Before & After: My Bathroom

Some renovation projects are simple and some are messy. Some take a few days and some take a few weeks (or months!). Whatever your renovation project is, it’s always going to be a learning experience. Hopefully in the end, your new space is exactly what you imagined it to be…wonderful!

This is a tale of our upstairs family bathroom…which had floor tile reminiscent of the disco floor in the film Saturday Night Fever.

Not a good choice for a bathroom floor!

Neither of our two bathrooms had been updated since 1963. If the bathrooms had evoked a sense of “Mad Men” cool, mod style…then I probably would have been okay to keep them as is. What I was not cool with was when the floor tile started coming up and strange plumbing issues arose. It was time to break out the sledgehammer…

Houston, We Have a Problem 

Those are words you do not want to hear from your contractor or your plumber. Ever. But once you start undressing your rooms to their bare bones, there’s no telling what’s behind the old tile and plaster. Fortunately, we did not have any mold or any real dangers. What we did have was some funky plumbing and some old pipes that had almost rotted through.

Other minor issues we ran into most came from measurements. The homeowner who is the worst with math…should not hold the ruler! For example, the Kohler toilet we purchased was too large because we have baseboard heat that runs behind the toilet. There was a bit of a last minute scramble to find a smaller toilet that would work with historic homes that have old baseboard heating.

The "before" shot...disco floor pink/peachy walls...

The famous hand sawed countertop...notice the crooked edge on the far right.

Another thing to note…if you only have one bathtub in your home and you are planning on updating the shower head and faucet combo, you must have a uni-lever system instead of two handles to control the temperature of your water. This prevents scolding and keeps your bathroom up to current building codes. I special ordered a very cool dual porcelain handle shower system and then had to quickly return it once my plumber dropped some knowledge on me.

The pipe on the far left should have been on center wall, for the pedestal sink.

Shower faucet plumbing being converted for the uni-lever system.

The New Room

Isn't she lovely?

After the renovation dust settled, we were left with our dream bathroom. After the Mr. and I looked at a lot of sources for inspiration we opted for a very classic design, creating a bathroom that was simple, functional and timeless. I love white subway tile and I especially love the small accented stripe across the room. By keeping things simple, I’ll be able to switch the wall color or bathroom accessories down the road without breaking the bank. Bungalows from the 1920’s and 1930’s especially inspire me and this bathroom scheme can often be found in both. Here’s a breakdown of what was added and changed:

  • Kohler pedestal sink ( find for a cool $60)
  • Delta sink and shower faucets with white porcelain handles (handles are ordered separately…check with your Delta fixture dealer for details)
  • New low-flow toilet
  • Delta light fixture with frosted glass pendants
  • New exhaust fan system with overhead light to suck out all of that nasty humidity!
  • White subway tile and classic black and white floor tile (Home Depot)
  • Monogramed burlap shower curtain with fringe (
  • Antique hooser style cabinet with white and black enamel top ( find for $40!!)

What a nice way to wake up every morning!

The only thing that we kept was the tub. It’s big, it’s old and it’s heavy. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with it, so why get rid of it? I prefer the old cast iron tubs to the newer plastic ones anyway…so eventually this baby will probably get a small facelift by getting glazed.

Baby Got Bagster

The smartest thing we did with this renovation was utilize Bagster, the “dumpster in a bag.” Pick up a Bagster for a cool $40 or so at any big box home store, fill it with up to 3,300 lbs of unwanted junk and then call the 1-800 number to schedule a pick up for about $100. Hands down, the best thing we did during this project. It was so easy, convenient and cost effective, so I highly recommend it!

Vintage enamel cabinet...fabulous craigslist find!

Stay tuned for more bathroom-makeover-bonanza in the upcoming weeks – for part II of this story! And don’t be shy! Tell me what you think so far! Do you have a great old home bathroom re-do story of your own? Tell us about it!

Note: Quick shout out to our friend and tile guru, Rob Whybrow! You did a fantastic job! Thank you Rob!

ATTENTION D.C. Antique lovers! The DC Big Flea Market is this upcoming weekend, May 5th-6th at the Dulles Expo Center, in Chantilly, VA. Admission is $8. Learn more about it at

Check out more before-and-after projects at Beneath My Heart.

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

11 thoughts on “Before & After: My Bathroom

  1. Erin, I love the bathroom re-do! I did dig the old bathroom’s 60s charm, but this is certainly more you. When I get back to C-ville, you’ll have to help me re-decorate my house. I have great pieces however I struggle with not knowing how they all go together! (Sleek Modern Euro-leather vs. 1800s armoir) -Andrea

  2. wow. definitely worth waiting for (for me, anyway — haha!) … all of your choices (and savvy finds) work together beautifully … you really are creating a one-of-a-kind gem. bravo!

  3. Wow, Erin such a great transformation! Congrats to you! And I’m still laughing about your Travolta, disco floor reference! I guess you danced and sang “Staying Alive” more than once on your bathroom floor!


    • Thanks Kifus! Yeah…I guess you can there was a little singing and dancing involved in the renovation process:) I’m just glad we finally have a beautiful bathroom to use again!

  4. I have basically the same bathroom. My set up is a little different in that where your cabinet is, my toilet is and then the tub runs parallel to the toilet. I have already installed the exhaust fan/light/heater combo and new lights over the sink. I have a small amount of baseboard heater which I am going to have removed since it doesn’t really supply enough heat to speak of and now I use the ceiling heater. I bought an old framed mirror at an auction for $5 and replaced the mirror which looks great for over the sink. My idea is this: I don’t want to have to clean grout anymore so I am going to have one of those bath walls installed over the three walls surrounding the tub. the tub itself is fine. I have that pink tile with sparkles in it (60’s) on the wall and little tiles on the floor. did you start by placing the new tile on the wall or the floor once the old was removed? (did you go from floor to the wall or the wall to the floor)

    • Hi Maureen! Thanks for visiting the blog! We started with the tile on the floor…and then when we placed the tile on the wall…we started from the floor to the ceiling. We also tiled our tub surround with the same tile you see on the walls and we love the results!

  5. Howdy! This really is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a fast shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading via your blog posts. Are you able to recommend every other blogs/websites/forums that go more than exactly the same topics? Many thanks!

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