My bathroom renovation started off as a relatively small project… I wanted to replace or refinish the bathtub. That was it.
Everything else – albeit a little dated and a little plain – was perfectly functional.
However, the bathtub was in bad shape and REALLY needed to be dealt with.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the look of a striking Black & White bathroom, but mine was a little less striking and a little more basic. And – after surviving 3 teenagers for over a decade – it was more than a little bit grungy.
Granted, the floors had been redone a couple of years earlier, after which I had recently painted the entire bathroom and installed new storage shelves above the toilet and beside the sink. In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to like to tackle smaller renovation projects one at a time versus tackling complete remodelling projects that some of my friends and fellow bloggers enjoy.
But I hadn’t touched the actual bathtub since buying the house, and that was a little over a dozen years earlier.
Part of this was because this was – primarily – the kid’s bathroom, so I knew that any investment I made in it would be a waste until they were done their “let’s leave everything everywhere” phase.
Another part of this was because I know how expensive bathroom renovations can be, and I simply couldn’t afford it.
But my terrible, terrible bathtub had become an embarrassment when company was over.
Therefore, I decided, it was time.
Initially, I investigated refinishing options or those companies that would come in and “fit” a new bathtub over the old one. I checked with a couple of home services companies, but I decided, early on, that it wasn’t the right option for me.
I wanted a new bathtub, and something slightly larger than what I had.
I knew the tub wall tiles would likely be damaged during the removal of the old tub, but I had extras in storage so I figured we could easily patch up any damaged tiles and that would be that.
Then all it would take was a thorough cleaning to bring the white tiles back to their original spic-and-span glory. It wasn’t going to be beautiful, but it was going to be clean, functional, and better than what I had.
At least that’s how this ever-growing bathroom renovation began.
The Early Days
First things first, I went shopping for the bathtub.
I wanted something deeper than a standard tub but not so deep that it would take hours to fill. And I did not want a Jacuzzi tub of any sort.
Finding a bathtub is – surprisingly – harder than you would think. I was amazed by how many stores had their bathtubs up on display walls about 8 feet off the ground where you couldn’t actually get a feel for how the tub would be to sit in for a soak.
But, eventually, I found the tub I wanted at Lowe’s and I knew the time had come to start the bathroom renovation.
I got a quote from a contractor whom I had met at a local business networking event. While discussing the project, he suggested it would be “nearly the same cost” to replace the tub walls with new tiles as it would to patch up the old tile walls with the spare tiles I had on hand.
I decided that I would browse tile options and let the deciding factor be IF I did or did not find wall tiles that I loved.
Which – of course – I did find. And they were B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!
The tiles were larger than I was expecting when I initially went shopping. These 12” x 24” tiles were polished to a glossy finish, and a marbleized sandstone color that really struck me.
The picture doesn’t even come close to doing them justice.
And they were on sale!!! If you understood how much I LOVE a good sale, you would know why I absolutely had to have them.
After I had the tiles bought and had loaded them home, I called the contractor to let him know that I was ready to get started. And that’s when something very unexpected happened.
Bathroom Renovation Project Change #1
The contractor asked me to send him a deposit for 50% of the project cost. That request, in and of itself, was not unexpected. The surprise was that the deposit he asked for – aka 50% – was more than the total he had initially quoted. Which meant my project budget had just MORE THAN DOUBLED!
When I balked, his response was “bathrooms are expensive”… and “the original quote didn’t include the wall tiles” as if I should have expected his “nearly the same” meant “more than double the labor cost.”
Immediately regretting my choice of contractors (and partly blaming myself for NOT getting an updated quote in writing to include the tub surround), I went on the hunt for someone new to tackle the bathroom renovation.
Luckily, a friend of mine recommended someone, so I asked him (along with two others, just to be safe) to provide a quote.
One contractor never even bothered to send a quote my way. The other two, including the recommended contractor, did so. They were both around the same and both were far less than the revised quote from the first contractor.
I picked Brandon, the guy who had been recommended to me, and we proceeded to plan the job. You’ll understand why I am specifically naming this contractor further on in the post.
Bathroom Renovation Project Change #2
That’s when unexpected expense #2 happened. But this was entirely on me.
I started getting creative. A dangerous past-time, I know. I did that, even though I knew that it was going to cost me more.
Firstly, as I was dismantling the old bathroom, I decided that wanted to do away with that annoying spring-loaded corner shower caddy and go for built in cubbies for soaps and shampoo.
I had seen some of these on Pinterest, including the sample shown above, and I really wanted to integrate these into my new tub surround.
My contractor was awesome and talked me through all the options. We even found some smaller versions of my Sandstone tiles that could bused to create a visual difference inside the cubbies.
I also started to worry about how dark the tile was and if it would make the bathtub and shower area seem claustrophobic. We agreed to install an LED Shower light above the tub to help offset any potential darkness that resulted in changing from white to a medium brown.
Bathroom Renovation Project Change #3
The night before Brandon arrived to finalize the project plan, I had a thought.
I LOVED these tiles. And I couldn’t help but wonder if they could be used to update the old bathroom counter top while keeping the base intact.
This was not because I had overwhelming love of the cabinets, but they were sturdy and in good shape, and I wanted to try to avoid the cost of replacing the entire bathroom vanity and counter combination.
Brandon assured me that he could build this for me. And that’s when things really started to escalate!
Small things, at first. It didn’t make sense to install new shower walls and keep the old tabs and showerhead – so new ones were purchased.
And then I realized that I couldn’t have this custom-made bathroom counter cut to fit the old, builder’s grade sinks… so off to the store I went to buy new sinks.
And, of course, you don’t put a new countertop on and new sinks in and then simply install the cheap old faucets. So more money came out of my bank account and went into Home Depot’s.
My friends and family laughed as I kept adding things to my “super-simple bathroom renovation.”
The Biggest Bathroom Renovation Shocker of Them All
We were finally all set, with the entire project plan ready to go and all the key materials purchased or selected.
The contractor set a starting appointment for the following Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The following Tuesday at 10 a.m. rolled around and – much to my surprise – my contractor was there. I think he could tell that I was looking at him with this “What are you doing here on time…. You’re a contractor???” look on my face.
After all, this was NOT my first rodeo.
But day 1 – primarily the demolition phase – went off without a hitch!
I must admit, I was a little bit surprised and disturbed to see electrical lines running THAT close to a bathtub. This is why you always trust this kind of renovation to an expert!
I chalked “Day 1” up as a fluke, so when he told me he’d be back the next day at 9 a.m. to start the install process, I gave him a “knowing” nod of approval.
The next day, at 9 a.m., my contractor was there. It was the weirdest thing… EVER!
The tub install went smooth like butter. And by the end of the day, the tub was roughly in place and the framework was built for the shower cubbies.
He kept doing it! Showing up when he said he would. Getting the things done that he said he would get done. And nowhere along the line did he come back with a “surprise” cost that he “didn’t foresee”.
Yes, I kept expanding the bathroom renovation, almost until the moment he was done. But none of that came from him. I was amazed!!!
And then came the scary part. Building the new counter top. Was it going to look like I had imagined???
The initial framework went into place on day 3, and I could already see how it was all going to come together… and I couldn’t have been happier!
As you might have noticed, Brandon recommended a pewter schluter to finish off the edges for the tub surround and for the new counter top, and he was right on the money with that recommendation, even though it did snowball even a tiny bit further on my end.
By the time that the sinks and the new taps had been installed, I knew I had made the right choice.
More Finishing Touches
Lastly came some of the finishing touches that became necessary when it looked like nearly the entire bathroom was going to be redone. They were small things (new outlet covers, new cabinet knobs, new air vent, new towel rack) but you’d be surprised how quickly these things add up, especially when you want to go for a specific look – aka Pewter.
I even decided that I wanted to remove the old curtains and put this lovely Mosaic Window Cling Film in their place to provide privacy with a much more streamlined look.
I really liked the look of this vs blinds or curtains. It took a bit to get the knack on how to install it properly, but it’s soooo easy to clean!
And last, but certainly not least, the new bathroom deserved a new shower curtain!
I found this really lovely World Map shower curtain on Amazon that fit the new bathroom look perfectly!
But in the End, the Ever-Growing Bathroom Renovation Was Worth It!
When the work was done, I have to admit that I was glad about every decision I made.
I love the new bathtub. And I LOVE the surround with the built in shelves.
And I love, love, love how the custom bathroom counter top turned out. I love the sinks. I love everything about this bathroom.
This may not make into any kind of Bathroom Renovation Hall of Fame, but from where it started to where it landed, it turned out better than I hoped for.
And, despite everything, the total cost from the contractor was STILL less than the “revised” quote from the first guy!
I call that a WIN!