The Bathroom Saga: Part 3


The rewiring for the master bath was done (more on that here) but we still had A LOT left to do to turn our ugly beast of a bathroom (view pictures here) into the serene retreat we so desperately wanted.

To recap, here was our renovation check list:

  • Demo shower
  • Demo tub
  • Demo toilet
  • Move shower location to old tub location (meaning our foundation needed a little jackhammering)
  • Move toilet location to old shower location (aka more jackhammering)
  • Demo shower wall and turn into a pony wall
  • Transform linen closet into a built-in cabinet
  • Replace sinks (goodbye yellow shell sinks!)
  • Replace counter with granite
  • Replace cracked tile floor with faux wood tile
  • Install HUGE newly tiled shower, complete with a built-in nook for shampoos and such and a bench
  • Install frameless glass shower door
  • Install new shower head and handle
  • Install new toilet
  • Tear down wallpaper
  • Retexture walls
  • Repaint walls
  • Replace old hollywood light above sinks to something a little less… hollywood… and less brass
  • Install can lighting
  • Demo heat lamp (not really needed in our very warm, very Southern bathroom)
  • Install new fan cover
  • Paint cabinets
  • Install new cabinet pulls
  • Dress up mirror
  • Install two new towel hangers
  • Install new toilet paper holder
  • Install some sort of wall storage
  • Dig up some wall art

Phew!  We had quite the list to get through!  As many renovation horror stories as I’ve heard, we got by pretty easy.  Once we settled on a crew, they worked quickly, which was nice considering we had to lock up Chloe, our cat, all day for a few weeks.  She’s quite the nosy cat and not the brightest crayon in the box so we knew disaster awaited if we let her roam around in the midst of all this chaos.

That said, we still had our fair share of small hiccups along the way.  Like when we signed off on a frameless shower door but a framed door arrived.

Or when Chris came home to find the high-end sink faucets (one of the only items we decided to keep from the original bathroom to save moo-lah) tossed in the trash.  A day before the trash came.  Phew!

Or when our crew decided to go all telenovela on us when the main contractor and his carpenter stopped speaking and they refused to be on-site when the other was… causing our bathroom progress to stall for a week (which was especially frustrating because all that was left to do was install the shower head and handle).

But, we lived to tell the tale and, honestly, would be up for enduring the craziness again for a big project we needed help with.  The crew did amazing work, kept out of the way of the rest of the house, and were very understanding when it came down to the things we wanted to tackle ourselves.  That said, we were SO glad when it was over and took a big, long break from renovating afterwards.  Sometimes, you just need to stop and enjoy it for awhile… well, until I get antsy for change again!


Where was I? Oh, right. Our bathroom was destroyed:

After I finished all the electrical and installed the lights, the crew could see to do their major work. The biggest job (and literally the only reason we hired professionals) was the plumbing work. We were moving the shower to the tub’s old location, moving the toilet to where the shower was, and wouldn’t be installing a new tub. Now, at first glance it seems like this might actually be a simple swap- after all, everything had a drain and a water supply so one might assume it wouldn’t be too involved. Well, bathtubs have 2″ diameter drain pipes, showers have 3″ pipes, and toilets have 4″ pipes. Just our luck, everything would require larger pipes than what was already in that location. Yikes!

Now, since all these drains were literally cemented into the floor, a jackhammer would have to be used to break up the foundation. I came home one day and the plumbers told me that the contractor hadn’t delivered the jackhammer yet, so they had started busting up the concrete with a sledgehammer- now that’s dedication! Although I must say, I wasn’t really prepared for how strange my house looked with a hole in the middle of it:

And here it is, new plumbing in place and patched back up:

And now the shower can be framed out:

When we took out the furdown, we realized that part of its purpose was to hide this little guy, the vent pipe for the sink drains (it’s also a proof of apparent miscommunication between the original plumber and framer of the house).

Look at that wallpaper! Fortunately our carpenter specialized in trim, so he hooked us up with some crown moulding that completely hides the pipe.

Our sink area served as a workbench throughout most of the project:

Finally, after all the electrical, plumbing, framing, and drama, it was time for drywall. If you look in the shower, you’ll see that it’s actually concrete backerboard, since the typical gypsum sheetrock (i.e. drywall) isn’t strong enough to support the weight of tiles.

And in goes the floor- we wanted wood but knew it would never survive in a bathroom, so we found a wood-look tile that fools everyone… or did, until drywall dust got into the grout.

One final light to go in before paint and moulding:

And the tiling of the shower. Note the levels- our tile guy did an awesome job, and everything is perfectly flush.

Finally, time to paint! Since this is a high-moisture area, I primed everything to help keep moisture out of the walls. Has anyone noticed that there are no pictures of Julie working on this entire blog? Hmm…


Um, excuse me.  Someone had to take these pictures!


After a bit of drama and miscommunication, we got a frameless shower door installed. It’s difficult to keep clean, but when we do, the cat can’t stand it.

True to form, Julie decided she didn’t like the original color, and we had to paint again.

By this point everything worked, and it felt magical for at least a month. Just a few final touches, and we were almost done!

Stay tuned when we (finally) unveil the after pictures!

To read part 1 of the saga, click here.

To read part 2 of the saga, click here.



Filed under Bathroom

10 responses to “The Bathroom Saga: Part 3

  1. curt

    This is what it’s all about. Looks great!

  2. You two are so funny and cute. I am new to the blog but I love it!

    • DO or DIY

      Aw, shucks, thanks! (Just don’t encourage Chris’ accusations that I never lift a finger… he’s such a liar!) 🙂


  3. Cecily Bjorklund

    OMG! Fantastic! So glad I came upon your site – via Pinterest! This is (almost) exactly what I want to do in our bathroom. We have a closet of a shower and a “garden tub” that’s not long enough to lie down in without knees up around chin area. We are wanting to remove shower (fiberglass insert), remove bathtub FOREVER, and have a big walk in shower with a bench at the back. We’re pretty handy, and have even tiled before, but afraid to “build a shower” if you know what I mean. Can I ask a few questions if you don’t mind:
    1. Did your plumber build your shower pan and frame out your shower bench and niches or did you diy all that?
    2. Did you buy tile online without seeing it in person? Obviously it turned out great either way.
    3. Rough estimate of your budget? I know it will vary greatly based on tile purchase.
    4. How long was your bathroom out of commission?
    Any help/answers would be appreciated!

    Cecily n Travis

    • DO or DIY

      Hi Cecily,

      1) We had our contractor build the shower, but it’s something that we could have easily done ourselves. The bench is just made of 2x4s covered in concrete backerboard (same as the walls of the shower), so it would be a straightforward build. I’ve also helped build shower pans before and it’s really not difficult- just be sure that there is a gentle slope toward the drain from all directions!

      2) We picked everything out in person. For a major project like this, I’d recommend purchasing everything in person- the corresponding pictures online aren’t always accurate.

      3) More than my first car!

      4) We were without a functioning bathroom for about two weeks, but that wasn’t a full day every day and depended on the availability of the various sub-contractors. We probably could have done it ourselves (sacrificing nights and weekends) in about six weeks, but we were just ready to get it done!

      Hope this helps,


  4. Pingback: The Bathroom Saga: The Reveal! | DO or DIY

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  6. Best DIY blog, bar none. Love the work, the materials, the before and after shots, but most of all….the easy sense of humour! Got you in my favorites.

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