Small Bathroom, Quick and EasyRemodel

Fix A Small Bathroom On A Tight Budget

In 2012, we decided that redoing our guest bathroom was no longer an optional project. As we do not have guests very often, it actually serves as the cat's bathroom, as well as use by ourselves.

The vanity was dated and over-large for the space, the linoleum was coming up, the walls were done in an ugly faux wood plank paneling, and, thanks to accidents by the cats, we could not get rid of that certain odor. It was time for a refit.

As we are on a fixed income, budget was a major consideration; we had to do all the work ourselves with help from friends and my grandsons. That is a major budget-saver right there: DIY (Do It Yourself).

Who Puts Paneling In A Bathroom?

Well, the people we bought this house from, that's who. Considering all the other problems we've had to fix since moving here, we were not overly surprised. These were people who prided themselves on DIY "improvements," yet they should never have been allowed near tools or building materials! We had to completely gut and re-do our kitchen in 2007, due to some very dangerous shortcuts they took.

The Process

Step-by-step, in photos, the stages of the project are shown What is not shown is the exact how-to of each step, due to the fact that I had to be on the other end of a tool of some sort, and that makes it awkward to also take photos.

However, this was about as low-budget a project as we were able to make it. It cost under $300 for the materials, which included new, thin drywall, new flooring, new medicine chest, light fixture, vanity, texturing and paint.

The original appearance of the bathroom, from doorway looking in
The original appearance of the bathroom, from doorway looking in
Original appearance from window end--who puts paneling in a bathroom???
Original appearance from window end--who puts paneling in a bathroom???
Beginning the process of stripping the ugly paneling--seeing a small patched-in area in the drywall underneath; not a good sign
Beginning the process of stripping the ugly paneling--seeing a small patched-in area in the drywall underneath; not a good sign
Paneling stripped off above shower area; definitely not good.  No joint tape--not to code!
Paneling stripped off above shower area; definitely not good. No joint tape--not to code!
Paneling stripped from vanity wall..this looks bad
Paneling stripped from vanity wall..this looks bad
Close-up view of stripped vanity wall:  very bad, indeed.  Now we know what the paneling was about--they were hiding things that they didn't want seen.  Highly illegal, poor quality excuse for construction.
Close-up view of stripped vanity wall: very bad, indeed. Now we know what the paneling was about--they were hiding things that they didn't want seen. Highly illegal, poor quality excuse for construction.
Floor under the linoleum was in rough shape
Floor under the linoleum was in rough shape
Many sections of the floor had to be patched in with leveling compound.
Many sections of the floor had to be patched in with leveling compound.
In the end, it was cheaper and easier to simply put a new 'skin' of thin drywall over the top of the old, shoddy wall .  This time, done right.  Drywall can be had in 1/4" thickness, so overall, the room "shrunk" by a total of only 1/2'.
In the end, it was cheaper and easier to simply put a new 'skin' of thin drywall over the top of the old, shoddy wall . This time, done right. Drywall can be had in 1/4" thickness, so overall, the room "shrunk" by a total of only 1/2'.
Close-up of window area--with flashing and tape, as it is supposed to be done.
Close-up of window area--with flashing and tape, as it is supposed to be done.
This is what drywall joints should look like--a special tape goes over the seams before anything else.
This is what drywall joints should look like--a special tape goes over the seams before anything else.
Next, joint compound, or "mud" is applied over the taped seams and smoothed down. (Note the holes for the fixtures and outlets are to exact size, not giant gouges in the wall.)
Next, joint compound, or "mud" is applied over the taped seams and smoothed down. (Note the holes for the fixtures and outlets are to exact size, not giant gouges in the wall.)
A second coat of mud is applied over the seams, and it is feathered out much wider than the actual seam.
A second coat of mud is applied over the seams, and it is feathered out much wider than the actual seam.
Finally, a sprayed-on texture is applied, using topping compound, which is very much like the joint mud, but a bit thinner.
Finally, a sprayed-on texture is applied, using topping compound, which is very much like the joint mud, but a bit thinner.
Close-up of freshly-sprayed texture, which will later be 'knocked down' with a wide-bladed joint trowel.
Close-up of freshly-sprayed texture, which will later be 'knocked down' with a wide-bladed joint trowel.
Finished texture; ready for paint.  For best results, use a primer coat to seal the texture and drywall, so it won't soak up too much of your finish paint.
Finished texture; ready for paint. For best results, use a primer coat to seal the texture and drywall, so it won't soak up too much of your finish paint.
New flooring in place.  Always paint before installing flooring--it makes life so much easier. (We opted not to go into the linen closet with the new flooring--both a budget saver and not needed--the floor inside was not damaged.)
New flooring in place. Always paint before installing flooring--it makes life so much easier. (We opted not to go into the linen closet with the new flooring--both a budget saver and not needed--the floor inside was not damaged.)
Finished bathroom looking in from door.  Hardly looks like the same bathroom!  We left the original tub and shower surround and door assembly, as replacing that was not in the budget.
Finished bathroom looking in from door. Hardly looks like the same bathroom! We left the original tub and shower surround and door assembly, as replacing that was not in the budget.
This shot shows the linen closet doors, which we also re-did--as the former owners had them in a flat paint, and hung upside-down!
This shot shows the linen closet doors, which we also re-did--as the former owners had them in a flat paint, and hung upside-down! | Source

Know What You're Doing

As DIY projects go, this one is for very experienced folks who are familiar with things like building codes and who have done construction projects of some sort in the past. This is not a beginner-level project. I grew up helping my father fix things, and my husband used to be a general contractor years back, so we know what we are doing.

That said, this was a relatively simple and straight-forward task, but because we both have a few physical issues at this point in our lives, we took our time, and it took us about a week. Back in our prime, this would have been a weekend project.

As you can see from the photos, we ran into some nasty surprises. This is always a possibility when remodeling an older home. Be mentally and financially prepared! In this case, we had our suspicions, based on what we'd gone through with the kitchen, and a few other things around the property.

Remodels are not something you just tear into on a whim. Be sure to start with a check of local building codes, and adhere to them. Your city hall will have that information.

Research what you need for your project, plan it out and don't get ahead of yourself, and it will go smoothly.

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Comments 26 comments

Wilbart26 3 years ago

Thanks for this wonderful share. We also have a small bathroom, and I am having a hard time to think on what to do with our small space bathrooms. This hub is just the right article for me at the moment. Very nice timing indeed.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 3 years ago from Canada

Nice job Ms Lizzy, great before and after shots. Nice that you were able to do the reno so cheaply. How does the cat like it? Regards, snakeslane


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

What an ambitious project! Well done! It looks just lovely!

Helps explain why I've not seem much of you for a bit!


ExpectGreatThings profile image

ExpectGreatThings 3 years ago from Illinois

I am seriously impressed with all the work you put into making your bathroom nice (and to code)! Well done on the hub, also. About a year after we moved to our house we discovered mold in the walls of one of our bathrooms. We also tackled this project, but it took us almost a year to finish it! Plus, we ended up getting a friend to do the plastering. You are very talented!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ Wilbart26--Thanks very much for your comment. I’m pleased that the timing of this article is convenient for you, and I wish you all the best in your remodel.

@ snakeslane--Thanks much--glad you liked the photos. The cat?? Errrr… catS! (several of the darlings!) LOL Well, we had been tired of the boxes in the way--as you can see, it’s small and narrow, and there were no good places for them. So, since we don’t really need a “guest” bathroom, I moved the litter pans into the tub. That way, any accidents don’t mess up the floor, and cleanup is a breeze! ;-)

@ Nellieanna--Thanks so very much; I’m glad you like it. That was last spring; the real reason I haven’t been around is that since then, my husband’s health has deteriorated, and we’ve been spending a lot of time running around to doctor appointments, and I’m dealing with keeping all his meds straight, and have just been exhausted.

@ ExpectGreatThings--Thanks very much for the huge compliment. We have always enjoyed fixing and improving things. While we both do know how to do the texturing; a friend of ours did it for a living, so we had him come do it for us, both to get a really good job, and because he was out of work, and we were able to pay him a little bit to help him out.

One of these days, maybe I'll get ambitious, and post a hub about the remodel we did on our kitchen back in 2007. Now THAT was a project. But, with a little help from our friends in the trades…..we knocked it out in just 2 weeks, start to finish! And that was a full gutting of the room down to the studs and subfloor, including removal of a wall to open up the area….it would have taken a paid contractor a month or more! We were finished, and the kitchen was functional inside that 2 week period. The only thing we waited on for a month was the granite counters. That, we couldn’t do ourselves.

I don’t envy you dealing with the mold issue. That is nasty stuff. I had some problem with it when I lived in a seaside community years back, but luckily, it didn’t get inside the walls. Thanks again for your input and compliments!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Big job and big improvement. The photos were great! Bet you're glad its done!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Fossillady--

Thanks--I'm glad you enjoyed this photo essay. Yes, we are very glad it is finally done. Even before the issues caused by our kitties (we suspect one of them in particular...), we planned on re-doing that bath from the day we bought the house, (back in 2003), but other projects took priority.


wilderness profile image

wilderness 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Nice! For a paltry sum, considering the size of the project, you got a new bathroom. An excellent example of what can be done with a little knowledge and effort.

I particularly like the idea of using 1/4" drywall; it can be so much easier than ripping out all the old stuff and replacing it. It's also normally cheaper than thicker material.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, wilderness,

Yes, the thin drywall is cheaper; also trickier to transport, as it can bend and break very easily.

But, for the situation here, it really was the best option. Neither of us have the stamina anymore to do a full-on tear-out of the existing drywall..(and maybe we also didn't want to know what other things we'd find behind the wall!!) :-O

Thanks for stopping by; I'm glad you liked the article.


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 3 years ago from Upstate, New York

I come from a long long line of contractors. My Grandfather, my Dad, all brothers, some cousins and several Uncles. Dad operated his own construction business for over 50 years and passed it on to my brother. Although I am not an expert by no means, I certainly did my sharer of these types of projects and must agree with you, the previous owners hadn't a clue.

You both did a fantastic job and the finished product looks magnificent.

Enjoy your new bathroom.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, shiningirisheyes!

Thanks so very much for your praise of the project. Coming from someone with experience in the field, it is all the more appreciated. I'm delighted you liked it. ;-) We certainly are enjoying it--it is so much easier to clean with the smaller vanity and new floor!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Awesome job and hub! I am impressed and I have bathroom that could use remodeling. This makes me think we could do it. Thanks. Up, awesome and shared. Cool!


homerevisor profile image

homerevisor 3 years ago from New Jersey

Great post, very informative, and the pictures really showed people how its done!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ Glimmer Twin Fan--Thanks very much--I'm most pleased you liked the article so well. You can do it--if you have some experience working with drywall (a.k.a. "sheetrock," which is actually a brand name). There are certain tricks to know when working with that stuff...It can be maddening at times. If you take your time, plan carefully, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Thanks very much for the votes and share!

@ homerevisor--Thank you very much for your complimentary comment. I'm happy you liked the article, and I appreciate your stopping by.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Oh, I definitely relate to that, MsLizzy. My husband's health deteriorated more and more over 7 years; and it became a full-time effort to be his caregiver and also take care of all the things he had taken care of and still find time to be myself. The details of it are impossible to explain unless to someone who has 'been there'. So take care of yourself, too. Can't help him much unless you do.

I notice your comments to snakeslane about cats. We did a lot of traveling/RVing with our two. It was a challenge to find places for the boxes in those cramped quarters, especially for those boxes with high covers which we preferred. Your solution sounds very practical.

Hugs.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello again, Nellianna, and thanks for your support and understanding. Full time job is right. I do try to take care of myself, and get very irritated with people who think I'm being selfish to take some time away now and then, even if it's only out to coffee with my daughter. But, I dismiss them with a wave of the hand. I look at it this way, if I don't take care of myself, I won't be ABLE to care for him. It's that simple.

I can't even imagine trying to take our crew on the road. I'd be terrified of losing one of them, as well as unhappy about leaving them cooped up in a vehicle while going on a hike or other adventure. It's irrelevant, though, really; our traveling days are over, and the cat complement has grown to 7, so since we are pretty much housebound anyway, they are our last remaining link to sanity. ;-) Thanks again for your kind comments.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

I do understand - and admire you greatly for all that is involved in your caring for your husband and also making sure you're balanced so you can. There's a primary obligation for each person to care for himself or herself when personally able. It's the least selfish thing one can do!!

During my husband's life and continuing still, I don't want to let myself become a burden on others any sooner than I can avoid. I pamper myself in healthful ways so I can remain able to be self-sufficient - and I'm going to celebrate my 81st in about 9 days. I live quite alone self-sufficiently and take no meds. I'm not ashamed of taking care of myself so it's possible and I'm going for 100. My own children are thousands of miles away and George's two sons aren't close and have their own busy lives. We see each other only occasionally.

Taking as good care of oneself as possible is not 'either/or'. It's not selfish. I am a worthwhile investment & am glad for each time I realized that so that I could be as healthy and able as possible, still & ongoing.

And so are YOU always worth it, and that doesn't take time off. Keep on dismissing any critics and doing what you know you need to remain at top performance! We don't get rebates! It's all up to us to do what we can do all along. No one else really can - or will. Nor should they need to if we're doing our job.

Our 2 kitties were housecats strictly - so they were equally happy in their traveling homes and familiar destinations with us. It would be different if the cats were indoor/outdoor cats, I'm sure. Hugs.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thank you so much, Nellieanna, for your kind and positive thoughts. Much appreciated, and congratulations on staying so healthy. I have no doubt you will make it to your 100th milestone, and beyond.

Our kitties are also indoor-only, but, even here at home, I have to watch the doors, as one of them is a youngster, and very curious with a "no fear" sticker on his forehead. There have been a couple of sneaky forays out onto the back stoop by one or two of the others, fortunately caught in time. Since none of them have ever traveled anywhere but the vet for their checkups, they are not accustomed to riding, and they don't like it. I guess it's different if they grow up accustomed to traveling about from their youth.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Yes, their being accustomed to traveling was the key. The first time we took them on a trip, they didn't like it, but we'd invited other people & we had an Astro-van. I didn't really like that van much and obviously neither did the kitties. Later we drove SUVs which have car-like back seats, where the kitties rode comfortably, so soon became happy travelers. I started off taking a littler box, food and water for them, but they slept all the way and ignored the amenities if wakened & taken to them. Even when we stopped to eat, they rose up, looked around and when they saw it wasn't the destination, curled back up and went back to sleep. Only once was there an accident en route. Toulouse tried to tell me he needed to get out. But it was so unusual, I didn't listen. Next thing, I had a lapful!

But otherwise, they went back and forth hundreds of times to and from the ranch. 400 miles from Dallas to Del Rio, where we usually stopped and spent a night in the RV we kept there, then another 100 miles to the ranch, (where we first stayed in an RV & then built our own little cabin). It was a vice-versa route on the return trips.

The minute we were near the Del Rio RV park, the ranch compound or our street in Dallas they came to life and began to meow. We travelled to other places, too, but the ranch trips were regular. As long as they had their RV to stay in at any other destination, they were happy.

Actually we got into the RVs after taking them camping in a tent once when they were young! A thunderstorm convinced us! Toulouse unzipped the tend and got out in the dark in the storm - we almost lost him! Camille burrowed to the bottom of my sleeping bag and wouldn't come out till it was calm and the sun was out. After that, my feet under the covers was her preferred sleeping place!

We had a rule that if we let them out on the patio, they had to stay on the tiles. They didn't try to escape uninvited. They were unbelievably obedient for cats, but they were born in the bottom of my closet and their mother was an outdoor cat, actually a stray which came to our house, though she was a lovely Balinese-Siamese. Their dad was a torty-point Siamese - also an outdoor alley-cat, who ruled the neighborhood. We decided they needed to meet and set it up. I taught their 5 kittens indoor manners so I guess they regarded me as their mother, especially the 2 we kept for 17 years. We never had to be harsh, just firm. I'd hold them to teach them not to do whatever it was. So after they larded, if they started to step off into the grass all I had to do was say 'no' and they'd retrieve the paw. Actually Camille didn't even want to go out there. Once when she was young she went out to the alley and a dog scared her so that she had a kind of fit, like an epileptic fit. After that, she didn't want anything to do with outdoors. But she had those fits - rarely - but off and on the rest of her long life. The vet said that any surgery would be more dangerous than the malady. I would just hold & soothe her while it was going on & she'd quickly relax to normal. But that first time, I was as scared as she was, I'm sure.

Just before my beloved George breathed his last breath in the hospital, I 'heard' them meow - so I felt they were waiting for him. Now I'm all teary, not sad, but nostalgic.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, Nellieanna--

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful memories of your beautiful kitties. I sounds like you enjoyed many happy years with them. And yes, cats are smart, and can be taught--it just takes patience. The best "teacher" I've found it the squirt bottle. ;-) Now, all I have to do is pick it up and show it to them, and the misbehavior stops instantly.

(I know what you mean about those auto-spell-checkers! The programmers need a spanking!)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

I see that my post is duplicated. When I started to add about the spell-checker, my post wasn't showing, so I re-posted it. Please remove the frist one or both! Ack! Thank you for a lovely reply. I got carried away!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

:-) Thank you for deleting the duplicate!!


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

You guys did a great job. The remodeled bathroom looks great! I had to chuckle when comparing the photos that the previous owners hung the doors upside down.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello there, Efficient Admin,

Thanks so much! We were pleased with the end result. We did go into this suspecting that that paneling was hiding some nasty surprises, so we were ready to deal with that. I have an entire booklet I made of the remodel of our kitchen back in 2007--talk about nasty surprises! We were lucky the place hadn't burned down! Too bad we don't know where they moved to--or there would have been a lawsuit for failure to disclose....


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Wow that bad? They did sure seem like real amaturers based on the mistakes in the bathroom. That is always a bad idea to cut corners during a remodel on a house, for safety reasons.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello again Efficint Admin--yes, that bad! As I said in the body of the article, these folks should never have been allowed anywhere near tools! :-( "Amateurs" would have been an improvement!

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