I’m so excited to share this post today as it has literally been years in the making. Way back in 2013 my husband and I bought our first home together. After months of searching we found the perfect place with a price tag our budget could afford. The one sticking point? Both the bathroom and kitchen needed a major overhaul.
So we saved and planned. Then saved and planned some more. Fast forward 3 years later, not only has our family grown with the addition of our baby daughter, but we now have the bathroom of our dreams! Here’s how we did it…
Our main goal for our renovated bathroom was to keep some of the original features while adding in modern, family friendly amenities.
For months I collected inspiration from magazines, TV, blogs and real Home Tours, slowly added my favorites to a Pinterest board dedicated solely to this project and slowly things began to take shape.
With the original bathroom consisting of a combined bath/shower, a sink/medicine cabinet and original toilet, our goal was to increase the floor space, have a separate shower and bath and a wide vanity.
We chose to tile from floor to ceiling for easy cleaning, with dark floor tiles (to hide any marks and mess!) and one wall of feature tiles to make a statement.
Where we Saved:
Tiles | With time up our sleeve, as soon as we knew the style of tiles we wanted to use I bookmarked a number of outlets where they were available. By playing the waiting game I was able to score all of our tiles at 50% off in an end of season sale. These days you can get tiles online, factory outlets, showrooms and big brand stores. It pays off to keep an eye on them and grab them when they’re the best price.
Repurposed old medicine cabinet and windows | Refinishing and repurposing this original feature not only saved us money – we felt it added to the character of our home. I love how it frames the entire wall above the bath and adds depth to the modern fixtures. It just goes to show - sometimes a bit of work and a new coat of paint can breath life into an existing feature.
Where we Spent:
Trades | As the old saying goes, measure twice and cut once. This especially applies in a wet room like a bathroom. In a bathroom all measurements have to be spot on, drains had to be spaced in the right place and tiling had to be just so. The last thing you want is a beautiful bathroom with a drainage or mold issue. Above all else with a bathroom you need to either spend your money on quality trades or spend your time making sure you skillfully do the job yourself.
Toilet | As the toilet wasn’t going to be in a separate room, and we wanted it to take up as little space as possible, we opted for a toilet with an in built cistern into the wall. It was more expensive than a standard one, but the extra space and clean lines it gave was worth it.
What we Learned:
- Always think about how you plan to use the bathroom in the immediate and long term future. For me, at the beginning of our renovation plans it was just myself and my husband. Yet once our baby came along I had a whole new set of requirements for the space. Save your future self the trouble and think ahead!
- Heating in a bathroom isn’t just about keeping you toasty in winter. For bathrooms that are small, or don’t get a lot of natural light, good heating keeps mold at bay. Make it a priority.
- Always spend a good amount of time trialing baths in the store. Yes, you look crazy lying down fully clothed in a showroom bath, but you need to do your due diligence to make sure you have a bath you love. If you have small kids, also practice where you’ll sit when bathing them and if it’s comfortable.
- Always opt for more storage space than you think you need.
- Good sealant is the cherry on top. Sounds like a weird thing to say, but the finishing touch of any bathroom is your sealant. Clean, smooth sealant gives a professional, luxe look.
Once we had the bare bones of the bathroom the next step was to organize it! Knowing that the bathroom was going to be used by a whole range of people – myself, my husband, our daughter and guests – I knew I had to make every inch of this space work for everyone who used it.
So, I called in the big guns… and while we were finishing off the tiling, I devoured Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and set about KonMari-ing the heck out of this space!
Step One: Collect
Using Marie Kondo’s method of organizing by category, not by room, I collected every ‘toiletry & personal care’ related item in our home and put them all in one pile for sorting. This was a big aha moment for me – for years I’ve kept my makeup in my dresser and our toilet paper in the laundry. Now that they’re happily living in the bathroom, I know it’s where they both belong.
Step Two: Purge
A life-long organizer, I’ve always loved a good clean up and purge, but this time I took it to the next level. I streamlined everything – getting rid of anything out of date, broken and any items that I, or a member of my family, didn’t love and use regularly.
Kondo’s book recommended to look at each item individually and ask if it ‘sparked joy’. That point originally garnered a massive eye roll from me - I mean how does a toothbrush spark joy? But as I worked through everything I really began to get it.
If you don’t enjoy something, or it doesn’t add value to your life, why let it take up valuable space in your home? These days we live in such a materialistic driven society that having 100 nail polishes, or a seven step beauty routine with a different cream for each step is considered the norm. And while some people may indeed LOVE their nail polishes and creams, for most of us its just stuff that we buy and it ends up chucked in a drawer to be barely used.
So as I worked through our things, I made sure everything that stayed was something that we loved and each item earned its place in the bathroom.
And back to the toothbrush… Does it bring me joy? Well, I learned in this process that while a toothbrush may not make me as giddy as my favorite eye shadow palette, it performs an integral part of my daily life and therefore a clean set of teeth of course brings me joy. Which leads me to my next point…
Step Three: Respect and Assign a Place
The final step in Marie Kondo’s method is to show respect for your items and give them a permanent home. This has been a game changer for our new bathroom. Once the great purge had ended, I was left with items that fit into the following categories:
- Daily essential products (i.e. toothbrush, moisturizer) for myself, my husband and daughter
- Bath & Shower Products
- Child Bath Toys
- Toilet Paper
- Medical Supplies
- Makeup and brushes
- Pampering products
With these categories I was now able to assign each a place in our new bathroom where they live tidily and return home after each use. The KonMari method says to avoid the clutter coming back this step is essential. No more just chucking everything back in the drawer to find everything covered in toothpaste one day! It needs to be as simple and easy to put away an item, as it is to find and use it again.
Here’s the plan I drew up…
Inside, I used basic acrylic dividers for our daily essentials... (although since seeing Jen’s DIY drawer dividers I’m thinking I might install a set of these soon!)
Stackable acrylic trays let me organize my makeup with my essentials on the top tray and duplicates or special occasion items on the bottom.
As with a lot of bathroom and kitchen vanities, this drawer has a cut out to make space for the drain piping, yet the small box left over became the perfect place to store my make up brushes! Kondo says you don’t need to spend a fortune on lots of fancy storage options, and often solutions like this are right in front of your eyes if you just look for them.
In my daughter’s large drawer is a container for all her bath toys and towels. They used to just live in the bath and get covered in all sorts of grime (while also being a bit of an ‘primary color’ eye sore if I was to be honest!). Now we grab a couple out of the drawer each bath time, which are dried off and returned (AKA hidden!) at the end. It kills two birds; my daughter never gets tired of the rotating bath toys and they stay clean and out of sight when not in use.
Next door, a dedicated ‘Toddler Cupboard’ is now my daughter’s own personal space which will grow with her over time as she becomes more independent in self care. As she grows I plan to add a mirror right at her height so she can get used to seeing herself while she brushes her teeth and does her hair.
An assigned medical kit filled with the basics (thermometer, band aids, bandages) meant all our medical supplies were tucked away in one go-to place. (With a toddler, all our actual medicines have been moved to a safe place in the kitchen!) I had originally planned to DIY my own medical kit, but when I saw this one for just $12, I had to snap it up!
Below, our toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and waste bin now all live right next to the toilet – perfect for us everyday and for guests as well.
The final, fun step was decorating our new bathroom. My main goals here were to keep to a super small budget and make the space modern and luxe, but also family friendly.
Funnily enough, after a big renovation, decorating the new space wasn’t as quick and easy as I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
Pick a Hero Piece
For my bathroom it was always going to be the mirror. Rather than having individual mirrors we went with one large art-deco inspired mirror to fit with the original style of the house. Framed by simple glass pendant lights, the mirror takes up most of one wall and reflects the opposite featured wall of hexagon tiles in the shower. By choosing one hero piece you get maximum impact and can keep the surrounding space simple.
Bring Nature In
Adding some greenery and flowers really makes a bathroom feel fresh and homely. The addition of fresh florals brightened up our space with their scent, making our bathroom a happy place to enjoy and relax in. I have grander plans for adding in either a tall standing plant or an orchid and/or succulents for a more long term goal.
It Takes Time
I think this has been my most important lesson! I honestly thought a few days of browsing and shopping would have our gorgeous new bathroom styled to perfection. But…it’s a process.
It’s very easy to pick a color scheme and go for it, but by letting things develop organically you allow yourself to see how you use the space and what feels right. It also allows you to take more chances by trying colors or styles that are new to you.
By taking things slowly, I’m allowing myself to be more adventurous with the space, and to date I’m still switching things up, trying different pieces and adding new elements while taking others away. In short – don’t feel the pressure to do everything at once. Let your own style evolve at your own pace.
That’s it! I hope some of our experiences and tips will help you with the own bathroom makeovers, no matter how big or small!
I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. My greatest loves include my family, fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my sweet baby daughter. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!