Finished! Marble lookalike, subway tile, custom medicine, all DIY

VictoriaElizabethNovember 15, 2012

Our original bathroom was old and grungy. Not to mention the bad DIY by the previous owner. Plus it was a terrible layout, with the sink and toilet on opposite walls, making an already small bath even smaller and hard to navigate. On top of all of that, you can see we have a large window in the shower.

We gutted it, finding an entire other bathroom underneath which was a nightmare to remove. It was all concrete and wetbed and reinforcement wire... it was a mess. The previous owner just went right over it.

But for all the stress and anxiety, I am incredibly happy with the outcome. This may be the first house-renovation project that turned out exactly the way I wanted!

The remodel dragged on and on and on and on... All of which was my fault, since I found choosing fixtures and tile overwhelming. Mostly to do with my search for a marble look-alike tile that was a color/size/polish that I wanted... I do think the agony was eventually worth it. I really love the end result.

I wanted the remodeled bathroom to have a vintage feel- the house was built in 1890. Plus, I happen to really like subway tile and console sinks. But I also wanted it to be clean and modern. And bright! Really, really, really bright! The large mirrors and sconces through the glass really opened up the narrow room and increased the light...

I always like when other gardenweb-ers say what the best decision they made was. And even though my favorite element is the large mirror over the sink, I think I would have to say our best design decision was either the extra-tall, between-the-studs custom medicine cabinet we built, or the transom window we added. Appearance-wise they are lovely, but also incredibly practical.

More photos and info about our bathroom remodel:

Here is a link that might be useful: Finished Bathroom

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More photos please! What I can see so far looks charming and bright and airy! :-)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Beautiful bathroom. It is perfect. I absolutely love the 1st link and the narrative. IT IS A MUST READ FOR ALL.

Thank you for the funny funny story!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:09PM
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I'm so happy that you posted this - I really enjoy reading your blog, and the finished room is wonderful!

Do you mind telling me about your sconces? I'm almost done with my new bathroom, same vintage look as yours, and I am about to give up on the sconces I picked out. (One of the shades broke and I've been trying for a month to get Restoration Hardware to find me a replacement!) Yours look great, and I'd like to copy :)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:03PM
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***Enduring- Thank you so much, you absolutely made my day.

***Kmcg- Thank you! Thank you!! I think I looked at every sconce on the Internet. These are more modern-looking than I expected to like, but for whatever reason, I just loved them.

They are one of the "splurges." Read: crazy price but picked towards the conclusion of the remodel when I was absolutely at my wits end and wanted to be finished so badly, I would have spent any amount of money. I think at that point my husband would have agreed to solid-gold fixtures...

I had another factor to consider too, which was that I needed something unusually low-profile that wouldnâÂÂt interfere with opening the medicine cabinet all the way⦠all sconces stick out so far! You donâÂÂt realize it until youâÂÂre looking for something specific! So that was a *huge* factor in the endless search and eventual decision to spend the money.

I did luck out and found one on clearance at some online-discount-plumbing-supply for $75. They seemed possibly shady and I worried I wouldn't get what I was expecting, but it turned out fine. The other I got from (At the time they had the best price I could find. Their online reviews aren't too great, but I personally was extremely happy with them.)

Ginger Columnar Single Ada Hall Light, Polished Chrome This is the Amazon link. I'm pretty sure you're about to be horrified by the $290, so brace yourself. Since I managed to find one for $75, I told myself that it averaged out to a tolerable amount.

I would not have bought two at full price, so IâÂÂm assuming youâÂÂll pass, but if you are desperate like me, I can look up what I paid at the time⦠if you want to see if you can find something closer to that.

***Cat Mom- I did want to post more photos... but I kept getting an error message from gardenweb about file size. I've seen other finished baths uploaded with lots of massive photos; and you can see that I'm not even using giant images... so I have no idea what the problem is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Finished Bath

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Thanks for the sconce info! I've loved every Ginger light fixture I've looked out, so I am not surprised that's what they are. I had the same problem of needing a low profile because of the medicine cabinet doors (I put in a massive double medicine cabinet that's about 40x40, and was worried about the door hitting.) That's why I got the Restoration Hardware Kent sconces - but I was at least able to get them at the outlet store. I did get good news about a replacement shade today (they must have heard me threatening to dump them :)

I hear you about being willing to spend anything when you're at the end. I just signed a contract for a $1500 shower door, and hardly blinked. I would have been freaking out 2 months ago!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Your bathroom is exquisite.

Your blog is a captivating glimpse into the journey you took to get there. So much of what you wrote could have been written about my feelings and experience during our masterbath remodel. (Although admittedly with much less humor and eloquence.)

I'm looking forward to your next progect!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:34AM
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Ugh, the OCD in me cannot let an obvious spelling error go uncorrected...


    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 8:37AM
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UPDATE: Here are my fixtures and vendors and reviews.


Kmcg- It's funny how cost becomes an abstract and irrelevant hurdle...

Treasuretheday- THANK YOU so much! I think I care more, knowing how much people can relate to the experience (stress) than I care about showing them the finished bath!

Getting back on this board today, I saw a post titled- remodeling three baths at once! I would not have survived that!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fixtures I chose.

This post was edited by VictoriaElizabeth on Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 10:57

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:05AM
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I am in love with your bathroom. Especially the cabinet your husband built. Amazing! And your story is too funny. (And accurate.)

Can you tell me where you got/who makes your sink? I've been looking at console sinks without finding exactly what I want. Or isn't way out of budget.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Beautiful. Tell your sainted Significant Other that it was worth all of the pain he endured because you two have given plenty of inspiration to others.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 12:07AM
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You probably had 6 more inches on each dimension when you removed the hidden tile layer.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 7:12AM
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And ... what is that faucet with the nice temperature indicator?


    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 7:14AM
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I love this bathroom. I love the light and the feel and how well it works with the "age" of the house. Really, really lovely.

I had to laugh, though, about your finding another bathroom under the bathroom (hopefully you can laugh about this now too). When we gutted our kitchen we found...well follow me:

On top of the original spruce floors the original owners had put linolem. The PO then glued down plywood on top of that and topped it all with some sort of cheap, rolled vinyl-esque product. By the time we excavated all of that carp out we had 3 more inches in between floor and ceiling. This shouldn't surprise me because the PO's were the kind of people that painted right over wallpaper (but around furniture) and over the contact paper that they had glued down in the original wood cabinets.

Renovation is fun!

Did you ever post on how you dealt with the window in your shower? Because we have 1 in the upstairs bath that is working out fa-bu-lous-ly thanks to advice that I got here about 5 years ago.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Robin--I got it at efaucets, (which was kind of a nightmare) and I don't see it on their site anymore... I just emailed them to see if they can tell me the manufacturer. (I don't remember)

hosenemesis-- I will tell him, but I may leave out the reference to sainted. :)
p.s.- I think you take first prize for funny monikers!

lazygardens-- you're right... the space we gained doesn't seem that much on paper, but it actually made a huge difference!

And I LOVE that shower dial!! Kohler, antique line... I saw it in an old Victorian hotel, where they had renovated their bathrooms, but kept the vintage feel, and it lived in my head for over two years... it was the ONLY fixture that I knew exactly what I wanted.

sigh-- I am wondering if our previous owners are related to your previous owners! I have been amazed at some of the "solutions" they applied to their projects. (Although painting "around" furniture takes the cake!)

I haven't posted yet about the window in our shower, but like you- I LOVE it. It was one thing about this house that I really didn't like at first...I thought it was strange. But now? I can't imagine not having it! We literally do not even use the other shower...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:04AM
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Victoria- I usually refer to the POs of our house as the PUs. Our downstairs shower had a window in it originally but it had never been sealed. I don't know if the window in the shower was original to the house but it was definitely not one of the original mullioned windows. And, of course, when you put a window in an environment where it's going to be regulaly soaked with water a coat of glossy paint is enough protection, right? Especially when nothing in the bathroom was tiled & you just have a gappy, barely installed shower liner, right? Placed over walls that are regular old sheetrock.

The rot was so extensive that we have to replace the studs in that wall as well. This is the problem bath that is currently awaiting treatment in our house.

When we expanded I had them put a window in the upstairs bath as well (same footprint as downstairs but this time using the proper materials and tiling the entire tub enclosure walls, including the window sill). The window itself I painted with two coats of marine primer and a finishing coat of gloss white marine paint. It is gorgeous, immaculate and the water just beads up and wipes away. Plus I have the sill for keeping my assorted bath nostrums and the window for letting out steam and in fresh air. Love it! Ours is a casement window, high enough up to allow for modesty but still enough to let the light in.

The master bath-to-be has a window as well, but this one is directly across from where the tub is (will be). Mainly because I have a vision for the master bath and that includes white subway tile and a stained glass window that can use that tile to showcase it's colors when the light shines through.

Unfortunately our poor little cottage had every scrap of personality and vintage-ness sucked out of it by the PU's and they did their best to make it dark. When we expanded I wanted to get as much natural light in as possible.

So all of this to did you deal with your window in the shower? What kind of window? What kind of treatment?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Sigh-- PU's... lol. Our previous owner's name was Steve. So we started referring to his "solutions" as Steve-jobs. Which you can imagine eventually became Steve Jobs, as in the creator of Apple...

We removed the old window, and we considered closing up part of the wall and using a smaller window, higher up. But by that time, I had gotten used to the light/air/feeling of being outdoors (privacy in this window is not really an issue). And reconfiguring the room wasn't an option.

So we kept the same size window and ordered a vinyl window with pebbled privacy glass... we tiled around the entire sides and used a marble sill. The sill is narrow, so it doesn't stick into the shower area, so it's not for storage.

Then husband cut a sheet of plexiglass the same size as the bottom half of the window, and used two dots of caulk as stoppers. It keeps the water from hitting the window directly, and is easy to remove to clean. That might be kind of hard to visualize without a photo... I should really post a pic, since I know I had a hard time finding a lot of design suggestions for such a big window inside a shower.

Your subway tile and stained glass sounds absolutely gorgeous. I am so, so, so with you about the necessity of natural light!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Victoria, I think your new bathroom looks beautiful -- sophisticated comes to mind.

Am I alone, however, in thinking that... the original wasn't really that bad? I agree layout wise -- but grungy? I noticed you kept the subway tile (or rather, reinstalled something very similar). Maybe because I'm planning something similar in my own home! It's possible I'm just missing some of the bad DIY elements that don't show through in the photographs.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 5:19PM
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mateo21- We did reinstall subway tile (I LOVE subway tile!)
And you definitely cannot tell how grungy it was before. Had you seen it in person, you'd have noticed the terrible grout job the PO did on the subway tile... literally all the grout had fallen out at all change of planes... the baseboard molding was seamed all over the place, little kids had stuck stickers all over the mirror... toilet was an old two-piece with wooden seat (shudder)... the floor was raised at least three inches due to old flooring underneath...

You get the idea... lol!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 1:05PM
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I've inherited an older mining company CJB. (cracker jack box). Perusing the reno posts for great ideas.
My (only) bath, now, looks exactly like your "old bath".
It is SO small that you could expect to s/s/s in one fluid motion. It's hideous!
My budget is meager, by comparison, but I CAN do this by myself!
I love that you moved the door,same fix could do wonders here, with the transom to add light to the hallway, Genius!
Believe me, mine's not an 1890's Victorian, but EXACTLY the same problems you encountered, right down to the window in the middle of the bath!
Love everything about the way you chose to redo it.
Love the DIY medicine cabs, they look so polished!
Moving the sink, might be the only thing I need to move!
Just FABULOUS! My inspiration bathroom!
I don't need to gut mine, but, could expect the same results, with minimal renovations.
Thank you so much for sharing!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Your comment made me so happy!! I spent so much time agonizing over the layout... trying to figure out a better way to maximize a small area... and I found this bath board to be absolutely indispensible for advice (or just commiseration). To have someone else find *my* solutions helpful is really a fantastic complement.

The transom is one of the best decisions we made. Had I known how much I would love it, I would have wanted to add them to all the bedroom doors. Too late now, but in the next house...

Best of luck in your remodel! Look forward to your photos!!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 1:02PM
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UPDATE: Here are my fixtures and vendors and reviews.

Robin-- I just realized today, putting together my list of vendors, that I never got back to you about the sink! I am SORRY! They donâÂÂt carry it anymoreâ¦

Here is a link that might be useful: Fixtures I Chose.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:01AM
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I'm wanting a console to replace my present sink in a small bathroom. A big box store had a nice small sized console on their website last year on sale, at that time I wasn't ready to begin any work (not enough $$). Now I don't even see it available. May I ask you what size is your console? because I noted you felt the same as I, that a cabinet type vanity would overwhelm the room.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:53AM
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It's 36" long x 19" deep... If you've been shopping, you'll probably realize that's less deep than most sinks, and a huge part of why I chose it. I has an integrated soap dish, which I don't care for, but the depth was great for our space.

I had seen a similar one on Amazon, but a quick look over there didn't yield me anything. There are so many. Trying to find just the right one can be overwhelming! If you find anything, on the small side and reasonably priced, let me know... I get questions about it, and I hate to tell people it's not available anymore. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:40AM
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Thanks VictoriaElizabeth. I have my heart set on a console but after waiting all this time I might have to move on to something else. In the meantime if I do come across a small size I'll be sure and post here.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:56AM
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A 27" sink, but I'm not crazy about those fat legs (or the price).

Here is a link that might be useful: 27

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:42PM
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I agree! Those legs are totally out of proportion to the sink (which is a nice size...hadn't seen that one before). The Porcher sinks are crazy prices...

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Still looking for a sink. Came back to look closer at yours. One on ebay looks very similar but only has one stock photo, and is boxed up. Hard to see. Do you have a photo of your sink top?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:14PM
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