cost effective and take even more time.
There you have it! A start to finish project that didn’t break the bank, didn’t involve any handy parents, or insider sources for cheap materials. Just blood, sweat, and tears. (I did actually give myself two blood blisters on the inside of my finger after an unfortunate wall anchor accident.) And I am just obsessed with it!