Come along for the tour of the next room in our 1900 farmhouse renovation series, the main bathroom before and after. From a standard, windowless box to a spa-like retreat with old-house character, all with just the addition of two feet and keeping the costs low with DIY projects and reusing materials.
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This bathroom renovation has made me so happy - it's such a beautiful and functional place to use. I'm excited to take you on a tour of how we went from a boring, windowless box to a bright room full of character!
Remodeling bathrooms can be hard and expensive. There are so many decisions that affect a room you use multiple times a day, so it's important to get it right - and have it still look good.
In our case, we started out with a remodeled bathroom in our 1900 farmhouse, one we found out had originally been a cold storage/pantry before being turned into a bathroom and then been made over into a "builder grade" bath around the 1990s.
With a basic tub-shower insert, tiny pedestal sink, awkwardly placed toilet, and wallboard walls, it was bland, dark, and not as functional as it could be.
Plus, it didn't have an electrical outlet in it. Truth - no outlet in the room at all.
I really have no idea how you'd use a bathroom without an outlet - even in the 40s and 50s there were light fixtures with outlets in them. All I can figure is that they ran extension cords and put them away when we did the walk through.
In the end, with a total gut job and two feet borrowed from the newly expanded main bedroom, we were able to create a bathroom with a spa-like feel that you know is part of a 100+ year old house.
And because we did most of it ourselves (after hiring out the rough-in plumbing and room bump-out), it cost a LOT less than many total bathroom remodels.
Main Bathroom Before and After Video
Note: I'll provide sources to everything I can at the end of the reveal.
Main Bathroom Renovation
My main goals with the bathroom were to make space for a window and add character as well as function (i.e., storage - there was none).
By taking two feet from the main bedroom we were expanding at the same time and going with a walk-in shower instead of a tub, we were able to not only add a window, but have room for linen as well as a large vanity with storage.
(Note: the plans were drawn up by our designer for the permit process - he just assumed we'd want two sinks, but it was never in my plans. Just a personal preference!)
Since I love history, I find it fascinating to peel back the layers of a house and discover what it was before.
We found out this room had originally been a pantry-storage area off the kitchen before indoor plumbing. You can see where a door had been into the kitchen on the far left, the outline of a shelving system in the corner on the right, and of course the kitchen-y wallpaper.
The best part for me was discovering an opening for a window that had been in the same spot where we were putting one!
I love it when restoration and renovation can meet like that.
Above is the total gut stage. We've installed the window, removed the wall on the left and framed in the new wall two feet from the original one.
Most of this work was done by the crew we hired to frame in the bedroom expansion, though we did a lot of the demo.
We also hired a plumber to rough-in the fixtures (and pass the permits).
Then it was up to us to finish the space.
Brian did all the electrical - yay for an outlet in the bathroom!! We also added wall sconces and a fan-light combo. He did all the finish plumbing work, too.
Brian painstakingly recreated the shiplap walls we've found in other parts of the house (this room was originally simply boards nailed together) using the wonderful wood we were able to save from the bedroom demolition.
We removed the acoustic-tile like ceiling to reveal original wood that I spent a lot of time on - it wasn't in great shape and really patched from the reconfiguration.
Did I wish that we had just slapped up some beadboard panels like in the laundry room? Yes - many times, lol.
Then came the shower tile job. Whew.
I mention in the video that the $4,000 quote we got for the shower began to not seem so bad after days, weeks, and then months of dealing with this shower - on top of the rest of the renovation.
Hindsight is 20-20, and we saw that it would've been worth it for something you use every day.
We did okay and it turned out fine, but there are lots of wonky spaces and places where a professional would've just done it smoother.
In contrast, I'm SO happy we didn't pay the $1,000 quoted for labor for laying the tile for the 64 square feet of floor.
Tiling a floor with 8x8 tiles is so easy - this space was done in half a day with Brian cutting and me laying tile.
Grouting took me another half day - especially because I used a pre-mixed grout.
Once the tiling was done, it was just a matter of installing the vanity we made, the toilet, fixtures, and all the trim. ("Just" ha!)
Farmhouse Main Bathroom Before and After
The view from the hallway into the bathroom before.
The view into the bathroom from the hallway now.
Obviously, the hallway remodel helps a lot here, too. I also think the old doors we salvaged from another house and had the paint removed does a LOT to bring in old-house character.
After having white floor tiles in our last bathrooms, I was determined to go darker (Spoiler: I'm SO glad I did - the few little while things I find are much better than all.the.dark.hairs constantly on white tile.)
When I found the matte, almost chalkboard-looking tile with hand painted corner petals I knew it was what I was looking for - not too busy and not too modern, but just enough interest that I (hopefully) won't grow tired of it (it's linked in the sources section below).
The "full" bathroom before looking from the doorway.
This is the same view, standing in the doorway.
The shower is now to the right with the vanity and toilet on the wall opposite, making much better use of a small space.
We transformed the Facebook Marketplace dresser into a vanity, just like we did with this dresser in our last house. This time, though, the top wasn't useable so I painted it to look like old marble.
It's okay - I'm not in love with the paint job, but I do like that it looks better than plain paint would have.
I don't know why this toilet placement seemed so weird to me - I think we're just not used to them being that close to doorways.
This is MUCH nicer to see with the door open from the hallway!
We've been really happy with how the vanity looks and functions - I especially like the deep sink (and choosing a wide overlap means I don't have to worry about soap and water left on the wood top) and the bridge-like faucet and handles (all linked below, too).
Really, it's so great to use everyday.
The mirror is huge so there's plenty of room for two people to be there at once and the sconces give off great light (I wanted white shades to diffuse the light a bit for makeup application).
Pedestal sinks are great for powder or guests baths, but the main bath needs a lot more storage than this, wouldn't you agree?
This is the same wall the sink was on - it now holds the shower and linen cabinet behind the door.
I really think its the fully tiled shower that helps give the bathroom it's spa-like feeling. That and the tall ceilings, large mirror, and bright light.
Here's another view with the door closed so you can see the vintage green china cabinet I decided to use for storage instead of a built-in.
As I mention in the video, we did lose out on some storage, but we saved hundreds of dollars (this cost $100 and a built in would've cost close to $1000) and gained a beautiful piece of character.
Here's more of the shower - I had worried that the space might be too narrow, but it's fine and ended up a standard width.
That was one of the benefits of tiling it all, it could be a completely custom size.
And I LOVE the black tile here for the same reasons as the flooring - it always looks clean, a-hem. I did read to not use white bar soap anymore, so I've only been using handmade soap and it's been fine - no white residue at all over the last year.
Our bathroom functions as the primary bathroom and guest main-floor bath and it's everything we hoped for as we were making the plans - a roomy layout even in a small space, with both old house beauty and function.
Main Bathroom Sources
Paint for Walls, Trim, Cabinets: Simply White, Benjamin Moore (matched at Home Depot with Behr Premium).
Green Paint for Cabinet: Custom green, 'Boxwood' I had mixed according to the formula found in this article on Miss Mustard Seed.
Wall: Daltile Restore Bright White 12x12 sheets Ceramic Subway Wall Tile
(They didn't have much in the way of accessory pieces - bullnose ends, etc., so I'd go with a brand that has all the parts available you'd need)
All Grout: MAPEI Flexcolor CQ 0.5-Gallon Warm Gray Acrylic Premix Sanded Grout (Note: I haven't been super happy with this grout - it was hard to apply to the shower -leaves a sandy haze if you don't work fast - and has been discoloring on the floor and shower. I would've probably picked a darker grout, but went with the recommendation from Young House Love. Definitely read up on DIY with this grout.)
Faucet: Glacier Bay Lyndhurst 8 in. Widespread 2-Handle High-Arc Bathroom Faucet in Brushed Nickel (I chose brushed nickel fixtures because we have hard water and this finish shows the least amount of water spots.)
Sink: Kohler Memoirs Stately Drop-In Vitreous Sink (8-inch faucet spread)
Shower Head: Attract Dual Shower Head in Brushed Nickel
Shower Curtain Set Up:
Extra Long 96-inch Fabric Shower Curtain Cotton Honeycomb
Double Glide Shower Hooks in Nickel (easiest on-off!)
Fan-Light Combo: NuTone 70 CFM Ceiling Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Recessed Light (LOVE this - fan works well, lots of light, and looks good!)
Sconces: No longer available, but similar to this style with white glass shade. (etsy)
Creamy White Hanging Planter (set of 2)
I hope you enjoyed this tour of our farmhouse's main bathroom renovation.
Next up in the series is our primary bedroom - probably the most changed since we added on to that room - it's the room with WINDOWS!
MORE ABOUT THE 1900 FARMHOUSE
- Our New Farmhouse Fixer - The Before Tour
- Exterior Farmhouse Fixer Before Tour
- Farmhouse Fixer Yard Tour Before
- Farmhouse Fixer Year 2 Review + Video
- Farmhouse Progress Year 3 (+ Tour)
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