Before & After: Edgaroso’s Brave Bathroom Renovation

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Everyone knows that renovations are challenging – the planning, the purchasing, the hard work. Throw in the fact that you sometimes need to gut the ONLY bathroom in your small home to get the job done and the stress goes up another notch. As Apartment Therapy reader Edgaroso reported about his particular project, “let’s just say we got to know the people at the gas station down the street really well”…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

An impressive change and a more-than-brave job to tackle as a DIY! Here is Edgaroso’s renovation tale:

We moved into my grandmother’s little house about 7 years ago. It’s an 800 square foot rectangle of a house, with two bedrooms, a kitchen/pantry, living room/dining room and a bathroom. The last time the bathroom was renovated was back in the 70’s. Consequently, the color scheme of the bathroom was brown, beige, gold and tan.

Instead of using real tile, my Grandparents used tile board; a 4′ x 8′ faux tile sheet that isn’t really waterproof – but it did last over 30 years! The tile board was getting water damaged – and before allowing water into the walls where it could start growing into a major problem we decided to gut the bathroom and bring it back as a clean, simple and utilitarian bathroom.

The “before” photos reflect the post-gutting phase. Sadly, it actually looks better than the old bathroom with the walls up! We lived with the before look for a few weeks before tearing out any essential items in this one bathroom house. Once we tore out the bathtub – showers were taken at night, outside behind the Wisteria arbor with a bucket of hot water and bar of soap. Once the toilet was taken out – well let’s just say we got to know the people at the gas station down the street really well.

Since the shower pad footprint was larger than the tub, we had to scale back the bathroom sink in order to fit all three essential items in the same space. The small sink we found at IKEA. It’s very small but fit the spot perfectly. The toilet was the least expensive but highest flush rated toilet in the store. It uses 1.5 gallons per flush compared to our older toilet which used 8+ gallons per flush.

Once the shower pad was cemented in place, I tiled the shower area with 2″ x 2″ white glossy mosaic tiles. Since the walls were not plumb even after putting gin new cement board and green board, we decided against any colored tile as the white grout lines would only enhance the out-of-plumb walls and make the shower area look like an Escher drawing!

After being shot down on installing a single panel of glass to separate the shower from the sink, I researched other alternatives. I did not want to put a shower rod from wall to wall since the ceilings are only 7 feet high. I noticed the gym I go to used a shower rail system for their stalls. I did a little research and discovered a place where you could custom order them at any length – and they weren’t really too expensive. I used the same rail system for the bathroom window which happens to be in the shower as well. They work like a charm and make the room actually seem taller than it really is.

For storage, we bought two towel racks from IKEA placed them above the toilet to use as shelves. I placed all of our toiletries and shaving stuff in cloth covered wire baskets which I got at Target. The only original item left in the bathroom is the medicine cabinet which we stripped, primed and spray painted with high gloss enamel Rustoleum. We also replaced the flaking mirror with a vertically taller mirror, got new glass shelves cut for the interior and it’s a good as new!

Above the mirror is a small frosted glass rectangular light fixture from Italy. With a max 75 watt bulb it is sufficient to illuminate our 5′ x 7′ bathroom. The old exhaust fan (not pictured) was replaced with a white plastic exhaust fan – which though it blends in well with the white ceiling and walls – looks cheap. But it is vented to the outside which the old one wasn’t – so that’s a plus.

My only regrets is that this job took so very long to complete. What I thought would be a few weekends took months to complete because every step was a learning process. All of the plumbing needed to be dig out and properly reconfigured, the floor had to be sledge hammered in the process and new cement needed to be poured and then leveled and then leveled again with thin set mortar before laying down the commercial grade linoleum.

We did it all ourselves except for the cement and green board which was contracted out to an older man who has been doing this type of work for 30 years. We knew we couldn’t do it as fast or better than he could. All in all the project came in a little under $3000.

Shopping List:
Swan Corp: SwanStone Shower Floor
AquaLife: Shower Fixtures
Century Tile: 2″ x 2″ Gloss White Mosaic Tiles
IKEA: ANN sink/fixture & GRUNDTAL bathroom shelves Curtain Affair: Shower/Window Curtain Rail System
Briggs: Toilet
Medicine Cabinet: Stripped and repainted
Accessories: Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, IKEA

Thanks for sharing your project, Edgaroso!

Images: Edgaroso