Before and After: A Gray Builder-Grade Bathroom Gets a Luxe-Looking Overhaul for $5,300

published Apr 23, 2022
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Before: gray bathroom with white sink and cabinet

Pivoting to working from home during the past two years has been a catalyst for home projects, whether that means revamping an existing home office, making one seemingly appear out of thin air, or creating a relaxing zone entirely away from work.

For Megan Anderson and her husband, Tim, it meant they finally needed to do something about their basement bathroom. “The bathroom rarely got used the first three years we lived in the house, but since we added a home office in the basement, it now gets used almost daily,” Megan explains. Their kids’ playroom is also nearby, and guests use the bathroom when they stay overnight.

“Between the poor layout of the shower and the fixtures being low quality, we knew the bathroom needed some love,” she says.

The bathroom was added to Megan and Tim’s home in 2010, and it had gray walls, stained vinyl flooring, a sheet mirror, and builder-grade finishes. But most importantly, it had a dark corner shower with no light overhead.

So, over the course of eight months and with an initial budget of $5,000, Megan and Tim overhauled the space with time they could spare on weekends and evenings. The main goal was to make the shower more of a statement feature with better lighting.

“To save money, we kept the placement of the main plumbing for the three fixtures,” Megan says. They had to order a custom shower pan that fit the existing drain, but the footprint is the same.

The plumbing did cause some setbacks, though. The shower pan took three months to arrive, two toilets arrived broken before one finally worked, and the toilets were tricky to find in the first place because this bathroom requires a 14-inch, rough-in toilet. (In most projects, 12-inch toilets are used.) Megan and Tim also had to locate the house’s main plumbing stack in order to install an access panel behind the bathroom door.

But other parts of the project were either easier or cheaper than expected. Megan says installing the vertical shiplap (painted Behr’s “Submarine Gray”) wasn’t as difficult as they thought it would be, nor was putting a drop ceiling in the space. The marble tile, which she and Tim found at a local overstock store for $400, was much less than the $1,200 they’d originally been quoted.

Megan and Tim also added matte-black lighting, a black-framed mirror, towel hooks, a black shower head, new hardware throughout, and “oak” flooring. “We had leftover luxury vinyl plank flooring that we installed in the rest of the basement, so we continued it into the bathroom,” Megan says.

The only part of the bathroom they didn’t upgrade themselves was the glass shower door, which was professionally installed, but Megan loves how it opens up the space. “I’m so happy with the glass shower door and how it allows the tile to be seen,” she says. “We feel like the shower makes a statement for this basement bathroom.”

At one point, Megan and Tim decided against adding a nook in the shower for soap and shampoo bottles, but if Megan could change one thing about the project, it would be to add that back.

Megan’s advice to future bathroom renovators — or really, any renovators — is “give yourself more time and budget than you think you may need.” She says she and Tim went over their total budget by $300 (bringing the total cost of the redo to $5,300), and it took almost twice as long to complete the project as they’d planned for. “Thankfully, we have two other showers in our house,” she says.

But their months of hard work were worth it. “Overall, we are so happy with how this bathroom turned out,” Megan says.