A Budget-Friendly Small Bathroom Makeover

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Canada, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

We moved into this 1980s home two years ago and started renovating immediately. We’ve taken on big projects and like most renovations, they have taken more time and money than we often planned. We decided to take on a tiny basement bathroom for a quick win on a budget! It’s been such a boost to knock something off our list so quickly (one week!) and it turned out better than we’d even dreamed.

We wanted to use materials we had on hand and had been saving from previous projects to make this project as affordable as possible. We bought the last few items we needed from Lowe's Canada and I'm so proud of the end result. I mean… let’s look at the before and after side by side.

The first thing I want to point out is how small this space really is. If it were larger, we wouldn’t have been able to complete it so quickly! We also didn’t have to move any plumbing at all since it was already in ans we just were replacing fixtures and finishes. Plus, we were also inheriting a partially planned renovation by the previous owners. The shower base was in and plumbing fixtures were left sitting on storage shelves when we took possession of the house. My dad is also just finishing up a major renovation of his house so we were able to use leftover tile, grout, paint and bead board that was taking up space in his garage.

I thought that it would be fun to chat through some of the design and renovation hurdles we addressed through this makeover. I think often times we see the before and after with little discussion of the ‘how’ we got there. One thing I have found time and time again is that remodelling is really problem solving.

We knew this is the tile we’d be using and I was struggling to find a design that tied into the style that we have been renovating the rest of our house. We have classic modern style throughout the rest of the house and this tile is definitely classic retro. We used a black grout to modernize it a bit and natural wood for the vanity to add some warmth to the windowless space.

We had a bunch of drywall that needed patching. We had planned to patch it and paint a light gray that matched the rest of our basement, but after patching and painting the first coat, we got to installing the shower and realized we needed to tear out the drywall around the shower to get stabilizing pieces in while still allowing the drain to line up (we wanted to avoid moving the drain in the concrete). This meant patching all around the shower as well- we didn’t want to extend our project by 1-2 weeks to allow for this.

Our options were to tile just around the shower (like a border), to use trim for 2-3 inches all around the shower, to use shiplap (we have some of that laying around as well) or to use bead board panelling. We chose bead board as it’s more in line with the classic style of our tile floor than farmhouse style shiplap. I chose to do the full room in the bead board for a high impact- it’s a very small space so wasn’t a huge investment. I painted this two coats in our front yard while my dad installed the shower and we were able to install it, covering all the drywall holes and imperfections like they were never there. In one day.

We switched to the green paint after deciding on the bead board. I wanted to find something to modernize the space with all the classic elements (Tile and bead board). This green my dad had leftover from painting his kitchen island was the perfect shade! It also is so similar to our kitchen cabinets that it feels cohesive with the rest of our house.

The vanity is something I’m so proud to have built. I worked on this while my dad did all the electrical and plumbing. The vanity top is two chunks of beam left over from his remodel. We originally planned to have it as a floating vanity but the plumbing was really low behind the sink and there was a cleanup below that even we needed to have access to. That’s a lot of holes in a wall for a floating vanity. I designed this vanity base to shield the plumbing and cleanup while still looking open in this small space.

I built the base  using 2x4s, taking the rounded edges off with the tables and gluing two together to make 4x4s. The back legs are only 1 2x4 flat against the wall. The apron front is a 1x12 attached with pocket screws. The shelf on the bottom is also built using pocket screws. I used 1x3s for the front and back and 1x2s for the slats. 

We chose this beautiful Kraus vessel sink from Lowe's with this modern chrome faucet. The mirror is cut from a large mirror we had cracked with the same arch shape we cut our main bathroom mirror in. The light was also a challenge for us. We needed something quite small (we have only 23” here), but I was set on having at least 3 bulbs since it’s a naturally dark space with no windows. I found this gorgeous fixture with the modern chrome that works with that faucet and classic retro style globes to play with the floors.

Last but not least is, of course, decorating with art! I love creating art and decor specifically for a space. The last day of our room makeover was spent cleaning and DIYing decor. I made that hanging planter and the hanging shapes out of clay and hand lettered the piece above the toilet. It’s so fun to add personality to a space with DIY!

Whew! I hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about my process of remodelling, solving problems as they come up and adding personality to a finished space. We’re so happy to knock a room off our list of spaces to refinish. I’m so in love with how it came together!

Watch the full transformation

About the Author

colleen pastor author photo

Colleen Pastoor

Colleen is a mom to 4 wild ones and the DIY Blogger behind Lemon Thistle where she shares her home renovations, DIY projects and hand lettering. Follow along on her blog, Instagram and YouTube.

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