Major Bathroom Rehab on a Budget

Jennifer —  June 3, 2011 — Leave a comment

About a month ago I posted about my master bathroom storage rehab.  It wasn’t a full rehab but we rehabbed it because didn’t like its function.  So we rehabbed the storage by building a medicine cabinet, adding some shelves, and some small storage around the toilet.  One of my friends suggested that I post about our initial rehab a few years ago.  Here is a reminder what the bathroom looked like when we moved in a little over 3 years ago.

It was bad.  Yellow vinyl, small space, old shower doors, ugly speckled tile, ugly light fixtures and a rotted out sink cabinet.  I would have loved to redefined the space to make it bigger but there was just not any space to expand.  It shares a wall with the guest bathroom.  The only option that we had was to make one large bathroom out of the two.  We thought about it but we came to the decision that even though the bathroom was tiny it was worth having two.  This is not our forever home so we have to think ahead to what the next owners will want.  We also had a limited budget.  I had planned on waiting a few months to fix this one completely.  The kitchen is where we focused most of our attention in the beginning.  One day the hubs had one of his good friends over to help him with stuff.  His friend’s wife and I had gone to Lowes to get paint and when we returned this is what the bathroom looked like.

It literally took us 6 months to finally finish this project.  It didn’t take that long in labor…we just never got around to it.  The door was literally shut and we used the guest bath until I couldn’t take it anymore.  (and of course our wallets could pay for it)  Here was what we did for the major rehab a few years ago.  I had to work around a non-matching shower tub and some small space issues.  Maybe some of my tips can help you with rehabbing your tiny bathroom on a budget.  I hope my tips can help your small bathroom look bigger

1.) We painted the walls with Valspar’s Oatbran from Lowes.

The only thing that we were going to keep was the shower stall.  It was in great condition except that it was off white.  I wanted white and was planning on getting rid of it but the hubs talked me down off the ledge.  It was in great condition.  So my trick to camoflauge my slightly non-matching shower was to blend it in with the walls.  I didn’t want an off-white toilet or off-white sink so my goal was to get the off-white shower to blend.  I was thankful it wasn’t pink or almond.  We bought Semi Gloss Low VOC paint for about $30.00 (we also used this later on in the guest bedroom and had enough to make it stretch. )

2.)  We replaced the vinyl with tile.

To do this we had to scrape up the vinyl…this took forever!  Plus you had to be careful of possible chemicals in old vinyl.  The bathroom is literally 9 ft by 5 ft (45 square feet ) and 18 square feet of the bathroom is the shower.  We decided to buy this tile at Lowes.

It was $3.98 per square foot.  So the tile cost $107.00 with supplies and tools it cost us $140 to tile our bathroom floor.  We borrowed a friend’s wet saw and tiled it our self.  I chose small tile to give the illusion that the bathroom was bigger.  You eye sees more tile so it looks a little bigger.  Plus, in this tiny bathroom bigger tile would have had no consistency and awkward cuts.

3.)  We replaced the rotted out sink cabinet with a pedestal.

We debated this over and over…cabinet or pedestal.  I wanted the storage of a cabinet but the openness of the pedestal sink would help the bathroom look bigger.  We were in Home Depot and we saw the pedestal sink that I wanted on clearance.  That particular sink was returned because of a chip on the back side of the sink (that side that goes against the wall)  Who cares about that?  You can’t see it.  Lee bargained with the manager and because we were buying the pedestal, he got it down to a great deal.  The sink and pedestal would have cost us  $207.00 but we paid $130 dollars total.  ($99 for the pedestal  and $30 for the sink basin)

4.)  We replaced the wall tile with bead board and chair rail.  We thought about tiling the walls with subway tile but I decided  that it would look too busy in a tiny space with the floor tile. If the bathroom were bigger it could look great but In this tiny space I wanted the floor tile to stand out,.  I also wanted some depth to the space…not just flat walls. I liked the clean lines of white wainscotting.  It took three huge boards  at the low price of $19.00 per board.  After adding the chair rail for a bout $18.0, we spent $75.00 for the wainscoting project.  I love it.  It is wipeable and it looks clean.   Its adds a shiny element and it reflects light a little but making the space look bigger.   Plus, its a lot easier to install than tile.  The hubs made two cuts on the big board with a borrowed table saw.  He had to drill some holes for the plumbing pipes and adhered it to the wall with Liquid Nails.

5.)  We replaced the shower door. 

This was our splurge.  We didn’t have to special order a shower door because our shower was standard size but we decided to pick one that we liked and not go as cheap as possible.  This was a compromise that the hubs made with me in our discussion about keeping the off-white shower.  I could pick out a nicer shower door.  At first, I wanted to hide the slightly off-white shower with the shower door.  After we painted the walls Oatbran the shower really did blend in!  I started to love the contrast of off-white and white.  So, I decided that I wanted a clear shower door with brushed nickel trim.  A frosted or designed door would make the bathroom look smaller.  A clear door makes your eye go father and the bathroom looked bigger.  We bought a Sterling door at Lowes for $230 dollars.  It was the splurge but it was not near the splurge that it could have been.  We had set our budget and could afford it.

6.)  We added new faucet fixtures. 

This is my favorite part of this rehab.  WE bought the faucet before we bought the pedestal.   In fact, we bought it 6 months before the bathroom rehab Why?  Well, its usually not recommended but the story is great.  We were walking into Lowes a few weeks after we bought our house just dreaming about different things we wanted to do…and of course picking up something for whatever we were working on at the moment.  I wanted to go look at the faucets.  I am glad that I did.  We found this faucet on clearance for $45.00.

It was normally $220.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  That can’t be true.  That must be a mistake.  The hubs went to get the manager.  It was our first Lowes clearance negotiation and the Hubs was absolutely willing to pay $45 but he just wanted to test the waters.  He asked the manager why it was on clearance and it was because they were not carrying it anymore and the only one they had left was the display model.  It was missing a few parts.  The Hubs offered $15.00 for it and the manager said SOLD!!!!  It was ours!  A $220 faucet for $15.00.  I did have to get online to Price Pfister but it was super easy and I got all the parts sent to me PLUS instructions that were downloadable all for $18.00.  So, we paid $33 for our $220.00 Faucet.  Of course it sat in a closet for 6 months but it was well worth it.  It was the first purchase of our bathroom…maybe even in the first five purchases for our house.

7.)  We replaced the Light Fixture. 

This was also a splurge.  I was initially going to DIY this one but it matched the lines of the faucet perfectly.  We found it at Lowes for $88.  I am usually not a matchy matchy person but I loved the imitated lines in the space.  It just made the space look like was planned…not an after thought.   I think the space was added years after the home was built.  It seemed like an “afterthought” when we moved in.  My goal was to make it look “on purpose” and functional.

8.)  We replaced the the shower fixtures. 

We did not splurge on these.  The bathroom originally had an old faucet set.  You know, the kind with plastic crystal looking nobs.  Therefore, it had two holes for the knobs so I couldn’t go with one big unit like this one.  I know that have universal ones that can retrofit the three holes but again, I thought that would contribute to the feeling that the bathroom was an afterthought.  I went to every home improvement store and even looked at the special order book.  Nothing that matched under $250-300 dollars.  Darn that brushed nickel.  That price was not in the budget.  When I was walking through Lowes I found these:

Loved them.  They were Universal knobs and $22 bucks for both.  It was worth a try.  I had to buy about $20.00 worth of flanges and plumbing supplies to make it fit but in the end it worked.  I found a brushed nickel  shower head with a hose for $19.00 at Lowes.  It wasn’t on clearance…that was the full price.  We were exited about the hose because our shower is where we give our dog a bath.  The hose comes in handy.  All that to say that our new shower fixtures combined, in brushed nickel finish, cost us $84.00.  That was more in the price range.  The lesson learned..stick to my budget and don’t give up on looking for cheaper options.

9.)  We hired a plumber to install everything. 

The hubs and I do a lot but we know our own limits.  We rehabbed everything in our bathroom except the plumbing.  Plus, since the original sink was rotten we wanted and expert to check and fix the plumbing.  Water can be very damaging if not done right so we let someone else do it.  He cost us $120.00 and it was well worth every penny.

10.)  We replaced the toilet. 

The toilet in there was awkward…the pics don”t do it justice.  You can buy toilets that have smaller, more round bowls.  We needed this to allow an unhindered pathway to the shower.  It cost us $115.00

So….for a major bathroom renovation we spent a total of $1050 dollars.  I think that is pretty good since we gutted the entire thing except the shower.  If you add in the cost our latest function rehab of the space which was $122.05….You have a grand total of $1148.00.  Not bad considering  that “This Old House and HGTVpro estimates that a full small bathroom renovation using mid-range prducts will cost at the minimum $4000.

I hope this gives you ideas for your space and full bathroom renovation.  I also hope my renovation decisions and tips to make a bathroom look bigger can help ya!

Thanks for Reading,


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