Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Main bathroom full gut makeover: Week 1 One Room Challenge! Before, design, and demo!

Bathroom reno time!!!!!!!! Our main bathroom is a huge eyesore and mix of pieces from over the decades, including denim blue trim, multicolored reddish tile, and glass blocks on the shower. YIKES. It lacks storage and yet has bars and shelves everywhere on the walls, and the floor is cracking around the shower. It's on the main floor of the house and we is the main bathroom we use--it's also our only tub and shower right now! It will be a massive project to redo it and I will be sharing all about it with you over the next 5 weeks!!!

Today I'm going to share the scary "before" photos, my design concept (I have been through SO many iterations!!), and our progress so far--some major demo!

This post is part of my series of 6 posts about the 5-week One Room Challenge. You can see all my posts about this project here or listed below:


As you may remember from my full before photos and before video tour. ... this bathroom is colorful and dingy at the same time. It's a pretty good size, and has the original cast iron tub, which we like. It also has a neat built-in cabinet and laundry chute. Other than those elements, we will be changing everything!


I went through sooooo many ideas on the design for this room. It almost felt like a blank slate, since I didn't have any pieces in mind I definitely wanted to use, or one or two inspiration rooms I was set on. I could choose any flooring, vanity, and wall tile I wanted! It was overwhelming. I started working on this design when I found some spare moments months ago.

Okay, I guess I did have a couple parameters: a vanity with drawers for more storage, and (despite that a lot of the bathrooms I love now have wood vanities), a painted vanity (since we have so much wood trim elsewhere in the house).

I of course pulled a few favorite rooms from my bathrooms pinboard, specifically ones in historic homes or with a strong traditional vibe--traditional shaped plumbing fixtures, getting away from the modern quasi-industrial vibes and black/brass everything... To set the stage, here are those faves...

You can see we are kind of all over the place. Patterned floors (sort of) and round knobs are kind of all the have in common. But that's okay--these helped me narrow down my choices and identify a feel for our room (which you'll see in the collages below).

I also did some Googling for images of bathrooms from around the time our house was built (1937). I am not a 100% historic preservationist and my goal is not to recreate what our home's bathroom would have looked like, but I do want to feel appropriate for this home. Here are some interesting ones that helped me identify tile shapes that would be appropriate (wall and floor) and even things like towel bars and lighting:

Some of the images of bathrooms from the 1930's to 1950s had linoleum on the floors, which is probably what ours had, but I wanted tile so I focused on those. You'll also notice no vanities in these rooms... pedestal sinks can be pretty enough, but we really need the storage of a vanity in ours. Oh, also, I'm sure you'll notice the COLOR in these rooms--sorry, house, I'm going with neutrals to add a more modern/classic? spin!!!

I got to shopping... I really wanted to keep this room affordable (as always with my designs!), so ruled out some marble mosaic floor tile and more unique subway/wall tile. There are actually a ton of fun black/white mosaic floor tiles you can get for $5-10/SF, but I also decided I wanted to go with something less contrasty. There are some super affordable plain white hexagon mosaic floor tiles, like $3/SF!, but I found the perfect thing that was a little different but still peaceful on the eyes: this grey hexagon floor tile.

I also debated a TON about the vanity, as I really wanted something with a centered sink and widespread faucet holes, both features I thought would make it look more high-end. However I ended up with one with an off-center sink, and I do like the extra counter space.

Lighting was a big struggle at first, as we need a two-light vanity light over the sink/mirror as well as an overhead. A lot of bathroom lighting styles don't have coordinating ceiling fixtures! I think it ended up great, though; I found this beautiful, classic two-light vanity light and this coordinating (but not matching) supper affordable black one. I think it will be a good mix, add interest, and tie in the black of the mirror and hardware!

The biggest/hardest part of this bathroom project is we'll be building up the rest of the pony wall between the tub and shower. We have to demo those heavy glass blocks and all the shower tile (no ideas what's under it), repair plaster or add drywall as needed, and frame and drywall the top half of the wall. We'll also be moving the vent fan over and replacing it with one with a light, as we'll unfortunately lose the natural light in the shower when the glass blocks turn into a solid wall. We'll also install a new sliding glass door. Sounds like a lot of work, right--did I mention this is our only shower?!? Arrrghhh!!

Here's the final design collage! I am still figuring out styling including art above the toilet, I don't think that botanical print will work. But most of these pieces are set, ordered, and in our garage (or already installed! You'll see when you get to the Demo part...):


We've already gotten started!!! (The ORC encourages this as it is very hard to redo a whole room in 5 weeks of work!) We'll be fitting in work on this project mostly on Saturdays as that's the only day Jason and I both have off until later in October. My parents have been helping out watching Otto those days, and we trade off. Jason is doing a TON of the work but I'm the tiler of the family, so I will really have my work cut out for me on all those walls (we're replacing the pink/red tile with new).

We also have a plan for getting around the one-shower thing (mostly): we are going to demo HALF of the bathroom first (the toilet half), then reinstall the flooring, wall tile in that area, toilet, and vanity. Then we'll have a toilet and sink in this room again. We'll do as much as we can on that half/two-thirds of the room, and paint and change lighting, etc. and then when we have a bigger chunk of time and know we can get a lot done on the shower, we'll demo and replace the shower as quickly as we can. (It won't be quick, though... SO. MUCH. TILING.)

Here's our progress with demo...

We didn't know what we'd find under the wall tile: turns out there was tile backer board, and then damaged plaster underneath. This makes me pretty sure it was not original, which makes me feel better about removing it.

Here it is all cleaned up--we should have removed the ceiling trim, shelves, and mirror at this point too, when everything was all messy.

Because this room is in the middle of our house and we don't have a direct door to the backyard, we took the screen out of the window and have been using it as a pass-through (and throwing junk out of it). We are so classy! (Not.) (Having our exterior painted is on the list for this year, too! It looks like a fixer upper from the outside right now, too, as you can see.)

Since these pics we've made progress on getting our toilet back... I'll share more about that next week!! Subscribe to my blog and you'll get an email when each post about this project is up!

You can also check out the ORC blog for the rest of the 6-week challenges happening now! There are 20 featured designers plus tons of other guests like me!

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