How We DIY-ed Our Dream Bathroom Renovation

So, they always say that necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, that’s the gist of how this bathroom came to be. We moved into our 1910 fixer-upper 1.5 years ago, and lived with the bathroom for more than a year. Then, one day, when our youngest daughter turned around 7 months-old and I had finally gotten enough sleep to be cognizant of my surroundings, I got into the shower and had this moment where I had just had enough of the bathroom. The white grout in all of the tiles was almost black from mold and dirt, the tiles were broken, the ancient wooden cabinetry was warped and filled with mold, and there was this bizarre closet smack in the middle of the space that just needed to be KNOCKED DOWN because…. well, just BECAUSE….because it drove me NUTS!

So, armed with no interior design degree and little to no renovation experience, my husband and I decided to tackle the project 100% solo. We took our little to no money and headed out to salvage yards and Lowe’s (and added a splash of Restoration Hardware because I felt we deserved to splurge just a LITTLE).

The first step was taking the space down to the studs. We smashed tile and walls and we stripped everything from the room… except for that amazing pink art deco tub.

Everyone thought I was nuts.

“If you’re replacing everything else, why not replace that TUB?” people would ask. “Can’t you have that thing refinished in WHITE?” others would suggest….but forward march I did without listening to anyone’s opinions about my ancient pink tub. I didn’t keep it because of budgetary reasons, I kept it because it’s irreplaceable and AWESOME. How these people couldn’t see that blew my mind. But, they see it now. Because everything we replaced around it allowed it to to finally shine in all its pink glory.

So, about that tub. From an aesthetic perspective, I wanted that beautiful little tub to be the star of the room. The current pink floor tile that attempted, but failed, to match the the pink of the tub was all kinds of wrong and it needed to be replaced with something fun and modern, but subdued enough to allow the focus to still remain on the tub.

The other obstacle to overcome was to make this a bathroom for both adult and child because, for now, this is our only full bathroom. But down the road we would like it to be the bathroom for just our two little girls. Knowing this, we needed it to be sophisticated enough to serve as our only full bath, but fun enough so that a few years down the road it can be easily turned into a kid’s bath. So, white mermaid scallop tile with a modern charcoal grout next to millenial pink tub it was. Sophistication: CHECK! Fun Factor: CHECK!

Now, onto the walls. I always admired Johanna Gaines infatuation with shiplap, but after the millionth room she coated from floor to ceiling in shiplap it started to feel a little overdone to me..even dull. I knew I wanted to use it in the space, but I thought white shiplap would make the entire space feel drained of life. I also knew the shiplap would abut the pink tub and there is no coupling that makes me swoon more than seeing pink living next to black. So I slapped some Farrow and Ball Off-Black on that cheap Lowe’s shiplap and BOOM. My heart felt full.

But no space will ever feel truly complete without some serious vintage touches. Yes, the pink art deco tub checked that box in some ways, but the space was still feeling a little too, well, impersonal, if you will. So, I turned to the cabinet to inject this space with some really good vintage vibes. We were able to find an old, mid-century dresser that had the perfect dimensions and bones to work as a base for our sinks and storage for alllll the things. All it needed was some new hardware and some of my husband’s handiwork to translate the look I had in my brain into the REAL THING.

I found some fab Anthropologie hardware (that, apparently, I bought them out of) that picked up the gold in the Restoration Hardware faucets, and the black in the shiplap of the walls and the grout of the floors and shower. I found a piece of quartz from a scrapyard at my favorite marble and granite place, some great semi-recessed sinks from Build.com to give the entire piece some dimension and there we had it: an awesome, mostly vintage piece that gave this space some SOUL.

The large gold mirror was an antique piece I had salvaged long ago, but we lucked out that the dimensions were exactly the same as the cabinet.

But there was still a little something missing…. and it was just a bit more color. I still wanted to that pink tub to shine, so I decided to pick up the same shade of pink and repeat it on the ceiling with the semi-flushmount. Sazerac Stitches was kind enough to customize the piece, and put these peachy pink shades on one of their awesome fixtures.

Oh, and in the end, I felt the space needed just a touch more color and a touch more vintage …. so I killed two birds with one stone by snagging this June and Blue vintage beauty.

And there we had it…. the bathroom of our dreams for much less than we had expected to pay… and just a touch more than we could actually afford! In other words, our first true foray into the world of DIY home renovation….



8 Comments

  1. You write beautifully! I felt like you were telling me face to face! And, now I’m full of hope and dreams that we will be able to accomplish this with a few thousand bucks. 🤔🙌🏻

  2. Fantastic blog about my favorite reno!!! Love it Kate!! Your eye for detail and design is magic!!

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