ORC: Basement Guest Bathroom Week 1


I am both a little bit shocked that the Spring ORC is here already, and embarrassed that I have only managed to get ONE stinkin’ blog post up since we completed the Fall ORC. I have had a lot of life going on in the past 5 months in addition to trying to completely move the blog to a new domain (not yet ready to launch), so I will leave it at that and spare you the excuses. However, I was not about to miss out on participating in this ORC.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me introduce you to the One Room Challenge, a semi-annual home decor event hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. There is a professional design challenge, featuring 20 designers that will completely makeover a room in 6 weeks, and post updates each Wednesday. Linda is also gracious enough to host an ORC Guest Challenge that allows bloggers to participate and link up their own room re-dos each Thursday throughout the process. I had so much fun updating our master bedroom last fall, that I had to come back for another round!

ORC Guest Gold

So ready or not, here we go.

One of the first things Jesse and I talked about when we bought our house in 2012 was the potential to add a basement bathroom. We fell in love with our 1929 brick home the first time we walked through during an open house, and were impressed that the house had been flipped recently to include updated plumbing, electrical, new windows, kitchen, and bathroom.

Single bathroom, that is. One bath homes are pretty standard in the older homes in our neighborhood, and we had no problem living with this small inconvenience in order to stay in this area. We also lucked out with the fact that the full basement was partially finished with a huge living room and guest bedroom, and the unfinished laundry room space left a couple of options for us to add a second bathroom sometime in the future.

Three and a half years later, that future is here. We finally tore into our basement remodel in January! I was hoping (unrealistically) that we would have already finished the bathroom and could move on to that pesky office that seems to collect all of our crap for this ORC.

Full disclosure, we were super productive working on the bathroom for about 3 weekends, and it has been just sitting ever since. I also know that it is seriously optimistic to hope that we will FINISH the bathroom by the ORC reveal date, May 12. But that’s why they call it a challenge, right? I figure since have been tearing out and rebuilding walls, cutting into the floor slab to install new plumbing and electrical work, and generally building a whole new room rather than just re-decorating, we can be forgiven for starting early and technically taking more than 6 weeks. Please??

Mmkay. Now that you have the history, let’s get to the good stuff. You might be bummed to hear that I don’t have the embarrassing “before” photos that I did with our bedroom project. But let’s take a look at what we are working with and where we’d like to end up.

We decided to put the bathroom in one end of our very large basement living room. For the past three years, we’ve had the space setup with a table and chairs for games or crafts, and a cabinet that more or less hides some junk.

Living Room Before bathroom remodel

I can probably count on one hand the number of times we actually used this space. We considered this, the fact that this space is just next to our existing plumbing stack in the laundry room, and that there is already a window and a heating register at the end of the room in deciding where to put the bathroom. Our other option was to cut into what is likely a load-bearing wall, steal some closet space from the guest bedroom, and try to cram the bathroom in a space that seemed big enough until we actually got out the tape measure.

We called a couple of plumbers out for an estimate and any opinions that they were willing to offer. They agreed that this space made the most sense, so our decision on location was made. After taking some measurements and discussing several options for layout, I drew up our plans for the room in SketchUp.

Basement Bathroom Sketchup overhead view

If you’ve never used Google SketchUp, it is free to download, pretty easy to learn, and super fun to play with.

Basement Bathroom Sketchup overhead view - closeup

Here’s a plan view of the bathroom, and a side view. Sassy naked bald lady is included for scale, obviously.

Basement Bathroom Sketchup side view

As you can see from the images above, we were going to have to move the doorway from the laundry room into the living room over a couple of feet to allow room for the bathroom. Since we were going to be tearing into walls anyway, we figured this wouldn’t be a huge deal.

Once we had modeled the layout and confirmed that it should work, we taped out the space just for fun.

Taped out basement bathroom space

Did I say I don’t have any embarrassing before photos? Don’t mind the giant poop stain in the corner – our poor dog had an upset stomach one day while we were gone. Thanks for hiding it in the future bathroom, Reagan. We will be happy to tear that carpet out.

Taped out bathroom and poop stained carpet

For shame.

Now that that’s out, let’s talk budget.

Since this project has been in the back of our minds since we bought the house, we have been saving up a little bit each month over the last few years. We picked a ball-park figure of $5,000, setup a savings account for the bathroom fund only, and reached our savings goal this past summer. We also had several Home Depot and Visa gift cards that we received as wedding gifts, which we have been hoarding since August of 2014 specifically for this purpose.

The first spreadsheet estimate that we put together put us at about $6,000, about half of which was based on the estimates we received for the hired-out underground plumbing work. All in all, seems pretty reasonable for the project.

And finally, I will leave you with some pretty inspiration pictures – so you can get that poop stain out of your head!

Apartment Therapy bathroom, Frameless shower, hex tile, subway tile


HouseTweaking bathroom, gray vanity, penny floor tile


Decor Pad bathroom, subway tile wainscot, penny floor tile


Home Bunch bathroom, gray subway tile shower, hex floor tile, gray vanity


AmieCorley bathroom, subway tile wainscot, wallpaper, gray floor tile


Clearly, we have our work cut out for us. Wish us luck!

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