Before and After: A $3,000 Bathroom Redo Squeezes a Shower, Toilet, and Vanity into a Tiny Space

published Mar 2, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Post Image

Ah, dorm living. One word that comes to mind when thinking of student housing? Cinderblocks. In Katie and Philip Bowling’s 1963 home, aka @onedelightfulhome, the basement previously had apartments that were used as college boys’ dorms in the ’70s during a housing shortage — and it showed.

“The entire basement was cinderblock walls, linoleum floors, and filthy,” Katie says.

In order to make their tiny basement bathroom work for their family and guests, they would need to “look past the dirt and grime of unkept spaces and imagine what could be.”

Katie and Philip wanted to squeeze a vanity, standing shower, and toilet into the space. “We didn’t think we were going to be able to get a full bathroom in this little space,” she wrote on her website. “The way this bathroom was currently set up did not meet code, and we thought it would be too tight.”

But they worked with a contractor to rearrange the layout to make it all fit. “We did need a contractor to put a hole in the brick wall, but my husband is handy, so he could do a lot of the work,” Katie says.

They did the tile work themselves, and Katie loves the way it looks. “Laying the tiles straight herringbone added some interest while still being affordable,” she says. (Their all-in budget for the reno was $3,000.)

Their tiling also has a great idea to steal to make a small space feel larger: “We tiled the ceiling since it is a little bit low in the basement,” Katie says. This helps to elongate the space and make the wall-to-ceiling transition less jarring.

They also built shelving into the new shower, creating more storage in the tiny space.

Two of Katie’s favorite details are the painted cement bricks (maybe the cinderblocks were a blessing after all?!) and the new vanity in the corner. “We didn’t know if we could find one small enough to fit in this space, but this one fits and fits the vibe of the space as well,” Katie says of the wooden vanity with mid-century-looking legs that tucks neatly in the corner.

She’s proud of the tiny-but-stylish details they added to the space, like the vanity, the new gold mirror, the Edison bulb light fixture, and new linens. “A project does not need to be expensive to be memorable,” Katie says. “We love the miniature features and all the personality packed into one small room.”