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. Johnny 5 Fachy says:

    Love the creativity, ingenuity and pride you put into this really impressive renovation!!! Beautiful!!!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Kari and Tonny – I just love what you did! Looks so amazing and really is a timeless look. Your tiling skills, Kari, are to be commended!

    I found a 1959 yellow American Standard bathroom sink (it matches a green one in one of our bathrooms exactly) and am planning on using it someday if we ever add on a new bathroom. Your bathroom will be my inspiration. Thanks for what you did!

  3. Hunter Hampton says:

    It’s perfect. Well, except the toilet paper is rolled backwards 😀 Seriously, I’m so impressed. You nailed it.

  4. Linda says:

    Great job I love it. Wish my ReStore had resources like this but the Manager only wants brand new AND modern. No RETRO stuff for him. Hardly find anything anymore….

  5. Joe Felice says:

    I like it. What color is the upper wall? It variously appears lavender or pink, neither of which really go with the buttercup tile. I’m sure it’s the lighting in the small room.

  6. jacque says:

    I love the yellow and black. Very nicely done and nice to see a good portion of it is from salvaged material. Great way to make your carbon footprint smaller. Well Done!!!

  7. RickG says:

    Great job you two !!! – It looks as if it were there in the beginning – clean & very tasteful – congrats !!!!

  8. Kari says:

    Haha, someone else pointed that out a while back. Actually we’re pretty anal about which way the paper goes on the roll. I think it had gotten flipped up somehow. The heat vent is right under the tp holder.

  9. Kari says:

    The color is Benjamin Moore Abalone. It’s gray with a slight violet cast- it was the second one we tried the first being to violety for our liking. It looks grayer in person. Violet is the contrasting color to yellow being oppposite on the color wheel

  10. Dan O. says:

    Super awesome job, especially considering the size of the space. Although it seems like the most obvious solution I don’t think I would’ve thought to use glass block for the enclosure; nice to see that the eighties didn’t ruin those in everybody’s eyes.

  11. Kari says:

    I did consider a tempered glass enclosure with a door but because it is a custom size, it would have been pricey to have them made. I have always loved glass block & when I found these on Craigslist I knew I found my shower walls. These rectangular bricks are 3″ wide & the same width as the tiles I used for the shower base.

  12. Lori says:

    Beautifully detailed job! Wonderful that you were able to embrace your home’s true personality!~

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