Before and After: This Green ’90s Relic is Now a Relaxing Retreat


This bathroom went from a ’90s relic—complete with fuzzy toilet cover!—to part of a guest suite that friends and family clamor to stay in. After a day at this lake house, guests can let the relaxation continue in a fabulous clawfoot tub. However, they’ll have to bring their own fuzzy toilet cover…

Here’s how Vivian of Three Lovely Journeys described the bathroom before renovation:

The last time the home was renovated was the ’90s. The floor was the .99 cent tile from the big box stores, there was only one bowl for the sink, and the shower was a teeny-tiny stall. There was a deep narrow cabinet just inside the bathroom door that was anything but useful and the shower was a little square that made shaving your legs nearly impossible and was anything but inviting.

I can’t get a feel for exactly how small the shower stall was, but I definitely know how annoying (and dangerous) twisting oneself into pretzels whilst wielding a blade can be. And now, for the new bathroom…

That deep blue is to-die-for, and the juxtaposition of that color and the delicate, sand-like granite counter evokes the seaside; the wavelike curves of the tub and mirror only add to the effect. The combination of the granite and the gorgeous wood floor is certainly luxurious and organic. Well done!

The bathroom was part of a larger renovation that included the family room, guest bedroom, and hallway and took 10 weeks to complete. Here’s the financial information for the bathroom portion of the project:

The bathroom was budgeted at $4,000.00 and we ended up spending $4,438.00 including accessories. The biggest setback was the mirror from Ballard Design. It was beautiful and within my budget but it was broken. So was the second . . . Ballard Design was very accommodating and with a quick pic of the damaged mirror shipped the second and then third without batting an eye.

Skilled trades are expensive and will destroy your budget, so if you can make a plan work without moving plumbing across the room or major electrical changes, you will stretch your dollar a lot farther! For example, we swiveled the tub across the end of the narrow bathroom and were able to minimally adjust the existing drain from the shower to accommodate the new soaker tub. I always save fixtures such as vanity lights and faucets for last so if the budget is destroyed from unexpected costs I can easily find deals on those products knowing I can upgrade in a few years when styles change and I am itching to update them anyway.

That light fixture tip is so helpful—especially since those tend to be the sorts of things I pick out first!

Here’s the full aerial shot of the clawfoot tub; that sweet stool is perfect for setting a glass and a candle, or for sitting upon while applying lotion. It’s easy to see why friends flock to the guest suite:

I love the claw foot tub! The Mister still thinks it’s foolish and not very functional, but even though it is not the greatest shower experience, taking a hot soak in the tub is wonderful! I have several friends that look forward to staying with us just because they can’t wait to take a relaxing bath after everyone else turns in for the night.

I wanted desperately to honor the fact we live on a lake without submerging every inch in lake house style. I chose the bead board for that reason, and added towel hooks from Pottery Barn that are anchors. Then I purposely chose to avoid any additional cliche lake house decor details. My style is more Industrial Farmhouse and I find it flows well with a hint of nautical in our house. As a splurge, we added in floor electric heating under the tile. It cost us an additional $300.00 but was worth every penny! The tile is always warm in the cold Michigan months and it makes the cast iron tub hold heat forever during a nice long soak! I know it sound cliche but I wouldn’t change a thing! If the mister had his say we would have done a huge shower instead of the claw foot tub.

I’m actually surprised that installing in-floor heating was only $300—it seems like something more precious than gold, so I always assumed it must be a thousand dollars for each square foot. It’s wonderful to hear it’s both (relatively) affordable and “worth every penny.” It’s good to have dreams!

Thank you, Vivian!

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