How a Tiny Bathroom Became a Storage Haven

Can a DIY Bathroom Remodel bring simplicity and organization to your life? Absolutely. You don’t have to have a large space to do it. I’m going to show you how we remodel our very small bathroom. Doing this has brought so much peace and order to my life.

Our house is a modest 1225 square feet. It came to us with one and a half bathrooms. The full bathroom is in the main hall and the half bathroom connects to the master bedroom.

This took a lot of pre-planning, measuring, saving and a little bit of moving some walls and adding some doors. I will be the first to admit that doing home improvement projects take five times longer than it would to hire a professional. Why? Because I am not an expert in what ever field it is (plumbing, electrical, drywall), and I have 10 other things that need my attention, like my full-time job.

The Before

For me, I consider a full bathroom to be a space that has a sink, toilet, and a way to wash my body, i.e. a shower or bathtub. The master bathroom only had a toilet and a sink. The last house owners had replaced the the sink vanity and the replacement was tiny and had no storage.

I needed a bathroom that has more storage, and had a shower. In order to make room for a shower we had to move the linen closet that was on the other side of the bathroom. We were able to take some space from one of the bedrooms closet to create a linen closet at the end of the hall so that we still had that precious storage space.

Storage space is important to me. Have you caught that yet?

The Plan

I broke down the project into these steps:

  1. Move linen closet
  2. Remove toilet and vanity
  3. Demolish wall between the bathroom and former closet and remove drywall
  4. Unplanned detour to have electrical moved (Opps)
  5. Replace former closet door with wall, texture and paint
  6. Remove the flooring, studs between closet and bathroom and drywall
  7. Add new floor underlayment
  8. Hire plumber to rework and add plumbing
  9. Hire shower pan man and have shower pan poured
  10. Remove ceiling drywall and save insulation for reinstall (opps)
  11. Install new wall drywall
  12. Tile floor
  13. Install ceiling drywall and ceiling fan
  14. Install shower cubbies and the remaining tile backer board
  15. Repair the wall where the backer board slipped and punched through the wall (opps)
  16. Tape, prime, texture and paint wall
  17. Install lighting, toilet, vanity and mirror
  18. Plan tile, tile shower, and grout
  19. Install fixtures
  20. Enjoy a full bathroom without leaving my bedroom!

I know, that is quite the list. This is not going to be a post about what we did step-by-step. I am going to show you what we did, and some things we learned along the way. Usually the hard way. And how in the end, all the work was 100% worth it and today makes my life so much easier and simpler.

Getting to Work

After we moved the linen closet (that I did not document), we had to demo the bathroom. #demoday

Tearing out walls is a little nerve racking, but it also fells good to be able to envision what the final product will look like.

Starting to Take Shape

Having to re-work the electrical took more time that we thought. But once it was done we could remove the studs and have the plumbing work done. The plumbing work was the single most expensive part of the project.

The Shower Pan

Having the plumbing completed felt so rewarding. It felt like the bones were in place and we could move on to adding other party to the body. Next, the installation of the shower pan. Because the space was a unique size, we could not go to our local hardware store and pickup a fiberglass pan. No, a custom pan was the only option. This meant finding a person who specializes in shower pans to come do the work. I found one, O-N-E, person in my area who only did shower pans.

Installing Drywall and Tile

Oh drywall. I feel like I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with drywall. It always seems like it is going to be so easy to install and is always seems to be a bit harder than I imagined.

A hard learned lesson we learned when we moved the linen closest was that the thickness of the drywall is very important. Drywall thickness is 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 inch. The difference looks so small on paper, but will create a ton of work, if you are matching it up to existing drywall and don’t get it right.

If you can do a puzzle and frost a cake, you can do simple tiling. My husband and I had both done a little bit of tile work in the past, but we still took some steeps to prepare ourselves.

  1. We took a DIY tiling class at Home Depot. Most of the information we knew, but some of the tips and tricks they taught made the process a lot easier. Like stacking tiles to measure your exact cut.
  2. We watched a lot of Youtube videos on tiling, specifically a bathroom. Our favorites were videos by the TileMasterGA

Ceiling Work

If I thought that wall drywall was tough to install, I was wrong. Ceiling drywall was the tougher. Drywall is not light. My husband had to hold up the drywall, while I screwed it in as fast as I could.

Matching up new drywall with existing along with texture is a big task and something I was not up for.

Shower Cubbies

Installing shower cubbies are probably one of the smartest things we did. Having a storage space for shampoo and soap not on the floor or a wire rack of some kind is so nice. It looks so clean and is easy to access.

Two things I would have done differently is :

  1. Install the cubbies before the shower pan. I worried what the height would be after the pan was installed instead of just installing them.
  2. Installed a niche for my foot when I shave my legs. It would be nice since shaving my legs is a little tricky without it. But the new shower is still valuable with or without it.

Installing Tile Backer

Wall tile backboard is a beast in weight. There were some “opps” along the way, but it all ended well.

The product that the shower pan contractor used looked like strips of RAM board. I searched and could not find the strips, so we ended up buying a small roll of RAM board and cutting it into strips. Months later while waiting for a rental at Home Depot, I ran across this product: Drywall Shim


When I see contractors taping and mudding walls on TV, it looks so easy. I can frost a cake. I can spread mayo on some bread. How hard can taping and mudding be? A little harder than it looks. It is totally possible to do it yourself. But it definitely takes some practice and patience.

There is also the waiting for it to dry part that can be frustrating as you want to mice on to the next part of the project.

Texturizing a wall is a special skill in my opinion. On another wall we made the mistake of using an aerosol texture spray. This is not a great product for two reasons: 1) it is expensive for what you get 2) it did not give us the end result we wanted. (see the photo below with bubbly end product that did not match the other texture). After doing all the extra work to fix it, we invested in a sprayer and air compressor. Doing some practice on cardboard before you spray your wall will help getting the final results you want.

Back to the Start

Happy Birthday to my Husband! We installed the toilet and vanity on his birthday. (hence the celebratory drink on the vanity).

Installing the light on the wall before installing the vanity so we were not working over the vanity and could get closer to the wall.

Seeing the toilet, light, vanity and mirror it was like we were back to the start. But it was so much better. The vanity is bigger, and the quality is better. Making for a happier place.

Shower Tile

At the start, tiling sounded like fun. By the end, I never wanted to see tile again. This definitely took more planning and time, then the floor tile. The end result was worth it.

If we could do it differently, we would have used a standard grout. The one we chose here stated it was antimicrobial and inhibited stains from mold and mildew. Sounds great! Less cleaning! Or so I thought. I have not seen the product live up to these statements. Cleaning regularly to get rid of the pink funk is still necessary. It was also more difficult to install, so in the end it was more work than it was worth.

The Finished Remodel

The final touches are to install the shower fixtures, hang a shower rod, install a small storage cabinet over the toilet and a towel rack.

While the space is small, it is absolutely glorious to have a shower connected to the bedroom.

A remodel is time consuming work, but in the end it is worth it to have easy access to what I need close by.

Update Your Home for Under $1800

How to Update your Home for Under $1800

Flipping is all the rage these days, and I don’t mean Olympic gymnastics style. HGTV is full of house flipping shows, showing you how they buy a run down house and turn it into a stunning master piece.

The reality of finding that diamond-in-the -ruff-house with all the other “must-haves” is really difficult. Once we found this diamond-in-the-ruff houses with all the “must-haves” and fell in love with it….for about 3 hours. Why? Because we learned the house had a cracked foundation and was a 100% cash only purchase. A bank would never finance a house with that much of an issue. The cost to repair the cracked foundation was way more than what we had saved for house updates. So we moved on.

What you are more likely to find is something that costs more, does have most of the “must-haves,” but still needs some updates. The house we bought was not perfect, but it was perfect for us at this time in life. Our “must-haves” included location, size, yard size, heating type and a fire place. This house had all the “must-haves” but still needed some updates to make it more modern.

It is amazing what paint, window fixtures and elbow-grease can do. Even better is doing it all with minimal cost.

So lets get to it! Here are the before and after of each of the rooms. Some of the rooms had updates later that I will share in a future post that are not included in the prices of items. We purchased almost everything from major “big-box” stores.

I would like to note that some of the photos are from the house listing and not ones that I look myself.

Living Room

The living room is the largest space in the house so it offers the most opportunities. One of the issues with the house was consistency, or lack of it. With a small house it is important to have consistency so that there is a visual flow and the spaces don’t feel cut into blocks. Before, almost every room was a different color, all the doors were different and all the window coverings were different, making the house feel smaller and dated. The ceiling is a little lower than standard houses, so it was important to brighten up the room to make it appear bigger. We did this by painting all the ceilings flat white.

I don’t recommend making the entire interior of the house the same color, I do recommend choosing paint colors that are the same tone. We chose some cool grays. For the living room we decided to use two different grays, a darker and a lighter. This adds some visual intrigue. We started it on the wall with the largest window so that the gray would not appear as drastic of a change.

Because this is the only living space in the house, it was important that the room be inviting and offer as much seating as possible. As you can see, the last home owners has a single oversized couch, and a bold red coffee table. You will see in future photos that this then flowed right into another space which actually made the space appear smaller.

By using an area rug and positioning our couch between the spaces we defined the space as more of an individual room. We eventually purchased new couches and made a side table to create an intimate gathering place.

The window coverings were also an issue. They were inexpensive and blocked out light even when they were open. Your eyes were drawn to them, and not in a good way. I have always loved wood-shutters, but those would not work in this house because they would block out too might light. A way to get a similar look is to have wood blinds. We decided to use faux wood for a couple of reasons. 1) cost, it is way more affordable 2) weight, they are lighter and easier to install 3) clean-ability, the dust actually tends to not stick to the plastic as it would to wood. We used these same blinds in all the rooms except for the nook and kitchen.

  • Blinds: $203
  • Front Door Hardware: $45
  • Paint: $100


I consider the fireplace to be apart of the living room, but I felt that it needed its own little section.

It is made of what looks like reclaimed brick and had been abused. Holes drilled into it, side bricks broken off and re-mortared. It needed some help. The first thing we did was to remove the insert. It was U-G-L-Y. It was dated. It was heavy. It needed to go! I am sure that inserts are very useful for people who use the fireplace at a heat source. We enjoy the fireplace for more of the look, so the insert just wasn’t necessary.

My poor husband muscled that thing out. It took strength and a hand-truck to get it our of the house. Funny story; it sat on the hand-truck for a while and weighed so much, the tires on the hand-truck went flat.

Taking out the insert helped so much, but the brick still looked sad. We filled in all the holes that had been drilled into it (tip, don’t make holes in brick. It will never look the same) with a fire safe, mortar sealant. Then my husband surprised me on my birthday and white-washed the brick by watering down flat white paint. Our brick never gets hot enough to react with the paint, so the latex paint works just fine. Awwwwwww, new life, breath of fresh air. The fireplace is now a piece that compliments the room and is not an eye soar.

  • Removing Insert: FREE

The Nook

The nook might be one of my favorite places. It might have a better name, but nook is what I have took to calling it. It actually used to be the dining room until the last owners renovated the kitchen area. It is not big enough to be a living area, so nook is what I landed on.

I felt that putting the TV waaaaaay over there was not pleasing to the space. And it blocked half the window. The window covering was installed too low and created kind of a shaggy dog look around the window, am I right? The funniest thing was tiny ceiling fan. It did not move air around, and thought of having a fan spinning dust and who knows what above your food totally grosses me out.

The desk is perfect for when my husband and I work from home, but need to be (or want to be) present in the main living area. We added the book case full of ALLL the books to create a mini library. The ladder shelving unit is a great, but small space to display our personal photos and style.

The window coverings are the only different one in the house. The long, dark curtains add height to the room and dramatic framing of the center focal point of the space.

  • Paint: $32
  • Curtains: $27
  • Light Fixture: $48

You can also just ignore the collapsed basketball hoop for my son :).


The kitchen was actually completely moved and redone by the last home owner. They made a great decision in this. They moved the entire kitchen from what was a galley style, with a door into the now nook, into what must have been a VERY small sitting area? Family room? I never actually saw it, so I can only lean on my imagination.

The cabinets are from IKEA, and if I every get to remodel a kitchen myself, I would still choose IKEA. This kitchen is not exactly what I would want, but it is close. It has toooooons of storage. I do wish it had a pantry, but I always pantry. Once you have lived in a place with one, you will forever want one. They turned the former kitchen space into the dinning area and added a buffet. More storage!!! Yippy!

The kitchen had a red theme that I was not a fan of. Especially in a small space. We decided to paint the whole space a cool green. In fact the paint color is called Cool Cucumber. How fitting is that for a kitchen?

While a continuation in cabinets is usually the standard, the cabinet above the sink needed to go. 1) It had zero use. There is no way I was going to put something up there 2) It closed in the sink and window and make it feel claustrophobic. By removing it, visually it opened up the space.

I have never been one for an open shelving system or glass doors in a kitchen, but I actually appreciate the few that this kitchen has. I love our dishware and love that it can be displayed. The dishware is white, so I added an adhesive backed shelf liner with a gray geographic print to the back of the cabinets to make the white dishware pop.

  • Paint: $32
  • Shelf Liner: $18
  • Cabinet Removal: FREE

Master Bedroom

Oh Mama, the master bedroom. First of all, it took three coats of flat white paint to cover the green on the ceiling. I will say that green will probably jolt anyone awake in the morning so you wouldn’t have to worry about over sleeping. We chose another gray and used it in all three bedrooms. This helps the house feel cohesive.

I am not sure what use the curtains in the room were. The window is east facing, so it gets the first of the sunrise. We changed them to the faux wood blinds as we did with all of the bedrooms and bathrooms.

I want you to notice the closet door knobs. The position of them told us that the bi-fold doors are were installed backwards. The knobs should be on the center panels, not the outer panel.

  • Blinds: $137
  • Paint: $64
  • Ceiling Fan: $75
  • Door Hardware: $30
  • Closet Knobs: $2

Master Bathroom

I am not going to spend a lot of time on the master bathroom because I will later post about the remodel we did. But is was tiny. I am not sure why anyone ever thought it was a good idea to make a master bathroom, a powder room. I guess it is better than no bathroom, but it still had very little function.

The use of the shower storage I thought was, um, creative? You can see that in the reflection of the mirror. You can tell that they tried to update the bathroom by installing new flooring and a new vanity. The wall next to the vanity shows where the previous one sat up against it.

Another thing the builder did was to have you open the door and see the toilet, Yuck!

  • Blinds: $34
  • Paint: $32
  • Door Hardware: $30

Guest Bathroom

Originally I wanted to start ripping into this bathroom as soon as we got the keys to the house. I was convinced we could remodel it and move into the house in about 3 weeks. I think I had been watching a little but too much HGTV. My husband talked me off the ledge. He suggested that we first remodel the master bathroom, since we planned on adding a shower to that one. And then we would remodel the guest bathroom. This was so smart, since the guest bathroom was the only shower we had. That would have been so rough if we had gone through with my plan.

This was the room that probably came to us with the most decorations. They had done a small update at some point, but I don’t think that was the best use of their time and money.

First of all, only put a pedestal sink in a powder room. As you can see they had to have a cabinet in there, and we temporarily added a small plastic storage container because there is no counter space with a pedestal sink. Where is a girl supposed to put on her make-up?

The wainscoting is not my favorite. I think it goes too high, but it would have meant replacing the entire bathrooms drywall. So instead we painted it white with an oil paint. Oil paint is not cheap, but so worth it, especially in a bathroom, on wood. We also painted the ceiling, back to white, and the walls a slightly grayer blue.

I would never recommend using laminate flooring in a bathroom. Bathrooms have the most moisture of any room in the house. Laminate and moisture do not mix. This would be fixed when we renovate the entire bathroom later on.

Small things like updating the shower curtain and light bulbs temporarily helped the bathroom until more could be done. I told my husband I would not feel clean taking a shower in there with the existing fixtures, so we agreed to change them out. That turned into a much larger job than I ever thought. Did you know that you can’t always just switch out the handle? There are different valves connected to the piping for different handle types. More on that later.

  • Paint: $75
  • Blinds: $34
  • Door: $35
  • Door Hardware: $30
  • Light Bulbs: $32
  • Shower Curtain: $20

Bedroom One

Oh, the orange room. No, just no. The whole thing was orange, including the ceiling. This room also took more than two coats of paint. Plus there was the chipping off of the temporary-tattoo-like decal that was in the center of the wall.

This room had what some might call “character.” Like the art-deco light switch cover. I don’t know why they didn’t want to take that with them?

The door in this room was interesting too because it had no varnish, it was just plain wood. This was one of the 3 doors we replaced so all the doors matched. I will always wonder why they did not do that before putting the house on the market, along with updating the light fixtures to something more modern.

One thing that we did that is hard to notice, is we changed out the style of closet door from a bi-fold to a 2-panel. With the room door backing up to the closet, you had to close the door before opening the closet. You still have to close the door half way, but at least now you can leave the closet door open if you need to make several trips to and from.

  • Paint: $64
  • Blinds: 137
  • Door: $35
  • Closet Doors: $62
  • Closet Door Hardware: $20
  • Light Fixture: $10

Bedroom Two

This room was the most neutral of all the rooms. We did decide to paint it so it would be consistent with all the bedrooms. The closet was interesting. The storage unit they had in the closet just ended about 2/3rds of the way across. It was about 3 1/2 feet deep, which is why we decided to make it a small walk in closet and use some of the space to relocate the linen closet. This was done a few months after we moved in, so that project is not included in this post.

Once again, the door did not match any of the others, and closet door was inconsistent with with closet doors. The small corner shelves and shelves along that wall were a pain to remove as you can tell from the patching that had to happen.

One of the most surprising things about this room came when we went to change the light fixture and discovered the dark, dark blue that the room and ceiling used to be. I can’t imagine spending much time in that room.

  • Paint: $32
  • Blinds: 137
  • Door: $35
  • Door Hardware: $30
  • Lighting: $10


One thing I have not talked about much is the floors. These were also strange. But what else is new. Every bedroom and both bathrooms had a different flooring. That equals eight different floorings in a 1200 square foot house. The main goal was to make the house consistent. We did eventually pull out all the different laminates in the bedrooms and had carpet installed. Personally I like carpet in bedrooms. I think it add warms and comfort. And we chose a light gray.

Whew, I know that was a lot. If you are still reading, thank you. Hopefully this has encouraged you to know that a big change can be made without a huge investment.

Thanks for reading!

Lessons of First Time Home Buying

I am pretty sure that house buying is like planning a wedding. You can learn all the things you need to do, talk to all the people who have done it before, but you really don’t know what it is like until you go through it first hand.

This means I am not going to tell you “everything you need to know about about buying a house.” But I do want to share things I learned and hopefully they can help you if you are planning on purchasing a house soon.

1: Your Realtor is Your New BFF

When I say BFF, I don’t mean you hug, chat for hours on end and you are always nice and cordial. I mean you need to be able to trust them 100%, you can be able to be brutally honest with them and they can be brutally honest with you, you know, in a professional way. This means they should be able to tell you if your non-negotiable list is too much and don’t meet your top price. But they are getting an income from this, so if they encourage you to make offers on something that is not a good fit for you, find someone new. You don’t want someone who is just looking for a paycheck. They should know what you want, and if you start compromising too much, they should be able to tell you to not settle.

2: Get Pre-Approved

We all love to dream, but if you are serious about home ownership, get pre-approved. It is more of a process than getting an auto loan, so if you find something you love, you don’t want to lose it because someone else had proof of financing.

3: Have a Down Payment

I highly recommend having some sort of down payment. It proves good financial practices and puts you ahead of the game when it comes to selling someday or paying it off. Your Relator BFF or your mortgage lender can help you figure out what the right amount for you is. Don’t get discouraged if you need to save for a little longer. When you are truly prepared the right house will be waiting.

4: There Is No Prince Charming House

Sorry to burst your bubble, but unless you win the lottery and can afford anything you want (which case why are you ready this!?), no house will be perfect. You are not going to get everything you ever wanted on a starter home budget, heck, you probably won’t get it with your second home either. Come up with your must haves list; bedrooms, bathrooms, yard size, location, layout, heating/cooling, etc. Whatever your list is, let your Realtor know, and be open to their feed back. They should know the market and if your expectations meet your budget. You may have to make compromises, but they should be reasonable. What changes can you make to turn the home into what you want? That will make the house even more special to you in the long run.

5: Prepare for Surprises

We were really lucky in that we did not have any huge surprises when we bought our first house. If there were any to come up, we would have been prepared. Have a financial cushion in case you need it.

6: Get a Home Inspection

If you only take one thing away from this article let it be this:

Get a home inspection

I heard of story of someone who bought their friends parents house. They did not get a home inspection. Probably because they thought their friend would tell them if there were any problems. Can you see where this is going? Problems, lots of problems.

I believe that the buyer most likely would have purchased the house in the end even if they knew about all the problems. Having know what the issues were, would have prepared them ahead of time for what was in-store and allowed them to budget accordingly. If the seller hints that doing an inspection will jeopardize them selling to you, walk away. It is not worth it.

7: Attend The Home Inspection

We did attend our home inspection. Unfortunately, I was more concerned with measuring rooms and windows than I was with what the inspector was looking at. Next time, my husband or I will pay better attention to what he is looking at and finding. There was at least one item that was miss marked on the inspection sheet. It was not a problem, just something I wish we had realized before we moved it. Also, the inspector is looking at things that you may want to know in the future. By following the inspector, you will have the knowledge in the future if you need it.

8: Know The Location of The Water Shut-off, Gas, Electrical, etc.

This is something you will learn by following the inspector around. They are going to be checking for these things, and have the best idea of where they are.

One story that my husband and I now look back and laugh at is trying to find our water shut-off. Our house had one shower when we moved in and it was not in the best shape. I was insistent on at the very least changing the fixtures on the shower before we moved in. In order to change the fixtures, we had to shut off the water to the house. There is a little more to the story, but I will share that at another time. The funny part is that I assumed our water shut-off was like the one at my parents house that was built the same year as our house. So we spent 45 minutes walking around the outside out the house, digging in different locations trying to find a water shut-off right next to the house. Turned out, the houses in our neighborhood did not have secondary shut-offs near the house. The only water shut-off is at the meter and you have to use a special tool or key to shut it off.

The good news is, it was not an emergency. But if it had been, you can imagine how frantic we would have been.

9: Clean Before You Move In

The chance of you having the opportunity to deep clean your house without furniture in it after you move in, is slim. Take the extra day and clean. Clean the cabinets. Clean the refrigerator. Clean the shower. It will be well worth it. When you start to move in, and you spend that first night in the house, you will be able to take a deep breath and relax knowing your house is clean.

10: Enjoy The Moment

You did it! You bought a house. That is a big deal. You worked hard for it and spent a lot of energy thinking and planning for this big event. Even if it is not 100% perfect, be proud of what you have accomplished. Take all the photos you want and enjoy!