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Renovation Update: Half-Bath Makeover


This house update has been written by my wonderful wife and she has also taken plenty of photos (which I probably ruined because I edited them in Paint) for those of you that have been dying to see our house renovation updates. Here’s one of our completed projects. Enjoy!

It has been a while since our last house update; thank you for patiently waiting while we worked on a multitude of projects over the last few weeks. For those of you who don’t know, Derek and I purchased our first home at the beginning of August this year. It was a foreclosure, so the process was drawn out since May of this year for us to go to closing. The house was built in 1942, and has all the historic charm that we were looking for. Of the many projects we have tackled, they include: wallpaper removal, re-finished the hardwood floors that were hidden under the carpet, gutted both bathrooms, tiled the kitchen and bathroom floors, painted every wall and piece of trim, and gutted the dining room to have it insulated and dry walled. Some of these projects are still in progress, but we wanted to show you one of our first victories in our line of tasks.

The half-bath is located on the main floor and is one of two bathrooms in the entire house. The half bath is located off the kitchen and the entry to the front of the house. It is great for guests to use when we will be entertaining, but you could hardly turn around in it! There is an angled wall that made putting any standard size sink in there impossible for the previous owners, so they got creative and put an interesting shape sink (I am guessing to maximize the allowable counter/storage space).  However, in doing so they made the bathroom feel extremely small.

Half-Bath Floor Plan: Before

Not only was this the smallest bathroom known to man, it was covered in lovely floral printed wallpaper (which managed to make the space seem even smaller somehow). A wainscoting panel came about one third of the way up the wall, and the sink reminded me of the type that comes standard in a camping trailer. The floor was covered in sticky linoleum that did not match any part of the design scheme already taking place in there. Considering the size of the room, and my ambition, I thought this would be the easiest project to knock out right away. My estimation for completion: one weekend.

Derek and his brother did most of the demolition, including removing the original toilet for the house (I have secretly named him Bernie) and placing it in the middle of the backyard for our poor neighbors to see. I had assumed that we would get a new toilet for the bathroom, but Derek found a certain attachment to Bernie and his 71 year-old flusher and insisted that he stay. Needless to say, upon completion of the floor Bernie went back into the half bath.

We had hoped that there would be hardwood floors through the entire house, but to our dismay, when we peeled back the sticky floor, we found that both the kitchen and the bathroom hardwood had been ruined by the layer of linoleum. It was beyond salvage so we decided to tile both of these areas. We did this project entirely ourselves, and are pretty proud of the outcome. We saved a lot of money by not paying a professional, but we did pay more than what we would have for linoleum or sticky squares. Although I think anyone can pick up tiling, we did not go into this project blindly. We read a great book, which gave great step-by-step pictures and instructions, and also had my dad give us a few pointers based on his experience with a few tile projects.  We chose a white octagon mosaic tile that came in 12” square sheets. They were easy to install, but you had to be extremely meticulous with the placement so that all of the tiles were straight.  (Perfect job for Derek, while I waited impatiently tapping my foot to move onto the next row. :))

The walls in the house are all plaster, so they are still in pretty good shape. I was anxious to rip off the pathetic excuse for wainscoting that covered the lower portion of the wall. Again, what I found was a wall destroyed by someone who used a nail gun like an AK 47 firing at random. There was no way to make the walls smooth again and match the existing texture of the top portion unless we ripped off all the plaster and dry walled. We opted for a taller white wainscoting and chair-rail to hide the existing holes and chose a light ‘Butter Not’ color for the walls. The light colored walls and paneling really helped open up the space and take advantage of the natural light coming in the window.

Also, to create more space we took out the counter and sink that made it almost impossible to shut the door. We replaced that with a small pedestal sink, a decorative fixture and a larger mirror over the sink. The look of the bathroom has stayed with the period of the house, with a modern style zested on top. Although I thought this project was only going to be in a weekend (crazy me), it actually took about a month with all the other projects going on in the house.

Here’s the old floor plan next to our new one:

Left: Old Floorplan; Right: New Spacious Floorplan

And, here’s the finished bathroom photos! I just noticed that we still need to get a register, but I’m sure you can look past that! 🙂

And, guess how much it cost to redo this bathroom? $2,000? $1,000? Nope. $525. All of our expenses are below.

What do you think? Do you like it?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Words are not enough to describe how much I was awed by the renovation. Saying I love it is an understatement! It was great! It was wonderful! I was really amazed with the transformation. The paint is better and lighter, which made it look more spacious. Job well done. Congratulations!

    • Thanks Cherleen! We’re really happy with the result and I’m glad you liked the results too! 🙂

  2. I think this room turned out beautiful. I don’t think your before picture really shows how awful the bAthroom really looked. It is now beautiful and cheery. Congratulations on a room completed!

    • Thanks Mrs. Mom! 😉 It was pretty bad before, and I’m so glad we gutted it and started from scratch! It really turned out great!

  3. Fantastic job.

    You guys are knocking these renovations out of the park.

    • Thanks Niki! There’s more to come! Right now I’m working on the upstairs bath and it is certainly a big project! It really is coming together though. Can’t wait to show those photos! 🙂

  4. Wow! That’s amazing, especially when you consider how little it cost.

    How much time do you think you guys invested in doing the bathroom alone? Worth the time relative to the cost of having someone else do it?

    • Thanks JT! It’s hard to say how much time went into this room alone because we’re working on so many projects at once, but if I had to guess, I would say that we put 20 hours worth of work into it. Considering a professional probably could have renovated it in half the time and would have cost $50 an hour in labor, I’d say we saved ourselves $500, which seems to be worth it. Plus we get the satisfaction out of doing the project ourselves! 🙂

  5. It looks great! Having been through a similar bathroom remodel (the only one in the house, imagine that), I know the time and effort that a small room can suck up. Well done!

    • I had no idea how much time it would really take, but every detail needs to happen and those details take up time!

  6. Loves it! You did an awesome job with a small space. The bright colors make it look larger too.

    • Thank you Sandy. I knew we had to get rid of that awful vanity and sink. Our pedestal idea along with the bright paint really opened up the space!

  7. Love this transformation. Kudos!

    • Thanks for the kudos Hunter. Can’t wait to share more photos soon!

  8. I love the new colors…so bright and cheerful!

    • Thanks Marcia! We love the way the color turned out too!

  9. Looks great! Our houses are similar in age and the bathrooms definetely needed a makeover! Can’t wait to try out the faucet!

    • Yep yep. The faucet is sweet! I’m glad we got it.

  10. Those sinks are a life saver for smaller baths. You guys have got this thrifty thing down..not only with money but with time. One weekend is an amazingly small amount of time to make this big of a change. Congrats…and Derek, as much as I like your blog..your wifey makes it that much better, I hope to see a lot more posts from her:)

    • Ha, I think you needed to read that post more carefully. My wife suspected that it would only take a weekend, but we actually putzed around with the project for about a month!

      I’m glad you like my wife’s posts. I really like to have her write posts as well! 🙂

  11. As an ex-carpenter, I’ve very impressed Derek! Loving the look of the minimalist sink man! Thanks for the update.

    • Thanks Jon! We are really happy with the results! 🙂

  12. Nice work. It’s definitely a huge improvement and created a lot more space for you.

    • It really did create a lot of space! Glad you like it!

  13. Love that your wife wrote an article! Also, great improvement for a small investment. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m glad my wife writes articles occasionally too! I’m glad you like our renovation.

  14. I’ve seen the transformation from old to new! Looks great and anxious to see the “full” bath upstairs. Great work!!

    • The full bath is in progress! I’m working on it tonight (in between trick-or-treaters)! 🙂

  15. I like the fact that you saved the most expensive upgrade for a small one: the faucet.

    Many ignore how much a well-designed faucet adds to the feel of a room and increases the value. Yours looks cool. Well worth $120.

    • Haha! I know. When we were buying it, my thought was, this thing is 3x what our entire sink was!!! But, you’re right, it’s pretty cool.

  16. Wow…. that’s a very reasonable reno… excellent job!

    • Not too shabby, huh? I am really excited about our finished product!

  17. This looks great! And great job on the costs also. Removing the blocky structure around the sink really makes a difference.

    • It sure did turn out great! Thanks for commenting!

  18. Are you available to remodel my place? It looks great!

    • Sure! You can pay for our travel, food, and an hourly wage for work. 😉 I hope you live somewhere nice! 🙂

    • Thanks WOF! We’re proud of it. Now we just need to finish the rest of the house……

  19. This looks great. I am very impressed. My favorite part is the wainscoting.

    • Thanks David! That was the part that took the longest actually. I was pretty picky with it, but I think it was worth it.

  20. Wow, the bathroom looks great. Yellow is my favourite colour. It brightens up a room so nicely. The bathroom seems more spacious and more functional. Great job.

    • I love how it seems more spacious too! It’s amazing what you can do to make a small space seem a little larger without knocking out a wall.

  21. wow! what a difference. It looks very cheerful.

    • Thanks! It’s still our only finished project. Hopefully we’ll have some more to accompany it soon! 🙂

  22. Very nice sketch for the bathroom. Thanks for sharing it. | 😛

    • That’s all my wife’s doing! She’s pretty great isn’t she? It really does provide a great visual for how we opened up the space. 🙂

  23. Great transformation, love the outcome! Cheers!

    • Thanks Rachelle! Can’t wait to show you the next one we finish! 🙂

  24. The new makeover seems fine great for me.. It is more spacious and convenient! And is not that expensive.. You gave me the a great idea.. I think our rest room needs to have a makeover too..

    • I’m glad we could inspire a change! Doing things yourself makes the project unbelievably affordable. I couldn’t believe that it only cost us $525 to redo that whole space!

  25. The renovation really looks so good.. You gave me such a nice ideas for our next renovation in the house.

    • Glad we could help! We are finishing up a few other rooms now, so we’ll have to get those posted as well! Stay tuned! 🙂

  26. I am looking forward for your next update.. I love what you did with the rooms.

    • We’ll show an update soon! Things have stalled out a little since we actually made our home livable!

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