Before & After: An Unfinished Basement Is Overhauled with an English Countryside Bathroom for $9,600

published Oct 19, 2022
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About this before & after
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Suzannah Stanley (@suzannahstanley) of the blog Create/Enjoy had lived with an unfinished basement long enough — or, perhaps more accurately, she had felt a certain way about it for long enough. “We had an 1,100-square-foot basement that we hated going into, even to do laundry or retrieve storage,” she says. 

She owns a Portland, Oregon, home that was built in 1937, and about three decades later, the basement was somewhat refinished with paint and built-in cabinets. But that was many years ago. Stanley knew that with a little ingenuity, there was enough space down there to have a guest bedroom, bathroom, and a pool table. Once she got the right permits, Stanley hired professionals to take care of the framing, plumbing, electrical, and drywall. 

“It was a big deal to have the concrete cut up and plumbing installed, but we knew we wanted to add a full bathroom if we were going to go through with the expense of the project,” Stanley says. “Our house only has one-and-a-half bathrooms upstairs, and we wanted the basement to include a comfortable guest suite.”

After a few weeks of what Stanley rightfully refers to as “heavy lifting,” the initial construction phase was completed and she took over with “paint, wallpaper, flooring, beadboard, and trim.” Stanley chose an “English countryside” theme, and once the white tub and subway tile was installed on the far wall, she covered the top third of the others with a sponsored William Morris-inspired wallpaper she received from A Street Prints. Stanley installed the white floor tile and grout on her own for less than $150, and then painted beadboard and baseboards found in Sherwin Williams’ Refuge. The pros returned to install the sink, toilet, and shower fixtures — it has to be said that she found the toilet, sink, and faucet on Facebook Marketplace! — as well as the towel bars and art.

For the finishing touches, Stanley really leaned into the theme with an antique mirror, DIY sconces wrapped in pleated fabric, a sink skirt in the same floral fabric, and a striped shower curtain for a fun contrast. “The pleated shades and sink skirt are some fun extras I wouldn’t have thought to add a couple years ago, but they really make it special and unique,” she says. An antique dresser to the side of the sink adds storage, and coordinates with the other details in the room. 

In all, Stanley spent $9,600 on this bathroom transformation, a feat considering that she started from scratch. “I’m proud of how well I did on the budget,” she says. “It’s more fun, colorful, and patterned than the rest of my home. I’m trying to incorporate more florals and rich colors, and this bathroom has become the guinea pig!”

If she has any words of advice to offer others who may have a scary basement they’d like to contend with, it’s this: “Start a budget before you even get going, and get multiple quotes from contractors that were recommended from friends, if possible. Then, buy everything well before you know you’ll need it. You might need it to measure, and of course, you’ll want to know you’ll be able to get it in stock! And finally, get yourself a good playlist for late-night painting and trim installation.”