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Lessons Learned from a Bathroom Remodel

  • May 19, 2017

Recently we underwent a master bathroom remodel. I scoured Pinterest for months coming up with the inspiration for the look of our bath. I love how our bathroom turned out – but I definitely learned some important lessons and now know I could have saved some significant money by making a few small changes. For reference the total renovation for this bath was $8,000. (And we live in Southern California, so I think things are overall more expensive here, labor costs etc)

So let’s dive in  to the bathroom remodel shall we? I’ll go over what we did, the things I am happy with and the areas that could have saved us some money.

So here’s the lovely before photo. Our house was built in 2000 and had an inexpensive stock vanity, a plastic shower/tub combo and horrible lighting. But the kicker was the carpet. WHO PUTS CARPET IN A BATHROOM? I seriously asked myself this every day. It even extended into the room with the toilet. Yuck. We wanted to spend closer to $5,000 dollars but some of our choices caused the overall budget to increase by quite a bit.

Bathroom before the remodel

Our plan: After pinning like a 100 bathrooms, I decided I liked the look of dark gray floor tile, white flat paint shiplap walls, white subway tile with a light gray grout, a modern white vanity, a round walnut oversized mirror, brass for the lighting and matte black faucets for both the bath and the vanity. Oh, I also wanted a modern looking rectangle tub.

Challenges – The biggest challenges in our bathroom remodel that we faced were:

– Finding a 36 inch wide rectangle tub that was an alcove. We had to find a tub that would fit in the previous tub location. We found a lot of tubs but they were either over 2K or they were a weird round, kidney or oval shape.

– Affordable Matte Black faucets are VERY hard to find.

– My husband was pretty insistent that the lights we chose have soft lighting (no bright glare lights, or anything overhead)

– The subway tile we bought didn’t have curved edge end pieces (just long one inch wide pieces for the corners that we didn’t like)

during construction of our bathroom remodel with dark gray tile Matte Black Faucets and white subway tile bath

What we picked for our bathroom remodel (links to where we purchased from):

– Bright white subway tile from Arizona Tile

– Dark gray matte large 12×24 Floor Tile from Arizona Tile

– Modern  American Standard  Drop in Tub

IKEA Godmorgen Vanity with Top (we also used black iron pulls from IKEA)

– Black Matte faucets — VIGO Satro Single Lever Basin Bathroom Faucet, Matte Black

West Elm Brass Sconce Lights

Acacia Wood 40 Inch Mirror from CB2

– Rug from Target

Shower curtain from CB2

– Shiplap – We had plywood sheets cut into 8 inch strips at Home Depot (also at Lowes) – we filled in the holes with wood filler and sanded and painted it white with a matte white paint from Sherwin Williams.

We were way over budget on this bathroom remodel due to a few things that I wish I could go back and change – here are some lessons learned:

  1. Shop Around to get the best deal on floor tile – though I love our floor tile it was really expensive. Looking back I think I could have saved some serious money by searching around a little more.
  2. Go with a Big Box store subway tile – I loved the bright white subway tile we picked out, but it was pricy and we had issues with a lack of curved end pieces to finish the sides of the shower wall. I tried to find matching curved end pieces at places like Home Depot and Lowes but the tiles at the big box stores were a creamier white. I spent way, way more at a high end tile store finding matching end pieces. If I could go back, I would have started simply using the white subway tile from Home Depot or Lowes It would have saved so much time and money.
  3. Pick your upgrades you can’t live without. The tub was probably the biggest headache. We wanted an alcove, but ended up having to get a drop in to have the 36 inch tub with the modern look we wanted. This caused our contractor to have to build a surround. It was a cost that I wasn’t anticipating and we had to buy more tile (see number 2). Nonetheless, I love the look so much, I would still go back and spend the extra money for the drop in. its such a great, deep tub and we love it.
  4. Really know what you’re getting into when you select hardware/plumbing metals. I love the look of black matte faucets. But if I could, I would definitely go back and switch to chrome, for two reasons. A) the upkeep of black is a lot. We have calcium in our water which causes spotting so after every shower we spray the faucets down with a water, vinegar mixture. B) Matte Black is so much more expensive. I could have probably saved $300 or more and gotten high quality modern fixtures if I went with Chrome instead.

Overall, we love our bath. We learned a ton for the future. I hope this post helps you as you go through your decision making process.


modern bathroom remodel with shiplap walls and brass sconces

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