With less storage and a full suite of fixtures, a bathroom is streamlined and functional for $30,000
- Homeowner: After purchasing and settling into the 2005 home, Lauren hired a designer to map out the renovation and posted the bathroom remodel on Sweeten
- Where: EaDo district (East Downtown) in Houston
- Primary renovation: A gut remodel of the bathroom to remove dated fixtures and décor, modernize and make the space more functional
- With: Sweeten Houston general contractor
- Homeowner quote: “Sweeten provided me the opportunity to post my project to multiple contractors and have those well-suited to my job come to me. I was able to get three to four labor quotes for my project and knew I would pay a competitive price since I could compare against multiple data points.”
Written in partnership with homeowner Lauren. “After” photos by Josh Gremillion.
Priority list: bathtub, storage, flow
Most of what drove my primary bathroom renovation was aesthetic. However, there were functional points that I hoped to address in the design change. I wanted the bathtub to be accessible, not walled in. I wanted storage that worked for me—and actually less of it. And I wanted a modern look and a neutral color palette.
My name is Lauren and I’m a mechanical engineer working in the oil and gas industry. I live in downtown Houston—in an eastern area locally referred to as “EaDo.” My house, an approximately 2,600-square-foot single-family home, was built in 2005.
When I moved in, the whole length of the bathroom had a countertop with cabinets and drawers under it. I simply did not need that much storage space. The lower cabinets felt clunky and made my bathroom look smaller. I wanted more strategically placed storage. I take a bath most days, too. It bothered me that my bathtub was built-in by two stubby walls, creating small rectangular spaces on each side that wasted space.
An update with feminine flair
Aesthetically, I was going for a more modern look. I’m typically drawn to industrial styled spaces, but I wanted to soften it with some curved lines. And I wanted to work with a neutral color palette but didn’t want the space to look washed out.
A design professional lays the groundwork
To help me get the look I wanted, I worked with a remote interior designer, Shelley Stotz of House of Stotz. She did a great job incorporating my preferences, using Modsy, the online site to design the bathroom. (Editor’s note: Modsy is now defunct). It let her include product links to items and materials she chose. I was then able to swap out some for more cost-effective alternatives. But the platform helped me visualize how the cheaper options would look.
Finding confidence to search for a contractor
My bathroom was my first renovation project, and I was intimidated about the idea of looking for a contractor. They needed to be reasonably priced but do a quality job. Sweeten provided me the opportunity to post my project to multiple contractors and have those well-suited to my job come to me. I was able to get three to four labor quotes for my project and knew I would pay a competitive price since I could compare against multiple data points.
I wanted to find a contractor who was okay with my handling material purchases, since I wanted to control my costs. Sweeten also talked me through what would happen if hiccups during the process brought cost increases. I didn’t want to take on uncertain financial liability.
Resolving outlet issues and other bumps
The project’s biggest challenge was centering the vanities and pendant light sockets above them. The original sockets had been centered over the old mirrors and sinks. Since we extended the shower space, they were now off-center. My Sweeten contractors repositioned the light sockets toward the end of the project once we realized the discrepancy.
Another glitch was when we discovered that two little walls that stuck out between my old mirrors were structural. I wanted that wall to be flat! In order to install my new tile, vanities, and mirrors, we filled in the recessed portions of the wall so the structural columns no longer stuck out. This made the bathroom four inches narrower, but it wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme.
"My Sweeten contractor was also schedule-conscious. We stuck to the project timeline and there were not many days when no one was there progressing the work."
I was able to remove the mini walls on each side of my bathtub. The fully enclosed shower would change to a “seamless” one. The contractors altered the level of my shower floor removing the existing shower subfloor and building a new one. It angled toward the bathroom’s exterior corner so that water would drain away from the shower door opening.
I love my new shower, especially the rain shower head, hand attachment, and “foot warmer” on the shower floor. Aesthetically, I am so happy with the tile in my shower niche and the wallpaper behind my bathtub. Both give the bathroom a unique look. (I’m also thrilled with the hand attachment on my bathtub faucet—it makes hair-washing easier!)
Working with conscientious contractors
Since the bathroom project was on my house’s third floor, I knew extra manpower would be required to move materials and construction debris up and down the stairs. My contractor’s workers were conscientious, protecting my home when carrying these things through.
My Sweeten contractor was also schedule-conscious. We stuck to the project timeline and there were not many days when no one was there progressing the work. Also, only five to six people entered and exited my house. I wasn’t home on my work days—it was nice knowing there wouldn’t be many unfamiliar people circulating through my house.
A bathroom worth the wait
I knew when I purchased my home that I would make changes, but it took me a few years to figure out which spaces I could decorate to modernize and which ones I had to renovate. In my primary bathroom, the remodel was necessary. Even though I spent more than I’d budgeted—my total costs were around $30,000 ($19,000 in labor and $11,000 for materials)—it was worth it. I love my beautiful bathroom!
- MSI floor tile in Water Color Bianco; Glass Warehouse shower glass partition; and Wyndham Collection bathtub: Home Depot
- Adessi wall tile in Arctic Ice: Floor & Decor
- Airuida rain head and shower hardware; AZOS foot warmer; TimeArrow sink faucet in matte black; Wade Logan vanity mirrors in black; AULESET 48” round mirror; and MOTINI light pendants; Ivy Hill backsplash tile in pure white; Toilet paper holder; hand towel hooks: Amazon
- Mercury Row sink vanities in natural oak; Kebo bathtub faucet in matte black; Bedrosians shower niche tile; and Ivy Bronx wallpaper in charcoal (behind tub): Wayfair