Before and After: This $3K Bathroom Redo Feels More Like $50K

published May 2, 2018
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(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

This ultra-’90s bathroom was radically transformed into a stunning, smart, and structurally unrecognizable bathroom for less than $3,000. It took vision, elbow grease, and a few (not so) small tasks. You know, like building custom door frames, “casting in place with concrete,” and “construct[ing] a custom wet table saw.” Easy breezy!

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

That marble is simply to die for. It’s so dramatic, yet its restrained palette will (probably) keep it from looking dated anytime soon. I adore the way the dark veins in the marble play with the dark grout between the subway tiles and all of the dark fixtures. Black and white is a classic color scheme for bathrooms: it looked amazing 100 years ago and it looks amazing today. The gorgeous wood vanity, floor, and toilet room door add a ton of warmth to what some might consider a cold palette, and the swirls in the wood complement those in the marble.

Kevin Wagner, who created the bathroom, loves the way its changed daily life:

The large shower and dual vanities have changed how we live in the morning.

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

Previously, the bathroom wasn’t nearly as accommodating to a busy couple: Here’s how Kevin describes the bathroom before:

Massive 2-seater Jacuzzi tub, 30″x30″ tiny fiberglass shower, 90s vinyl cabinet single vanity, vinyl floor tile, baby-blue wallpaper, gold light fixtures.

Really wanted to make this our bathroom. We never used the massive tub and the shower was way too small.

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

This bathroom was nice and roomy pre-renovation, but it definitely had a few aesthetic challenges. That Jacuzzi probably felt amazing, but it looks fairly threatening, and far more utilitarian that the more streamlined tubs of today. And why deal with the hassle of wallpaper in a full bath if it’s just going to be a plain solid color?

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

This shot gives us a quick look at the structure of the room with the Jacuzzi removed…

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

…while this one gives us a closer look at the excellent lighting—it looks like a sexy, sophisticated hotel! Using a much more subtle marble to top the vanity that was used in the shower is a smart move; they work together well, but don’t compete.

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

Here we can really admire the way the way the woods and marble interact with each other, as well as get a glimpse of the glam ceiling light. It’s all even more impressive once you hear how this renovation all came together:

Almost 2 years and still ongoing. A lot of the objects were found on sale or at resale shops. The vanity and glass toilet-room door are from Habitat for Humanity, and came out of an school. A lot of time was spent looking for the right deals due to our very restrictive budget. There was also a learning curve for some of the work. We did all of the framing, plumbing, electrical, drywall, woodwork, tiling, and cabinet building ourselves, which saved a great deal of money. Due to the size and shape of the shower I ended up casting it in place with concrete and waterproofing it. The marble tile on the back wall of the shower is 3’x3′ and each weighed about 50 pounds; I had to construct a custom wet table saw to cut them and used suction cups to lift them into place on the wall. I built custom door frames using existing wood trim to fit the antique doors and hardware (our house is circa 1870s). We are planning to do a custom glass shower door and crown molding, but aren’t sure when we will have the funds.

This is not a bathroom that I EVER would have guessed involved pieces from thrift shops. It’s all so intentional and glamorous—it really shows what can be done with a vision and a LOT of home improvement skills.

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

Also, all full bathrooms should have the toilet in a separate room!

(Image credit: Kevin Wagner)

This final photo allows us to see the tiny, classic hex tiles on the floor of the bathroom; they’re a nice callback to the bathrooms of yore, as is that style of shower control handles. Acquiring a bathroom with this much quality and style for less than $3,000 is possible, but Keven has some advice for anyone considering it:

If you really want to save money on your renovation, be prepared to spend more of your time dedicated to doing the work yourself. Youtube and This Old House are your new best friends.

Thank you, Kevin!