TLH: Project Bathroom

I have referenced my bathroom on this blog way more times than I can count. When I bought my house I knew it had issues, I just didn’t know how serious those issues were. My bathroom in particular had a few problems. It needed a new window, had no bathroom fan, a seriously bad and cramped layout and the toilet was sinking through the floor due to the toilettank sweating, the water leaking onto the floor for years and years and nobody doing anything about it. Also, the beautiful cast-iron tub was mis-treated by a previous tenant who poured a chemical on it that etched the surface of the tub all over. Such a shame to have a beautiful 50-year old tub with NO chips in the enamel spoiled like that… but it is what it is.

The bathroom was on the list of projects I really wanted to complete this year and I asked the contractor that has done most of the work on my house to help me tackle it. When I moved in in November 2008 the bathroom looked like this:


That little builtin shelving piece on the right of the picture has just been a disaster. I’m not sure why they thought it was a good idea to put a piece of counter top there but every time you take a shower, logically the whole area gets soaked! For a better idea of the layout of my bathroom (since I can’t take a photo of the entire bathroom) Check this *cough* professionally *cough* drawn layout:

Window to the left, sink yellow, closet space blue with the door swinging in and hitting the toilet every-single-time

For further evidence of the fabulous colour scheme in my bathroom check out this other beautiful before picture I took before I bought the house. Whoever designed this, they were stylin’… This house has so much character and details that can be worked with, I really wonder whoever did this bathroom reno years ago, the only thing relatively old in that bathroom are the toilet and the bathrub, the rest was done approx 10-15 years ago. It’s just… really really ugly.


The only improvement I’ve made to the bathroom since I moved in was the window. I replaced the window in early 2009 with a brand-new energy efficient model (insert into original trim):

Love the trim on this house!

I lived with the disaster that is my bathroom for four years, now in what will probably be my last year in this house I’ve finally decided to tackle it. I’m anticipating the project to take about two weeks from start to finish. We’ll see how accurate that is. The guy that’s doing it says he will need about a week but since I am then relying on my dad’s hectic schedule to get the tiles on the floor and on the wall… I’m aiming for a two week timeframe.

Beast of a tub in the process of being removed
Everything was pretty much demo’d in one morning (yesterday!) All the drywall, the sink & trim was pulled out until everything was bare to the studs, including the floor. with the only thing remaining in the room the cast-iron tub (pictured above) because it was too heavy to get out of the room and more people were needed to move it, and the toilet (because toilets are kind of essential… and all) I’ve been collecting items for the bathroom renovation for some time now so I’m just piecing things together at this point and making final decision on what’s going to stay and what’s going to go.

In order to make this room better I’ve really thought about how I can get more space and how I can create the illusion of more space. The tub I’ve chosen to go with in the room (Mirolin 60X30 soaker tub) is 2 inches less in width than the original tub. The bathtub will be moved to the right side of the room and shelving will be built in on the left side of the room next to the window instead. Floor-to-ceiling. No wasted space!

As you can see in the floorplan I posted at the start of this post, by moving the tub back to the right,  the toilet, sink and tub are basically lined up on one side of the room. By having a tub that’s slightly less wide I’ve already added a little floorspace and with a pedestal sink and a toilet that is slimmer than the current one I am also creating more wall space = more space and less clutter on the eye. I do sacrifice that undersink storage by choosing a pedestal sink but I think that the built-in shelving will compensate for that (Updated floorplan to follow in next post!)

Considering storage, I bought a medicine cabinet, I thought it would add even more space since buyers tend to look at ‘where can I put my stuff!?’ I’m really not sure if I want to keep it though It’s this one right here. Since I’ve got the pedestal sink, I’m thinking it might look funny on the wall? I also intend to add two floating shelves above the toilet on the right for a few towels and washcloths. If I add a small shelf above the sink, underneath a regular mirror I already have for items such as a toothbrush etc. with the shelves above the toilet and the built-in shelving behind the tub. I think that will be enough and I won’t need the medicine cabinet, what do you think?

Habitat for HUmanity, $1 find 🙂
Today the bathroom fan is being installed as well ad the new potlight for over the tub, plumbing is being roughed in and very soon they’ll be roughing in the tub. Woohoo! I’ve had so much fun picking out tiles and fixtures and of course keeping a reasonable budget. Also I’ll finally be able to put in the low-flow American Standard toilet I got for $75 three years ago, and yes… yes I am excited about a toilet. Ha!

For a change I’m keeping track of all expenses associated with the renovations:

Running costs:
American Standard Low-flow toilet (display model) $75
Tank to toilet fitting: $4.99
Wax ring; $9.99
Pedestal Sink: $89.99
Tap for sink: $55.43
Medicine cabinet: $139.99 (not sure yet if this is a keeper)
Mirolin soaker tub $289.99
Tiles for floor & Border penny-tile for tub-surround (special order): $247.48
Over tub potlight: $38.10
Subtotal: $950.96

Costs not yet finalized:
Toilet tank connection hose: $x.xx
Subway tile/bullnose tile for tub surround: $xx.xx
Shower taps/shower head: $xx.xx
Misc supplies drywal, plywood subfloor, wainscoting, misc plumbing fittings, wiring, window trim, chair-rail: $xxx.xx
Labour: $xxxx.xx
Waste disposal fee: $?
Bathroom fan: $xx.xx
Shelving: $xx.xx
Baseboard heating unit: $xx.xx

Items already on hand: Insulation, plastic, bathroom mirror, overhead light, paint

Stay tuned to see how it’s all going to turn out! 




Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

8 thoughts on “TLH: Project Bathroom

  1. It sounds like you have a good handle on the costs of this project. Sometimes re-doing a room like this can give you such a fresh feel in your home that it is totally worth the costs.


    1. Well, I'm trying to yes. I think I've done fairly well for the supplies, I'm waiting for the labour bill to come in though which I can't really control. The tub has now been roughed in and they've started with the drywal (gyprock) and the difference is alreadyhuge, it looks much bigger!


  2. We are closing on our house in a month and the bathroom (as well as the rest of the house) is very outdated. One thing I really want to add is a fan in the bathroom. You mentioned at the beginning of this post that you do not currently have a fan, do you plan on including this as part of the renovation? Did you look into the costs?


    1. My entire bathroom has been gutted. Everything from insulation to the pipes for hot water, wiring, to a new subfloor, tiles, gyprock & paint. It's all done and going back in new!

      I purchased an appropriate fan for the size room at Home Depot, after the bathroom was gutted they just popped it in, ran the duct to the wall then cut a hole in the wall to install the vent on the outside of the house. My bathroom has two exterior walls so this was very easy to do. No poking holes in joists etc. It probably took about 30 minutes to install the fan. They then ran a new wire to a seperate switch and back to the panel. Material and labour wise you can see how/why adding the fan didn't cost me much. (say, $150 for wire & fan itself and maybe an hour for running the wire/installing the fan) If you are NOT gutting your bathroom this becomes a lot more difficult because an electrician will need to poke holes from the wall to the ceiling to run the new wiring to the fan! This would get quite messy if you have tile on the walls and there's also the issue of where to vent to/which way the joists in the ceiling run.

      I would recommend waiting if you want to redo more of your bathroom anyway… It's cheaper as an addon to other renovations than JUST installing a bathroom fan.


  3. Fun! I redid our bathroom last summer (yep, little old me). Travertine tile, shower wallboard ripped and replaced, new tub surround, and redid two vanities (It's a Jack and Jill bath with vanities in the bedroom). It all cost only about 600. BUT, I didn't have to do any electrical or plumbing fixes – just cosmetic.


  4. Aren't bathrooms fun? I gutted and renovated the bathroom in my place last year. The tub and toilet were that awful biscuit coloured porcelain (I have fits of rage when I see that awful shade of taupe), with the worst tub surround ever. It was a big job, but wow, having a nice bathroom is absolutely worth it in the end.


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