Before and After: This Rental Bathroom Reached Its Breaking Point


It’s rare we get a makeover project from a renter, with all the complications and limitations that entails. Wendy Carwardine has helpfully provided the budget, timeline, and logistics behind her awkward bathroom’s “weekend facelift.”

A fuller look at the bathroom before the makeover.

(Image credit: Wendy Carwardine)

Before we celebrate the final result, let’s learn a bit more about what was there before:

This windowless bathroom in my rental unit was always my least favorite spot – the tub leaked, the tile was splattered with old paint, the vinyl floor was stained and coming up in places, and the vanity was this crumbling piece of fiberboard topped with a beige seashell sink. My unit is the first floor of a Victorian semi, so I think this was originally a powder room that had been stretched into a full bath. It was cramped, damp and rotting, and needed some love.

(Image credit: Wendy Carwardine)

So lovely! This is certainly a case of smaller (but not unimpressive) improvements having a huge impact. The result of Wendy’s hard work is a tasteful, fresh bathroom with zero leaking, splattering, or crumbling.

The sink area before

(Image credit: Wendy Carwardine)

Here we have the feature that finally broke Wendy, who had “reached a point where I just couldn’t stand looking at that beige seashell sink anymore.” Unless you’re going full Ursula’s lair, seashell motifs generally end up looking dated and half-assed. Go big or go home, merfolk!

(Image credit: Wendy Carwardine)

The hated sink was replaced with this chic, modern number, scored for a song in the IKEA as-is section. The dark vanity against the dark wall is wonderfully dramatic. Let’s turn to Wendy for a breakdown of the project as a whole:

Once I had collected all my materials, the process took about two full days. I planned on donating the old pieces so I was careful to leave everything intact when removing the old vanity.

The flooring didn’t take long at all. I ended up using peel and stick vinyl plank in Heritage Cafe Oak from Lowe’s (one box was just enough for my space and cost $40 CAD). The planks were so easy to work with, I ended up just using heavy duty scissors to cut them to length. I laid the vinyl over the existing floor tiles, but, to keep it level, added some plywood where the old vanity previously was.

The sink, vanity, and faucet were all [as-is pieces] from IKEA, which meant they came with easy-to-follow instructions — though I ran into issues when it came to fitting the new pipe because someone had glued a reducer to the waste line which I had to saw off. This was my first attempt at plumbing, so I’m pretty impressed at how it all turned out! In total, the project cost me about $350 CAD.

A new bathroom in a weekend, and for $350?!? Very impressive! That plain white mirror works so well with the new decor.

Wendy had very inspiring words for those of us who want to refresh a room but don’t have a huge budget:

If I’m honest, the floors and a coat of paint had the biggest impact and were the least costly. Using a blade to scrape old paint off the shower tiles also made a huge difference and took no time at all. Though the vanity was a pretty battered showroom piece, it was easily cleaned up with paint and some new glass knobs. Could not be happier with the end result!

(Image credit: Wendy Carwardine)

It’s incredible what a difference a half-wall of paint and new shelf can make. The dark floor and dark wall combine to create a very elegant, serious look, while the white accessories and upper wall keep things bright and reflective. This is a truly inspiring, approachable renovation. Any advice for potential DIYers, Wendy?

I did this project on my own with the help of some YouTube tutorials on how to replace a bathroom vanity, but I would strongly recommend getting the advice of a pro before changing any plumbing. I also got my landlord’s permission which is important as making any changes to the plumbing or electrical in your unit may be in breach of your lease.

Thank you Wendy!

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