“I made a BATHROOM! From scratch. And the shower works!!!” That’s pretty much all I uttered to my husband for days after we finished our basement bathroom. Miracles do happen.
This post contains affiliate links to the products shown. I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, on purchases made after following an affiliate link. See my full disclosure here.
So, if you recall our original design plan, we were going to hire someone to tile the bathroom floor and shower. Then, all we’d half to do is hookup the toilet and vanity.
But Home Depot gave us the run around during the measuring process. There seemed to be a lot of crossed wires about who to call out to measure the shower. At one point they referred us to the local company that does full bathroom remodels for them. They told us their projects start at $5-10K. Ha! No, thank you. I just wanted simple subway tile on shower walls.
So, I reluctantly decided to do it myself. (Remember, I quit DIY?!)
I’ll admit, I did not want to do it myself. I was willing to pay for the tile installation, but not for a gut bathroom remodel. There was nothing to gut or redo. It was a blank slate. But, honestly, I got impatient and sick of trying to find someone to tile the bathroom.
Then I realized we had boxes of cork flooring left over in storage. After a little research, I decided to lay down the cork flooring in the bathroom. That saved us from buying and installing floor tile. I only had to purchase polyurethane to coat the floor after it was installed.
With the floor installed, we were able to put in the vanity and toilet.
As far as the plumbing goes, everything was roughed-in when we finished the rest of the basement, so all we had to do was hook up a toilet and sink. Never-mind that neither of us had done either of those things before. YouTube to the rescue!
For real, we followed this video to install the toilet. The hardest part was working in such a tight space since our toilet sits in a tiny nook.
It feels a little weird showing you one of our toilets, but we like this toilet. It’s a one-piece toilet, which means the tank is not a separate piece. It’s a sleeker look and easier to clean. It was a little hard to work around in such a tight space, though.
For the toilet, we learned how to cut copper pipe and install a shut-off valve. It was like training for the sink because we had to do the same thing two more times to connect the hot and cold water for the faucet. All that was left was the p-trap for the sink drain, which was incredibly easy.
Finally, it was time to tile the shower…all by myself. I did most of the work while my husband was at work. I hung the cement board (it was so heavy…my arms are still sore), filled in the seams with thinnest, coated it all with RedGaurd for waterproofing, and then tiled it.
I have my father-in-law to thank for convincing me I could do it myself. He had recently gutted and renovated two bathrooms and tiled the showers with the same process. What probably took him a few days, took me a month, but hey, I did it.
In addition to my father-in-law’s advice, I found the tutorials on Home Repair Tutor extremely helpful. They have a lot of video tutorials on waterproofing and tiling showers. They show detailed video of each step, which gave me the confidence I needed.
I’m so excited to show you this finished bathroom. That we made from scratch! I’m still wrapping my head around that.
Here are a few before photos from the framing and drywall stages:
The small square room on the right is the bathroom. Notice all the cut-outs in the cement to reroute plumbing pipes.
This is where the vanity is now. See below to find out why we had to build a niche in the wall.
Keep reading to see all the after photos!
When we finished the rest of our basement, we worked with our contractor to redesign the layout of this bathroom. It was supposed to be a basic long and narrow bathroom with the vanity, toilet, and tub all in a row. The problem was it made the bedroom in the basement small. So, we asked the contractor to move the rough-ins and reconfigure the bathroom.
The reconfigured bathroom turned out bigger, and we could have put a full tub in here if we wanted to. But since this is the fifth bathroom in our house, for a bedroom that we don’t use as a bedroom, we decided to put in a shower stall. That makes the bathroom feel even more spacious.
This bathroom is my favorite room in the house now. It’s so open and fresh. Plus, you know, I designed it :)
We choose this Windsor Park free-standing vanity from Home Depot. I fell in love with the blue-gray cabinet color and simple, but elegant styling. It came with a faux marble top, which was perfect for the clean look I wanted.
In the corner of the bathroom, we had to get a little creative with our contractor. There was one pipe that they weren’t able to relocate. The contractor wanted to build a big closet in the corner to conceal it. I vetoed that right away. Instead, I designed a wall niche that accommodated the pipe which angled out at the bottom of the wall. I knew I could always build shelves into the niche and do something more stylish than a closet.
I never built the shelves, though. The niche was still empty when we decided to put our house on the market. So, although the bathroom was done, it didn’t quite feel finished. But I wasn’t about to start building shelves while we were getting our house ready for the market.
Then, I happened upon these adorable wire wall baskets at Hobby Lobby.
I left the bottom of the niche open to store extra bath towels.
This bathroom is so big when the Home Stager did a walk-through before our house went up for sale, she asked me if I had a long bench to put along the wall. I didn’t have a spare bench, but I think the teal garden stool looks great in the corner and adds a little more color to the room.
I also installed two towel bars to fill the long wall between the niche and the shower. Would you believe I had these towel bars on hand? I gotbought them on clearance at Target who knows how many years ago and never used them. Thankfully, I found them in storage, before I bought new towel bars (which always seem crazy expensive to me).
The towel bars were the perfect length, the right finish, and matched the style of the vanity light.
And here’s the finished shower:
I opted for 4-in x 8-in subway tiles. They’re bigger than standard subway tiles, which meant fewer individual tiles and fewer grout lines. Also, four of them fit perfectly across on the side walls. Fewer tiles to cut! There were matching 4-in x 4-in tiles I used on alternating rows, so no cutting there either. These tiles are considered modular tiles because two “half” tiles when put together equal the exact width of a full tile. So instead of cutting tiles in half to create the staggered tile pattern, I used the smaller tiles.
The only tile cuts I had to make were for the back wall at the corners. I used this snap tile cutter. It worked well, and I didn’t waste any tiles.
I did waste a handful of tiles trying to cut one with handheld tile nippers to fit around the shower head. It just took some practice to get it right.
I chose Delorean Gray grout and matching shower caulk because the tiles are off-white. Several people that reviewed the tiles on the Lowes website were disappointed when they used white grout because it didn’t match the tiles. The gray grout contrasts nicely with the tiles.
To finish the shower, I installed a nickel finish shower valve and shower head. That was the easiest part of the whole shower.
Because of the width of our shower stall, I had to settle for a plain white shower rod. I would have preferred nickel, but at least the white disappears against the tile.
I ordered a stall-size shower curtain liner and trellis shower curtain from Amazon. The stall size is only 54” wide and is slightly longer than a standard shower curtain, so it goes all the way to the floor. My original design called for blue curtains framing the shower, but since we’re selling this house, I didn’t want to make that investment. My color options for stall shower curtains were limited, but I think this gray geometric looks nice.
For the finishing touches, I added the small over-dyed rug in front of the vanity and hung two art pieces that used to hang in our mudroom (they were the perfect size for over the toilet and towel bars). Instead of white towels, which I thought might look too stark against the off-white walls, I used aqua bath towels.
That’s it. A ton of pictures of the smallest room in our home. I’m so proud of myself for sticking to it and figuring it out. DIY projects are tough, and it’s easy to lose your motivation. I know with this bathroom, I had trouble getting up the courage to even start. But once I finally started, it all felt easier. All my worries and insecurities melted away once I started taking action…one step at a time. And now it’s done, and so pretty!
Get a Free Copy of my book "Free Decorating"
"This book is so inspiring, I'm a self confessed "decor" addict, I buy anything I think "may" work only to take it home and be disappointed. After reading this book I can't wait to shop my own home and make more meaningful purchases." - Cori I.