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Master Bathroom Upgrade - Long Time Coming!

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

When we first moved into our home a year and a half ago, the master bathroom was the first thing we wanted to remodel. We went through many stages of "let's do it ourselves" to "let's hire it out," back to DIY, and so forth. But somehow, other projects always took priority and this one just fell to the wayside.

Our bathroom was very 80's. Gold fixtures, square tile (and not the ultra chic zellige kind), and the worst possible pink ceramic floor. However, with the way our bathroom was situated, we only had one option to renovate without running the cost up (our original bid for re-plumbing and moving everything was well over $50K): keep placement as is but upgrade! This meant keeping the half dome window and even keeping the tile halfway through the wall. Because this house is something we are looking to turn a profit on, we had to be very selective with how extensive our renovations were going to be.

The vanity area was a whole other beast, though. Aside from needing to raise the vanity, we had to cut out the soffit and square the wall, otherwise it would have cost us a fortune to get a custom rounded vanity. Thankfully, moving electrical and one sink wasn't too big of a job, and there was nothing behind the wall so cutting down the drywall was doable within our budget.

Check out those 80's melamine cabinets - even a good sand and fresh coat of paint couldn't help those bad boys. Needless to say, we were excited to get into the demo portion of the job!

I put together a mood board, and after going back and forth for months, we finally realized the tile work was a little too extensive for our DIY repertoire, and we finally bid the project out and set a date.

I kept the mood board relatively simple. I wanted something neutral, not too warm or cold, and keep it overall contemporary with some old world brass fixtures to warm up the space and mix matte black to still keep it modern. We picked cheaper material for the tile so we could re-allocate some of the budget to other things (nicer fixtures and tall mirrors). I found the prettiest white subway tile at Floor & Decor - it added dimension and was longer than a standard subway tile. The grand total for all the materials was under $6,500 (including the shower glass), which for a master bathroom at over 250 sq feet, is a great deal! Though this isn't my "dream bathroom," I wanted to design a space we would adore while still making a profit when selling the home.

Once everything was demolished, we had a sigh of relief considering this bathroom was over 30 years old, and had a couple leaks over the years that we were worried may or may not have resulted in mold. Thankfully, we were good! I made the decision to keep the tile placement as is, and only run it slight higher. There was only so much I could do considering we have vaulted ceiling's and two very awkwardly placed windows. Again, not ideal, but by painting the wall color white, I figured the white tile would blend well and it wouldn't be a dramatic cut off from the wall to the tile.

Thankfully, there were no issues with the soffit and cutting the through the wall either. A bathroom remodel with no issues? Not yet, anyway. Everything was waterproofed and it was time to finish up the drywall and start laying tile. Fun fact about drywall, it's extremely dusty and our master bath has no door to the bedroom, so while the contractors did their best to contain the dust, there was a layer of dust on every inch of the bedroom after the job was complete. Needless to say, we had to sleep in another room while this was being complete. Something to think about it you plan on renovating a well-used space!

Everything was coming together really seamlessly! In fact, the contractors completed the tile in under 2 days! Very impressive. Except... what I didn't realize was that they would be putting a matte black Schluter edge trim around the entire thing, including the shower niche! After I noticed it, it was already too late to remove it. Since this was our first time with a bathroom remodel, we completely missed the detail for trimming the tile, and figured the tile would just...end without needing trim. But, we learned the hard way that because our shower and sink fixtures were black, the contractors figured we wanted matte black trim around it as well. And so they did...

This wasn't a fun situation to be in. I didn't like the contrast of the white tile and black trim, and was already hesitant on white subway to risk looking too modern, but sometimes you have to make the best of it. Thankfully, they were able to paint the niche trim white, and I am still debating on doing the same to the outside of the tile. I've gotten positive reviews so far, and because this is also a remodel that we did in order to sell the home, I will likely keep it as is. Moral of the story: over-communicate!

Next up is the shower pan. When designing this bathroom, all I could think about was a walk-in shower. No shower pan... just a seamless, curbless, walk-in shower. I made the mistake of assuming it would have been too expensive to even do, so we decided on a concrete-poured shower pan without exploring our options. I figured the curb would be slightly smaller, and with tiling it ended up too tall for my liking, but I think the money saved at the end was worth it. While I learned that it actually wouldn't have been too expensive to do (only about $800-1000 more), we learned during glass-install time that it would have cost an additional $1000-1500 for just the glass since it had to be taller and the install would have been tougher. It all worked out in the end, but my mind is still set on a curbless walk-in shower one day in the future!

Installing the vanity was also a breeze, and no crazy trim work here as we opted to not do a tiled backsplash (estimated additional cost was going to be roughly $800 for labor and $200 for materials). Definitely something I would have done for my "dream" bathroom, but, you have to pick and choose when you're on a strict budget. I did however, absolutely love the vanity. It's laminate, but very well constructed. The sinks are deep, and super easy to clean. I originally was hoping for a warmer tone, but ultimately I think they played nicely with the color of the floor tile (which by the way, were printed and not actual stone)!

And.. the finished product:

I knew the wood tones from the bath mat and various hardware (including the super cute brass animal hooks) would warm the space up. And how much better does it look with the niche trim colored white? So clean, exactly what I was hoping for!

The vanity area turned out super simple and the little bit of warmth the brass hardware adds really makes a difference. Because our paint color (Pure White - Sherwin Williams) could really go either way depending on the room, the cooler-toned gray floors could have really made the place stark. Mixing hardware tones has really been fun lately, and I've started to incorporate different tones (even shades of wood) everywhere around the house.

I'm still searching for the perfect thrifted Turkish rug and some art work, but while I search for that, I'd figured I's share some of our mistakes and some of our wins with this project! We have 2 more bathrooms to renovate that we will do ourselves, so this has been a major learning experience for us!

Here's some more shots of the finished product:

Total cost (not including labor): $6,500

  • Floor + shower tile: $1100

  • Shower glass: $1900

  • Free-standing tub: $600

  • Floating vanity + sinks: $1500

  • Wall sconces: $450

  • Mirros: $300

  • Shower fixtures: $250

  • Tub fixtures: $250

  • Faucets: $150

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Until next time!

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