Master Bathroom Reno: Before

This week we started our first big renovation at our house. The closest we’ve gotten to a big renovation before was our kitchen in our old house – I painted the cabinets, did a DIY subway tile backsplash, and we had new countertops installed. This time? Our Master Bathroom. This project is a huge one, and we’re not doing it ourselves. We know our limits – a backsplash? Yes. A small bathroom shower? Haven’t tried it, but I think I can and I will happily re-tile the kids’ bathroom shower (and am planning on doing it, their square bisque tile shower is starting to bug me more and more, but that will be awhile since our money and energy is currently focused on the Master. We can only lose one shower in our two shower house at a time!).


We actually knew immediately after we moved in that we wouldn’t do this job ourselves. Originally we thought we’d just replace the carpet with radiant heat tile floors and that I thought we could probably do ourselves but from a time is money standpoint we could just as easily hire out, but as we lived with the bathroom for a bit, we realized there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. Like, apparently our shower door has been broken since before we moved in. It stopped fully closing earlier this year, so when B and I sat down to prioritize our savings for 2015, we agreed to fast track saving to gut and remodel our bathroom. We had the funds that we’d been quoted back when we got a “Let’s just see what it will cost” quote back in 2013 when we moved in by April, and then we just kind of waited. When our shower door really stopped closing this summer (like, we couldn’t even force it anymore), we decided it was time to find a contractor and get started. I knew exactly what I wanted and had the plan, I just honestly had no idea where to start. We toyed with being our own general contractor on this project, but as I had no experience with this scale of project, that didn’t seem prudent. So we interviewed lots of contractors. And very few returned calls when they promised to. And many were so slammed with work that they just weren’t taking on new projects this year. The real estate market in Denver was crazy this summer, and it appears so was the home remodeling market. After many flaky contractors paraded through our home, we ended up calling a company that B knows one of the owners of through some community work he does. I assumed they’d be way out of our price range because they build and remodel luxury homes in far fancier neighborhoods and towns than we live in. They came out and are working nicely with our budget, and actually came in at a similar number to what the contractors who had all flaked quoted us, too – and they did all the ordering and coordinating. We’re getting far nicer faucets and tile than I would have picked at Home Depot and for not much than we would have spent buying all of that on our own for the other contractors we interviewed. Lesson learned? Sometimes it pays to hire it all out.

So, our bathroom. The first thing that needed to go was the carpet. That was a given. Once we realized the shower wasn’t functional, we decided that we’d probably rather have wall tile that was “us” instead of beige builder squares circa late 90s/early 00s. So, knowing we’d replace the wall tile, we figured we’d redo the counter tops since the tile was also our counter top surface. Which just left the big corner bathtub and vanity in the space. The gargantuan tub is luxurious, but an eyesore. It’s also so big it’s hard to clean. And impossible to open the windows behind the tub. So, while we didn’t have to replace the tub like we did the shower and flooring, once we realized we were going to be doing a full scale renovation anyway, we figured it was worth it to spend a bit more and get an awesome tub that looks nice, too. I was going to reuse the vanity and just repaint it, raise it up a few inches to counter height, and build some shelves in the cutout. But when I mentioned this to the contractor we ended up going with they said, “So, how about for close to the same amount of money that it would cost to do that project, we just replace the cabinet with something you actually love?” Oh. Okay. Yes, let’s do that.

So, that’s a lot of talk to basically say, we’re starting our big bathroom renovation. Since I’ve never shown much of this room on the blog before, here are some (iphone – big camera is still broken) before pictures in all it’s carpeted, orangey-oak glory.


Here’s a panorama to try to give an idea of the whole space. It’s a weird room. We can’t change the actual footprint of the room much, but we can drastically improve upon the materials and appearance. You walk into the bathroom and there’s a nice linen closet on your right, double vanity past that, corner tub, and small shower, with a toilet room next to the shower. The closet is accessed through the diaganol wall to the left of the photo below, next to the toilet room. The long wall opposite the vanity has towel bars and that’s it.





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So, that’s the dated before. I’ll share photos again when the whole project is done, but I’m doing the occasional update over on Instagram (my account’s private after I got some weird comments a few months ago, but just request me and if your name is recognizable and you don’t post pictures of women’s feet, I’ll likely confirm you ;)).


  1. Yay! I’m so excited to see the after!

  2. When I saw your before pictures, I had to do a double take as it is the exact same footprint as our bathroom (from the placement of the sink, actual shower and tub shape and location). I’m excited about seeing what you come up with and maybe stealing some of your ideas 😉 I’ve already stolen your board and batten idea and love your duvet to curtain idea so much I did the same.

  3. How inspiring, I can’t wait to see the finished product! We live in a north Denver suburb and have had exactly the same experience with contractors and trying to get bids for our master bath. Our bathroom is very similar to yours only we DON’T have carpet and we DO have gold colored fixtures (thank you, 1994). If you would be willing to share your contractor’s info via email, we’d love to talk to him. Good luck living with the the construction chaos in the coming days!

    • We’re in the North Denver burbs too, Karyn! I will email you our contractor info when all is said and done – we’ve had a couple hiccups (though we’re sorting them out! I’m sure hiccups are to be expected) and I want to make sure I’d recommend them before I give you the info!

      • Hooray! (To you sharing the info, not to the hiccups.) I completely understand you wanting to wait until the process is over. We *hope* to DIY our vanity/sinks/mirrors this winter and then hire someone to tackle the tub/shower/tile next spring so we aren’t exactly in a rush. Good luck!

  4. Okay, what is WITH flaky contractors? I 100 percent don’t understand. Where do they come from? How can they continue to survive? We only had to hire out like four jobs on our house and they were all nightmares. For our roof, I called around 10 roofers and only ended up getting a quote from 1. ONE OUT OF TEN! And the same happened with spray foam insulation. Ryan has called almost a dozen contractors and has only received two quotes. And they took forever. It’s just ridiculous and makes me angry.

    But enough about me – I really can’t wait to see this come together. It will be so nice to have a beautiful space for you and B. And I can’t wait to see what you choose for a tub – I think those corner tubs were a staple in homes for such a long time and everyone says they are sort of a pain. (Although – with three kiddos, I suppose a large tub could be great).

  5. how big is the shower with the bench?

  6. Hello everyone! Lately I have been dealing with a lot of Problems. Friends and doctors keep telling me I should consider taking meds, so I may as well site and see how it goes. Problem is, I haven’t taken it for a while, and don’t wanna get back to it, we’ll see how it goes.

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