The before picture, a seventies-style bathroom.

Why Remodel?

My bathroom was completely outdated. The green floor and shower tiles, the bronze shower door, and the laminate vanity top weren't exactly cutting edge.

At work, I am lucky enough to look at pictures of beautiful homes every day. But it was always kind of a letdown to go home and peek into my 1970s, never-been-updated, blah bathroom.

The finished bathroom with a white vanity and brown walls.
Liesa Cole

The Budget and Inspiration

I knew my bathroom remodel would definitely be dictated by a budget, so imported Italian tiles and custom-made cabinets were distant dreams. After saving for a while and meeting with my contractor to create a feasible plan, I settled on a $3,500 remodeling budget.

I researched many bathroom stories and pictures, and then headed to home improvement stores to find wallet-friendly versions of my favorite trends.

A white, modern bathroom vanity.
Liesa Cole

Modern Mix

I knew that I wanted to mix the vintage look of the octagonal floor tiles with a modern vanity. I found the perfect one with clean lines and a curve at the base that gives it a furniture-like quality. And I made sure that the drawers provided ample storage for towels, toiletries, and even cleaning supplies. The brushed nickel faucet completes the look.

Vanity: $322 at Lowe's
Vanity Top: $129 at Home Depot
Faucet: $43 at Home Depot
Sidesplash: $14 at Home Depot


Octagonal tile on the floor.
Liesa Cole

Get On the Floor

I wanted octagonal tile for the floor in both the bathroom and the shower, but finding exactly what I liked in my price range proved a bit difficult. I found my dream tiles, but they would have blown the entire budget. Then I found the octagonal tiles I was looking for, but having a black or blue accent tile in the pattern they weren't quite right since I wanted an all-white pattern. Finally, I found the perfect tile in pre-made sheets.

Octagonal Tile: $94 at Home Depot
Bullnose Tile for Trim: $50


The new silver shower door.
Liesa Cole

Shower Time

The shower is one of my favorite aspects in the bathroom. I loved the coziness of the existing shower, but I was not a fan of the bronze door or the green tile. The width of the shower door frame was skinnier than any standard sizes on the market today.

My contractor cut the door frame of the shower to fit the smallest width door that was available. This proved to be cheaper than special ordering a smaller door, and in the long run opening up the door makes the shower seem huge.

Shower Door: $77 at Home Depot
Shower Faucet: $78 at Home Depot


White subway tile lines the shower walls.
Liesa Cole

Subway Tiles

I love the look of subway tile, so I had my contractor install it on the shower walls and ceiling, which made the shower seem much taller.

Subway Tile: $158 at Lowe's
Grout: $20 at Lowe's


The white vanity and brown walls.
Liesa Cole

Color Scheme

This bathroom in a Cottage Living Idea House provided the inspiration for my paint color. I needed something that would make the room look rich but not too dark, so when I saw this chocolate brown and white color combination, I knew that I had found the winner. The palette also complements my bedroom paint color, which is a blue-gray.

The custom-made mirror.
Liesa Cole

The Mirror

When I told my contractor my idea for the bathroom mirror, he was initially hesitant. I was modeling it after a mirror in my parents’ house, so I knew it would work. The idea was to get a piece of glass custom cut to cover the entire wall from corner to corner, vanity to ceiling.

I had a glass shop cut a hole for a light fixture, and then my contractor framed the mirror with molding. In the end, this was actually cheaper than the framed mirrors that I had been pricing. And I couldn’t be happier with the finished product -- it completes the room and makes it feel much bigger.

Custom Mirror: $322
Light Fixture: $98 at Lowe's


The after shot of the bathroom.
Liesa Cole

How I Saved Money

I met with my contractor at the beginning of this project to make sure that I could really pull off a $3,500 renovation. He came up with a few money-saving tips that proved invaluable in the long run.

Take Advantage: The doorway threshold was 1/4 inch higher than the original floor, so we decided to lay the new tile on top of the old. This saved money in both the demolition of old tile and installation of the new.

Be Handy: We cut the shower door frame to match a standard shower door size instead of ordering a custom-made door.

Get Creative: We covered an entire bathroom wall with a custom-cut piece of glass. It made the room look much bigger and was surprisingly cheaper than buying a smaller, already framed mirror.

The custom-made mirror.
Liesa Cole

The Total

In the end, I ended up coming in right under my $3,500 budget. I love my new bathrooom, and I am amazed by the transformation.

Vanity, Mirror, Tile, Faucets, and Light Fixture: $1,404
Contractor's Labor and Supplies (including sheetrock, toilet and other various items): $2,000


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