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Budget Basement Bathroom – The One Where We Tried To Not Spend Money… (And Now You Know Why)

Sure, we started designing the bathroom years ago (like 2) but it shifted down and down the priority list and I was willing to spend less and less on it even before we decided to move and sell the house. When the pandemic hit I was like, “Let’s just do it. We’ll make it cute for cheap and besides, eventually we’ll need to…. for resale”. Brian and I found ourselves saying “….for resale” more often than we thought (which tipped us off to the idea that maybe we were ready to move). Regardless it had been demo’d out for months and it was time to finish this sucker off. Here’s the full story if you missed it.

We needed to change out the vanity, lay flooring, paint, and then just see what some good old fashioned decorating could do (with stuff I already had). And hopefully all without spending too much money.

We put down the new Cali Bamboo waterproof flooring (same as the bedroom/office), waterproof baseboard, put down a coat of KILZ Mold & Mildew Primer (ideal for moisture-prone spaces), painted the walls in a warm denim-y blue (Good Jeans by Clare Paint), took off the glass door, switched out the faucets and replaced the vanity. I guess that is more than I thought, but the point is no tile installed, we didn’t TOUCH the vinyl shower surround but its white and TOTALLY FINE. We also didn’t do anything with the recessed cubbies and then just decorated it all cute. And yes, we used the same toilet. It’s ok guys, this is the basement bathroom… it just wasn’t worth the $400 to us because even before we decided to sell, it was just Brian using this space if that. That guy doesn’t give a crap about toilets if you know what I mean.

For all of you who are wondering, the vanity sits on top of the motor for the sump pump that you can access through the cabinet although my handyman who installed it didn’t totally understand that we wanted him to cut out the bottom so that still needs to be done.

The vanity is pretty great for how inexpensive it is ($260 including the countertop). Now I never saw the paint color or the vanity in-person before they were totally done (covid designing!) and I might have gone with the white vanity had I seen them together, but everybody thinks I’m crazy.

It actually looks great here!!! That’s a better representation of the wall color, but when the light is on its brighter.

The great thing about Clare paint is that they send you large stickers of paint swatches that you can stick on your wall instead of tiny paint samples that you have to paint (DUH … SO SMART, NICOLE!). We also made sure to put down a primer coat with a mold and mildew resistant primer film (again, we are KILZ primer loyalists over here), which is so important in basements, bathrooms, or really anywhere with poor circulation. It’s an easy way to make sure that our newly painted walls stay clean and dry for the long run:)

The vintage art and mirror are coming with me and yes, you bet that I should have switched out the outlet cover for a black or bronze one – OH WELL. PANDEMIC STYLING AND PHOTOSHOPPING. Sure, we left the outlet, but that little lamp on mister’s head is a clip light that yes, has a cord but it didn’t work anyway so we photoshopped it out because I really just wanted that in there to add quirk. Thank you for understanding why I cheat sometimes:) Technically there could be an outlet behind the piece of art so I’ll stick with that story.

Like I said that vintage mirror is coming with me. The faucet (sink and shower) were both super affordable and pretty great for the price.

I bought that vintage towel hook on Etsy, and already had everything else (the footed pot is from Jonathan Adler, I believe).

NOW. The one thing that was supposed to happen that didn’t was the baseboard and the cubbies were supposed to be painted the blue to keep it more tonal and modern. My guy didn’t get that note and we showed up the night before to style and shoot. Brian disagreed and said it should stay white and I wasn’t in the mood to push back, and I was ready to shoot it.

So I thought it would be fun to show you what it would look like IF the whole room was painted the Good Jeans blue that I had wanted. Again, not a big deal and not worth changing, but I just want you guys to know the intent 🙂 So here you go – the photoshopped version of the bathroom as originally intended.

Huh. I think Brian was actually right and it might be better with the white baseboards – or at least just as good. I just realized that all the dark moody bathrooms that I loved, the photos have never showed a bright white toilet OR a vinyl “tile” surround, so I actually think the white ties it together better.

I wish I had tallied it all up, but I can’t imagine we spent more than $3k including labor. It was all kinda tied with the basement bedroom as well as some painting upstairs, and my handyman doesn’t itemize for this kind of stuff, so I’m not totally sure. But the materials were affordable and the labor was under a week so I think we succeeded it making it “cute” and affordable and yet WILDLY better. If you didn’t see the basement reveal head over here to see how the rooms tie together. xx

In case you missed any of the other reveals so far check them out: The Living Room | The Kid’s Shared Bedroom | The Basement Guestroom/OfficeElliot’s Room | Kitchen and Dining Room | The Entry | The Front Yard

**Reveal Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp


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36 thoughts on “Budget Basement Bathroom – The One Where We Tried To Not Spend Money… (And Now You Know Why)

  1. I am not/less modern? 😉 I like white version.
    But in white or in blue, this bathroom is certainly beautiful as everything else you do, Emily 🙂

  2. I always *love* make it work, super budget reno posts since it’s the most realistic for me and so many others. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So cute!!! Love everything, especially in light of the budget aspect of the project—well done! Is there a resource for the rug?? Thank you!

    1. Check Etsy. There’s a Turkish shop that sells old rugs like this at incredibly low prices. And the shipping is super quick for the distant they have to travel.

      1. There are a lot of rug sellers on Etsy. Would you mind sharing the name? Much appreciated!

  4. It looks so good! i really like that wall color. like, shockingly so much. clare paint is cool with those stickers. i ordered a couple of those stickers to test the colors, and actually ended up leaving them up! i just like the blocks of color on the white wall 🙂
    anyway, i like the gray vanity, it looks intentional and planned. more interesting than a white vanity. I also like the white trim better than if you had done all blue. SO, good mistake! all the styling looks sooooooo good, and that rug is perfect! it’s reminding me to kick myself daily for selling the vintage rugs that I wish i had kept instead. blah!

  5. Now we know that the DIY tile mirror should have some white tiles in it to tie in with the white fixtures!

    I love all of the individual pieces you’ve used to style the space… I think I’m not in love with the wall color as I’m seeing it in these photos. Maybe it just seems a bit wishy-washy with the lighter brown vintage pieces? (Not enough contrast?) Against the darker frame of the portrait it feels like a nice traditional color. Why is paint SO HARD?

    Did the person who painted say whether they liked working with the Clare paint? That’s one thing I haven’t seen reviewed much, how smoothly and easily it goes on the wall. (I’ve read not-great things about Farrow and Ball)

    1. I so wanted to love Farrow & Ball, but having used both their interior and exterior paints, it’s so difficult to make it look even and not patchy. I keep finding areas of my kitchen that need touching up. It does seem highly pigmented, but the end finish isn’t great. If there’s a F&B paint colour you really love, I recommend taking the swatch to Benjamin Moore instead for matching.

    2. I want to give a shout out to Clare – I am a person who never painted anything in their life and I loved working with this paint. I used exact same color in my walk in closet and 2 coats worked great. I used another darkish color in another closet and also loved it. Also used one of their whites in a bathroom and laundry room – that required 3 coats but I am still very happy with the results.

      1. Yay! Thanks so much for the input. I feel less scared of using it for my living room/kitchen walls now – it’s a big enough project that I didn’t want to hate every minute of it!

  6. Wow that mirror….if you ever decide to sell please sell it to me!! I am buying a house in Maine and would love that treasure from Lubec. If you don’t know, Lubec is the easternmost town in the U.S. (mainland), and the closest town to the continent of Africa!

  7. So good for a budget reno!
    I prefer the white by a long shot. It’s a HAPPY ACCIDENT.
    Our house is yellow (Dulux, Open Sesame). The picket fence is 25%tint/pigment of that colour, but reads warm cream, kinda.
    One day I decided to use some leftover fence paint and repaint the pedestrian gate…yes, no painters here….I am the painter (everything but ceilings!).
    Well, I painted it, rushed to the ferry to get someone and as I arrived home, realized I’d painted the gate the house colour!
    HAPPY ACCIDENT! It looks better this way!

  8. It all works … and quite nicely. That Etsy vintage towel hook is my fave element lol.

  9. Looks so good, I love the white trim. One question, why take out the glass shower door?

  10. LOL the toilet you are saying you left is the one I’m coveting for my bathroom remodel. It’s not a “crappy” toilet to me. 😉

    1. It is my favorite style too! Just put one into a new bath at our lake house and I love it.

  11. I’m in the blue camp. I think you were right and the baseboards look better blue but I get it—since you’re selling, why not appeal to most buyers and stick with white? It all looks great 🙂

  12. I love the bathroom but especially the mirror. Would you mind sharing a picture of the whole mirror or saying what is written on it?

    1. She showed it in a vintage shopping post a while back, you might be able to find the post by searching for it 🙂

  13. I like the white trim better — it ties in better with the toilet and shower. And the whole room looks great! Love seeing these budget makeovers.

    Is there a source for the clip light? I’m hoping it’s not vintage, because it’s super cute.

  14. Def paint the vanity – it does not go with the vintage vibe or the faucet, nor does it go with the art above the toilet. Can you find a long framed map/chart/poster, add hinges to one side, and it can act as a door to the cubby? It reads coastal in white paint. This doesn’t feel like EHD content, even your budget posts. Bit of a bummer. Look forward to hearing about the new place, as when you put your heart into your work, it has so much personality, coherence and love .

  15. The rug is perfect–totally makes the space. I LOVE that little clipped lamp on the vintage art frame. Such a fun idea, and why I come back to this blog time and time again–the styling ideas are so unique and quirky. Thanks, Emily!

  16. This looks fantastic! I do have a question regarding removing the shower door – did you have to patch the vinyl surround after removing the door? We’re trying to redo our guest bath on a budget and I’d LOVE to remove the brass & glass shower door.

  17. I really love this bathroom. The styling is what makes it. That vintage mirror is killer! My brother-in-law is from Maine (both my niece and nephew were born there), so if I’d found it I’d have snapped it up for sure!

    I think I like the white trim better than the tonal alternative. Antique apothecary bottles are my jam (I keep my dog’s medicine in some of them), so I love that. The little portrait miniature is perfect, too. The color is so good. Love that vintage towel rack! And the Turkish throw rug!

    Only quibble is the plastic shower surround. I understand your not changing for staging for sale, but if I were the buyer, I’d replace it with tile if I planned to use it at all. If no one is using that shower that’s probably why it still looks so pristine. But that vinyl stuff gets micro scratches that attract dirt/mold, and you can never get it back to that pristine state again. That’s what I had in a rental once, and no matter how what I did it always looked grungy.

  18. I actually like the tonal paint but the white trim looks nice too and probably speaks to more buyers, since you’re selling. The one thing that bugs me is the blaring white vent above the built-ins…do you ever paint these so that they “go away” or replace with something more decorative?

  19. Can you elaborate on waterproof baseboards?

    And am I the only one that 🙄 when I see the toilet seat left up on “before” photos?

    1. …and open drawer, cardboard toilet paper tube, & Dove bottles moved from the shower to the shelves for 2 different “before” shots! Each “before” shot was actually styled to look haphazard in order to increase the impact of the “after” photos–hahaha!

  20. If you would have painted the baseboards and trim blue, would you also have painted the inside of the door and surrounding trim or left it white? And if you do paint the door, but the outside of the door stays white, do you paint the thickness of the door (what’s that called?) white or blue?

  21. Did you remove the shower doors yourself? I am tempted to remove mine but hesitating.😞

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