Kari and Tony’s super-resourceful bathroom remodel — saving thousands of dollars by scouring ReStore, salvage, craigslist and more

Talk about resourceful! Kari and her husband recently gut-remodeled and enlarged the 25-square-foot half-bath attached to the master bedroom in their 1954 split-level home. And to remake it, they scoured their local ReStore, salvage places, craigslist, estate sales and ebay for incredible deals on both new and great-shape salvaged materials to use. Time can equal money and indeed, by putting in the time, they saved hundreds — probably thousands of dollars — on wall tile and trim, glass block, plumbing fixtures and more. And yup, this handy couple then DIY installed everything to make this gorgeous, vintage style yellow-and-black bathroom that suits the house perfectly!

Kari wrote (edited to combine a few emails and for flow):

My husband and I recently remodeled and added a shower to our 1954 split-level master half bath. After seeing your website with readers remodels, we decided to stay true to the era of our home. 

We had limited space and used all salvaged materials with a few exceptions, and it really came out great. My husband did all the rough-in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. I came up with the design, built the shower pan, and did all the tiling and glass block.

The small 5′ x 5′ master bedroom half-bath had been redone in the 80’s or 90’s by previous owners. We were able to steal a foot of space from one of the two 5′ wide closets, giving us a total space of 5′ x 6′. It was a little tricky taking pictures in such a tiny space. The photo above was taken after the floor and shower base were tiled in. We left the toilet in the original spot, and the wall to the right side of photo was the one we bumped out. The original sink was were the corner of the new shower base is.

I am honored that you want to show our project on the blog. Retro Renovation and the readers’ projects have been a huge inspiration for us. Before your blog, we were headed for a millennial remodel — I’m so glad we didn’t do it. Our home definitely has a mid-century look with an asymmetric roof-line and hopefully a bathroom that looks as if it’s always been there.

Thank you,

Kari and Tony: What an inspiration your project is! You’ve done something I’ve often dreamed of: Finding and using mostly all vintage or salvage materials to create a space — and then you built it yourself to0! Congratulations on an amazing job — and thank you so much for sharing!

Resources for Kari and Tony’s super resourceful bathroom remodel:

Kari said:

  • Thoughtful details: “Every woman needs a ledge to shave her legs,” Kari wrote.

    The floor and black trim and base tile was purchased at a local big box store.

  • The black hex tile in the shower was $10 from the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
  • I was really undecided about the color for the wall tile — I didn’t want anything too dark in such a small space with no window. I found nine boxes of Interceramic metro yellow plus one box of yellow bullnose trim at a salvage warehouse for $90. They carry this same tile at Classic Tile in New York.
  • I found the glass blocks on Craigslist for $50. Put them up the old-fashioned way — with mortar.
  • Standard one-piece low profile toilet, from Habitat for Humanity ReStore — $35. By the way, for all the colored toilets out there, a black seat — $40 from Amazon — works nicely.
  • Shower curtain — $15 eBay
  • Neo-angle shower rod — $67 Amazon

  • American Standard sink — Craigslist $65.
  • Shower head from eBay. Found matching shower handles at Locke Plumbing
  • Medicine cabinet, on Craigslist for $75.
  • Nutone fan/light combo at a salvage warehouse, $7 (recently had to replace fan motor for $48, thru Amazon)
  • Finally with such a small room, we needed some storage. At a local estate sale I found a cool tension-pole shelf unit for $15.

  1. Amy L says:

    Kari, if you guys still read these comments… this is really nicely done! Could you tell me the dimensions of your shower? We have a very similar size bathroom we are planning to retrovate and my hubs and I are having a lot of, um, let’s call them “conversations” about the size of the shower.
    Thanks for any help you can offer! Your bathroom is an inspiration. 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    I am inspired! I bought a 1940 Cape Cod last year and the bath tile is original, so I plan to keep it. Previous owners installed a less than vintage vanity and lighting, so I want to switch those out because I also love the vintage look.

  3. TG says:

    You guys rock! I’m dealing with a yellow bathroom from ‘69 that needs some updates, and was trying to figure out a color palette that would work with the existing tile instead of clashing. Your work has given me some great ideas and the finished product looks gorgeous.

    I’m not as much of a purist as many on this site, but I think that keeping the character and choices in harmony with the age and spirit of the home is critical to a good remodel. And not easy to do. Thank you for sharing your lovely bathroom!

  4. jason says:

    Could you please tell which black toilet seat on Amazon you used? Thanks. I have a mid 1980’s Almond color bath fixtures and am looking for contrasting items. Think this would work out.

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