Before + After: Ripiping & Remodeling our Bathroom

Finally, our bathroom remodel is both done and photographically documented!

The before-during-after process is below in pictures, and at the end I put a nice little source guide like those cool DIY blogs have if you’re curious about where stuff came from and how eco-friendly it was 🙂

Top 3 lessons learned, you ask?

1) Baby wipes for that 2 week period during a 90-100 degree heat wave should have been procured on day one. That showerless time period was stanky! (Fortunately we were OK from the neck up – Dan washed my hair in the kitchen sink and I did his, plus sent him to the barber for good measure)

2) Make sure to get a written description of where the work will be done (or have them mark it in advance) so mistakes won’t be made because of communication failures on their end.

3) Don’t let them install any vanities, toilets, etc. that block parts of the wall until AFTER you’ve primed and painted – getting in there is SOOOO much more difficult after they’re installed!

BEFORE: a terrible use of a 5×8 bathroom space, with a too-small tub hogging the room that’s size made baths impossible and showers the ones where you can’t keep the curtain from touching you (ew!), not to mention a ramshackle job done in putting it together, plus water damage and leaks galore going into the basement. Oh yes and the shower fixture plumbing inside of a wooden wall, meaning a drippy bath faucet was just something you had to deal with. Oh yeah…and linoleum that shows every speck of dirt. Woo hoo!

The demolition was nuts..I did most of it while Dan was at work and I was between client calls/work, removing the plaster and such, then he’d come in with the reciprocating saw as needed (boy does he love that new toy!). We borrowed plumbing tools from our local tool library (what a lifesaver!), and managed to get all of our metal – tub, pipes, etc. – onto the street and collected near-instantaneously by scrap folk (like, under 20 minutes, y’all. The tile was all donated to two women wanting them for repurposing projects, and the lath that got cut will be used for fire pit kindling. Even with that there was unfortunately a LOT of garbage that we had to get a “Bagster“, as there’s just nothing you can do with old hoses, broken plaster, etc.

We had the plumbers and our general contractor in with lots of loud noises and dust. Yes, she was a wee bit suspicious (and passive aggressively chose to be walked over as she took over the walkway for a bit). 🙂

When I ripped the vinyl floor out, there were multiple layers of flooring before I hit the hardwood. Stinky! And…there were two HOLES in the floor – perhaps where earlier plumbing had been. No wonder we had leaks! But hey, it was fun in that archaeology type of way, we both admitted. Our beloved toilet as you can see we kept in til the last possible moment 🙂

Here’s a bit of the old wallpaper that was peeled off, along with a shaving razor found in the walls which yes, the old house lover in me kept as memorabilia. What’s funny is the bathroom was obviously reconfigured before this version you see in the “Before” shot, because I found it in the wall by the toilet, not by the current sink / medicine cabinet! (For those who are confused, here’s a good blog post explaining razor blade disposal slots in old houses). The other fun thing? We are currently stripping and repainting our bathroom door (not by choice – the paint had begun to completely peel off when our GC had to shave the bottom of the door to accommodate the new thicker tile), so we’ve learned the inside of the door was painted this above shade of puke green. Ooh lala.

Thank GOODNESS for this portable camp toilet!!!!! Let me tell you, it sucks but was awesome to have. AmazonSmile had it for a great deal compared to renting an outhouse (eww!) plus this one folds up and was surprisingly sturdy! We ended up composting our pee and just using it for the solids, which they have sealable bags that yes, you can throw in your normal garbage bin. Still? Glad that’s over!

And…voila! Here’s a view to the right of our new bathroom!

And a view to the left (not as exciting but still cool). We are currently stripping & repainting the door which made for a way easier photograph!

Right side where you can see our pretty wall and the lovely piece of art my sweetie got me for our anniversary. And yes, the toilet lid has chips in it. Lesson learned to always, ALWAYS put a dropcloth over your toilet when smashing the nearby wall out 🙂

The new shower fixtures we love and the water flow is dreamy (and yet still energy efficient, yeah baybeeee!). Also had our GC carve out this cubby for our shampoo, etc. (mine are obviously the ones in the bulk bottles, not as pretty…), and a smaller one for the razor/soap. Love the little details! I almost had him do two but realized we’re pretty simple and don’t have a lot of stuff.

Our GC was going to build us a little bench but we wanted to preserve as much space as possible, so I got this teak stool which Dan stained a bit darker, which is great for leg shaving, and can be moved if we get sick of it!

Our sink / medicine cabinet / etc. in more detail. I gotta say I was almost more excited about the toothbrush holder and the TP storage than anything, LOL…

Our Bathroom Remodel: All the details…

  1. PLUMBER: Black Cat Plumbing. They handled the entire repiping from the old (we’re talking 90 years old) galvanized pipes to PEX, water service replacement, and fixture installation. Minus communication issues that could have gone smoother, technically they did a top-notch job.

  2. GENERAL CONTRACTOR (drywall, tile, shower): Go Green Remodeling.

  3. TILE: Style Selections Galvano charcoal from Lowes. The manufacturer (Portobello) has a pretty good sustainability record, including an average of 18% recycled content in their tiles, and recycling 100% of their wastewater, and also has strong social responsibility commitments in their local community. When you tile there’s lots of small pieces leftover from the tile saw, plus you always buy a few extra in case something breaks along the way. We posted the scraps for free on Nextdoor, and a neighbor took them all for a project, so…zero waste! It was by far the best deal at about $400 total for the floor, trim, shower walls and shower floor. Beyond that, Lowes’ service sucks and I hate them. 🙂

  4. Grout color is MAPEI in Charcoal #47. We saw it online with our selected tile and liked that it wasn’t too contrasty nor too dark.

  5. VANITY/SINK/FAUCET: Lillangen from Ikea. We physically had no more than 17” width for a sink / vanity, so our choices were incredibly limited. Originally we bought a super cool cylindrical one online (from another company) and when we got it home, the plumber pointed out that the right door wouldn’t open because of its design. Boy was that fun to pack up & return. On the positive side, we actually like this design better – and it was almost half the price! This was not in our original remodel plan to replace. Previously we had a pedestal sink which aesthetically would have been fine, however a) there was zero storage, b) the pedestal base meant that anytime the pipes needed to be accessed (say you drop something down the drain…), you have to pull the whole sink off the wall and balance it on something else, and c) it was way, way too short for me and my husband at 5’8” and 5’10”, respectively. So as the story goes in remodeling, do it now or you’ll regret it later. Ikea is improving their sustainability street cred through sustainable forests so I’ll give them props for that. We donated our pedestal sink to The Rebuilding Center and gave our faucet to a lady using it for a backyard sink.

  6. SHOWER FIXTURES: Delta Faucet T14261 Compel 14 Series MC Shower Trim, Chrome. This was a splurge that was SO worth it. It’s WaterSense certified so gorgeous AND efficient!

  7. MEDICINE CABINET: Kohler. Another item that was not in the original plans but considering that a) our old one was plastic and I’d had to replace the cracked shelves with cheap white scrap board (because turns out you just can’t go buy new shelves for medicine cabinets, ugh!), b) it was scratched all to hell on the inside, c) there was never going to be enough room in the original, smaller one we had, and d) it was in such bad shape that ants would occasionally be INSIDE the cabinet. Ew. A bit o’ trivia? When we took the old one out, I got out a marker and scribbled an EE Cummings poem so someday it will be replaced by someone who will see it and love it! We also wrote our names on the wall before the new drywall went up in another part of the bathroom. I love time capsule stuff. 🙂 Kohler’s goal is to be netzero by 2035. Cool.

  8. SHOWER DOOR: Agalite custom frameless 84” door with nickel trim from George Morlan Plumbing. 7’ tall seems crazy I know but it made a HUGE difference in the room not looking like it was “cut in half” by the walk-in shower. We also got a frameless one with small handles and no towel bar to continue the openness.


  10. TOILET TISSUE STAND W/ STORAGE: Bed, Bath & Beyond. The 2-roll storage rocks. We also have a (not pictured) matching shelf from Ikea above the bathroom door which holds a 12-roll pack, yay!

  11. SHAVING MIRROR: Cassani Fogless. Dan’s only “demand”, and a steal for $13.

  12. INTERIOR PAINT: Yolo Colorhouse Zero-VOC in Water # from Green Depot. I love GreenDepot and have been coming here for years since they back when they were Environmental Building Supply. The service is fantastic and the products are ones you can blindly trust – you know, they just don’t SELL stuff there that isn’t eco-licious! Colorhouse is one of the most sustainable brands out there.

  13. WINDOW FRAME PAINT: Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint. We were advised not to put our shower in this location but I said hell with that, most homes of this era already have a bath/shower along the window. Then some sites said we should hang a little shower curtain across the window, and I said an even louder hell no – eww, I hate the feel of a shower curtain touching me! Our GC had even suggested we remove the window altogether and put in a skylight, and yep that was another (gentler) hell no. So with much research on forums about this subject, I found two situations of documented recommending the use of marine topside paint, the same stuff that’s used on the top parts of boats that get splashed a lot, in several thick coats to protect the wood. Since the bathroom window is vinyl, this took no time at all and preserves the wood and our lovely light!!

  14. TEAK STOOL: VivaTerra. A bit of a splurge but multipurpose if we ever get sick of having it in the shower. From VivaTerra, a catalog I adore, and made from sustainably harvested teak.

  15. TOILET: Toto dual-flush from George Morlan Plumbing. This was already ours – I bought it shortly after buying my house in 2006, but I thought I’d note it for curious souls.

  16. ART: Wedding anniversary gift from Dan – drawing of a mama on handmade paper from a local artisan. Love love love.

  17. POTTERY: Crappy clay “things” (definitely not the mug that the project was supposed to be, hahaha) were made in a pottery class a couple years ago that have turned out to hold cotton swabs and a nail brush just fine, thankyouverymuch. 🙂

Ta-da! Feel free to leave questions if you’re curious about the products and/or process!

Recent Posts

See All