Bathroom: how we stretched the budget

Last week I talked about the importance of the design process and posted a few tutorials (here and here) that might help all you DIY rebels with your renovations, or more specifically, planning your renovations.

Now that we have decided to go for a full bathroom update, we really need the budget to work for us.  Unexpected renovations, especially in the middle of another ongoing renovation, are not ideal.  This means working under a lot of restrictions, and forgoing things like real stone, a custom vanity, and high end fixtures.  Of course I am still determined to create a custom, unique space with all the function we need. We’ll have to do some saving and maybe just a little ‘splurging’.  Here’s how I am going to do it.

THE VANITY

The first item I addressed was the vanity.  I knew it was going to be the most time consuming aspect.  The plan was to find an antique or used furniture piece that can be customized to function as a vanity.  I knew I could find a dresser or credenza that had the storage and look I was after, but it was the size we needed that presented a problem.  There is an existing niche in the space and the new vanity needed to fill it as much as possible.  We don’t actually need two sinks in this bathroom, but we do need all that counter length. I had to get the vanity search underway A.S.A.P if I was going to find a piece that fit.  Finding a furniture piece that works for under $500.00 is the goal.  A custom, or even pre-made vanity of this size would cost much more than that.  SAVE.

This credenza was a close match, plenty of storage, but the two drawers don’t allow for a sink to be centered. The marble look vinyl is going to work out well, though!

THE FLOORING

We saved on flooring from the get go, which was part of the reason that we decided to go for a full renovation.  We already owned enough flooring that worked for this space.  We purchased so much extra product when we replaced the kitchen floor that we had enough left over to do the bathroom. Even if we didn’t already own the flooring we would have saved by selecting a vinyl floating tile, over choosing a real marble or even upgrading to a ceramic or porcelain.  A hard flooring would have required more demo and a new subfloor which equals more time and more products.  The floating vinyl can go in over the existing floor, it doesn’t require any extra products (new subfloor, mortar, or grout) and it goes in pretty quickly.  It is also extremely durable for a family bathroom!  It’s a win.  SAVE.

THE CONSTRUCTION

The layout.  A big expense on a bathroom renovation is moving any of the fixtures.  We are lucky enough to have a larger bathroom with a pretty functional layout, so we don’t need to move any of the fixtures.  The sink, toilet, and shower will stay exactly where they are now.  No ripping up the flooring to move plumbing, no construction products needed, and we are even keeping the existing toilet fixture (the one thing that can actually get changed out down the road without affecting the rest of the space).  SAVE.

THE MIRROR

The oversized mirror in the space works really well for us.  It is a simple frameless one, but it stretches the entire length of the niche.  It’s great with a long counter when one person is brushing their teeth two more people can easily be fixing their hair and all can use the mirror.  Do I want a huge, round, black framed mirror here instead? YEP.  But it doesn’t make sense from a functional point of view, not as many people can use it at once, and replacing something that already works doesn’t make sense for the budget.  So the mirror will stay and get a new black frame. SAVE.

 

THE TILE

The main reason, if you recall, that we had to update this bathroom, was that the shower tile needed to be completely replaced. This was an area that I really wanted to make an impact aesthetically, but it had to be affordable, and functional.  We have a lot of bottles and bars with a family of 4 using this bathroom, and I very badly wanted them to be as organized as possible and look goooooood.  The main tile we went with are a large, gloss white, wonderfully oversized at 8’x24′, (I’m talking less grout lines to clean) and totally affordable at less than $4 per square foot.  For the accent, I found a very reasonably priced black hexagon tile, in a matte finish, that is perfect for the focal point I’ve designed for the shower area.  Its priced at $15 a square foot, BUT we only need about 10 square feet. SAVE.  Which leads me to the splurge I mentioned…

 

THE SHOWER FUNCTION

In the shower I really want to make an impact.  We are saving on the cost of the product, but we are going to splurge on the design.  This means time.  We don’t have a ton of it, but we’ve got more time than budget.  This is where, if you are a skilled DIY’er, you can create something custom, but its going to cost you… It’s going to cost you a lot more time.  I have designed a full shower length shelf to store all of our shower bottles, bars, and face wash.  It will function beautifully, no more bottles balanced on the tub edge, and we’ll say goodbye to the storage caddy that hangs on the shower head (see you…never). The rear shower wall is an external wall so we can’t frame a shelf into it.  We can, however build out a shelf, because we have room into the space. SPLURGE.

 

THE FIXTURES

I have two options selected for the new fixtures (sink faucet, and tub faucet).  This is an area you don’t want to cheap out on.  These items have moving parts and are being used by multiple people several times a day.  They will be bumped, splashed, and turned on and off over and over again.  You want them to hold up, and that means a good quality product. SPLURGE.

THE LIGHTING

The lighting.  I looooove this fixture.  I don’t know if I would consider it a huge splurge (of course you could spend much, much more) but you could also find a vanity light for less.  This Cedar and Moss beauty will look amazing in the space and I can’t wait to put it in. I love the function too.  It has two bulbs, so lots of light, and the opal shade will cast light more generally into the room, not just straight down as some vanity lights tend to do.  I prefer this less focused light, it creates less shadow.  Of course we’ll have a dimmer on the switch to control the amount of light as well.  SPLURGE.

 

Whatever space you are renovating there are usually items you can save a bit on.  It might change from project to project, but one thing to keep in mind is this:

Spend on the items that need to hold up to daily use that you plan on having around for awhile (like the faucets in our bathroom), and save on items that are more temporary (like the trendy little decor items) or sacrifice that luxury product for a perfectly functional alternative (our vinyl flooring instead of marble).

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