Our Bathroom Renovation

by | Dec 3, 2020

Photography by the ever amazing Joshua Hogan – from Joshua Hogan Photography

I think we’ve just finished the longest bathroom renovation in history. It has taken us over 12 months to finish our ensuite, but it was so worth the wait!

When we bought our house five and a half years ago, we knew it needed a lot of work. Both bathrooms were in their original 70’s state, with timber panelling and brown floor tiles.

But we could see the potential.

Our bathroom before renovation

Unfortunately, the previous owners of our home used tile paint to give the ensuite a facelift, and they didn’t do a very good job. They even did the floor of the shower without prepping the tiles properly. The first few times we used it we noticed the paint bubbling, and lifting, then it started to peel off when we showered. This meant that we couldn’t use the shower without getting paint stuck to our feet! We didn’t have the funds to renovate the bathroom straight away, so we showered in the main bathroom. This lasted five years.

As with all our renovations, we try to do things on a budget. Being a small business owner it’s important to manage cash flow, and I am very conscious of how much I’m spending. This is another reason that it’s taken us so long to finish the job.

Originally, we had a couple of renovation quotes that exceeded $24,000. For a small ensuite that was just outrageous. Instead, we did a lot of the work ourselves, purchased items online to reduce costs, and used family who have trades to do some of the jobs. In the end, our completed bathroom renovation cost us less than half the quoted amount.

Here is a picture of the layout before the renovation:

What we changed

As you can see in the original layout, there was only a small vanity because of where the toilet was located. With a small change to relocate the toilet to the other side of the shower, we were able to get a full 1500mm wide vanity.

Modern bathroom with wall hung vanity

The other major change we made was to the ceiling height. It was at 2.4m and was a lot lower than the bedroom ceiling which is raked like the rest of the house. So, we ripped the ceiling out and raked it. It was a big job, but it makes the room feel so much more spacious. Add to this the feature tile on the wall and it really gives the room the WOW factor!

Our vanity is a combination of modular wall hung cabinets, two 300mm cabinets, and a 900mm cabinet.  The wall hung cabinets come in four different sizes which allows you to mix and match to fit the size of your room. This is a great way to get a custom look without the price tag! Having wall hung cabinets also gives us space for a rubbish bin and to tuck things out of the way. It’s also easy to keep the floor clean and it doesn’t gather dust as much.

I originally planned to have a custom timber vanity but decided to save some money by choosing a timber-look laminate. This meant we could splurge on the benchtop and get a marbled Caesarstone upgrade. I’m so glad I did! I just know that the upkeep of a timber vanity would be something I’d regret in a few years.

Making the most of a small space

To ensure there’s enough storage, we added face level mirrored shaving cabinets that are recessed into the wall. It’s amazing how much storage we now have in the bathroom.

modern bathroom mirrored shaving cabinet grey basin and black tap

Another small change was to tile floor to ceiling, including the windowsill. This makes the room look more modern. Before we put the tiles in, we also painted the aluminium window frame white to match the tile. It was brown and would have stood out like a sore thumb. But rather than spend more money to replace a perfectly good window, we painted it!

Learn more about making the most of small spaces

Our challenges

Bathroom renovation in an older home does come with its challenges though. The walls were not square, which meant tiling was difficult. It took a lot longer to get them level and the shower screen needed to be custom made. We didn’t want it to look cheap, so we got the experts in to measure up and give us one that would fit perfectly.

The other thing we discovered with this house is that all the tiles were set directly into the concrete slabs. No glue! This meant they were really hard to get up when we tried to change them. So, for this bathroom, we didn’t remove the old tiles, we just tiled over the top. This meant we had to keep the shower drain where it was, which isn’t quite in the centre, but that’s not a huge deal.

The huge wall of tiles

The huge wall of herringbone white tile was a mammoth task. The tiler we employed took a week and a half to get it right and we even had to take some of the tiles off three times before we could get them to line up properly! With the walls not being square, we were worried that it would look weird if the tiles were different as they went up the side. But in the end, we had no choice and now you wouldn’t even notice it unless we pointed it out to you.

Our biggest bathroom renovation lesson was that choosing something because it’s pretty, can lead to a budget blowout. It cost us a lot more money in labour than planned to have the tiles laid, but the overall look of the bathroom is so worth it.

Read about the top tile trends of 2019 for inspiration.

I’m so happy with the outcome, and love getting ready in our new bathroom every morning.

If there’s a renovation that you’ve been putting off for a while, then we’d love to chat about what we can do for you. Give us a call on 0407 480 668 to get your planning started.