Our Spur of the Moment Budget Bathroom Renovation

farmhouse bath

At Christmas Chad suddenly announced that he was sick of our bathroom and that he was going to renovate it for me.

We’ve been holding out for a major renovation that won’t happen for years. Meanwhile, his suggestion was to cobble together extra tiles someone gave him and the least expensive everything in order to just have a finished room. I wanted marble counters and a skylight.

We compromised….

bathroom details

Here’s what we’ve been living with for the past 3.5 years…


For realz. We’ve been using this bathroom just like this. Only with more junk on the counter.

The walls were badly messed up from the old wall paper, and the ceilings were still popcorn.


When we first moved in there was crazy wallpaper on the walls and it made me feel like I was going to have a seizure so I pulled it off, and then did nothing else in this room because we were focused on everything else on this property.

bathroom10when we moved in

One of the things that bothers me about this bathroom is that it is tiny and has no window and is dark, so from the beginning we’ve had a long-term plan of totally gutting it and switching it with our closet which is on the outside wall of the house so we could have a window and make the space bigger.

Since moving a bathroom is a huge undertaking, and we had more important rooms on our list: kitchen, barn, upstairs bath, my office  (and again) (and I’ll be sharing more updates next week) and all the ceilings and trim, we knew this bathroom move would be waaaay down on our list. We have two other huge renovation projects already scheduled for this year that we can’t put off any longer (pool and basement!) so once again, our big bathroom makeover was going to have to wait.


Meanwhile we were living with this and apparently it was driving Chad crazy so he decided to do the most inexpensive “temporary” bathroom renovation ever.

But once we thought about it, we figured that if he was going to do the work, we should at least like the materials he used. So we didn’t use the free tile someone gave him, but we did use leftover tile from the boys bathroom and added to that. Our one splurge–a new toilet with some pretty details–but even this was only $100 more than a builder grade toilet. My marble counters got vetoed, instead we bought the bigger version of the Ikea sink and counters we used in the upstairs bath. Plain and simple, but pretty enough that we could live with it for a long, long while.

Chad got advice from Sean who stopped by once or twice a week for moral support, but he did the entire renovation himself. Learning as he went, it was a complete gut job. He started January 2nd and finished January 31st. This bathroom was his full-time job during January.



bathroom reno

Here are my disclaimers:

  1. remember, there is no window in here so these photos are horrible, but in real life, with all the white walls and ceilings make this room SHOCKINGLY bright! Like, we might not need to move this room after all, bright! In these photos I don’t even have the overhead light on, it’s just impossible to get photos in here!
  2. if I were a better blogger I’d remove that weird, low, second shower rod before I took photos. Here’s the thing, I LOVE tall shower curtains–meaning, I always use drapes for shower curtains because real shower curtains are too short (please someone change this!) so I always end up with two rods, one for my “shower curtain” and one for the inner liner–and that one has to be lower because liners are only 73 inches high. If this photo were going in a magazine, I’d take out that lower rod for the photos. But this is real life. (UPDATE: you all are the best and found me some LONG shower liners!!)
  3. I can’t decide if I want to paint the wood door or not, so for now he’s staying



bathroom5suddenly, I can’t believe we lived like this for so long

bathroom after

This was a hugely disruptive project–everything was a mess and dusty –the front porch, back porch, side yard where Chad threw all the junk out our window, our bedroom, hall–EVERY room was affected. DIYing is not pretty until it’s over, it’s mostly learning to live with a bunch of mess, and being patient.

bathroom makeover mess

I am SO happy with these changes. Now this bathroom looks like it came with the house. And it was VERY much worth the few hundred dollars extra to use materials that we liked. They weren’t my first, top choice, but I also didn’t hate them. Now this room is SO lovely, just a simple blank slate that’s finished and pretty and I can live with it for a long, long time if we need to.

bathroom details

I think we spend about $2000 on materials–nothing was special ordered, everything was right off the rack:

  • Sink & Cabinet: Ikea
  • Tub: Lowe’s Clearance sale
  • Floors: Lowe’s
  • Walls & Ceiling: Luan (same method we did in the rest of the house)
  • Lighting: Lowe’s
  • Hardware: Lowe’s
  • Tile: Lowe’s
  • Toilet: Lowe’s
  • Paint: Ace Hardware/Clark & Kensington Designer White (same color in our entire house)
  • Mirror: Goodwill years ago
  • Grout: Shower (silver) floor (charcoal)
  • Towel hooks, hand towel & mini shades: Hobby Lobby
  • Towels: World Market
  • Wall art: Vol 25
  • Shower Curtain (Drapes from HomeGoods)

master bath farmhouse style

My only regret–that we didn’t do this three years ago.


I am a big believer in the temporary fix. I know a lot of people warn you to never do something in your house “for now” because you will never change it. But it can be so worth the sanity to invest a little to upgrade your quality of life. I feel like a real person now who actually has a place to put my hair dryer!

And because we spent a few hundred dollars above the bare minimum, if I ended up keeping this bathroom forever, I’d be okay with that.













  1. OH, it’s gorgeous!!!! Send Chad up to Apex! My bathroom is pretty much done EXCEPT the floor. I so want a tile floor. Or even laminate. I’m just so over the linoleum in there now.

    In my 45 years of life, I’ve never had a bathroom with a window. It’s a silly dream but it still exists. I’d like one in the closet too. My mom always installs those tube window things that come through the roof in every bathroom of every house she buys and they bring the perfect moonlight in so you don’t even need to turn on the lights at night to, well, you know.

  2. It looks amazing! That’s been my problem, I feel if I can’t do the full fix then I should wait. But what a difference in that bathroom! Wow! Thanks for sharing

  3. I never really thought of a temporary upgrade; we always have in mind that whatever we do will last forever as long as we live there, but actually there are quick and relatively easy things you can do to make a room at least livable that are temporary. What you did looks great and it accommodates your needs, sometimes to save your sanity that’s all you need to do while you get your ideas together for your dream bathroom.

    Great ideas!

  4. Beautiful! Great strategy to make it something you really like, in case you end up sticking with it!

  5. I had to come right over and see because your worst bathroom in the world has been consolation for my worst bathroom in the world…in the best way! lol But GIRL… it looks AMAZINGGGG!!!! Randy’s gutted ours, but only taking one step a weekend makes for a loooonnnnggg haul. All that to say, here’s to husbands who can do our renos for us, no matter how long it takes! Great job to Chad, too!!!

    • It felt like it took 18 forevers. Chad literally thought he’d have it done in less than a week. Of course, we did opt for planking all the walls and ceiling and doing new trim which took extra time that most rooms don’t need. And if you skipped the tiling in the shower, you could be super fast!

      It’s worth it!! hang in there!

  6. This is beautiful! Our bathroom is *almost* as bad as your before right now. I’ve been putting it off because I can’t decide the direction I want to go with the design in there. I’ve had 18 paint swatches up on the walls for almost 4 years now… BUT, did you know they make extra long shower liners? I always make an extra long curtain in my kids’ bath too, and I can use these 84″ liners on the same rod. Every once in a while I’ll find one at TJ or Homegoods, but search “extra long shower curtain liner” on Amazon and there’s lots of choices! :)


      this just changed my life!! thanks Jennifer!!

    • Janise Cookston says

      Yep. Same here. I use window curtains for our shower curtains and get my extra long liners from Amazon.

    • I’m in the same boat with you—our current bathroom is as bad (or worse) than Nester’s “before” bath. There hasn’t been an update since early 80’s (shudder!!). I have finally decided on style, colors, etc…….now just have to wait for warmer weather and to get motivated. This post certainly provides the motivation….gorgeous room. Love that toilet lid….Nester, can you share the toilet brand, please? Thx.

  7. It’s beautiful!!!!! I think I would not paint the wood door. The door with the mirror looks SO good with all the white. Love it!!!

  8. What if you attached the lining to the inside of the’curtain’ in a way that they were one? I bought a shower curtain from Bed&bath once that has that hotel lining; it snaps inside the curtain. That way you could use your drapes and have the lining on the inside where it needs to be for the shower.

    I do love how you taking any room and turn it into something beautiful! You have a great gift!

  9. Shower curtains do come longer than 73″. A quick Amazon search for “PEVA shower curtain 96″ returned several results. There also are several options that are 108” wide. If you rotated it 90º and added your own grommets, you’d have one long enough to ditch the second rod for good.

    Great makeover!

  10. Oh my goodness, this is why you are my fave! WOW!

  11. I love what you did. I definitely could live with the changes you made. We get paralyzed in making decisions. Will it be the right one, do we look for a new house (this has been on the list for Years), etc.

  12. This looks so great! Might I add, if you haven’t already… Purchase some lightbulbs from the hardware store labeled “daylight bulbs”. These lightbulbs are amazing for dark, tiny rooms… you can even tell a huge difference in pictures (not yellow-y at all). Plus, they really aren’t much more expensive than most regular bulbs! Enjoy your new bathroom… Temporary or not, that is a room you use every day and you will notice the impact it has on your every day life experience!

  13. Brittany w. says

    Congratulations! You both did a great job! And that wood door looks so awesome. I didn’t even notice it before, but now it’s just oozing warmth and cozy. Enjoy!

  14. There ARE extra long shower liners at BBB and Amazon! We share the love of hanging our shower curtains high. There are also double hooks so the curtain goes on one side and the line Ron the other, eliminating the need for a second rod. I have to give my daughter credit for finding the Amazon supplies.

  15. This is beautiful! I love the wooden door (I think – it looks orange in the before pix but a wonderful mid walnut shade in the afters, which is perfect with the room). My only HUH?!? moment was when I thought you had soccer ball finials on the towel hooks!

  16. certainly a lovely improvement, especially since that before that you’d been living with was so…special. top choice or not, i’m sure it feels fancy and luxurious compared to what it was!

  17. it’s beautiful! Could you please share the specific tile you used on the floor and for the shower and your white paint color?
    I want to do something similar in our bathroom. We don’t have a lowes in town but I will travel to get this look.
    Thank you!

    • Hi heather! I know, I’m the WORST at details, the white paint color is listed, but the tiles–the charcoal ones–I’m just not sure, we had a lot left over and chad took one to Lowes and found more like it–they are 12 x 24 I think if that helps. I see them at every lowes store.

      the white tiles are allen and roth from Lowes, we found them a few years ago, but this time around, we used leftover and had to source extras, Chad said they were harder to find this time around.

  18. Beautiful! This is just the inspiration I needed and I’ve pinned it to my “bathroom” board. We have a hall bathroom that is just his size (maybe smaller). It’s hideous. It’s the kids bathroom AND the guest bathroom. What’s worse is that the plumbing leaks into my office downstairs. Unfortunately, my husband has no renovation skills so we’ll have to buy materials and pay for the labor (which is why it’s still hideous) but this is exactly the look i want. Thank you for giving me hope of a beautiful bathroom one day!

  19. Funny about the extra long liners….got one for my Sweetie when he was deployed and the liner either wrapped around his legs or let the water spray out…(He could move the rod up and down)
    Amazon has it all!

  20. Beautiful remodel. Love it!
    I just quickly scanned through the comments and saw some about liners. Forgive me if this is a repeat suggestion, but I just purchase 2 liners – use one full liner that will attach to the rod, and cut the other one from the bottom with the length I need and attach it to the full liner. I sew them with a French seam and ta-da: the perfect length for my curtains (drapes) in less than half an hour….

  21. Does having shower drapes/liner so high not make your showers super dark? I like the way it looks from the outside but just curious!

  22. In the new look, I like the wooden door and would leave it. It lost its orangey look once you got rid of all that yellow and now it adds a lot of interest. Please update us after a while on how that IKEA vanity holds up. That would be my only question about whether to just keep this renovation permanently. I think it’s great!

    Oh, and suggestions for plants that can survive in bathrooms with no light, please? ?

    • Right? that door did change color! Well, we’ve had that same vanity upstairs in our teenage boys bath with three boys for over a year and it’s surprisingly been great!! hope that helps!

  23. Briane Kearns says

    The basement is in the plans FOR THIS YEAR!?!? Can I come to the basement planning meetings and take notes!? I sent you an email about the InSo fast panels for the basement.

    Thanks for posting this and giving me motivation. I’ve been thinking of a partial update of my portion of the master bath, which is a 65″ sink vanity separate from another room that houses another sink vanity, tub and toilet. My area doesn’t function for me at all but there’s no $$ for a full bath updat any time soon. I always said that I wanted to wait and do everything all at once. But after seeing this, I’m going to update the cabinets and fixtures in my wonky space as my graduation present to myself when I finish seminary in May. At least my area will work. An IKEA trip is now on the agenda for this Friday when I come for class.

  24. “They weren’t my first, top choice, but I also didn’t hate them. Now this room is SO lovely.” YES, THIS. I see myself in this statement and I love it. I may appreciate the finest things in life, but I am not willing to go broke just to have them. And I love that you did such a gorgeous job without breaking the bank. :) Looks so beautiful!

  25. Love.

    Makes me wonder what we miss along the way because we’re waiting around for perfect.

    We’re just finishing up THE NEST above our garage … celebrating the skylights and beautiful windows that make it seem like a tree house. Putting in a wall of beautiful floor to ceiling bookshelves and comfy chairs for conversation.

    And not making a great big deal that there’s no potty in there.

    If we waited for money for a bathroom, the space would be empty for years to come.

  26. Dang, I wish my husband or I was handy. We have a bathroom with a peeling vanity and textured dolphin wallpaper that would love an upgrade.

    Your bathroom looks wonderful!

  27. It looks so amazing! I love the wood on the walls and the slate colored floor tile is neat. Well done, to your hubby. Enjoy!

  28. Had that same exact bathroom for 13 years! My brother came to visit for 4 days and he and my husband completely redid it. Of course that last 10% is still not finished 2 years later but 90% is far better than that awful yellow…

  29. Mary Margaret says

    ahhhh what a relief visually! Hooray! I could live with this indefinitely! Wonderful job!

  30. Oh goodness that is the most beautiful temporary fix I’ve ever seen! Sure wish I could talk my husband into a temp fix of our master bath. He’s one of those “let’s save up for a major reno” guy. Maybe one day my dreams for a luxury bath retreat will come true!

  31. I use drapes for a shower curtain too! You can buy longer versions of shower liners on Amazon though! (And sometimes Target online.) These were a game changer for me!

  32. I think it all looks great! I really like all of your choices! I am searching for bathroom lighting and was wondering if you feel like these fixtures provide enough lighting for you- the pictures look like they do – I just thought I’d ask to be sure.Thanks so much!

  33. So much white makes is SO much brighter, fresher, and cleaner. Just what a bathroom should be!

  34. This is so random, but which bathtub is this? We’re doing a bathroom remodel as well and I keep reading all kinds of things about the material of the tub, the depth, etc. We just want something cheap, easy to clean, and good for baths for little ones. Thanks!

  35. What a great in-between fix! You know I’m a big fan of making it better in the meantime before the big remodel :) Love how it turned out!

  36. This turned out so well! Like seriously- a big fan of the tile and mirror… love those sconces too- and totally wishing my husband didn’t talk me out of choosing pretty toilets. But that’s ok. Nice work Chad!!

  37. Dawn Whitt says

    I am so on it now! So inspiring and since I have the proverbial blue bathroom and yellow bathroom, circa 1964, I gotta get moving. Just bought the house in September of last year and am so happy I found your blog! Thanks girlie!

  38. Laura Furr says

    Your bathroom is beautiful, I can appreciate the hard work that went into it! Thanks for sharing!
    I live in the same County as you :-) I use as much fresh greenery as I can from the woods around the house, but there’s not much to choose from! Would you mind sharing where you get so much of your beautiful greenery that I see in your photos – just like you have displayed in your bathroom pictures…the shades of green in the vase on your vanity are lovely! Thank you!

  39. I was so excited to see this! It’s so pretty and I love that it wasn’t something that broke the bank! I am so glad folks found you some long shower curtains…..I get mine through amazon! Please please please…..can you keep posting about someone making longer Outer shower curtains…..please!!!!

  40. It’s beautiful! And my jaw dropped when you mentioned drapes for shower curtains. My shower curtain in 2 of our bathrooms are too short! Now, I’m in the hunt for curtains I like! Game changer!

  41. CHAD!!! Ya done good!!!!
    It looks great!!!

  42. I say keep the door as is! It’s beautiful.

  43. I LOVE this bathroom. The mirror, the contrast, the plant, the sink and the shower curtain . . . really everything, and I don’t say something like this often. I think it is a perfect balance, and I think you should keep the door the dark wood. Well done! I’d totally take this bathroom. :)

  44. Wow, such a difference! it is beautiful, well done! The mirror with the light next to it is my favorite part. For any other renovation enthusiasts there is a really great tool that lets you estimate the cost of a renovation project and the return on investment for free: https://app.mykukun.com/Home-Renovation-Costs

  45. Deb Limback says

    Looks great! Inspiration for my small bathroom! Now all I need is a “Chad” to do the work!


  46. Love it! Our bathroom is windowless too and when we redid it on a budget we went with white, painted shiplap. We actually did the cheap version of shiplap with the cut thin wood panels from Lowe’s. It makes such a huge difference in our tiny bathroom.

  47. Who said “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful?” Oh wait, You!
    And fyi, that’s beautiful!

  48. Barbara Mawdsley says

    We built our house in 1971. We chose white tile, tub, toilet and sink. We’ve changed the floor, wallpaper, lighting but that is about it. It doesn’t look dated. It looks classic. It is also classic. My counters are marble look Formica. No one mistakes it for ‘real’ but formica or tile were the only choices in the early 70’s

  49. Absolutely adore! Chad did a great job and I would move this bathroom right to the BOTTOM of the list for a long time — maybe forever!

  50. Stunning – you always speak truth to my heart and style to my soul! My bathrooms are brand new and still they are crushing on yours <3. Yay, Chad! Handy husbands rock! ;-)

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