Before and After: A $3,000 DIY Bathroom with Ritzy Spa Vibes

published May 28, 2020
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Credit: Sarah Bunker

Your bathroom can make or break your morning routine, nightly unwind, and at-home spa days. If relaxed is the last feeling that comes to mind when you think of your bathroom, it very well could be those fluorescent bulbs or shoddy tiles. Sometimes a quick paint job just isn’t enough, and a full DIY bathroom reno is in order—and you don’t have to be a seasoned pro to take it on. Take homeowner Sarah Tack, who took on her bathroom’s full remodel with the help of YouTube videos and a little patience. “Our bathroom was the epitome of 1997 builder grade,” Sarah says. While they loved the light and view that this bathroom’s window offered, “everything else had to go,” she says.

Credit: Sarah Bunker

“The room definitely did not live up to its surroundings, but I wanted to spend all of my time in that bathtub!” says Sarah. She and her husband saw the potential in this space, and wanted the new space to focus on subtle details. “My husband and I had never had our own bathroom apart from our two boys, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to create an escape space in the middle of being stuck at home all the time,” Sarah says.

Credit: Sarah Bunker

The couple managed to do the whole reno in just a month, totally on their own—and for around $3,000. Along the way, they gained tons of new skills. “The biggest set back for us was definitely removing all of the mastic under the ugly, old tile from the house’s cement slab,” says Sarah. They tried to use a big floor buffer but couldn’t get the results they wanted, so ended up chiseling off all the old glue by hand before installing new Moroccan-inspired tile from EliteTile. “I’m so happy it worked out, because the new floor is one of my favorite elements,” Sarah says.

The couple kept the walls white (Sherwin Williams’ Snowbound), choosing instead to put color on the ceiling. The deep green (Clare’s Current Mood) has a rich, dramatic feel overhead. A new vanity, from Home Depot, feels way more elegant thanks to its raised profile and delicate hardware. Instead of a plain builder mirror above, Sarah installed a pair of beveled mirrors from Wayfair. A new vanity light with a black metal finish complements the vintage vibe.

Credit: Sarah Bunker

The same old bathtub is in place, but looks brand new thanks to a clever fix. Rather than replacing the whole thing, Sarah and her husband wrapped the side in beadboard for an elevated built-in look. “Oddly the side of the tub before was a different color than the tub itself, and made it look dated and cheap,” Sarah says. “With some inexpensive materials, we were able to make it look special and custom fit to the space.”

In the end, Sarah’s biggest piece of advice is to just go for it. “We were so surprised as we went along at how manageable everything was for us. By watching a few YouTube videos we were able to complete so many tasks that seemed beyond our skill level,” she says. Another pro tip is to meticulously plan out your entire process, no matter how boring. “Keep a bookmark folder with every detail planned out, and a list of all planned expenses to stay on budget and schedule. Nothing is worse than holding up a project for a minor, but critical, missing component… and all those little things add up in your budget as well.”

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