Small Bathroom Renovation: The Reveal

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

By Tanya Watson

I am so excited to share my Scandinavian-inspired bathroom renovation with you today! If you saw my previous post about my plans for my bunkie bathroom, you know that I had some out-of-the-box ideas for this small space - but I had a lot of challenges to deal with first. With Lowe's Canada, there are so many ways to freshen up your bathroom's design and decor, and I'm so happy I was able to do just that!

The biggest problem was the leaking shower, which caused major damage to the subfloor. But the room also wasn’t very functional, because the swinging door to the bathroom hit the shower and could only open halfway, and then the shower door hit the vanity, which made getting out of the shower really difficult. All in all, the space was annoying and unsafe to use. But these challenges were nothing compared to the task of decorating around the knotty pine tongue and groove paneling, which isn’t typically my style but creates such a cozy, cabin atmosphere that I couldn’t bear to paint it! The pine walls run throughout the entire bunkie, which readers of my website, Dans le Lakehouse, love. I decided to work with it and tap into my Finnish roots to create a Scandinavian cottage-inspired design with some quirky and modern touches to keep it feeling fresh and fun.

Here's a reminder of the before.

The Demolition Process

My spouse and I ripped out almost everything: the old shower, toilet, vanity, floor – even the ratty old heater got the boot. The only thing we kept was the pine paneling. We replaced the subfloor and installed CertainTeed Mold Resistant Drywall where the shower had been. With the necessary repairs made, we had a blank canvas and the fun could begin!

Floor & Wall Tile

The Bestview Porcelain Hex Tile was the driving force behind my bathroom design. I love the small scale of the tile because it’s perfect for a small space. The tile has three different shades/finishes of charcoal grey and although it’s porcelain, one of the textured finishes reminds me of a type of soapstone mined in Finland. The soapstone is used for fireplaces and counters – and often paired with natural pine – so the tile is perfect for a Scandinavian-inspired bathroom makeover.

I installed the hex tile on the floor over the Schluter Systems Ditra Membrane, which helps eliminate cracking of tiled surfaces, and then ran the tile up the walls where the shower had been. It’s a great way to disguise the fact that there was no paneling there, plus it protects against future water damage. I would ordinarily use some kind of Schluter metal edging for tile, but because the ends of the pine were cut too roughly to be hidden by metal edging, I chose a 3-inch window casing trim, affixed with construction adhesive to hide the seam where the rough pine and tile meet. I painted the trim with Valspar’s Exterior Paint and Primer in the colour Cracked Pepper.

Stock Tank Shower

 The new hex tile created the perfect backdrop for my stock tank shower. Although I considered replacing the old corner shower with a newer model, I really wanted to try something unusual in this space because it's a little bunkie. I also wanted a spot to bathe my dogs and the stock tank is perfect for that when the bunkie isn’t in use. I used a Round Ultra 105 stock tank (3 feet by 2 feet) from a company which sells farm and ranch supplies. I visited a lot of farm supply stores to pick the perfect stock tank, some are too rough or sharp for this application, so if you decide to try this idea, I recommend tracking down this stock tank because there are no sharp edges and they have a more substantial feel than others.

I’ve seen stock tank tubs online but I’m not sure I’d actually want to sit down and bathe in one. However, it’s perfect as a shower! It was fast and easy to install (we just added a drain and some foam underneath) and it’s watertight with high sides that keep water inside. It also consumes a smaller footprint than the old shower.

To keep water in, I purchased a ceiling mounted shower curtain rod and sewed two shower curtains. I wanted to introduce a little bit of color into the space and this watery grey-blue hue is perfect. I lined the panels with a waterproof fabric – I had to search high and low to find the same shade of grey as the tile, but it was worth it because it creates a more seamless look when the shower curtain is open.

The Petite Vanity

To save space, I chose the Mackenzie Vanity, which is a narrow vanity but not impractically small. There's still space for a soap dish and room underneath for a little storage. It is half the depth, and a few inches narrower, than the old vanity, which frees up a lot of space. Now, you can easily move around the bathroom without bumping into a sharp corner.


To add drama to the sleek white vanity, I purchased the Brass Concord Single Hand Faucet which has clean lines and a modern matte black finish. This mid-century inspired Canarm Matte Black Hardwired Wall Sconce complements the modern look of the faucet. Additionally, the simple Lucid Lighting 12-in W Black Integrated Flush Mount Light keeps the lighting scheme coordinated and modern – and no more flickering fluorescent tubes!

The Mirror

Because the bathroom is small with only one tiny window, I chose this large modern Décor Company Mirror to bounce light around and bring in more matte black to coordinate with the fixtures.

Since Lowe’s has plenty of options for faucets, sinks, bathroom vanities and other pieces that fit my personal style, I had no issue finding everything I needed to perfectly decorate the bathroom.

The Toilet

The old toilet was replaced with a sleek new Masey Elongated Comfort Height 1-Piece Toilet. I prefer a toilet with a skirted trap because it's easier to clean, which is a plus in a small bathroom like this where it’s a tight reach between the toilet and the wall. The skirted trap also offers a sleeker and more modern look.

DIY Cubbies & Towel Storage

I made a little storage cubby above the toilet using lumber and plywood from Lowe's, along with some metal rods in brass, copper and aluminum. Although I purposefully chose all matte black fixtures for a coordinated look, I did mix metals in this bathroom: the stock tank only comes in silver, the sconce is lined with a copper finish, and the mirror has brass accents, so this little decorative detail pulls together the mixed metals. I envision these shelves as a great place for guests to store their toiletries.

To hang towels, I purchased super inexpensive matte black wall hooks and installed two above the shiny new baseboard heater. Another pair of hooks to the left of the vanity can be used for a hand towel or a robe. I splurged on some new Turkish towels that match the soft aqua of the shower curtain.

The Barn Door

When I shared my plans for this bathroom, I mentioned that the door to the bathroom hit the shower and the door to the shower hit the vanity. Replacing the shower with a stock tank and easy-to-open shower curtain makes getting out of the shower much easier because you can step out from multiple places. However, I converted the existing door into a sliding barn door with a sliding barn door track to free up even more space.

First, I added trim to my old door to make it larger and hide the notches made for the hinges. A coat of Cracked Pepper paint hid my hack! I also puttied the old holes made for the hinges and door latch on the door frame and painted it black as well. I used the Renin Bent Strap Barn Door Hardware Kit, which was surprisingly easy to install. There was a hole left by the old door knob, but hardware for a pocket door fit perfectly, completing the transformation. Now the door slides and uses no space at all, creating a lot of floor space in this small bathroom.

The Finished Look

There are so many elements that are definitely “me” in this bunkie bathroom, like the mid-century inspired sconce and the pale aqua fabric. Renovating this room was a fun design experiment and I really enjoyed creating this cozy, Scandinavian-inspired cabin space. 

There are so many tips to take away for anyone with a small bathroom. For example, hacking an existing door into a sliding barn door and replacing a large vanity with a narrower model are easy ways to make a small bathroom feel larger. And while this bathroom will never feel huge, playing up the cozy Scandinavian style by keeping the natural pine and embracing charcoal grey tile, matte black fixtures and a dreamy grey blue shower curtain fabric help make the most of the small space by creating a warm and cozy feel. Sometimes it’s best not to fight a space – and try to make a tiny room feel huge – and instead embrace its small size and help it feel polished and welcoming instead. 

If your bathroom needs a little upgrade, check out some of Lowe’s bathroom ideas for simple renovations and updates that make an instant impact. With the help of Lowe’s, I was able to complete the bunkie bathroom of my dreams!

About the Author

Tanya Watson

Dans le Lakehouse

Tanya is the blogger behind Dans le Lakehouse, a DIY and lifestyle blog about creating a handmade home on the shores of Lake Superior. She shares room makeovers, modern crafts, inventive DIY tutorials, and a taste of life on the lake.

You can connect with Tanya on on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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