Before and After: A Spa-Style Bathroom Redo Done for a Third of the Original Quote

published Oct 7, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: Bathroom with tan walls, beige tile floor, a corner bathtub, and a walk-in shower surrounded by glass blocks

A smart way to save money on a home reno? Figure out a way to work with the big stuff. In a kitchen makeover, that might mean keeping the existing cabinets and refreshing them with paint. In the bathroom, it might mean holding on to the most expensive fixtures and giving them a bit of a zhuzh.

If you need inspiration for the latter, take a peek at this bathroom redo from Holli Rodrigues (@beesnburlap). Holli’s home was built in 2003, and the bathroom was still trapped in that early aughts era with its beige floor tile and glass block shower walls. “The bathroom was large and functional but very dated,” Holli says. While it was just fine on a practical level, she adds, “I didn’t like this room at all!”

Fate intervened when Holli started to notice that the large glass block wall was having some structural issues. Since she’d have to tear that out and replace it anyway, Holli (reluctantly) decided to go for an entire room transformation.

Pro quotes for the project came in at $20,000 to $25,000. “It was a nightmare in the beginning because the estimates were coming in very high,” Holli says, adding that she wasn’t getting any help from her insurance, either.

Fortunately, Holli says, she was able to get her dream bathroom for about $7,000 — roughly a third of what she was quoted — thanks to working with the big-ticket items she already owned.

Three primary features that stayed the same: the big soaking tub, the floors, and the layout. Holli decided that instead of building a new shower enclosure, she wanted to keep the one she had as open as possible. “I was told I couldn’t just have a curb,” she says. “Well guess what… we do and it works great.” Instead of blocking off the entry to the shower with a door, she had a rod installed in the ceiling from which to hang a shower curtain.

The shower design worked seamlessly with the existing tub. On the side closest to the shower, contractors added a pony wall to separate the bath from the shower. They also re-tiled the sides of the tub to match the newly tiled walls; the large profile tiles have a modern, minimalist look.

“It seems like it’s twice the size,” Holli says of the bathroom. That’s because removing the glass blocks allowed lots more light to come in from a window in the shower area. “This bathroom gets incredible light and with the second story view of the forest it feels like a spa,” she adds.

In the non-shower zones, a deep black paint color on the walls helps bring out the best in the still-the-same beige tile floors. “I’m most proud of how much we changed this space using what we had, like keeping the original floor, tub, and bath fixtures,” Holli says. “They all worked with the look I wanted, so why rip them out and spend more money?”

Even though she incorporated some cost-saving ideas, Holli didn’t sacrifice what she envisioned. The bathroom now is exactly what she’d hoped for, she says: “Now I walk in and smile at how beautiful and open it feels.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.