3 Reasons Small, Old bathrooms are BIG Opportunities.

The adjectives that work best for our spare bathroom are “small,” and “old.” Nothing else fits quite as well as these.

The only thing that has changed in this room since the home was built was the color of paint over the years. (as we started tearing apart the room we got a nice view of all the terrible colors. It’s clear this bathroom has historically been used as the children’s bathroom…) These are the “before,” photos.You can see that the bathroom vanity is dated, the cupboards don’t close properly, the floor is a very standard ugly laminate that has yellowed with age (and turned orange in the bright yellow of the bathroom) For such a small space it sure does make a large and kind of unpleasant impression.

bathroom before 4 bathroombefore1 bathroombefore2 bathroombefore3There are so many reasons you should do a bathroom remodel. Experts say things like “kitchens and bathrooms get the highest return on investment,” but I have other reasons I think you should demolish your bathroom. For ordinary home owners who aren’t necessarily looking to turn a profit tomorrow, just trying to make life a little simpler and a little happier.

1. Since your space is SMALL you can do this with very little expense. (Yeah I think this bathroom rings in at about $300.00) so for about the price of a plane ticket to Florida, less than a new PS4, less than half the price of a new couch you can redo an entire room to look how you want it to.

2. You don’t want to make life more difficult for yourself. I get it, you may not want to spend the money. Your first thought might be that it’s still fully functional and as long as you clean it well, it will do. There simply isn’t enough reason to update it.

You see those aged vinyl floors? Yes. They might be clean but they are still turning orange. That white laminate counter in the bathroom? It’s yellow and bits of the laminate are peeling. Do you want to keep cleaning and fixing, adding new caulking?

Doing an update to your bathroom can save you from a lot of these problems. Most new vanities come with stone or solid surface counters that are much more durable, water & wear proof than laminate (which doesn’t stand a chance long term to moisture or curling irons)

Adding a better quality tiling or flooring can help you keep the bathroom clean. and not just actually clean but frankly, it’s important to me that it LOOKS as clean as it is. The old vinyl, it doesn’t matter how hard I scrubbed, it was never going to look clean. ever.

3. I don’t want my guests to be grossed out by my bathroom. I mean, I think “grossed out,” is harsh but let’s face it. This bathroom is the space my guests will be using when they stay with us. I don’t want their impression of my home to be “worn,” “small,” or “old.” That’s probably mostly vanity speaking but it’s true. It’s important to me that my friends and family know that we stay tidy, clean and that hey… we are young and have our own style. It’s a small space but it shouldn’t immediately induce a shudder of fear from my friends and family.

It is a bit of time and money and I know others likely have different priorities but for us these three things were enough reason for us to make the investment.


So there are my reasons for wanting a new bathroom. Next: formulate a plan. A design. A direction. What on earth am I going to do with this space?

I don’t know if you all have noticed from my other posts but my house is gray. My stairs are gray. I have gray furniture, I have black furniture, I have white furniture. I am clearly a big fan of some very specific neutral colors. I guess it shouldn’t be at all surprising that I decided on gray for the bathroom… because that’s exactly what I did.

I wanted all the bathrooms in our home to make sense together, with the master having a few extra perks. Here is the pin that I just loved as inspiration for the bathrooms design.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.13.36 PM you can find the original pin link here.

We went to Floor & Decor to pick up some tiles. All I really wanted was some dark rustic hickory “hardwood” look tiles (like the ones in the picture above) but when we got there I saw these gorgeous gray tiles and I couldn’t turn away. Plus, because it was literally the last 70ish square feet they had, they marked it down to $1.25 per square foot for us (oh how I love saving money). They usually have a demo of the tiles so you can see how they’d look on a floor. Here’s a photo of their little setup. Pretty, right?


Now I will remind you… clean is very important to us and I don’t know how many of you have had tile and hated cleaning the grout but we did think of this when we picked out tile and grout. Dark Gray grout. Yes, I know the bathroom is small and using light colors as often as possible can make a room seem bigger… I don’t care (and frankly, the bathroom is already so small, light colors will fool no one). I’m never getting on my hands and knees to bleach/ oxyclean grout ever again. We had to do it continually at our old rental and nothing made me more irritated so quickly.

After picking the tiles I realized we already had a paint that would match splendidly (left over paint is always fantastic. I know. I need color in my life. Maybe I’ll get some colorful throw pillows.) We wound up picking the solid gray. Slightly darker but once again, the room IS small and there is no hiding that fact.

Then a bathroom vanity. They happened to have one (for a crazy sale price! I mean, super crazy. $50.00) at Home Depot. It wasn’t the specific one I envisioned (which we’ve wound up buying for the master bathroom) but then, it’s not the master bathroom and while we want it all fresh, new and pretty I’m not spending a fortune on a vanity for such a tiny space. We also bought things like a new shower head ($20.00 at TJ Maxx with multiple settings, stainless steel that whole deal) new toilet seat and new faucets. Strangely enough the towel rack and toilet paper holder were brand new already, the plastic hadn’t even been taken off.

This is self explanatory. We tore everything out. The nasty flooring, the gross vanity, the big old mirror. It all had to go. Below you can see the toilet hole. (Parker and I have made many great sh*& hole jokes throughout the last few days and I think both of us have nearly stepped in it at least a few times a day… and YES it smells. bad.)

bathroom demo


Turns out there is plenty of prep work you have to do before you start tiling. You have to lay down mortar, backer board and make sure it’s all super level as you go along. It’s a pain in the neck. Took Parker about two hours.

Next you do a “dry run” of the tiles in your space. You lay them out without grout and precut the other tiles so you have everything cut and ready for the actual tiling project. We used a score and snap for some of the cuts and a wet saw for the more complicated things. Ironically most of the time we had to use the wet saw it was because the “woodfloor” look tiles are super long… they don’t make score and snaps as long as these tiles it turns out. Oh yeah, don’t forget to cut your door jams so your tiles can fit properly underneath.

dry set tile

you can actually see a short video of my husband parker using his favorite power tool here: Parker using the wet saw.

Just do it.
I know I’m not NIKE but really, that’s how it felt. After we did the dry run we knew we just had to dig in and get it done. I’m not a huge fan of things that crust to my skin (like the thin set we mixed to stick the tiles on…) but I am a fan of getting things if not perfect, just the way I want them. So me, my trowel, spacers, and big heavy bucket of mortar got to work. I swear, I tried to keep my work space clean. I was constantly wiping off excess thin set and trying to get the face of the tiles clean but in this tiny space… It just was sooo difficult. It also took almost three hours with me trying to reach perfection and my back was killing from all the crouching. Here is what it looked like after I set the tiles in the mortar.

mortar with haze 2 mortar with haze


Thankfully I had a wonderful suggestion that I try vinegar or a paper towel with pledge on it to help get the “haze,” off of the face of the tile. The pledge was a life saver and cleaned up the tiles nicely without any fuss the next day.

Monday night we wanted to paint the space and then do the grout. Both messy projects but because it was two people and such a small amount of space we were done in just a few hours.

nearly there

Yes… I know. a whole new room already! Notice the sticker I just had to add. I think it appropriately shows my enthusiasm for the change. and as a reminder I’m going to post this side by side with the Before & after.

bathroombefore1nearly there