before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Bathroom Remodel Completed in Spurts

by Lauren Chorpening Day

Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts

The guest bathroom was in extra rough shape when my husband, Austin, and I moved into our fixer-upper last year. There was a hole in the ceiling above the sink, buckets under the pipes, a section of the plaster that was covered with wooden boards and the wall behind the tub was basically high-quality cardboard. It needed help and potentially had some scary stuff hiding out in the walls, floors and ceiling.

We didn’t want to completely do the remodel ourselves — switching out century-old plumbing and electrical wasn’t something we felt brave enough to do — but we did want to do it as inexpensively as possible. We did the demo for the plumber and electricians to save money and once they were done, Austin drywalled where we had opened up the plaster on the ceiling and walls. But then things sat. We got distracted by other projects in the house and worked on the bathroom in short spurts. When we were finally sick of not having a full bathroom (the bathroom off of our bedroom is another scary story we’re not even thinking about yet), we got to work last month installing fixtures, tiling the tub surround and making the space functional.

I wish we would have made the effort sooner, though I know we’ve been working on big house projects for the last year and there hasn’t been extra time. It’s just amazing to have a space where we can get ready in the morning that is done and pretty and can also be used by our overnight guests. That little burst of energy to finish the bathroom before Austin’s busy season with photography work and all the outdoor projects we have this spring was so needed. I hope you enjoy our bathroom transformation as much as I do. Lauren

Photography by Austin Day

Check out the other rooms we’ve refreshed so far:
Kitchen | Nursery | Family Room | Bedroom | Starting Out

Image above: The hole in the ceiling was definitely suspicious when we first saw the house. The previous homeowners swore that they had fixed the roof after that had happened and just never got around to fixing the ceiling. Turns out, they were trustworthy. We didn’t find any mold when we tore the ceiling down.

Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
The guest bathroom is at the top of our stairs and across the landing from the guest room. Because it looks so much better, we're now itching to makeover the stairwell and guest room.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
We did the demo of the walls ourselves before the plumbers and electricians came, to save on labor expenses. It feels weirdly empowering to know where things are behind the walls if we ever needed to get to anything.
We swapped the nickel hardware that this vanity came with for some basic matte black pulls to tie it in with the other fixtures in the space.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
We need to get shade from the window since the previous owners had frosted decals on the window panes that we removed.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
It took a while to figure out the best place for the towels to go since there's a window on one side of the shower and a sink on the other.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
Our plumber made quite a few big mistakes in our house, one was forgetting to hook up the water heater correctly so carbon monoxide was venting into our house instead of being routed out and another was that he ran only hot lines up to this bathroom.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
Austin was pretty intimidated to tile the shower so I found this 12x24 tile and designed it to be stacked instead of staggered to make things as easy as possible. He did a beautiful job with it.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
We tried to stick to a pretty conservative budget like we have with the rest of our spaces. This mirror comes with a shelf to attach and the hand towel rod is supposed to be installed horizontally, but reimagining these budget-friendly pieces meant we could save money instead of spending more on things that may have fit the space better.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
Because all the lines the plumber ran to the bathroom were hot, our toilet filled with piping hot water. Austin kept telling people that we were literally flushing money down the toilet.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
Before we redid the kitchen, this shelf was set between the refrigerator and the wall. We've been storing it in a closet and didn't have plans to use it in here once we decided to put the towels on the door, but I was thinking about how to fill this space and remembered the shelf. It's a great addition to the bathroom since the only other storage in the room is the vanity cupboard.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
The teal walls, yellow floors and pink window treatments were definitely a statement but green with a few accent colors feels more fitting for our updated space.
Design*Sponge | A Bathroom Remodel in Spurts
There are quite a few mistakes and it shouldn't have taken as long as it did to finish up, but it's so refreshing to be in this space now that it's done.


Vanity – Lowe’s Home Improvement

Towel Bar – Lowe’s Home Improvement

Orange Towels – Target

Green Towels – Target

Tall Vase – Target

Black & White Vase – Hobby Lobby

Bathmat – H&M

Paint Color – “Contented” by Sherwin-Williams

Shelf – IKEA

Mirror – Lowe’s Home Improvement

Bathtub Tile – Lowe’s Home Improvement

Floor Tile – Lowe’s Home Improvement

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  • It looks terrific! How scary that carbon monoxide was venting into your house though!! Obviously you’re okay, but that is just a REALLY BAD error to make! The hot water thing is bad too of course, but the carbon monoxide thing is deadly!

  • How awesome! Can you talk about the vertical panels surrounding the tub? It looks amazing!

  • Love this! The space looks so beautiful and serene. I too will be embarking on a budget bathroom makeover so I’m trying to soak up all the inspo and advice I can find. :)

  • Great work always takes longer…we are a serial reno couple…46yrs. Married…I design from the clearance section, habitat tile shop, old collected stuff…he plumbs while complaining, wires up new lights etc., learned to put heat under tile…second time turned out better. Last week I got the news I have late stage cancer…and two days ago we finished the bath. I complained it took a yr. But now., I am so glad we always worked through it, and finally got it done, but enjoyed the journey. KEEP WORKING TOGETHER.

  • Love what you’ve done with the bathroom! Working for The Handy Squad I’ve hung a lot of mirrors and some of them have really handy storage space inside of them, similar to the mirror you purchased. Great job! Luke.

  • You’ve done such a great job! It’s shocking how incompetent a supposedly qualified tradesman can be… I’m glad you’re ok.