Graystone Beach Cottage - Orchard View BR moodboard

What is that saying? “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Except in our case it’s women. And no mice.

We were at the Graystone Beach cottage over the past Easter long weekend and had grand plans which including installing the shower stall, painting and re-installing the vanity and installing the new floor. However, we didn’t realize that the shower needed to be ordered in and delivered to the store. Needless to say we didn’t order it on time and couldn’t install it. Everything else pretty much hinges on that. Since the cottage is over 2 hours away from our home we actually can’t get back there for another 3 weekends. :( 

We did manage to pick up this modern light fixture on clearance and install it ($65!).

It made us realize how much planning goes into a bathroom remodel. We are trying to refinish the small 3-piece room as a part of the 6-week long One Room Challenge and we’re already at week 3. You can find other posts here:

Week 1: The Before Photos and Video
Week 2: The Inspiration, Design Plans and our Sponsors
Week 3 (you are here): Small Bathroom Remodel Tips
Week 4: Installing Plank Vinyl Flooring over the Existing Tile
Week 5: Upcycling the Existing Vanity
Week 6: The Final Reveal!

Here’s an overview of the planning process and decisions to make when planning a small bathroom remodel.

1. Decide on the scope of the project

The scope of a bathroom remodel, as with any home updates can range from simple cosmetic makeovers (e.g. new paint, accessories) to complete remodelling including relocating plumbing and electrical. 

In our case, with such a small bathroom (9’ long x 5’ wide) there weren’t too many options for reconfiguring. However, everything within the space is being updated which meant: 

  • taking out the old shower stall (including base and backing), 
  • taking tiles off of the walls,  
  • removing the vanity, mirror and old lighting fixture.

You can catch our quick video of dismantling the shower enclosure which we shared last week:

2. Choose where to spend and save your money

Bathroom remodels can get quite expensive. We’re working with a tight budget (~$2500 CDN) the bulk of which will go towards the new shower enclosure. We’ve chosen to invest in a high-quality system (~$1300) which will last for the next 20 years with minimal maintenance. 

To accommodate this expense we’re planning to save money by keeping the existing toilet (have removed it and will give it a thorough cleaning) and by upcycling the existing vanity. This past weekend we were able to paint the base using DecoArt Satin Enamel paint in True Teal (we’ll share the full tutorial soon). We were hoping to be able to use the existing vanity countertop as well, but the colour is just wrong with the new paint and flooring we’ve selected. So we will need to purchase that component (~$200).

We’re also fortunate to be able to work with generous sponsors such as Allure ISOCORE and The Home Depot Canada who have sent us their beautiful Brushed White Plank Vinyl Flooring. We chose this product (would costs ~$200 for the room) because we’ll be able to install it right over the existing tile floor, saving us time and preparation cost. Allure ISOCORE has it’s own pre-attached underlayment and click-lock installation. It has a realistic, textured wood look but is completely waterproof. I couldn’t resist putting up against the painted cabinet to grab a couple of pictures!

We’re also so grateful to be sponsored by Delta Faucet Canada who have provided all these gorgeous fixtures for the bathroom. Fixtures are another place where expenses can range wildly. Yet in the long run, investing in high-quality faucets and fixtures at the outset can save costs.

3. Create a mood board 

If you caught our design and mood board for this bathroom makeover last week you’ll note that we’re going for a beachy, coastal feel (as with all our renos for the Graystone Beach cottage). Having this board to refer to when picking out the details is really helpful to make sure the room looks nice as a whole in the end. It’s OK to change a bit along the way, but at least you can remember what you started with. 

Start by Pinning any bathroom images you like to a new board on Pinterest so you can see what elements you’re consistently drawn to. Helping you find your decorating style is Shannon’s mission over at AKA Design and she has great tips and strategies to get you started. 

4. Try to DIY some of the details 

Of course one of the biggest costs of a bathroom remodel can be in paying for someone to do everything. If you can do any of the renovation yourself you’ll safe tons of money. Definitely hire someone to help with plumbing and electrical if you have no experience in these areas!

In addition, there are lots of simple DIY projects you can make to save money, repurpose items and add a special handmade touch to your new bathroom. For our bathroom we’ll be making some wine cork bath mats, putting up our own floating shelves and making some storage cases for under the window. We’re also looking for a round mirror at our local thrift stores to upcycle!


How to make a DIY blanket ladder with driftwood pieces and Home Depot Canada-1665.jpg


DIY driftwood starburst mirror - SustainMyCraftHabit-8104-2.JPG


Simple DIY wall art with beach stones-0488-3.JPG


Towel rack square - SustainMyCraftHabit-3683.jpg

5. Give yourself time

As indicated above, even the best laid plans can go awry so be sure to factor extra time into the process and unlike us, try to have all the materials available to you before starting. Not only will this save lots of frustration but also time heading back and forth to the stores. Create a list of items that you might need and keep an eye out for sales in the weeks leading up to your remodel.

We hope these tips were helpful. Let us know in the comments below if we missed anything!

You may also like these other DIY ideas of ours: 

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