Thanks for visiting!

I'm looking forward to sharing thoughts on home decor and renovations, travels, photography, and more here.

One Room Challenge: Tiny 3/4 Bathroom Renovation

One Room Challenge: Tiny 3/4 Bathroom Renovation

I’ve been really into checking out before and after photos from the #OneRoomChallenge, and interested in having a project of my own, but my timing has been off, as our whole-house renovation fell right before the last ORC.

Now, we’re embarking on one of our (hopefully) last major projects for a while: renovating the first floor bathroom...just in time for the start of this spring’s challenge. Many thanks to Linda of "Calling it Home" for hosting and organizing the challenge in collaboration with House Beautiful.

Originally part of a garage, this three-quarter bathroom was added when the garage was converted into a living space, the larger part of which is an office. When we bought our house, we thought we’d leave the bathroom alone for a while since it was functional, even though we found it pretty lacking in appeal. The rest of the home renovation took higher priority.

Then came winter, with a record cold snap. One morning, my husband came downstairs to shower before leaving for an early meeting, not wanting to wake us by using the upstairs bath. He turned on the tap and...nothing. We spent the next few days in fear of whether the pipes would burst when they unfroze, which, luckily, they didn’t.

We knew we’d been fortunate, and decided that before next winter the bath renovation was a project we’d need to budget for. When talking with our contractor, who did a great job with the rest of our renovation, he had availability sooner rather than later, so we’ve launched into this more quickly than expected.

We are not the next Joanna and Chip Gaines, though I admire their ability to take on DIY projects with a young family. For this one, I’m thinking about the design and sourcing the materials while nursing the baby at the end of my maternity leave—then on nights and weekends once I’m back at work—and our awesome contractor is doing the rest.


Here is a close-up of the current bathroom. It has a number of different finishes: an acrylic and glass shower surround, some painted beadboard, blue walls, a different shade of blue wall tile, and some flagstone-type floors that are pretty cold to the touch. It also has a stained wood door. It’s a lot going on in a small space.


Our Plans:

The most important element of the renovation from a functional perspective will be to get the shower valve and water supply for the shower and baseboard radiator away from the exterior wall. We’re not sure what’s behind the walls and under the floor in terms of insulation, either (we suspect the floor at least is not insulated. But since we couldn’t address the plumbing without tearing apart the walls, we’re updating the entire bath to make it more usable and attractive. Right now, the sink and toilet get daily use while the shower gets very little, but we think this will change as our boys grow and we all need daily showers—rather than relying solely on our upstairs full bathroom.

Currently, the shower is a corner unit, but in this small space that means that the door swings out into the beadboard and the shower occupant shimmies in and out of the shower at an angle. Our plan is to replace the entire unit with an alcove shower that has three acrylic walls and a pivot door, to allow us to step directly in and out.

Step out of the shower and into a wall with the current set-up.

Step out of the shower and into a wall with the current set-up.

The bathroom has a large door that swings in. To save space, we’re replacing it with a white pocket door in the same style as our other doors.

Toilet and sink:
These are shoved right next to each other—a wide toilet on a weird elevated bit of stone flooring and very narrow sink. This bathroom likely wouldn’t be up to code for new construction, but we’re grandfathered in...and the layout is unfortunately not changeable within any reasonable budget, so the plan is to replace the toilet with the elongated bowl, 0.8 gpf model we also have in our upstairs bath. It’s several inches narrower than the existing toilet and we love the water-saving design. It’s also very quiet. The sink is hard to decide on: we could try for a very narrow vanity to have some storage capacity, but we’re leaning toward a pedestal sink to keep an airier feel. We’re also removing the giant medicine cabinet in favor of a smaller mirror, and will add wall shelves instead. We’ll have a double sconce above the sink, too.

The flagstone has got to go. Both because our contractor needs to take it up to get at the plumbing and because it is so cold on the feet, not to mention chipping in places. We still have some nice tile left over from upstairs, so might use this and buy additional tile as needed.

Wood floor from the adjoining room transitions to flagstone via this cracked marble threshold.

Wood floor from the adjoining room transitions to flagstone via this cracked marble threshold.

They’re coming down! We’re not sure yet whether we’ll go with beadboard or just bath-specific paint, but we’re sticking with fewer finishes than the current walls boast.

We love the look of beadboard and enjoyed the relatively maintenance-free PVC beadboard in our condo bathroom for ten years...but it would add about $1,000 to our project costs for materials and installation, and if we ever got tired of it, we’d have to redo the walls after removing it. With paint, though it’s less expensive, the drip marks on the walls bother me...and I think there will be many, with two little kids and all of their friends using this bathroom. If we go the paint-only route, we’ll use bath paint to try to prolong the life of the finish, but I’m still skeptical.

We’re also adding a high window to the exterior wall to add light and the ability to air out the space, in addition to the fan.

Any thoughts on beadboard vs. paint only? Let me know in the comments!

...And visit the One Room Challenge Guest Participant page to see what everyone is up to with their room transformations:


Sources on my Pinterest.

One Room Challenge Week Two: Bathroom Demo Surprises and Plans

One Room Challenge Week Two: Bathroom Demo Surprises and Plans

Excited for the One Room Challenge

Excited for the One Room Challenge