This post is a long time coming! I never thought this day would come, but our DIY budget bathroom renovation is DONE! And the grand total came in under our goal of $1,000!
It’s [shamefully] been a YEAR since we started, so I think a refresher is necessary. Well, it didn’t really take us a whole year, but we did work on it in sporadic stages over the course of a year. This was our first major DIY undertaking, so I’m giving us a free pass on the timeline. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to summarize how we got here. I’m warning you now – this post is a BEAST! Feel free to skip to the pretty “afters” at the bottom if you want
Here is how it looked when Phil bought the house – back when it was a tropical “oasis” with palm tree wallpaper.
None of it was our style, and much of it was in less than ideal condition, but we thought we could update it ourselves. The old vanity was too deep for the tiny bathroom & sported a cracked and rusted vanity top.
The shower tiles were dated, the grout was stained, some tiles were loose and one even fell off the wall already. The finish on the tub was worn off, so it was permanently stained and rusted around the drain.
The linoleum floor had seen better days too.
For a temporary fix shortly after I moved in, we removed the wallpaper, painted the walls gray, and installed some towel bars & a toilet paper holder.
This helped so much until we were ready to tackle the big renovation. Our plan to renovate the bathroom was not just for our own enjoyment, but for resale value as well. The basic look we wanted was something fresh and updated but with some vintage touches. We could only afford to spend $1,000 to do it, but I was determined to make that money stretch as far as it could. That meant getting creative, searching for deals, putting in a TON of time and work, and making every aspect a DIY project.
The floor was the first project we tackled, and it was also the scariest. Demolition is the easy part…
…but then of course, it hits you that you just destroyed the only bathroom in the house. There’s no turning back now!
Our plan was to rip out all the layers of old flooring and install white ceramic octagon & dot tile. But then we discovered that lurking under 3 layers of linoleum, a million staples, plywood, tar paper, and glue, there was a hardwood subfloor!
We nixed our plan to tile and decided to refinish the hardwood instead. That meant removing a million staples and scraping every inch of tar paper off the floor by hand.
We also repainted the room white during this time for a fresh look that would provide a strong contrast against the other elements in the room.
Then I finished off the floor by sanding & staining it dark walnut, sealing it with spar varnish, and installing new trim. Not to mention, we got a functioning toilet back again after a week of driving to public restrooms!
We love the warmth & the natural element that the reclaimed wood brought to the room – imperfections & all.
Next, we tackled the vanity. My original vision was to convert an antique dresser into a vanity with a vessel sink top, but after weeks of searching, I couldn’t find one that fit the specific dimensions we needed for the small space. I ended up finding a metal cabinet at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore for just $7.50 that was the perfect size, so the design plan shifted to include the more industrial touch.
I paired it with a green glass vessel sink I got for a steal for just $30 at HomeGoods.
We installed new sturdier shelves in the cabinet, made adjustments for plumbing access, added casters to raise it up to a better height, and painted it deep blue with a lacquer finish. It was supposed to be a navy blue, but ended up looking more cobalt. I just went with it!
Then we installed the vanity in the space with a tall vintage-style faucet and added natural woven baskets for storage.
After the vanity was in place, the mirror and light fixture were looking pretty sad, so I gave them an inexpensive makeover next.
Instead of replacing the light fixture, we decided to save our pennies and just gave it a facelift instead.
I replaced the medicine cabinet with a $3.97 thrift store mirror. Mint green paint and some rope hid the imperfections and tied it into the vessel sink and the vanity storage baskets.
We were left with a hole in the wall after removing the medicine cabinet, but we couldn’t let that space go to waste in a tiny bathroom, so we finished it to allow for extra storage that’s accessible by lifting or swinging the mirror.
Then, I gave a quick upgrade to the window.
We had faux wooden blinds which we always had to keep basically shut because our neighbors’ home is so close by. I replaced them with frosted window film on the bottom two panes.
That allowed for all of the light to come in without losing any privacy.
We couldn’t stall any more, so we had to start the shower tiling project. Neither of us had tiled before, so we were nervous and procrastinated as long as possible. But it had to be done, so we bit the bullet and demo-ed the old tile & installed the cement backer board.
Then we began tiling away with classic (& inexpensive!) white subway tile. Our sweet neighbors offered to lend us their tile saw, so we were able to save the costs of renting or buying one.
We choose a gray grout for a vintage look, and sealed it.
Taking the tile to the ceiling is a decision that we are so happy with. It makes the space feel much bigger without the visual interruption of where the tile ends. I love the new vintage-style knobs, too.
I used a DIY tub refinishing kit, and even though it got off to a pretty rocky start, I am very happy with the results.
All that was left at this point was the shower curtain. Instead of the old one we had hung at a standard height (which came with the house along with the palm tree hooks!) –
I made two extra tall panels for a double shower curtain that looks good opened or closed. I choose a mint green pattern to coordinate with the other mint accents in the room. I think it was the softness and color that the bathroom needed!
PHEW. Still with me? We LOVE how it all turned out. Ready for the “after” tour? Come on in…
The new vanity has a much smaller footprint, but it’s more efficient, and we’ve been able to keep twice as much in here now with the baskets, the storage on the toilet tank, and the space behind the mirror.
For some art to hang above the toilet, I made two simple abstract palette knife paintings with leftover paint from other projects. They’re no masterpieces, but they get the job done!
Plants in windowsills never cease to make me happy
The tub is still holding up great so far, for anyone who’s wondering!
It is awesome to get ready in a space that feels fresh, modern, and like us!
Here’s the total cost breakdown for how we were able to keep it under $1,000. You can click on the links for each aspect for more information on those individual projects.
Wall paint: $28
Reclaimed wood floor: $64
Mirror & light fixture: $23
Frosted window film: $10
Shower tile: $346
Refinished Tub: $51.50
Shower curtain: $83.50
Art & accessories: $0 (DIY or already owned)
GRAND TOTAL: $933
WOHOO! Under budget But technically, we spent even less. We tried to cut costs wherever possible, which meant using a gift card and applying credit card rewards to different items, which brought the cost down even more:
Total out of pocket: $809.50
And just for fun, I wanted to see what our total investment was. We will be moving this summer, and the shower curtain, storage baskets, and accessories will all be coming with us to our next place, so I subtracted those costs to see how much we actually put into the house.
Total investment: $678
We are so happy with that number! I don’t know much about the housing market in our area, but we hope to have added at least a couple thousand dollars of value to the home. When we sell it, hopefully we can see some of that sweat equity in our pockets!
How about some side-by-side comparisons to make this post even longer?
What do you think? I am proud of us for finishing our first serious renovation project – & end up still married! Haha, success all around