I’ve Renovated 4 Bathrooms Over the Last Decade, and These Are the 6 Mistakes I Don’t Want You to Make, Too

published Dec 2, 2022
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I’ve renovated four bathrooms over the last decade, and you would think by the fourth one I would be a pro. However, there are still little mistakes that I wish someone had told me to watch out for. Not big renovation-ruining errors — just little failures in terms of the look and feel of my projects that prevented the finished bath from being what I’d call a ten. I’ve made all of these six small bathroom renovation mistakes before, and I’m sharing here with the hopes that you’ll avoid them when you embark on yours.

I didn’t pay attention to ceramic finishes

When we sourced our tile, tub, sink, and toilet, it never occurred to me that the white porcelains would not match. However, the first time I walked into my newly-installed bathroom, my eye went directly to the slightly mismatched tub and wall tile. The difference between the whites is negligible. In fact, most people wouldn’t notice, but if I had realized the tub was an ever so slightly warmer white than the rest of the fixtures, I would’ve swapped it out for a tub that was a better match. Get samples of everything and compare them closely in good light to avoid this mistake.

I didn’t specify exactly where outlets should go

The first time I renovated a bathroom I didn’t think twice about outlet placement, but the next go-round, I was horrified to discover our contractor had placed the outlet right at the edge of where the tiled area ended and the drywall began, which created a very awkward series of intersections. Fixing it would’ve been ripping out quite a lot of tile, so we left it where it was. Don’t assume there’s an “obvious” place for your outlets if you’re opening up walls and working with professionals. If possible, mark exactly where you want yours to be!

I didn’t invest in the shower parts

When we went shopping for the faucet, shower head, and tub spout for our current bathroom, we were renovating in a hurry and went to one of the big home-improvement stores. We selected a model we liked the looks of but didn’t really do enough research into what it was made of; our tub spout turned out to be non-metallic, which was a disappointment. I’d say to read the fine print for any product you are considering purchasing and ask customer service questions if a product description is lacking, especially if you are ordering online or shopping from a home center versus a showroom, where you can see and touch pieces a bit easier.

I agreed to a tension shower rod

For my first bathroom renovation, my contractor really didn’t want to screw into our newly-installed tile and persuaded me that a tension shower rod would work fine for our combo tub-shower. The first time I hung a couple of wet pieces of laundry from the bar, it came crashing down. Not only did we lose the place where we air dried clothes, but the tension rod would also randomly fall down even without anything extra hung on it. If you are planning on having a curtain for your shower, get the rod installed with screws! It’s something I insist on now that contractors always resist, but if you know you won’t be upgrading to a glass shower door, it’s the only way to go to avoid this nuisance.

I underestimated my storage needs

Our bathroom is teeny-tiny (see above), so I sourced the slenderest pedestal sink I could find. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with a vanity (IKEA makes super-small ones). I love the look of a pedestal, especially in our 1940s building, but it really would be so handy to have a vanity to store extra rolls of toilet paper and overflow lotions and soaps. This is one mistake I may actually take the time to change!

I bought a hard-to-clean faucet

In trying to pick fixtures that would look right for the age of our home, I chose a “traditional” look faucet. Now that I have scrubbed its various grooves and tried to wedge a Q-tip behind it to clean the tiny crevice it creates with our sink edge, I really wish I had chosen the simplest silhouette faucet with just a single handle. With a more streamlined design, there’d be fewer fiddly bits to clean around, which would mean I’d be happier — even if it’s not exactly the period-appropriate look for my home’s era.