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Our primary bathroom remodel was an unexpected surprise for us. Having found out we had a massive leak behind our shower wall, we were forced into a remodel that we weren’t planning on tackling for years down the road. Despite the surprise and short time constraint on making design decisions, I am so pleased with how it turned out! No, it’s not perfect, and yes there are changes I would have made, but overall I know it’s a bathroom we will love for years to come!

A greige double sink bathroom vanity with white countertop, a large mirror, and two brass vanity lamps above.

Primary Bathroom Design

It all started with an explosion. During a shower, my husband heard a loud pop, and water began falling through our living room ceiling. We weren’t planning on remodeling the primary bathroom, so this remodel definitely was a curveball at our budget. Everything would stay in its place in order to save us some money. Luckily I actually love our bathroom layout. I always felt it was a great size. We have a double vanity, a tub separate from the shower, and a private water closet with a door. If you are on a budget, not moving any plumbing will definitely save you money.

I wanted to keep everything as timeless as possible since this might be my one and only bathroom remodel. My inspiration was the bathroom from “Something’s Gotta Give”. Remember the scene where Diane Keaton is crying in the shower? Not only is that a hilarious bit, but I’ve always loved the timeless look of her subway tile.

A white subway tiled shower with a brushed nickel shower faucet and glass door.

Classic Tile in Our Primary Bathroom

We went with a classic white ceramic penny round tile floor. I love how low maintenance ceramic tile is. I don’t have to worry about sealing the tile in the future. I’m sure one day we will have to pay to change the grout and to clean it, but otherwise I am able to take care of the glass and tile cleaning by myself, (and I don’t charge myself for any labor which is a good deal for me!)

Our shower floor is slanted and flows into a Schluter drain. (I am not sponsored by Schluter, we just happen to love it!) I love its modern look and clean lines. The great thing is it still blends beautifully with the rest of our floor since we filled the inside of the drain with tile as well.

A white subway tiled shower, with a white penny round tile floor and rectangular shower drain.

Frameless Doors in Our Primary Bathroom

We went with a frameless glass enclosure and door. What a wonderful invention frameless glass doors are! There are no sneaky hideaways for grime and mildew to grow, which makes cleaning a breeze!

A glass enclosed shower with white subway tile, brushed nickel faucets, next to a white door, a tub, and a blue stand.

Keeping The Vanity in Our Primary Bathroom

We kept the large mirror and bathroom vanity. Our contractor suggested we remove the dated vanity and replace it with a newer one. After researching new vanities I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not only were they incredibly expensive, they were all smaller than the one we currently had. In our case, size mattered, and I needed my great big vanity. We decided to paint the old vanity Sherwin Williams Shiitake. It is a gorgeous mushroom color that compliments our white Sherwin Williams Pearly White walls. Shiitake is essentially a greige color that is a perfect blend of beige and gray. I’ve also used it on my entryway banisters.

A greige double sink bathroom vanity with large mirror, and a white countertop topped with a tray, flowers, and soap.

A Deep Soaker Tub in Our Primary Bathroom

My favorite part of this bathroom is my deep soaker tub. I chose the least expensive soaker tub I could find with the right dimensions for the corner where it sits. We ended up going with an acrylic bathtub from Mirabelle. Acrylic tubs are lighter and cheaper than classic clawfoot tubs, (unless you hunt for a vintage one). I really wanted a clawfoot, but our contractor pointed out that our second floor might not be strong enough to support a tub that heavy. We definitely didn’t want a tub falling through our ceiling, so acrylic it was!

May I just say that I love this tub! I can stretch out my entire body and lay completely submerged in water. If you are a mom, or someone who works with children all day, then I strongly suggest you need…no you deserve, a deep soaker tub.

A tub, pedestal stand, basket and towel sitting under a window.

Mixing Fixtures in Our Primary Bathroom

The faucet and shower fixtures in our primary bathroom are brushed nickel. It’s been around a while, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I love how soft it looks as well as how easy it is to clean. We chose lovely brass vanity lights to go above the vanity. I recently learned the glass surrounding the bulb represents wine glasses. It’s no wonder I was drawn to this light fixture! Although the lights are new, I loved that they had a slightly vintage look that compliments our Neo-Victorian style home.

A greige double sink bathroom vanity with white countertop, a large mirror, and two brass vanity lamps above.

I went with these cute flowery looking door handles that tie into my white ceramic subway tile and brushed nickel hardware.

Closeup of a white flower style drawer knob on a greige cabinet.

Ceramic Tile in Our Primary Bathroom

The last big decision I had to make was flooring. We went with a practical but beautiful faux wood ceramic tile floor. As much as I love love love a vintage marble hexagon or penny round tile, I didn’t want to deal with an overwhelming amount of grout maintenance. Historically, these tiles are very accurate to a Victorian home. But after doing a little research, I discovered early Victorian bathroom floors were actually hardwood. That stopped once the Victorians discovered wood and water don’t go very well together. But a ceramic wood-looking tile goes very well with water! So technically, I am staying with historical accuracy with this remodel.

The great thing about my tile is it’s larger and therefore I have less grout lines. The color is beige with a slight washing of gray on top. It doesn’t show dirt easily, my grout lines blend beautifully with the greige tile. It is so easy to clean! A win win in my book!

A large bathroom filled with double sink vanity, mirror, two vanity lights, a deep soaker tub, and a window.

What I Would Change In My Primary Bathroom Remodel

Considering we had a set budget and time constraints in order to repair the water damage I am really happy with most of the decisions we made.

There are a few tweaks I would have done differently if I could go back in time to do it again. Let me run through them for you so you can hopefully learn from our mistakes.

Painting The Primary Bathroom Ourselves

First, I wish we would have painted the primary bathroom ourselves. As much as I wish I could fix plumbing, that’s not a skill set I have. However, I am pretty good at painting. We could have saved ourselves a lot of money if we would have just painted the walls and vanity ourselves. At the time, I was working full time, and we just wanted to get the job done. It pains me now because we could have put that money towards upgraded fixtures or a couple of gorgeous vanity mirrors.

Upgraded Primary Bathroom Fixtures

This one hurts the most. I had originally chosen beautiful vintage style faucets that put us way over our budget (over a thousand dollars over!). Leave it to me to unwittingly choose the most expensive product. I had to scale way back and went with very plain brushed nickel faucets that lack character. They are a kinda “meh”. Now, I wish we would have searched a little harder and had a little more patience in finding faucets that had a more vintage and timeless look.

Removal of Vanity Mirror in Our Primary Bathroom

Removing the vanity mirror was probably something we could have done ourselves. Our contractor quoted us a crazy amount for removal of the mirror and repair of the wall behind. I am certain my husband and I could have done this part ourselves, but for the sake of time and convenience we decided to save the money and leave it as is. I don’t dislike the mirror. It’s not hideous. But I’m the kind of girl who likes to hear compliments like, “Oh, that mirror is gorgeous!”, not, “Oh, that mirror isn’t hideous!” Finding unique mirrors is something we can change in the future, but for now, I can live with it.

A greige double sink, white countertop, with soap dispensers, flower bouquet, and large mirror above the sink.

Are you planning on remodeling your primary bathroom in the near future? What would your dream bathroom design look like?

Check out other home decor ideas below:

Happy Decorating,


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Jennifer Dynys
Jennifer Dynys
2 years ago

Such a pretty bathroom! It looks fresh and inviting!

Kristen Stuertz
2 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer Dynys

Thank you Jennifer! That’s so sweet of you to say. I definitely have enjoyed many hours relaxing in my bathroom! 🙂

Reno Bathroom Remodel

Great article! Remodeling a primary bathroom on a budget can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. It’s important to prioritize which areas of the bathroom require the most attention and allocate the budget accordingly. For example, upgrading the fixtures, such as faucets and showerheads, can give the bathroom a refreshed look without breaking the bank. Replacing outdated tiles with more affordable yet stylish alternatives, such as vinyl or ceramic tiles, can also be a budget-friendly option. Additionally, repainting the walls and cabinets or adding new hardware can make a significant impact on the overall appearance of the bathroom. With some creativity and strategic planning, it’s possible to achieve a beautiful and functional primary bathroom remodel on a budget.