Crappy Bathroom {Home Renovations}

Crap. Bathroom. They go hand-in-hand, right?

Well, I mean more along the lines of when you have a crappy bathroom, it’s just no fun. And I’ve watched enough episodes of Bang for your Buck on HGTV to know that a bathroom renovation, done right, can be both impressive and a wise investment for resell time.

But, I’ve also learned from Bang for your Buck that it takes MUCHO bucks to do a bathroom reno correctly or lavishly.

My first thoughts were, hire a contractor, sit back and drink mimosas, write a check. Then I thought about how LARGE that check would have to be, and would it even clear the bank?

Onto plan B.


Mind you, I’ve never ever redone a bathroom. Plumbing? Nope. Electrical? Very minor. Tiling? HA. No experience.

But after way too many YouTube videos + champagne, I was convinced I could do it. And then I found this blogger who did a FAB job and I felt even more inspired to DIY. I could totally handle a wet saw. Totally.

Then my bubbly buzz wore off and I was left with the fact that I didn’t want to do this myself, nor could I.

Sad panda.

Now I am back to trying to figure out how to tackle this. Save up and get a contractor in a year or 2? Get a home equity loan (which TERRIFIES ME!) Try to DIY? A combo of both? Our master bathroom is rather small. It’s about 9×7 feet. All that fits in there is a small shower stall, toilet and single vanity + closet. We want to leave the general footprint the same, but updated. A frameless glass shower enclosure, toilet, double vanity and no linen closet. We need some lights installed and a fan removed. The tile we love comes in at about $600 for the entire bathroom. It’s the darn labor (tile, plumber, electrical) that is going to cost us an arm and a leg. Here’s my inspiration thus far in photos:

Photo Jan 22, 11 46 58 PM 

Photo Jan 22, 11 51 09 PM

via Google Images (love the shower stalls)

Photo Jan 22, 8 07 10 PM

Manhattan Vanity via Overstock ($1900)

Photo Jan 22, 8 12 32 PM

VIGO sliding glass door shower enclosure via Overstock ($1550)

Photo May 19, 11 27 51 AM

Metallic linen grain tile for our bathroom floor from Floor & Décor Outlets ($2 sq ft)

Overall, I figure all the materials would cost us $6K. Labor…well, who knows. I can’t even get a contractor interested in our project. They all kinda scoff at the we provide materials and you do the work kinda thing. I don’t know why, but they do.


I think I am stuck. I would love, love, love a new master bathroom. I can’t even put in the new flooring in our master bedroom until the bathroom is done because I fear it would be ruined by all the work a contractor would have to do (coming in/out of our bedroom). It’s technically not broken, but with the mold issues I am pretty sure we have in/behind our current shower stall, I’d like to take care of this sooner rather than later. What would you do? If you want to read a fabulous and entertaining story about picking a contractor for a bathroom remodel, you have to visit my dear friend’s blog. I adore her. Love her. LOVE.

If I go the contractor route, what would you recommend I ask a potential contractor?

If I go the non-contractor route and hire out each pro myself…is that crazy?

Should I DIY what I can and hire out the rest? But what if I screw it all up? And I need tons of tools. Would it even be worth it?

Monica Wants It. And It happens to be a new bathroom.




  1. TheNextMartha
    February 1, 2012 / 3:09 pm

    There are lots of points that I actually did not make. It's like a gift of mine. My contractor DID allow me to buy things on my own. We bought our own light fixtures and could have done more if we wanted. I think any contractor that doesn't? Isn't worth hiring. Now, there are some things brand name that they would actually be able to get cheaper because of their business relationship with that company. Honestly? If I didn't have kids I would have done demo myself. Maybe hired a plumber and an electrician to come in and do their work. Then maybe find a REALLY great handyman to come in to finish. It's a thought. We did our bathroom for < 10K. We also got financing through that company, so that's another thought. I can't wait to follow you on this journey. 🙂

  2. Carolyn
    February 1, 2012 / 3:26 pm

    I'm pretty sure you can handle the demo on your own and please don't be afraid of tiling yourself. We did it and it's time consuming but not actually difficult. We purchased a wet tile cutter at Home Depot on sale for less than $100 so that saved us a crazy amount on labor. We also got our tile at closeout prices. Just make sure to buy enough in case you screw up on some of them. The plumbing and electrical you might be able to hire a handyman to do. We've been toying with the idea of tearing out our tub enclosure and putting in a glass shower – I'm just afraid that after we rip it all out I will hit a roadblock with something or another.I'll be watching to see what you end up doing… might be following in your footsteps.

  3. Meg
    February 2, 2012 / 3:15 pm

    Rennovations suck. I watched friends do it, with small children…icky…I have no advise other than the well-meaning but never went through it before advice, so ignore if you want. What about a tech school? Is there any school in the area (electrical, plumbing, etc) that tries to give the students real world experience (with a teacher on hand) at a cheaper rate & you provide the materials. As for tiling, don't be scared! I did that & it's fun once you start & fairly easy.

  4. Too Much To Do So Little Time
    February 3, 2012 / 7:12 am

    We need to re-do our shower. UGH! It's been nearly a year since our downstairs remodel was finished. I just realized I didn't finish posting the last of the updates… UGH! I was so sick of when we were done that the thought of doing our bathroom makes me sick. BUT our shower grout is almost gone and the tile sucks so it all has to come out. I HATE tile so I don't know what I'm going to do.Stef at

  5. Brigitte
    July 4, 2012 / 7:13 am

    We just redid our two upstairs bathrooms last October. At first we were going to do it ourselves, but we did our laundry room first. I did so much research, but once the laying the tile part came, my husband and his dad took over. Once they were all done, there were uneven spots. No one would notice unless you point it out, but I see it multple times a day. In theory, tiling is easy. At least the websites and Home Depot How To books make it seem that way. And I guess it is if your floors are level. They rarely are, and the tile professionals know how to adjust for that and make it feel level and all corners of the tiles meeting perfectly. No pointy corners sticking up. It's important to check tiles often because you can think you're doin everything flat an level, but you run into an issue at the very end. Anyway, if you know how to adjust for that, go for it.After our laundry room experience, my husband decided that back-breaking work is not for him and we hired a contractor. I found one referred by a friend. Angie's List is a great resource if you don't know where to start. We bought a tile saw from Home Depot too..about $100. Much cheaper than renting and you don't have to rush it. And my contractor let me go to the showroom to pick tile and let me pay directly. He didn't mark it up at all. And I bought the toilets, tub, faucets, lighting myself. He picked up the tile in his truck, brought the grout, tools and supplies he needed, and a small crew. He even installed the faucets and toilets for us because he was perfectly capable and not charging plumber rates. He connected me with the electrician that he does other jobs with, who installed the thermostat/timer for the floor heat, added some outlets, put in new exhaust whisper fans all over the house, etc. It turned out really nice and now I'm trying to convince my husband that redoing the kitchen is an awesome idea!Thanks for your posts–especially the one about staining the cabinets. I'm totally going to try that! (Found it on Pinterest tonight).

  6. Brigitte
    July 4, 2012 / 7:22 am

    BTW, I watched them a little bit. I believe what they did was layout the tiles how they wanted them (dry run with the spacers and everything). And then used a really long level. Lay it across the area that it will cover and see where it isn't touching. Do this looking at them from several angles. The tiles with gaps will need thicker mortar so that in the end, there will no gaps. The area will be level in all directions. I think it's sort of a puzzle. You can adjust one thing to make one area good, but it messes up the section next to it. I think it's really important to take your time. Those people took over a month to finish my(large)master bath, but they did everything correctly. Again, sounds easy, but it's labor intensive and messy. And if your bathroom is upstairs and your wetsaw is in the garage, plan on a "few" trips. Get a roll of that sticky plastic to put on your stairs and protect the carpets on the path to and from the garage. 🙂

  7. Beth McJones
    February 12, 2013 / 3:31 am

    I really like Angie's list as a resource here in the Indianapolis area. Perhaps you could try something like that as a resource in your area? Best to you in completing this project. i have a similarly sized bathroom with similarly sized dreams and a teeny, tiny budget (like $500), maybe next life.

  8. Joshua
    May 30, 2016 / 4:13 am

    I just like the Manhattan Vanity via Overstock bathroom design. It's amazing. I think the price of that bathroom renovations items are bit high but it's worth the price.