My Upstairs Bathroom Refresh: The Big Reveal!

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WELL, the deed is done. A couple of weeks ago I set aside my shame and came clean with pictures of my upstairs bathroom, and I think we can all agree it was bad. If it wasn’t the most embarrassing room in my house, it was certainly high on the list, and only slowly getting worse and worse the longer I tried to just turn a blind eye and make it work. Exhibit A:

I still kind of can’t believe I posted this haunting photo to the wilds of the Internet, but then again, yes I can. All these years of blogging have really messed with my sense of what’s appropriate for public consumption, to the point that somehow I think this behavior of mass-traumatizing my readers is OK? SORRY. This was the kind of space that most reasonable people would probably consider a total gut-job, myself included—salvaging the couple of remaining nice fixtures and starting over with…everything else. I don’t have the luxury of time or money to take that on right now—or in the closely foreseeable future, really—but I just couldn’t take it anymore and something had to be done quickly and inexpensively and with minimal upheaval. So I done it!

OH HEYYYYYYY. AM I REDEEMED? CAN WE BE FRIENDS AGAIN? I’d like to put this bathroom-based drama behind us. I’m not the same without you.

Let me show you around. I like, really want to.

Various people offered that the issue with my leaky old shower valve was worn out washers, which might have been the case, but the whole thing was so corroded that I couldn’t even pull it apart to access them. I had to cut it out in pieces with an angle grinder! I was more than happy to take this opportunity to swap to a single-lever shower faucet and new tub spout, though, particularly since I have access to the plumbing from the other side of the wall.

There’s a HUGE range in prices out there for tub and shower trim, but I went with the Kohler Coralais valve trim (less than $20!!) and the coordinating chrome tub spout with diverter. Both totally nice! Admittedly I would have been happy with literally anything other than what I had, but I was impressed that these inexpensive options exist that don’t look or feel cheap or builder-grade-y. The most expensive part by far of this upgrade was actually the Kohler Rite-Temp valve that goes in the wall, although often you can replace the trim without having to replace the entire valve. But in this case, WORTH IT. Having a single, smooth lever that delivers consistently-tempered water to my showerhead and out onto my bare butt…this is luxury, people!

Installing it took a little head-scratching because I am not in fact a plumber, but I got the new components roughed in and then it was time for tile!

So. Pretty much the last thing I wanted to do for this project was start ripping out walls and ceilings—I know it might not seem like a big deal, but inherent in that decision would have been addressing any potential issues with framing behind the walls, followed by new insulation, followed by all new drywall and cementboard and vapor barrier and…that is not a quick refresh. That’s a straight-up renovation that we have previously established is for SOME OTHER TIME. So I will be doing some things that are not necessarily advisable for your typical bathroom remodel, but I think are fine for a shorter-term quick n’ dirty solution.

FOR INSTANCE, see above. Behind the formica shower surround and the layers of peeling paint and nonsense, the plaster walls were in decent shape. Before tiling, I slapped up a coat of PlasterWeld, which is really designed to bond new plaster to existing surfaces. Why? Not sure. Saw the can in the basement. Grabbed the can. Figured it couldn’t hurt.

For the end of the tub, I picked up this simple 15″ wide Diamond NOW Arcadia kitchen cabinet (currently on sale!) which has a drawer above and an open cabinet below. I have a plan!

Part 1 of my plan was adding filler strips to the sides to make the cabinet fit snugly into that space, and then covering the top and tub-facing side with cementboard for tile. I did this with scrap wood and a scrap piece of cementboard. USING. STUFF. UP!

Could I have made this cabinet myself? Technically, sure, fine, but did I want to? NOPE. That was a project I could happily avoid by just buying something stock. I have to remind myself that not every single thing needs to be as complicated as possible. I’m outta plywood anyway!

TILE TIME!!! So here’s the deal. The lower half of the room is all Keene’s cement, presumably original to this bathroom, that’s in a 6×6 running bond pattern. I love that choice for a vintage or antique bathroom—classic, simple, and cheap!—but I felt like putting up actual 6×6 tile next to the Keene’s cement 6×6 “tile” would feel weird and bad. Ditto on the other most obviously appropriate solution, subway tile. I felt like it needed to be something really different in scale and texture, but at the same time nothing too overpowering because I still want the fabulous sink to be the star of the show. ALSO it had to be relatively inexpensive and preferably easy to install because someday in the likely distant future I’d like to rip out this tub which will prompt ripping out the tile as well.

So naturally I sprung for marble.

Kidding! It’s faux!!! This feels very out of character because, not that you asked, but I’m generally not about ceramic or porcelain tile that’s supposed to look like something else. There’s just so much nice tile out there that faux-wood or faux-stone tile usually feels to me like a missed opportunity to do something so much more interesting? I also grew up with unconvincing 90s faux-stone ceramic floors…you know the kind, where all the tiles are exactly the same, and the tile installer is supposed to rotate them to create the illusion of randomness and variation?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a new world. These things have improved by leaps and bounds. I found this 12″ x 24″ True Porcelain Arabescato Gold polished tile at Lowe’s and I think it’s pretty great looking. With natural stone I tend to like a honed finish—also an option here, and cheaper—but I thought the polished ones looked more lifelike. I think there are 8(?) different tiles—enough that you don’t get that phony repetitive look that happens when they’re all identical—and there’s nice depth and subtlety and variation and unless you’re standing 6 inches away and REALLY looking, it’s amazingly convincing. I kind of can’t believe how much I love it. And at $3/square foot, the price is awesome. I find this to be true of Lowe’s tile selection generally, by the way—they have SO many great options that look high-end but are totally budget-friendly. I’m kind of a big fan of whoever handles the tile department internally and think we could probs be friends. *blushes and runs away*

Part of the appeal for me with the large format tile was I thought it would be so fast to install! Ha! It’s just as complicated as smaller tile, just in a different way. I’m really glad I took a little time before I just dove into tiling to plan out my runs to avoid ending up with any little tiny slivers of tile. I hate that! So I drew this very technical sketch and then dove right in.

I’m not honestly sure if I’ve ever worked with porcelain tile before?? The tile itself is harder than ceramic, and cutting the hole for the valve was unexpectedly challenging. After burning through a 4″ carbide-tipped hole saw, I went and bought a diamond grit jigsaw blade which—along with a lot of water from a spray bottle—did the trick pretty quickly. I thought I’d have the whole thing tiled in a couple hours, so naturally it took about that long to get this hole cut and get the first one into place. Live and learn! Things got much easier from there.

I picked up this Spin Doctor spacer/leveling system on my way out of Lowe’s with my boxes of tile “just in case” and they were a LIFESAVER. It can be hard to get large format tiles to sit level and flush with each other under normal circumstances, and particularly when the walls/floor underneath aren’t especially even (like here!) and these are ingeniously designed to fix that problem. If you’re installing large format tiles, I HIGHLY recommend these—you will thank me later. I went with the 1/16″ spacer, although there’s a 1/8″ option as well. I like a small grout line! Unfortunately I can’t find a direct link to these with the rest of the tile spacers on the Lowe’s website, but they’re definitely at my local store so keep an eye out.

By the way, I had a bunch of half-bags of thinset from various projects that I was planning to use up for this, but I’d forgotten that large format tile needs large format thinset! So I bought MAPEI Large Format Floor and Wall Thinset, which is made for tiles this size. I also used a 1/2″ x 1/2″ square-notch trowel to spread it onto the wall. The bag of thinset will usually tell you what size trowel to use depending on how big your tile is. Don’t fear! The answers you seek are right in front of you! Calm down!

The next day, I removed the spacers and scraped out any thinset that squeezed through the grout joints. Then I used MAPEI Flexcolor pre-mixed grout in the Warm Gray color, which I thought went nicely with the tile. Not too dark, not too light. Cool story. You pay a premium for the convenience of pre-mixed grout rather than mixing it yourself, but it’s nice to speed things up and avoid more mess in situations like this.

Moving! Right! Along! With the shower surround tile taken care of, I moved onto the rest of the walls. In some places, the walls easily scraped down to bare plaster, but the paint was more stubborn in other areas. Cracks abounded, old repair work had not exactly contributed to a smooth and even surface…they’re old plaster walls, basically.

Enter, Anaglypta! Do we already know about Anaglypta? It’s cool stuff—wallpaper with an embossed pattern on it that’s been in production since Victorian times! And guess who has a great selection of it? LOWE’S! Color me impressed. Anaglypta is thick and durable, and a great solution for covering imperfections and cracks and stuff without having to do a ton of repair work first. It’s meant to be painted, which can be anything from regular wall paint to a more elaborate faux finish that really highlights the design. So pretty and old-fashioned! There’s a pretty big range in prices, so OF COURSE my favorite—the Brewster pattern— was one of the most expensive options. So it goes. I ordered it anyway because I lack self-control!

To prep the walls, I did some light and quick skim-coating with 45-minute joint compound just to fill in any major problem areas and feather out ridges where stubborn paint met bare plaster. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Then I primed with clear Peel Stop primer, which I had in the basement from another project, to hopefully ensure that nothing continues to peel over time. I can’t tell you if that was the right thing to do, but it seemed like it at the time?

Exciting! So nice to just make all those imperfections disappear. I used this Universal Wallpaper paste, which I still had leftover from when I wallpapered my office (which later became my laundry room) several years ago. The installation isn’t anything too different from regular wallpaper, except that you want to use a rigid bristle brush to smooth it rather than a flat smoothing tool which can damage the paper by flattening the texture. It took me about 4 hours working by myself to get it all hung, which could have been sped up significantly with a second set of hands. Mekko and Bungee were zero help, unfortunately.

After the wallpaper was up, time for some quick millwork! I made baseboards out of standard 1×6 stock, and then used my router table to mill a 1/2″ bead, which I ripped down on my table saw and then nailed to the top of the boards—replicating the simple and modest baseboard molding found in the closets of my house. For the chair rail, I used this super simple pine bead molding from Lowe’s, and this simple pine bed molding as crown all the way around the room. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to finish off the uneven line where the top of the tile meets the ceiling, and applying it over the wallpaper meant I didn’t have to be too precise about the top and bottom of the paper when I was putting it up, since I had a little room to play that would be covered by the moldings.

While I was at it, I also face-nailed 4 pieces of wood to the front of the cabinet at the end of the tub to create a face-frame, so the door and drawer front would look inset and the whole thing more built-in.

Finally, time to sort out the electric! A surprising number of you were disturbed by my exposed conduit electrical solution, and I’m not about to do all this other stuff without at least improving that a little! Since the other side of this wall is now down to the studs, this was the time to get classy and cut in a politely recessed outlet and boxes for the lighting. So I grabbed my Dremel MultiMax MM50 sidekick and made a nice clean electrical-box-shaped hole next to the sink.

At the last minute, I decided it probably would be nice to have an overhead light as well as a vanity light above the mirror, so I cut a hole in the ceiling and ran a wire for that, too. I’m really glad I did!

Then it’s just that same old familiar story of a little sanding here, a little patching there, a little caulking all over, paint, installing the lighting, etc. etc. and…well I’ll be damned, it’s a bathroom!

I am PLEASANTLY surprised by this space! It feels so much bigger and brighter and cleaner and just all-around a million times nicer. Being able to comfortably allow guests to use the bathroom for the first time in so many years feels GREAT. Of course, I’m enjoying it too!

I really wrestled with paint colors for this room, but I like where it ended up! The Anaglypta and ceiling are Valspar’s Wispy White (the ceiling is flat and the walls/crown are satin finish). The cabinet at the end of the tub, window/door casings, and Keene’s cement are painted in Valspar’s Country Charm in semi-gloss, a warm beige-y neutral that’s extremely close to the original paint color in here. It was tempting to go with something more exciting or saturated, but I think between the texture of the wallpaper, the marble tile, and the Keene’s cement, keeping the colors subdued helps it from feeling too busy or over-the-top. Everything is painted in Valspar Signature paint.

Spot the difference!

I got all naughty and reinstalled the shelf and mirror a little bit lower than they were originally, and I think it looks better. Take that, Victorians! It feels so good to be bad.

Even going really basic and inexpensive with the new shower trim, the new valve/trim combo feels lux beyond words. The Waterpik showerhead is possibly the ONE thing that had actually already been updated in this room—thanks to Max who insisted on it when we bought the house—so that stayed. It’s not the most elegant thing in the world but it’s still going strong, so no real reason to replace it. I think it’s this one, or at least very similar?

For the vanity light, I wanted something that would kind of blend in with the original hardware and was excited to find this one! Like a lost member of my little hardware family over here. I think the ribbed glass shades add a nice vintage touch, too. I ordered it online, and for the $100 price tag I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but the quality is really excellent—I feel like it looks way more upscale than the price suggests, and it’s nice and heavy and well-made. You can hang it with the shades facing up or down, and it’s also available as single, double, or quadruple light arrangements—and they’re all on sale! Mine, of course, is the triple light version.

I’d just like to point out the antique towel ring/hook combo seen above was NOT part of the original bathroom, but something I picked up a few years ago on a visit to Brooklyn. I knew it was a different manufacturer than the shelf brackets, but had no idea at the time that it’s by the same company—Brasscrafters—that originally made the mirror! Fun times with hoarding. Both can be seen in this catalog from the 1920s.

The roses I grew in my own yard and I feel v proud of them.

This tub really doesn’t belong in this bathroom, and the space it leaves at the end there—particularly in relation to the window—is kind of destined to be a little awkward. I tried to make the best of it! The drawer provides a nice little bit of storage, and down below…

Who says a hamper can’t be a trash can? This Rev-A-Shelf slide-out trash thing used to be in my kitchen for trash and recycling, but then I went and destroyed my kitchen so it went into indefinite storage. Along the way I seem to have lost one of the plastic cans, so I ordered new white ones online and now this thing is back in action!

The glass handles are vintage, but Lowe’s carries these guys that are similar, as well as an impressive collection of glass bin pulls that are so super cute!

Up on the ceiling, we have this adorable little deco light fixture I blogged about a while ago. $10! I still love that little light.

I think this is the most mortifying and sad photo to ever appear on this blog, and now I’m publishing it for the second time because evidently I’m a true glutton for shame.

BLESS UP to this cute cute cute Eastlake-ish cabinet I got at auction years ago for like $30. It’s been hiding in the basement ever since! I dragged her out, cleaned her up, and wouldn’t ya know it…she holds a ton of stuff! Pretty much everything that was crammed into that awkward spot at the end of the tub, that dumb little red IKEA cabinet, and clutter from the shelf all fits in here. I think the scale of it helps draw focus away from the lopsided basic modern toilet.

All that remains of the exposed conduit is a short length that comes out the wall and ends in this little single-gang box with a double switch for the overhead and the vanity light. Am I wrong to think it’s a little cute? This bathroom has NEVER had a light switch in 100+ years, so having TWO lighting options both powered with the flick of a finger when you walk in the door seems extremely modern and cool.

Also let’s appreciate my original TP holder while we’re here. Changing the roll is a little more complicated than the tension designs of today, but it sure is pretty!

Does that about cover it? Did we talk about all the things?

OH RIGHT! Where’d the money go? I did spend a bit more than I’d hoped, but came pretty close! I’m not counting various vintage things or renovation supplies I had squirreled away, or things like the notched trowel that are reusable tools—you get the idea. Let’s run it down:

PLUMBING
Valve: $137.40
Shower Valve Trim: $19.53
Shower arm and flange: $8.99
Tub Spout: $25.68
Plumbing pipe + assorted fittings: $21.22

ELECTRIC
12/2 Romex Cable: $15.87
Lightswitch: $8.48

TILE
True Porcelain Arabescato Gold Polished tile: $243.62
Schluter Edge Trim: $8.83
Spacers: $9.98
Thinset: $24.98
Grout: $33.99
Caulk: $8.48

CARPENTRY
Crown Molding: $37.89
Cabinet: $124.00
Chair Rail: $15.56

DECOR
Anaglypta Wallpaper: $184.74
Vanity Light: $100.98
Paint: $33.96

GRAND TOTAL: $1,064.18

I love my bathroom now! This came out a lot better than I expected, and I can’t really express how great it is to move this bathroom down to the very bottom of the list of renovation priorities so I can focus on the rest of this crazy house. A huge thank you to my friends at Lowe’s for making it all happen!!


233 Comments

  1. WHOA! MY MIND IS COMPLETELY BLOWN! FAINTING! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. Daniel, this is possibly the most amazing thing you have ever done. From the marble to the white painted embossed wallpaper (I love that!) to the scored plaster to the adorable little cabinet. I wonder if it might be attractive and practical to hang an l-shape or ring-shape shower curtain rod, to protect the cabinet? This post makes me so happy!

    • Thank you, Cate!! The cabinet seems far enough away from the water that it doesn’t really get wet, and any water that might splash on the top drains back into the tub because it’s on a slight pitch. It seems to work out OK! :)

      • i was worried about the water issue too, but then i saw all the ‘marble’ tile all over the cabinet and figured you had done enough to protect it! (Me i would need shelves up to the ceiling …)

  2. Incredible!! You knocked it outta the park again. I’m so delighted. ;-)

  3. Amazing job. No mention of the floor and what you did. Interested.

    • Oops, sorry—I wrote a whole post about it! Here ya go!

      • Oh I’m so glad the floors got props. Daniel – were you afraid of asbestos in those tiles? I ask a Brooklyn homeowner who may or may not have some funky chemically old timey lino around. How do you handle?

      • So where hazardous material is concerned I definitely encourage people to do their own research, but my understanding is that asbestos is typically found in 9″x9″ tiles and the black mastic beneath them, but not often found in 12″x12″ tiles or the more modern yellow mastic (which is what I had here). That being said, the whole risk with asbestos is small particles becoming airborne, so as long as tiles can be removed intact and disposed of properly, they’re relatively safe to handle and remove (I’ve also read that even if they do break, the asbestos is encased in other material that prevents it from really becoming airborne and creating a health risk, although there’s debate on this). In this case, some tiles came up easily on their own, and the rest were removed still attached to the subfloor underneath them. With any type of demo, masks are a must, but personal protective equipment and other precautions beyond that really just depends on the situation, the risk, and who is performing the work. There are sources better qualified to advise on this than me! You can also send small samples out to be tested for asbestos so that you at least know what you’re dealing with—I’ve done that on a few things in the house and luckily those tests came back negative, although I did not have these particular materials tested.

  4. Daniel… this is AWESOME! You did such a wonderful job and I especially love how you made that cabinet look more custom with the added trim on the front – genius!

  5. From ridiculous to sublime… that’s a thousand dollars very well spent! I’m envious.

  6. Amazing! I would be absolutely thrilled to have this bathroom!!! You did such a fantastic job with the space and time too- love love love it!

  7. So good and so cheap for such a drastic difference.

  8. It’s perfect and you’re a genius! Love the porcelain tile a lot (and I’m glad you didn’t go with a vinyl surround or something), love the anaglypta, the paint colour is objectively kind of gross but looks great??? in this room????

    Mission accomplished in a big way imo!!

    • Haha, I know right?! I have a weird soft spot for a kinda putrid old-timey color…the worse it looks on the paint chip the more I kinda want to use it?? I’m messed up in the brain.

      • This made me both laugh so hard and then be embarrassed to identify with it completely. HA!

  9. WOW! The whole thing is fantastic and I’m excited to see you use Analgypta – it never occurred to me it could go in a bathroom! Also, I absolutely thought that cabinet was vintage at first scroll due to your ‘inset’ makeover. It looks so good!!

  10. Well, damn! Your vision and personality is all over this bathroom and your design ideas are better than any magazine I subscribe to (which I will not be renewing any of them, 5 total). Thank you for sharing! Love, love, love the outcome and how you arrived at it. You are the best advertising for Lowe’s I’ve ever seen. Sure have enjoyed following you and all of your projects, inside and out.

    • Aw, thanks Sandy! That’s very kind! Lowe’s has really had my blogger back over the years and it’s really a pleasure to be working with them again—so glad that seems to come through. :)

  11. Anaglypta is a wonder for old houses. Is the one you hung vinyl or paper? I love the real paper embossed one and have hung more rolls or it then I want to even admit. It covers a multitude of faults and because of the pattern even tends to hide bumps in the plaster.

    • Paper! Lowe’s has a lot of great looking vinyl options that are about 1/3rd the price, but I just liked the pattern of this one best for this space. I’m curious to try the vinyl ones! Have you used those too?

  12. Love it! It is so much brighter. But tell us about your shower curtain situation. Because it looks like you’ve got a cloth liner with the waffle weave outer. I’ve been wanting to swap to that set-up, but with an 11 year old who loves her long showers, I’m worried about splashing. But also I am so over plastic liners.

    • Not Daniel, but we started using a cloth liner in our shower about 3 years ago and it’s great. It dries pretty fast, is less prone to mold than the plastic ones, and feels good if you have a tiny shower where the liner brushes against you while turning. We toss it in the wash with on the hottest setting every few months and haven’t had to replace it yet (it has shrunk up a little but that just means less is sitting in bath water).

    • Ah yes, I too am taken in by that shower curtain arrangement!
      We use to have a fabulous hotel quality white fabric curtain that blocked water but alas, they stopped making it.
      Bathroom looks amazing!

      • Correct! I’ve used cloth liners for years and like them so much more than the more rigid plastic ones. I ordered both the curtain and liner online (hard to find extra-long ones in stores)—liner is 100% polyester and the waffle curtain is a cotton/poly blend. Basic, white, and cheap! Nothing to really write home about but they do the job! :)

  13. Are you kidding me? This is fabulous! I read the whole thing with my mouth hanging open so now I need some tea.

    Also, for the record, you are the only person I have encountered thus far that can make a sponsored post be one of the most enjoyable reads. I’ll read them but I won’t really enjoy them. Well done (in lots of areas.)

  14. Boo! You are so amazing and love the way your mind works. Totally wish I would have seen this prior to a remodel we just did in the bathroom on an old house. I would have stole that cabinet trick from you. Genius! also love the way you made it inset. One time I made a whole kitchen of inset cabinets. HELL ON EARTH. In any case, I am going to steal a couple tricks from you for another project I am working on for two 1890’s bathrooms, they have a lot of the same issues you had here.

    Thanks for the inspo!!

    • Thank you! And tell me more about your cabinet experience! Did you build them from scratch or attach face-frames to something existing? I can imagine either one would be a big undertaking!! Go you!

  15. Whoa. That is an incredible upgrade. I can’t get over how brilliant your end-of-tub solution is! I kept wondering how you would deal with that corner after you took out the wall, and couldn’t think of a single thing, but now, seeing your little tiled cabinet, that’s it. That’s the perfect solution. Brilliant as always, you damn overachiever.
    I couldn’t love that vintage towel ring any more, and I recognized the light immediately! You have the best eye.

  16. Holy moley Daniel

    This is just amazing !

    So worth it, right? No more scary showers and your guests will enjoy it too.

    Another triumph!

    • SO WORTH IT! I was grumpy as hell about the whole thing when the formica was down and I was taking seated showers in the tub for a few days, but now I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

      • They aren’t seated showers; they are shaths. And they are the worst things in the world.

  17. I would be happy with this bathroom forever…it is perfect.
    I ALWAYS love what you do!

    • Thanks Pam! Yep, this totally went from “how can i make this OK for a couple years?” to “wait a minute, I can live with this for…well, as long as it takes to renovate the rest of the house!” It snuck up on me!

  18. Whoa, this is an incredible transformation for just over $1k. I’m super impressed. And I’m filing away the Anaglypta for my parents’ half-bath reno my husband and I are going to tackle at some point — their 1905 house and my mom’s taste would absolutely FLIP for that shizz.

  19. Daniel, I really really enjoy seeing your projects. You share them in very approachable ways. I never feel you’re trying to sell me something, despite your partnership with Lowe’s; on the contrary, I love so much what you create that it makes me like Lowe’s MORE. How’s that for crazy talent? I wish all your fellow bloggers so well managed this partnership thing ;) Congrats on a fantastic space and on finally having an awesome bathroom that daresay one might actually want to take a bath in now? LOL Beautiful.

    • Ditto to what Kerry said. Your posts always make me want to go to Lowe’s with a fresh eye to check out all the things I miss!

      • Thanks, both of you! That’s very kind! Huge credit really goes to Lowe’s for letting me do what I want to do and how I want to do it! Dream partners!

  20. DANIEL! AMAZING! I know this is a temporary bathroom but I wouldn’t be mad if it stayed forever. So many creative space solutions, plus it looks fabulous with some character, yet still welcoming and functional. A+ if we are giving out grades (which I apparently am)!

  21. As someone whose bathroom overhaul just finished at around $4,500…I am blown away by how much you got done for $1k! Nice work!

    • Thanks Tara! Yeah, bathrooms will eat up money like nothing else!! Except maybe kitchens! Congrats on getting it done—I hope you love your new space!

  22. You also painted the door and changed the swing, right? It’s so much better now!

    My husband just changed the swing of a door that has bugged us for 5 years, and it’s great! Except that now the light switch in that room is behind the door. Oops!

    Amazing work on this bathroom!

    • I did, I did! It’s so much better this way, and it’s nice to be able to see the sink from the hallway!

      • ‍♀️ I asked the same thing about the door before reading the comments. I hate when people do that… and I just dun did it. Oof. Sorry.

  23. This is truly fantastic! The cabinet at the end of the tub was genius. You really did a great job all around.

    It’s funny you say that Coralais doesn’t feel builder-grade — I work for a builder and that’s our standard faucet line :)

    • Good builder, haha! I had made peace with the fact that for my money I’d end up with one of those really basic ones with the big clear plastic ball thing to control the water temp/pressure, so I was thrilled to find this nice inexpensive option!

  24. I can sleep better at night knowing you aren’t showering in that scary bathroom anymore, Daniel. It is seriously beautiful now and so much more charming than it could be with a full reno. Really I love the bits of true Victorian. Nicely done as always!

  25. You Super Powers of Design are so impressive. I am so happy that you continue to share, thanks so much. I love your blog and constantly feel inspired by your projects. This one is GORGEOUS! -AG

  26. Looks good! You sense of design is palpable in this room so kudos!

    Now on to serious matters. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!…for conduit removal. Try to find the time to remove the last section of conduit….but, hey, lighting and switches hurrah! And if that outlet by the sink is not GFCI make it so….and if it is now, put that little label on it. Water, electricity, and damp humans…what could go wrong…

    • Hahaha, I love how disturbed you are by the conduit!! It truly doesn’t bother me anymore…and it’s the only way to get that switch there without busting through walls, so don’t hold your breath for it to change! The outlet by the sink is definitely GFCI—not to worry! :)

  27. Daniel– This *transformation* is insanity! It looks almost unrecognizable!! On my way over to steal that cute little rug, btw.

  28. I love all of it! I love the vintage towel holder and the fact that it matches the mirror! I loved that overhead light when you bought it and I love it even more in this room! I love your thoughtful layout of the tile! I love that you lowered the shelf to give the mirror a little breathing room! But most of all I love that you will never have to set foot in that creepy before picture ever again!

  29. This looks absolutely GREAT!

    And it’s so good for everyone out there who kinda has a problem with perfectionism and scope creep to see this. You’re a role model.

    Big ups to Lowe’s for sponsoring you to help all of us. <3

    • SCOPE CREEP! I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase? It’s perfect! It’s me! I will be using it all the time now, thank you. :)

      • I’m surprised you’ve never heard the term “scope creep”, but I hope it makes you FEEL SEEN because it’s part of all kinds of project management stuff. The scope of any kind of project WILL CREEP, if allowed. It happens to everyone, and once you know it, you can kinda take control of it.

  30. I love this! There is so much in this room that is not necessarily my style (and, I’m ashamed to admit, I sometimes have a tough time truly appreciating things that are not the route I would taken), but this is so surprising and elegant and exceptional! So well done. I especially love the touches of black–the rug is wonderfully sexy. And the paint color–you do have an eye for paint colors, don’t you? So unexpected and something I NEVER would have picked, but KUDOS because it’s PERFECT. P.S. the stock cabinet you upgraded is perhaps my favorite part. It could fool someone into believing it’s always been there. Curious though … what does the full scale reno involve? A claw foot tub?

    • Well thanks, Olivia! I really appreciate that because I think picking paint colors is one of my major weaknesses! And I love to pick ones that are kinda horrible on their own, haha.

      If/when I do a full-scale reno (who knows! I might never!), I’d probably want to…
      -add larger/more windows
      -insulation in the walls/ceilings
      -standing shower—clawfoot would be more authentic but it would be a tight squeeze, and I’m not really a bath person anyway…and showering in a clawfoot isn’t my favorite…although if one was already here I’d keep it.
      -tiled floor with radiant heat so I could lose the radiator
      -tiled walls instead of the Keene’s cement
      -fan for ventilation
      -Old toilet + remove that wood platform underneath the toilet
      -recessed wall storage?

  31. It looks so great!

  32. Perfection! And at a low, low price – well done. The double hampers in the cabinet at the end of the tub – genius. Congratulations.

  33. BRAVO!!! Bravo to you for an amazing transformation and Bravo to Lowe’s for recognizing your talent! And, Lord Love You for once again introducing me to new wonderful stuff!!

  34. Omg, this is so good!! One of your best!
    Btw just wanted to say that I love the way you do sponsored posts – it’s not all about buying, buying, buying.. instead you strike a really great balance between new and old, showing the importance of assessing what you’ve got and how to be creative with it.

  35. Holy crap, it’s so hard to believe this is even the same room!!!! It feels so clean & bright! I love everything about this makeover! And I still adore that art deco light. Someday, I will find one that isn’t a million dollars! Maybe I need to head to the northeast just to thrift, because you don’t see that stuff in Texas!

  36. This may be my favorite transformation, mostly because it is so stark. And for that I thank you, for having the courage to throw before pics up for the masses to gaze upon. The before/afters are so satisfying. I love, love, love this bathroom. Way to go!

    • Totally agree — Daniel, your before and afters are always great, but these might be the greatest ever.

      MAGNIFICENT reno!! <3

  37. DANIEL! Amazing. Between this and the closet.. you are seriously adulting. Bravo!!

  38. Out of all the home renovation bloggers I follow, you’re my favorite because you are a GENIUS at figuring out things. Every room in your house looks like an overwhelming disaster before you get to it and I am always concerned and intrigued to see how you are going to renovate it (by yourself, no less!). Especially because you are so careful to maintain original character when it’s so easy to just rip everything out.

    So, bravo on your bathroom. Bravo.

  39. I cannot even believe how incredibly amazing it turned out. You are a brilliant genius and now it is all good vibes in there!!!! PS I love when you partner w/ Lowe’s, because let’s face it, we’re all basically going to have to go to Lowe’s or the other big box to get the things that we need. They are so smart to work with you.

  40. Sir, this is crazy impressive. Looks amazing. Hope you’re loving every minute of showering and getting ready in there. Has to feel like a breath of fresh air! Solid work with a truly impressive result!

  41. WOW. You are so talented.

  42. Amazing and wonderful. I’m especially impressed with your ability to retain the original wall and floor surfaces and sink, and bring in new materials to make it all play together. Much better than a gut job.

  43. Holy crap Daniel! What a transformation! I bet Anna will use the shower now.

  44. Wow. Just Wow.

  45. THIS IS AMAZING, DANIEL!!! I could not love it more – fantastic job!

  46. Once again, WOW. Love all of your choices and have saved some ideas for my own bathroom reno, so thankyou. Side note: am I the only one who noticed that you gave your door a makeover, and moved it over to the other side?

  47. Holy shit. This bathroom went from craptastic to something totally charming that looks like it would be featured in an Anthropologie ad! Cannot believe this was only $1000! Looks like a $5K renovation at least. And I LOVE the floors. Hope they hold up!

  48. Really beautiful refresh+! Anna needs to come and try it out!

  49. Daniel, you’ve done it again! You really make it look too easy. Great eye for blending new with old and making it look *right*.

  50. If I was your houseguest I would even sleep in this is bathroom. :-)

    Super job! These little curves on the cabinet – <3!
    Someone mentioned the colors that just fit, though she wouldn‘t have chosen them. Same here! Crazy how good this looks while on a color sample I would have immediately yelled „band-aid“. You have an eye for that, really. It complements also the floor super nicely.
    Glad to see that you also installed an overhead light – when I commented on your before, I suggested to get more light sources, so glad you did!

    If I can get really picky on details here – mind, this is top-level complaint (do you say it like that in English? We say that when something is overall super duper and you simply still wanna complain about a detail because you are a d*ckhead): I am not the biggest fan of the hung-up cabinet color in the sense of the overall bathroom scheme. And I would now cover the window with a different foil (?) in a ribbed pattern and a less stark white to match your new colors and your super cute new light fixture.

    And now I am a d*ckhead because that bathroom IS INDEED super and you did so great, and I checked in every day to see whether you posted, and as you didn’t, I started to re-read your archives starting from June 2013 (now at July 2014) – and yes I wanna be your friend again.

    • Thanks Julia! And thanks for pushing for the overhead light—you were right! And I think you’re right about the window—unfortunately getting the sash lifts off was as far as I got because it really needs to be fully restored, not just repainted. So saving that for another day! I may change out the glass on the lower sash with a textured privacy glass (like what’s on the door) so we can avoid the film altogether. And the sashes will be black which will tie in with the door and radiator nicely, I think. Always more to do!

  51. OMG! Just stunning! So light and airy…and such gorgeous finishes. You have fabulous taste – great eye for details, too. Love, love, love it!

  52. This is magic! I cannot BELIEVE the change and how little it cost you (I know your time is valuable but still!!). You are the best and these quick, “let’s make something for not too much time or money” projects are my very favourite. Well done!

  53. Wow Daniel,

    Nice job! This looks way better than it has a right to, especially since it was a merely a refresh/makeover of a dilapidated bathroom that SO needed some attention to stay functional.

    Glad you were able to simply replace the shower valve as that’s sometimes the best option, especially when the old one is well beyond its lifespan and was a cheapie to begin with most likely back when it was new in the 60’s. Nice to find alternatives like the faux marble that also looks good for the surround.

    Unlike you, I don’t have stuff stashed in a basement as I don’t have one (just a crawl space) but I do have a largish shed in the back, but it doubles as tool storage for the yard etc too so can’t just go to my “stash” and reuse/repurpose what I already have but because you have all that, I think all that allowed you to go much further than would normally be possible and the results in the end were worth it I think and it now looks a million times better than it did.

    Again nice work all around and I’d be proud to shower in there too if it were my bathroom.

    Keep at it!

  54. Damn Daniel. I swear you’re made of magic. This is incredible.

  55. I am NEVER compelled to comment, Daniel, but just wanted you to know that I am so glad you are back to blogging regularly. Your voice is original, your aesthetic is original, I always learn things, I love that you stash and reuse things. . . It’s just really great. Please keep going and Lowe’s, please keep sponsoring!

    • Thank you, Kristen! It’s very nice to be back and able to post more frequently—trying to do it more! The blog is still my favorite way to share and chat about all this stuff and I’m so lucky people have stuck around through the thick and thin of it! Thank you for being here. :) :)

  56. This is possibly the most satisfying makeover in the history of makeovers. Love that you made something 1000% better on a budget while using up things you already had. It’s basically visual ASMR. Can you please do a roundup of bathroom renovation stuff – the affordable tile, fixtures, toilets, etc.? Would be amazing to have it as a reference in the world. I am clamoring for it and I bet others are too.

    • Thanks Liz! Huh, I guess I could try?! What would be helpful? Like a few options for each kinda thing? Obviously what I used here is all linked in the post, but I could try to put together something more comprehensive!

  57. Oh my! It’s beautiful!!

  58. I got to the vanity light and thought, “Oh, he went way over budget.” $64 over? Are you kidding me?!? I cannot believe how you did that bathroom for just over $1000. You are wizard and I am so grateful you share your story with us!

  59. From Grey Gardens to Downton Abbey

  60. I just. WOW. So damn impressive. Thanks for sharing (even the before!)

  61. What a beautiful and functional bathroom!! Thank you for linking your sources- I may be getting some of those items for myself in the near future!! Love the way you share/write all the details !! Have a lovely weekend, Daniel !!

  62. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful bathrooms I’ve ever seen.

  63. CHEESE!! Holy moly! Makes me want to fly across the country just to shower!

  64. You, sir, are a genius. A hardworking one, too.
    You haven’t mentioned changing out the footings for the radiator, though! A big improvement that I would never have thought of.

    • Oh yeah! Vintage glass furniture coasters! I pretty much just buy them when I see them—they come in handy so often for slope-y floors and can take a ton of weight!

      • I was wondering about that furniture coaster – and whether it was essential to keep the floor from catching fire with the radiator on.

        Stunning job. This bathroom is officially wonderful.

      • Thanks Gregg! The glass coasters are just to prop the radiator up a little bit since the pipes come in through the wall a bit higher than they should for some reason. That’s all! The radiators get hot but not nearly hot enough to set a floor on fire—that would be alarming!! :) I’ve used the coasters in other rooms in the house to level a radiator where floors are sloped. They’re handy!

  65. I love everything, except the idea of a trash can as a hamper – there’s not enough air circulation, which can lead to mildew and smelliness. Otherwise, I think this bathroom is perfect and doesn’t need a full renovation; somehow you turned a 1 week, $1k patch job into a full-scale makeover. Magic.

    • Haha, I’m surprised you’re the first to bring this up!! Definitely a solution for dry dirty clothes, not damp towels. I hear ya but I think this’ll work well for me!

      • You could mount a few hooks to the back of the door to hold used towels until they dry. The door is mostly open, so fabric could dry out over the radiator before being put into the hamper.

      • I’ll probably do that, Ann!

    • Do people put wet things in the hamper? I’ve complained a few times at my house when I find a wet towel or rag in the hamper because despite the woven “rattan” sides shit does not dry in there all stacked up. So ventilation or not I don’t think wet or even damp items should go in the hamper.

      If there is a problem with stagnation even with dry clothes, one option would be to drill a few holes in the door in a simple pattern to provide ventilation. It was common in the 20s when they started putting doors under the sink in the kitchen and also for “California cooler” cabinets.

      This bathroom is amazing and the cabinet at the end of the tub is a perfect solution for that awkward space where people often put a pony wall or wide ledge (which would have worked but wouldn’t be as functional!).

      • That could totally look cute! I definitely try to avoid anything wet in the hamper—hang it to dry or straight into the machine. Luckily having second floor laundry makes that pretty easy! :)

    • I actually did think this but… anyway. You could just drill some air holes around the trashcans

  66. Excellent!!! I love this so hard Daniel!

  67. Wow! I am amazed at the vision, style and skills you have! The transformation you have made here is absolutely incredible.

  68. Removing that wall thing at the end of the tub made all the difference!
    Congrats on getting it done so fast! Also, your links for the wallpaper were not working for me.

  69. i love it all. but daniel, if i may suggest…could you hem that shower curtain eventually? it’s so pretty…but perhaps the bottom of the curtain is going to get gunky seeing that it’s in a bathroom. :)

    you are truly amazing.

    • My mouth literally fell open like a cartoon. Whaaaaaaaaaat. I am so glad you shared your real before with us–I think I’ve said this before–because some of your readers live or have lived in places that look like that, with varying abilities to make changes. What use to me is a blog that only shows pretty nice spaces becoming slightly nicer? I kid, I do actually follow and enjoy some blogs like that, but there’s something SO SATISFYING about fixing a grotty space.

      And Daniel, holy crap, this bathroom. I love it.

    • Wilma—yes!! I just didn’t get to it yet, haha. I’m kinda trying to decide of a hospital track mounted to the ceiling would be preferable to the rod, which would raise the height just a little and maybe enough to avoid breaking out the sewing machine…hmmmmm.

  70. I hope Lowe’s reads all your comments because I want them to know that thanks to you, we just dropped two grand at Lowe’s to replace all the doors in our house – and I had to talk my husband out of going to the “other chain”…if Lowe’s is good enough for you Daniel, then it’s good enough for me! Lowe’s, give this man a gold star! (And more funding for his next reno!)

  71. Brilliant job, Daniel! You definitely got your bang for the buck. And you got to insert another Grandpa color!

  72. You are a goddamn genius.

  73. I love it so much! For me, this is a complete reno–not a temporary one. It’s so beautiful–and that sink, mirror, etc. are just beyond gorgeous.

  74. You rock!

  75. So pretty! I’m fully on board with your Lowes tile department respect. We just tiled my aunt & uncle’s kitchen and they used a faux marble 24×24″ porcelain and it’s incredibly beautiful AND durable.

    We also did the pre-mixed grout and it’s life changing for anyone who needs to do a lot of tiling. No sealing necessary! And it comes with its own sponge. Just remember to leave the plastic seal on top when you’re done because some people I know who didn’t do this wasted a whole bunch of nice grout!

  76. OMG DANIEL! IT LOOKS SO GORGEOUS! It reminds me of a glorious vintage bathroom out of a Pottery Barn catalogue! You didn’t show the repainted radiator, we can can see it peeking out in the main photo. That Eastlake cabinet is super cute. My fav section is definitely the sink/shelf/mirror combo. It all works so well together! And I love that beige-neutral colour. It screams “old farmhouse”.

  77. Oh my gosh! I’ve never before left a comment, but your bathroom transformation was so marvelous, that I just had to tell you that you’ve done an amazing job; I absolutely love it.
    Well done!

  78. I can’t stand how much I love it! Hamper is genius!

  79. IT. LOOKS. AWESOME. We have a bathroom that is terrible in a different way than your before shot (straight out of 2002 and done very poorly) in our circa 1910 house. There are 10,000 others things on our list, but you give me hope that maybe there’s a way to divert some attention there, make it better, and not have it take over our lives for the next year??? As always, you are an inspiration!

    • You can, you can! I actually think that kind of challenge is fun and takes away the pressure of THIS BETTER BE RIGHT ON THE FIRST SHOT BECAUSE IT’S NEVER BEING TOUCHED AGAIN, ya know? You just get to play with what you’ve got! Can’t make it worse! :)

  80. Thank you so much for talking about a sliver of tile.
    This made me happier than it should have.

    I’ve been planning my bathroom reno and so many sites talk about avoiding having a “slither” of tile.
    *shudders*

  81. Seriously good! Love all the vintage touches – the ceiling light, the glass casters under the rad, the rug, and that dope cabinet!! The paint color reminds me of a yellow ware bowl.

  82. It looks great! I agree with the person who said the color is gross but perfect in here. You (and Farrow and Ball) make me figure out what is missing from contemporary color schemes.

  83. I think you knocked this out of the park for a grand (not counting the hard labor, of course…), especially with the overhead light. Loved it when you bought it, love it now, and I love the tone of the cabinet. My one minor pet peeve, which I’ve run into in my own projects, is putting new fixtures next to old hardware and having the clash of metals, which you get from the new triple vanity light and the original mirror. “Chrome” has changed quite a bit over the years. But this is a great temporary solution and if anybody will find a complementary light fixture for the forever bathroom, it’s you.

    • Thanks buddy! I hear that on the chrome—maybe there’s something I can use to knock down the brightness a bit…ultimately it made more sense to me than introducing another metal or trying to throw in a different style, and it doesn’t really bother me IRL…idk, everything’s gotta start out new at some point! :)

      • Having spent more time than is strictly healthy on vintage kitchen and bathroom fixtures and trying to replicate/replace/replate old metals, “chrome” hasn’t changed over the years – the Brasscrafters mirror is nickel plated (over brass). Nickel has a more yellow undertone, while chrome is more blue. So vintage silvery (nickel or silver) things are warmer and aren’t as cold/stark as chrome because they don’t have that bluish tinge.
        You’ve done a stunning job. Although on the (relatively) cheap, you definitely sank a lot of time and effort into it, which has paid off. Well done!

  84. Honestly I’m screaming, I love this so much! I’ve been excited about it since last week’s update so I can’t believe I’ve been sleeping on the reveal for two days, what a dummy. FOR REAL DANIEL, you have so much here to be proud of. Your eye is just so sharp, even when you’re doing “temporary” fixes. And with the plumbing and electrical tossed in, it’s beyond anything I would have attempted to DIY. As a professional designer for many moons, I would never have thought to take the risk and apply a stinky old barf paint colour, but again, it is just fucking perfect. I would totally shower in there if we were buds.

  85. Amazing! I have been checking back daily to see your “after” and it is so satisfying to see the change. It is also refreshing and inspiring to see a bathroom that needs work- not just because it is out of date, but because it is literally falling apart! Honestly I think that’s where most of us are at when we do a home reno project, and I appreciate that you made significant improvements, and you did it in a way that is so much more accessible to most readers than luxury gut jobs. You should be so proud of yourself. $1000 is bonkers to turn that ship around. Totally impressed over here; time, budget and scrappiness x1000000.

  86. Your work is so great. Love your taste. I especially love the little antique cabinet above the commode.

  87. Oh just looking at the obvious pattern in my 90s faux-stone ceramic kitchen floors… how did I NOT notice they are all the same but rotated before!! I will never un-see it, THANK YOU.

  88. Daniel! Always so amazingly impressive! I’m always so inspired by all your attention to details and getting things done right. This room is ADORABLE!! It looks historical, cute, and classic and I hope it lasts you well for years to come. :)

  89. All I can say is HOLY CRAP!

  90. I’ve been lurking and following along with your adventures for a while now, but I had to de-lurk and tell you what an impressive makeover this is. Now that I’m super-old I have more money to spend on renovations, but some of my all-time favourite transformations are the ones I did way back when I was in my twenties and constrained by the $500 limit on my credit card.

    • Thank you for de-lurking to comment! :) I think a tight budget is kinda fun…I’ve never really worked on anything where I didn’t have to get creative with sources and materials to fit a tight bottom line, and I think that’s part of what I like about doing this kind of work. I’m never gonna have or likely design a $30,000 bathroom and I’m just fine with that—I’d probably be scared to use it anyway, haha.

  91. It looks AAAAAAAA-mazing. And you flipped the door!

  92. I’m shook. It’s perfection!

  93. Looks fantastic Daniel. Love the Anaglypta, it wears like iron.
    No dimmer switches? I always believed every switched light should be on a dimmer. Especially in a ‘friends of Dorothy household’. We need to control our lighting.
    One last thing… In our last bathroom update, I installed a GFCI outlet with a built in nightlight. No more blinding middle of the night trips to the bathroom. I don’t know why they aren’t code.

    • Hahahaha! I don’t think thing there was an option for dimmers on this kind of light switch (two switches in one gang), but I could be mistaken. I did put only 10w bulbs in the vanity light so they’re nice and moody when the overhead isn’t on. The nightlight idea is nice! Although bite your tongue for suggesting I should have to remember ANOTHER code, haha. :)

  94. I am dealing with a similar bathroom embarrassment (I bought my house 6 years ago, too!) and I keep delaying fixing it because I am so overwhelmed. Your bathroom is so beautiful! Please come to Providence and help me do mine, I have no home improvement acumen….waaahhhh

  95. I love love love how this turned out! I’m so happy you are being sponsored for your work and doing lots of it to inspire some us us to finish our house projects. That embossed wallpaper is just what I need to finish a wall that has plaster damage and ugly plaster repair. Can’t wait to see what project you tackle next!

  96. This is really, truly an unbelievable make over. I love it so much and it blows my mind how much you’ve accomplished with such a low budget. Your sponsored posts are also my fave sponsored posts of any blogger in the whole entire blogosphere! You’re still just as considerate about every single detail and I love the way you incorporate things you’ve picked up along the way. Well done!

  97. GORGEOUS … i bet that first shower was heaven!
    You know these projects (the closet and this) are as enjoyable as the big ones… these make me feel like I could do them (well not the plumbing electric part… or the tiling .. oh well – some of it?) and of course i would need my own house. . but anywhoooo.

    the next great part after a long post is reading all the comments – i have to do that later tonight…

    so happy for you …
    ps love the ‘new’ door too!

  98. That is gorgeous! I especially love how you stuck it to the Victorians with adjusting the mirror.

    I must know: how do you keep the shower water out of the cabinet drawer??

    • Thanks Kate! I’m not really sure what you mean! The top and side of the cabinet are tiled so nothing can leak from above, and the cabinet is like 6′ away from the showerhead…it just doesn’t get wet all the way over there!

  99. Between the closet and the bathroom, I feel like you’re making rapid progress toward your self-stated goal of living in the sets from ‘The Knick’ (viz. http://manhattan-nest.com/2017/02/17/i-want-to-live-in-the-knick/).

    This is seriously stunning. I’m in awe of what you’ve achieved, even without factoring in the time line and budget you gave yourself!

  100. Hi Daniel! Long time reader, first time commenter. I of course want to add to the chorus praising this bathroom remodel because it’s just incredible–my jaw dropped when I saw the first picture. But also I think it should be said that your roses are just beautiful! I know it’s a little thing but I love the little things and it just made me happy to see it. I hope your garden flourishes this year!

    • Aw, thank you! They make me happy too—here’s hoping they continue to grow and bloom! I’m weirdly afraid of killing them.

  101. Stop it. This is amazing.

  102. You got what you wanted – a cleaner bathroom for $1k and quickly – and I’m glad that were able to do so without resorting to vinyl on the floors, and vinyl or something similar on the shower walls. It is certainly a nicer bathroom to use.

    I don’t know know how you do it, though – put in all the time and labor installing tile and wallpaper and wood, and spend for the materials, that will be smashed and torn up and put into landfill in just a few years when you renovate again. I don’t know if it is because I can’t stand buying and wasting materials, or because I can’t stand undoing my own hard work! We’ve watched you do this with the tiny office, the downstairs laundry room, and the pantry, all ripped out and redone again, and the kitchen in progress of being redone again, and this bathroom now, done with plans to be redone in the future.

    I get the previously making of the kitchen into something usable as one needs to cook (though I was surprised that you went through the effort of tiling that room and the laundry room temporarily, nice as those tiled walls were), and I get wanting to make this bathroom nicer to use now, especially as it had deteriorated from the state it was when in you moved in.

    I guess when you are renovating a house completely, you have to get used to the fact that a lot of stuff goes to landfill, and that while you are living in it, if you want to live decently while you are living in the house and renovating largely DIY over time, you need, for your sanity, to put in stuff that you will later toss out.

    So I guess I really have to salute you for being able to do such nice, hard work, knowing you will be ripping it out and redoing it again, as I’m not sure I could!!! Your blog provides much food for thought for me, as I think about if I ever will take on a years-long renovation process while living in a place. That you write about your thoughts and incremental progress is so much more useful than a blog that shows just before and (final) after photos.

    • Here’s how I think about it: it’s all a process, and like any long-term project, the goal posts shift as things are discovered along the way. Those things might be things about the house, things about myself, circumstances in my life or experiences, the requirements of those around me. We are all allowed to learn and grow and evolve, and take the time we need to figure things out.

      You’re absolutely correct that renovation of any house—old or new—inherently produces a lot of waste. I make significant efforts to mitigate that waste, but of course there are limits to what can be put to productive reuse. That being said, I try to be conscientious about the way I approach redoing things whether I worked on them before or not. You actually didn’t see my office, for instance, “smashed and torn up and put into a landfill.” You saw a defunct chimney get removed, with intact bricks waiting to be reused in my backyard and broken ones brought to a private residence where they needed fill material. As for the pantry/kitchen/laundry rooms, I did expect to use those spaces for longer than I did (the kitchen, for instance, I thought was more of a 10-year reno), and demo was prompted by fairly significant structural alterations to the exterior of the house that placed windows and doors where walls had been. The laundry room I actually expected to never touch again (if I had intended to rip it out, I wouldn’t have tiled it or put as much effort into the millwork), but it had become clear at that point that second floor laundry made more sense long-term in this house, and that was the logical time to make that leap. Pretty much everything in those three spaces aside from the walls—no real way to salvage those—has either been reused or is being stored for its next life. As for this bathroom, I may never renovate it again—who knows. I may renovate it in ten years when I can take on a project of that scope—which, by the way, is sadly a pretty normal amount of time for “real” bathroom renovations to last in this country simply because tastes change. I myself don’t want to be on that cycle—I’d much prefer a renovation that’s good for the next 100 years—which is why I think there’s a utility in making things good enough until I can afford to make that happen (like with the bathroom) and feel confident that I know what ought to be done (like with the kitchen/pantry space, which took years to land on). So I get what you’re saying, but I do sort of resent the idea that it’s all just “waste” because it may have only lasted a few years…I still had to live in and use this house during that time, and I can’t really regret spending a little bit of money and time to keep my life functioning during that time. So…if you feel that I’m a poor planner or lack(ed) a comprehensive plan or have made missteps in this process, I can deal with that. But I just want to be clear that what you’re witnessing on this blog is a record of how this process has been for me, which is not always linear PARTICULARLY at the beginning when the focus was mostly just on making the house minimally habitable—a process the average home buyer gets to skip. What you are NOT witnessing on this blog is someone endlessly manufacturing projects and renovations for the hell of it or for content or whatever. That’s just not who I am.

      • I am always so appreciative of the ways you think through reusing materials. It is one of the (many!) reasons I’ve been a reader for years. Your thoughtful approach to living in an old house is inspiring to me.

  103. Love love love it!

    Did you reverse the bathroom door?

  104. Wow, it is so great! I am so impressed by how little you spent on it. I love seeing these “little” projects you have been posting–they are so satisfying (to me…I hope they are to you too). I also loved the concept of a “top level complaint” that one of your readers above talked about–While I REALLY love what you did–that crooked, too short toilet would make me nuts! I have faith though that someday you will find something in your travels that goes well with that beautiful sink :-) I love seeing that you have posted–so glad you are back at it!

  105. What fantastic results!. Your talent is so very impressive. Selfishly, i’m so happy that you are working with Lowe’s. I feel like that sponsorship is allowing you to accomplish more and therefore post more for our reading enjoyment. It seems win/win as you really showcase so many of lowe’s products in each of your projects and it never seems forced. It is such a wonderful collaboration in my opinion!

    • Thanks LRC! That’s exactly right, and thank you for considering it that way! I could not have done this project without Lowe’s support—not because I wouldn’t want to, but because I’d be in the midst of some freelance project or other that I’d probably never blog about, feeling bummed and overwhelmed and wishing I had more time and energy to work on my own stuff (which, let’s be honest, is what I’m selfishly most passionate about!), and neglecting the blog, and feeling lousy about that…suffice to say I really couldn’t ask for a better partnership—and not just because of these sponsored projects and posts, but because it supports the unsponsored projects and posts, too! I really appreciate how supportive and encouraging this community has been over the last several months as I’ve been figuring this thing out, because I really enjoy it! :)

  106. Thank you for showing us this! from someone who removed carpet, yup from underneath lino in our old craftsman I know what it feels like to have a room you don’t want to show anyone. but then you did. Dang nam it, how wonderful to realize we are not the only ones who have rooms like these! By the way — it looks wonderful and functional. Form and function. Way to go.

  107. Beautiful! :) Really really beautiful!

    The toilet has such modern lines, so maybe it isn’t worth it- but you could replace the handle for < $10, and change out the seat lid, to less modern-looking ones. I like the Danco handles which are inexpensive and metal. I've used this one:
    https://www.danco.com/product/8-in-universal-toilet-handle-in-chrome-2/

    It's funny, I bought a toilet from Lowe's a few years ago that was their brand and had nice older period style lines for $150. I can't find out on their website at all anymore. :(

    • Ah, bummer! They still have several nice options, but I think I’m holding out for an oldie. Then I can spend my life frustrated by my finicky ancient toilet! For some reason this appeals to me, hahaha.

  108. Compelled to post a second comment. I love the old fashioned cream and the white of the Anaglypta together. Also I don’t want to sound like an ad for Lowe’s (I have no connection with them) but I went into the store for the first time ever, in Brooklyn, this year. I was extremely surprised by how pleasant the experience was. There were employees available everywhere to help, the store was attractive, and everyone knew exactly where everything was. It was a pleasure to shop there. And that is something I have said never about any big box store ever. The store is far from where I live, but since the first visit, I’ve been back twice more and I’m planning another trip soon.

    • Thank you, Cate! That’s great to hear! I always liked that store too. There’s a really cool nice store in Flatiron too that’s more showroom-y and only a couple years old, if you find yourself in that area!

  109. Daniel, I was sooo looking forward to that reveal. I always love your design choices and this refresh on the cheap side is spectacular. Also, I obviously don’t earn the same kind of salary than most bloggers and sometime wish I coul learn how to shit money so I could renovate like they (well some) do!! So this refresh is real inspo for the not so wealthy! The only things I’m not crazy about are the paint colour and the light above the sink, they remind me of my dad condo in Florida in the 90’s!! Still such a sexy transformation.

    • OK, 90s Florida Dad Condo is 1,000% my new answer when I’m asked to sum up my style, hahahahaha. THANK YOU FOR THIS GIFT. I totally know what you mean, by the way, and you’re totally right, and I’m so tickled by it in a way I can’t articulate. <3

      (I also want to learn how to shit money!! Let me know if you figure it out!!!)

  110. This is f’ing bananas! That before was *impossible* and somehow you did this? Just goes to show what’s possible with hard work, ingenuity, skill, and good taste.

  111. SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR! Good Lord, you must be THE ONLY person on the planet who would call this a “quick and dirty” makeover, I would take this in a heartbeat and call it done, LOL. Seriously, I do understand why it will need to be done properly eventually but WOW Daniel! You’ve knocked it out of the park once again.

  112. SO GOOD! It’s really beautiful and in my opinion it has gone beyond temporary to semi-permanent. ;)
    Thanks for sharing your process, your blog is such a source of DIY inspiration for me. I can’t wait to tackle my mini-bathroom redo next week!
    (And thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring!)

  113. Wow.
    This is amazing!! Your “quick and dirty” is much better than some total renovations I have seen. You not only de-grossed the place, you enhanced the good existing features (sink, mirror, shelf) and basically solved all the issues with the bathroom. The tile, walls, paint are all perfect. I love it!! I like to see realistic projects like this. Not everyone is at a point where they can gut everything. This proves that major improvements can happen on a relatively modest budget.

  114. Totally love it. And now tempted to relook at porcelain marble-effect tiles. One tiny comment: maybe cut 2 inches off outside shower curtain and hem it so it hangs just above the floor. It’ll get very dirty dragging on the floor. If you hate sewing, try iron-on hem tape. It’s a gorgeous bathroom now!

    • Try washing it in hot water and drying hot a few times to see how much it will shrink first – it’ll likely shrink some, maybe enough.

      Iron-on tape will likely come undone the first time you wash and dry it – it’d probably be more permanent to just sew a hem quickly by hand with a needle and thread if you don’t have a sewing machine handy.

      • Thanks guys! I did wash and dry it once but it’s mostly poly, so I don’t think it’ll shrink more. But you’re totally right and I will hem it—I just didn’t get to it yet but figured it looked kinda arty and I was excited to get the post up! Ha!

  115. OMFG. You sir, have inspired me and lit a fire under my bum to get my horrific bathroom “renovated good enough.” I have lived in my torn up house for 4 1/2 years now and something just has to be done because like you, I am tired of apologizing or postponing having visitors due to the obscenely scary condition it’s in. Our bathrooms could be siblings, no lie. Thank you for your honesty and authenticity. Your writing speaks to me and I’m always thinking “gosh he always describes what I want to say but like 100000 times more eloquently!” Keep it up!!

    • Aw, this is so nice to read Amanda, thank you! You got this! Now that I’m on the other side I can say it was very worth it!

  116. This isn’t real it’s too good to be true! This bathroom is everything. Gorgeous, original, with old world charm. I love it, and YOU DESERVE IT! Still breaks my heart that you had to live with the before version of this for so long.

  117. This is amazing! You’ve done so well, congratulations.
    Between this, your bedroom and the closet you have sanctuary space from the rest of the to do list.

  118. Your skill set is amazing, electrical, plumbing,designing. I love your “new”bathroom. Thank you for showing what you can do without a full renovation.

  119. Amazing job! So glad you are posting again! Love what you did to the bathroom and reading your hilarious posts about the house. Inspiring and funny at the same time.

  120. How beautiful! What a transformation.
    I wonder if Lowe’s has handicapped bathroom equipment.
    Any ideas on a handicapped bathroom on a budget?
    Again, well done!

  121. When I realized you had posted the reveal I stopped working immediately and brewed a cup of tea because I knew this was going to be a “very special episode” and I wanted to savor it – and I was not disappointed. This bathroom is gorgeous and special and one of the best makeovers I’ve ever seen. You are so talented and I’m thrilled you’ve found a sponsor that lets you share your work with us. Thank you!

  122. Brilliant job! I always avoided having to actually use your bathroom in the past. Now, I can hardly wait. Those before pictures don’t even do justice to how disgusting that bathroom was… just saying.

  123. OMG!

    The whole thing, obvi, but mostly that little trick you just hid in there about face-nailing 4 pieces of wood to the front of the cabinet to create a face-frame, so the door and drawer front would look inset! Genius!

    I would totally shower in that bathroom now! Your future overnight guests are so lucky!

  124. I knew it would be beautiful–but it is completely beyond that! I laughed at that pic of the drawer with the hampers and I thought to myself, no more dirty clothes to pick up off the floor, another problem solved!

  125. Call me impressed! Elegant, understated, yet glamorous. My favorite thing though…. you kept the sink. No one ever keeps the sink. A man after my own heart :)

  126. Looks awesome! I knew it would. Did you just tile over the plaster? Is that OK? Just wondering.

  127. Wow – great job!

  128. This glowup is spectacular.

    Can you take a photo of the door wall (and its new swing) with a glimpse of your beautiful window and ‘gram it for us?

    I see that you painted the door black and it looks super.

  129. Daniel, this is amazing! What a charming little bathroom!

  130. You are amazing! I always find your posts inspiring and encouraging when I get stuck on one of the million old house issues in my home.

  131. I think that the most under-rated part of the reno is the removal of that damn shelf @ the end of the tub. AND your replacement!! So grubby & dank-looking before, like an invitation to mold. Now bright/airy and CLEAN. Thanks as always for your entertaining writing style. I laughed out loud re: your comment about the tile buyer @ Lowe’s.

  132. Damn, Daniel, that looks like what the elusive “they” would have done the first time if only they had had your design sensibilities and mad skillz.

  133. It looks absolutely stunning and is a huge improvement compared to before. I definitely wouldn’t think twice about taking a shower in this bathroom. Well done!

  134. I already have the whole shower faucet in my Lowe’s cart. Also, there are two Home Depot store within 10 minutes of my house. The nearest Lowe’s is about 20 minutes away on the highway. So you are a big part of the reason that I just switched – Lowe’s card and everything. Your links make my life easier and I’d rather give my business to a company that supports someone I admire

  135. Stunning!

  136. Does this mean you have blooming rose bushes at this moment? Can we see pictures?

  137. love your blog, love your creativity, love your finished product!! Keep up the great work!!

  138. That’s a lovely bathroom now! And proof there’s A LOT to do even in small spaces, never underestimate the workload haha.

  139. Amazing job! It is stunning. it respects the caracter of the house and you kept the good stuff.
    Do you consider to add a ventilation to get humidity out so paint and wallpaper won’t peel in a few years?

  140. Goddammit Daniel. How are you so good at this? I would have never in a million years picked most of those elements and put them together and dammit it works so well. Picture me bowing down a la wayne’s world. We are not worthy.

  141. So Awesome!! I had a really quirky bathroom with 6′ of space for a 5′ tub and built a little cabinet/end of tub space where the previous owner had the plumbing. Made the whole room feel more open and bright. I love having the higher cabinet like you did! Looks fantastic!!

  142. Just wanted Lowe’s to know that your partnership with them is working. I’ve pretty much switched my allegiance and bought a microwave and amazing butcher block island countertop for my kitchen refresh from them because of your partnership.
    Love your blog! Love it! And super grateful that the Lowe’s partnership is helping you make more posts and make beautiful spaces.

  143. Damn, son. : D

  144. I am always amazed with how much you can do with some little. I’m so happy you are back to blogging. Your blog is the only I still follow and I am really rooting for you to keep going! All the best.

  145. This is such a satisfying and wonderful before and after. Beautiful work! I wouldn’t have thought of that putty color for the bottom half, but it looks natural and historic. Can’t get over how soothing it turned out.

  146. I cannot get enough. Oh so warm, smart, and fresh. Good on you and good on Lowe’s.

  147. Somehow I missed this when it was originally posted, but then saw the heads-up on Insta the other day.
    This turned out SO NICE for ‘quick & dirty’. I love how it looks so finished now, where before it was so mish-mash. As always your decorating choices are on point!
    I have of those Art Deco light globes, they were in my kitchen when I bought my house (1940s build). They were made by a local company, Davis-Lynch Glass, who are still in business! I love them, they feel very Wizard of Oz-esque to me.

  148. Beautiful! I’m so impressed by what you’ve managed for only ~$1000.
    I’m pleased you used the tile leveling system, too. It makes such a huge difference. We specify using a tile leveling system for all large format tiles – even with pro installers.

  149. It’s gorgeous. But, if I am to be honest, I am salivating over the sink.

  150. So… what’s next? I need a fix, man!
    Come on Daniel! How about a preview of the next project? Or maybe you could break something and write about it? just a tiny little mood board to take the edge off?

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