Before and After: This Tiny $4K Bathroom Feels Much More Spacious Now

In just 56 square feet, one experienced DIYer needed to fit a shower, toilet, sink—and, ideally, some beauty. After just six weeks of hard after-work work, this little bathroom has reached its full potential.

It’s difficult to take great establishing shots of small spaces, but luckily the owner of this petite bathroom is here to describe its issues in detail:

Our bathroom wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. The footprint of the space is only 56 square feet, so for being the only full bathroom, it’s pretty tiny compared to today’s standards. Because the space is so small, we would call our bathroom “spatially-challenged.” The problems start when you walk in the door—which doesn’t open all of the way, because the sink is in the way.

Head on over to the toilet, where you have to stand over the heating and cooling vent to use it. It keeps things feeling very “refreshed!” The problems don’t end there.

The floor-to-ceiling storage closet seems great at first glance, but the shelves are so deep that errant cotton balls, Q-tips, and half-used travel-sized bottles fall into the dark abyss.

Finally, the tub/shower combination has a bath surround that is NOT at the height of style. Not only is the surround a creamy tan shade, but the floor tile also coordinates, creating a homogeneously ’90s time capsule.

We decided to make a change because we were fed up with the small footprint, and continually dropping things in the sink. The space just didn’t function for us anymore.

What a change! The new floor tile is an elongated honeycomb shape in a classic charcoal, so it’s eye-catching and understated at once. In a diminutive full bathroom, a glass shower enclosure really opens up the space. And beyond the transparent nature of glass, a smooth shower door is much less intrusive than a fluttering shower curtain that inevitably extends past the edge of the shower.

Patti Mapes of Renovating Mapleson Manor has worked wonders with this room, making it feel twice as big and thrice as luxurious. Plants and wood add warmth to the otherwise white and gray room, and all of the pale elements reflect the natural light. Also, by moving the toilet to where the closet was, Patti made the opposite side of the room much more spacious, as seen below.

The toilet and sink area was very straightforward, with classic white fixtures and a nice window. Here’s what it took to get from that to something quite special:

The entire process from demo to completion took roughly six weeks. We were only able to work on our project after work and on weekends, so it took a bit longer. The entire project was under $4,000—I think the most expensive part was the shower base and shower doors. The only outside help we brought in was a plumber because we had to move our toilet from one side of the bathroom to the other.

I think the biggest surprise was moving the toilet. Our plumber had to break into the ceiling of our dining room to cut into the cast iron stack. Luckily, we already were planning on demo-ing our ceilings (they have layers of popcorn on them!) so we weren’t too upset about the hole in our dining room.

That is a very inspiring budget—both in time and money—for a project that involves plumbing, tiling, and toilet-moving.

The new vanity is quietly stunning—nearly all one color, but with a variety of textures and finishes. The chevron X on the drawers is a great combination of glamorous and modern, while the granite top adds an earthy richness.

But as lovely as the vanity is, the glimpse of tile in the mirror steals the show. The zigzag tile arrangement—and the tile itself—is major, but the proportions and subtle color of the tile keep it from overwhelming the small room. The new shower wall is exceptional, and it really transforms the wall. While a small bathroom certainly has its challenges, it also presents the opportunity to play with luxurious materials and finishes without having to cover a ton of square footage.

We absolutely love our bathroom now! Using the glass doors makes the room feel so much more spacious and you can see the beautiful floor-to-ceiling tile in the herringbone pattern. The new vanity has so much storage, that we don’t even miss the closet. When getting ready in the morning before, my makeup would always fall into the sink, now I have so much counter space for my morning routine. Another bonus, our door opens all the way now!

One last-minute decision we made was to include heated floors in our remodel, and with the cold Michigan winters, this was a great addition!

As far as what I would do differently, my initial reaction is to say nothing. In the future, we may consider changing out our showerhead to something more modern, but that’s not a priority for us at the moment.

Heated floors are the best impulse purchase anyone has ever made, and they make that $4,000 total all the more impressive. Patti’s recommendations if you’re thinking of making over your bathroom, or any room? “My words of advice would be to create a mood board of your inspiration pieces to see if they work together. It helped me to edit down my choices while I was designing.”

Thank you, Patti Mapes of Renovating Mapleson Manor!

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