Kids Bathroom Makeover – The Story

Kids Bathroom Makeover – The Story

Our Kids Bath is under construction, and I am so excited to share all of the details and the design plan with you!  What I truly love about design is taking something not so great and making it beautiful, unique, and functional.  My desire in sharing spaces with you is to put you inside of my brain and take you along as I formulate a space.

But where to even begin?  This is such a contorted story…I guess I will start from the very, very beginning.

Here is what the Kids Bathroom looked like when we moved in (MLS photo).  Yes, in its original 1921 state.  Now we knew it needed some attention when we bought this house (ALL of the bathrooms did), but we were hoping to save some of it because it is neat and old.  I mean, check out all of those showerheads!  Were they ahead of their time or what?!

1920s bathroom

We figured this project would be waaaaaaay down the line.  But boy, were we wrong!  Since our kids were so young when we moved into this house, we never used the shower.  Our kids only took baths.  But about two months into living here, a friend of ours came to stay with us for a few days, and he used the shower.  (the kids bathroom = the guest bathroom)  A couple of weeks later, we discovered the shower coming through the living room downstairs and found out we had a major issue.

Thus began the first, major, thought-we-had-more-time makeover in this house.

I tried to keep as much original as I could – layout, tile height (halfway up wall), cast iron tub, tub faucet, etc., but as you can imagine, it was a mess, and most of it had to go.

We replaced the pink and blue tiles with gray subway tile but kept the shower a fresh beveled white subway brick.  It still had the feel of the original with a modern touch.  Keep in mind this bathroom was pretty small, around 40 sf.  I could touch the walls with my arms outstretched, and while we knew it was fine for then having four really little kids, we realized it would be a tight squeeze for four bigger kids.  (this is also the bathroom we shared while we were saving our money to redo our shut-down Master Bath – six people in here was…full)

gray subway tile


So the plan was to expand it someday in the far future using a funny little hallway and a couple of odd closets nearby, while keeping the work we had already done.  On we went about three years when we began to we notice something a bit disconcerting…

Brown water.  B-R-O-W-N.  At first, the water would be brown for a moment and then run clear.  As the months went on, the length of time the brown water ran got longer and longer.  We stopped bathing the kids in this space (don’t worry, they were only bathed in clear water ; ) ) and petitioned a few different opinions on the problem.  The answer was some of the original cast iron pipe had rusted through and was causing problems.  Now we did not realize any of the original pipe was still in the walls so we were surprised to say the least.

At first, we thought, “okay, bust out some of the tile, fix the pipes, and then replace the tile”.  Doesn’t that sound like a nice plan?

It didn’t work.  Pretty soon, more and more tile had to be taken out to where it did not make sense to replace it.  It only made sense to start over.  Sigh.  Groan.  Double groan.

Here are a couple of photos of what the bathroom looked like before.  You can see in the tub photo where the water stained the tub.

bathroom before

It did have a cute little sink area.

bathroom before

So we decided to do it.  We gutted the entire space (and yes, this hurt a little) and decided to change the layout and get the bathroom we felt would be more useful for our family.  A positive of demoing everything was we took great care and saved quite a bit of tile in large sections so we could donate it.

Now that we knew we had to completely renovate, we surmised it would be best to change the layout of the bathroom and the surrounding area so it would make more sense.  You can see in the below before photo what I mean.

hallway before

We had this really big built-in cabinet and three drawers which was awesome storage for toys, etc.  But the drawers were difficult to operate, and we felt the overall space could be used more efficiently.  My husband especially loved that little hallway to the right because it did have a cool, old house, nook-and-cranny feel, but again, not the best use of space.  The tiny linen closet to the left was a funny size compared to how big it could have been, and we thought it would be better to make that a cabinet and drawer situation.  You can see the hallway to the right in the above photo which brings me to this image – this is what looking down that hallway used to look like.

hallway before

At the end of this narrow hallway was the original entrance to the kids bathroom.  The door to the left of it is one of the strangest little closets I had ever seen.  It was not even 18″ wide, and several feet deep.  Therefore, not useful at all.

We figured by taking out the large built-in along with that weird closet, we could gain at least two feet of bathroom space.  Clearly a win.  The narrow hallway would become the vanity space in the new bathroom, and the new entrance to the bathroom would be where the built in was.

You still with me?

Whoosh, now that we had the layout planned and demo going, it was time to get to the fun part.  Tile picking.  : )

Come back tomorrow for the full design plan, along with all of the tile schemes I pondered.

Written by Grace


  • Lindsey
    Posted at 07:04h, 03 September Reply

    Solo looking forward to tomorrow’s post! I always love your vision, design choices and end result product!

    • Grace
      Posted at 09:11h, 03 September Reply

      Thank you so much, Lindsey! It was a tough choice – there are so many beautiful tile patterns to choose from! See you tomorrow. 😉

  • Lindsey
    Posted at 07:06h, 03 September Reply

    Clearly I meant “sooo” You type Han Solo once, in anticipation for the new Star Wars being released, and now auto correct takes advantage…lol.

    • Grace
      Posted at 09:11h, 03 September Reply

      HA!! This made me laugh. 🙂

  • Emily
    Posted at 09:01h, 03 September Reply

    Wow, it really is going to be complete transformation. I agree with Lindsey, you have great design choices, details and vision! I’ll be back tomorrow!
    P.S. I have had brown water in a house before….so gross, even though it eventually runs clear, right?

    • Grace
      Posted at 09:19h, 03 September Reply

      Hi Emily! 🙂

      Yes, the brown water was bad, but when there were actual creatures coming out of the spout along with the brown water (which eventually stopped running clear altogether), we knew we were going to have to do something major. We tried a few plumbing tricks before we started demoing, but to no avail. We were sad to have to take apart all of the previous work, but I think in the long run, it will be a much better fit for our family layout wise. Plus it has been fun to put together, and it is looking beautiful! Can’t wait to show you!

      xo, G

  • Lisa
    Posted at 10:15h, 03 September Reply

    This sounds like it has been a nightmare, but I am so excited to see what you do with the space! I love your ideas because they seem so different from everything else I see in blogland. but I will be disappointed if this is a white subway brick bathroom with gray grout, haha! I feel like I have been reading you so long now that I bet it is something classic, yet unique!

    • Grace
      Posted at 08:45h, 21 September Reply

      Hey Lisa, I don’t think you will be disappointed. 😉

Leave a Comment