A former rental gets a much-needed facelift
When Caroline Gilbert, director of content and editorial at Angi, and her family moved into their San Diego house, she knew the primary bathroom needed a little love. Because the house is a former rental, its characteristics were a little … old school. This is especially true for the bathroom’s pink tile floor, builder-grade tub, and boring wooden vanity.
“I liked the overall layout of my bathroom,” Gilbert says. “But the actual materials used were really old and needed to be modernized.”
Another feature Gilbert wanted to go: all the grout. She found it impossible to keep the grout between her tiles clean in the high-moisture room and was tired of taking a toothbrush to the tub.
“I really hate cleaning, and it showed—our bathroom was getting grimy and gross,” Gilbert says. “I knew I needed better materials to accommodate my type of cleaning style.”
When she started dreaming up her new bathroom, Gilbert set out to find easy-cleaning materials that would meet her vision.
“When I started thinking about different components, I really liked very modern, sleek, clean lines,” Gilbert says. “I wanted to do something fun with our vanity because I knew I wasn't going to paint the walls. I didn't want a completely all-white bathroom.”
And when she started scouring Pinterest, she found shower walls made from a single stone slab—an easy-cleaning modern upgrade from grout and tile.
“I thought, ‘oh, that would be perfect,’” Gilbert says. “Then I'm just wiping down a wall, similar to how you clean a mirror, as opposed to having to really scrub in between tiles.”
Picking the Right Pro
Gilbert researched a handful of pros in the Angi network before scheduling appointments for quotes. And while she liked their past work, what sold her on Easy Kitchen and Bath was their flexibility and accommodation during their initial meeting.
“When they showed up, it was an awkward work timeframe for me,” Gilbert says. “And so I answered the door and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, I only have 15 minutes to talk to you; I need to hop on this meeting.’ Jared was really nice about it and asked me the most important questions that he needed to know. I was really appreciative that he worked with my schedule instead of forcing me to work with his.”
How It Went
Transforming the bathroom took about four months, and was broken down into five major processes.
Materials Selection Day
The primary materials Gilbert selected were the floor tiles, vanity countertops, and shower wall. Her contractor sent her the store websites where she could browse and make her picks.
“This made on-site selection pretty easy because I had already narrowed it down to favorites that I wanted to see in person,” she says.
After taking home some samples, she made her final selections.
In a day, the bathroom went from a functional time capsule to being gutted down to the studs.
“It was very loud, which is to be expected, but when you have a one-and-a-half-year-old that needs a nap and you work from home, it suddenly became way more noticeable,” she says.
“Tile installation day was exciting because it was starting to look like a bathroom versus a construction zone,” Gilbert says.
When it came to choosing the bathroom tiles, she went with a white hexagon that was fun and different enough to be eye-catching but meshed well with the rest of the space.
Drawing inspiration from a navy bench in her bedroom, Gilbert chose a dark blue vanity as the bathroom’s centerpiece.
“We did have a hiccup where they brought the wrong quartz slab for the countertop, but it was quickly corrected,” she says. “I was glad I caught it, as I poked my head into the bathroom during my lunch break. It reminded me that it’s a good idea to check in on progress during the day versus waiting until the very end of the day. If something doesn’t look or feel right, bring it up. It’s way easier to fix in the moment versus days or weeks later.”
This was the day Gilbert was most excited for. The shower was a big investment and, just like with the vanity, she chose a custom quartz slab.
The day was a little anxiety-producing, with a team of five people hauling massive slabs up her staircase, but the result—a gorgeous slab, a shower niche, and a new door—was well worth the effort.
“At the very end the glass guy came with our shower door,” she says. “That was another big investment because our old shower had a door that ran on a track. The track would always get water buildup, producing mold. It got super gross. I was insistent that our new shower would be way easier to clean.”
What She Loves
Though she kept the walls white and didn’t change the layout, the new additions are worth swooning over.
The contractors gutted her shower and replaced it with a custom quartz slab, ideal for easy cleaning and Instagram-worthy photos.
“The markings in quartz are totally unique to each slab, so I was interested to see how they laid out each piece,” Gilbert says. “I love how the grain cuts diagonally across the wall.”
Goodbye dated woodgrain and hello modern, navy cabinets! The dark color pops against the white walls, and the modern black hardware and faucets tie the space together.
“Our vanity surprised me the most in terms of quality,” she says. “We didn’t change the layout of our vanity at all, but the quality of the materials was noticeable. It was solid wood, while our old vanity was plywood. You can just tell when you open and close it how much better it feels.”
The Exhaust Fan
“This is going to sound really lame, but my third favorite thing is our exhaust fan,” Gilbert says.
Before the remodel, the bathroom didn’t have a fan—which definitely did not help with the mold and mildew buildup—and Gilbert had to remember to open a window every time she turned on the shower.
What She Wishes She Had Known
As the saying goes, the course of true love never did run smooth—and that includes falling for a dream bathroom.
COVID-Related Delays Are a Thing
Don’t expect to get your gear ASAP. Because of COVID-related supply chain shortages, you should expect to wait a little longer for everything to arrive.
“I think we went two weeks without anybody at our house because we were just waiting for materials to arrive,” Gilbert says.
Your House Will Feel Messy
With all the dirt, dust, and debris that gets thrown into the air, Gilbert says, “there will be days where you feel like your home is a construction zone.”
To keep yourself and your housemates sane, create a bathroom schedule and make sure everyone has a caddy to keep the secondary bathroom (which probably isn’t used to this new influx of traffic) from becoming cluttered.
Don’t Overlook the Details
While it can be easy to focus on the big picture, you can’t skip the details of a bathroom remodel. If you overlook small things such as baseboard tile and cabinet hardware, like Gilbert did, the project will be delayed even further.
“I focused on the tile and countertops that I forgot the devil’s in the details,” Gilbert says. “Think about what you need to pick up, everything from the big items to all the little things, like door knobs and handles.”
As long as you’re prepared for delays that will inevitably pop up and have open, honest communication with your contractor, having a space that fits your needs (and style) is well worth any pain points.
“If you think about it, your bathroom only gets used in the early morning or evening—both times I’m usually exhausted,” Gilbert says. “Our bathroom is now a place I enjoy spending time in and gives me a jolt of energy each time I enter.”
This project was partially paid for by Angi.
Infographic Credit: Jamakosy/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images, JulyProkopiv/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images, jodiejohnson/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images, John Keeble/Moment/Getty Images, hikesterson/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images, Iamnee/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images