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Function Meets Fantasy

Tiling and plumbing and painting, oh my! The bathroom may be the smallest room in the house, but it can certainly be a big project to renovate. When we asked you to submit your remodel projects for our fourth annual Reader Remodel Contest, you responded with renovations that showed just how talented and hardworking you all are. Here's a look at your top picks for bathroom revamps chosen by TOH editors and your fellow readers.

After you've browsed these squeaky clean bathroom remodels, you can see all the entries at Your Old House.

WINNER! Great Redo on the Cheap: Before

Who: Ronda B.

Where: Magna, Utah

We disliked the builder-grade mirror and vanity. It was just a boring bath.

WINNER! Great Redo on the Cheap: After

Who: Ronda B.

Where: Magna, Utah

We replaced the mirror and vanity with custom built ones we built, added beadboard and new tile, trimmed out the window, and painted. We used lots of used items from the ReStore to save money. We spent just under $1,500.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Favorite Room in the House: Before

Who: Amy L.

Where: Grand Junction, Colo.

The bathroom in our house had obviously been an afterthought, perhaps added when indoor plumbing became available and was crammed into the corner of a bedroom. Low ceilings, oak paneling, and gold mosaic tile were a few of the "low-lights" of the space. The bathroom was so small we could hardly stand in it at the same time, much less get ready for work. We have since had two kids, which made the space even more crowded, and once the old tile started crumbling off the walls, we knew it was time to start demoing!

Favorite Room in the House: After

Who: Amy L.

Where: Grand Junction, Colo.

My husband completely gutted the old bathroom down to the studs. He tore out the wall surrounding it and expanded it by about three times, adding a new wall to create a walk-in-closet between the bathroom and our bedroom. He rewired all the electrical and rerouted all plumbing fixtures. We changed the tub to a shower pan surrounded by white subway tile and installed white 1-inch hexagonal tile on the floor. The only work not done by my husband and me was the smooth coat on the drywall.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Twice as Nice: Before

Who: Ben J.

Where: Medford, Mass.

The original size of our bath was a tiny 5 by 6 feet, with ugly wallpaper and pink tiles. It was so small that you couldn't fully open the door without it hitting the sink.

Twice as Nice: After

Who: Ben J.

Where: Medford, Mass.

We gutted the entire bathroom to the studs and started from scratch. We did not rearrange the tub, toilet, or sink but took out the pink tile, replacing it with painted white beadboard and a cap molding. We chose a deep blue for the walls and grabbed some real estate from the hallway and hall closet to add a custom built-in linen cabinet and added inset mirror. The area we stole from the hallway added an additional 20 square feet, making the bathroom seem twice the size of the original.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

A New Master Bath Suite: Before

Who: Carolyn D.

Where: Galena, Ill.

When my husband and I bought our fixer-upper a few years ago, we knew it was a total redo. That being said, we really wanted a master suite. The house had an extra room right off the master bedroom that was too small for a bedroom. My husband suggested moving the doorway into the bedroom and closing the entry off the hallway. I thought he was crazy.

A New Master Bath Suite: After

Who: Carolyn D.

Where: Galena, Ill.

A year later, after lots of work with saws, hammers, tile, paint, and a little luck, our project is done. Other than heating and plumbing, we did all the work ourselves, even down to cutting holes in the plaster walls to make room for the new and covering up the old. Our new master bath has all the bells and whistles, from a multi-jet shower to in-floor heating, all while maintaining the integrity of the house with the black and white subway tile.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Classic Touches Update Bath: Before

Who: Chantel P.

Where: Paso Robles, Calif.

The house was built in 1976, and when we bought it, in 2005, everything was still original. Think green counter top, swag chain lights, pocket door, and brown shag carpet.

Classic Touches Update Bath: After

Who: Chantel P.

Where: Paso Robles, Calif.

We took out the carpet, tile, toilet, tub, and vanity. I purchased an antique buffet that we turned into the vanity. We installed new hardware, lights, tub, toilet, bathroom fan, vanity, and sink. The tub is taller and wider than the old tub. The wood we used for the baseboards is what we also used to trim out the window, mirror, and door.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Green Wonder: Before

Who: Chuck and Zandra H.

Where: Springfield, Oreg.

We bought our old 1909 farmhouse in 2005. The master bathroom is on the second floor, and we gutted it completely. As you can see from the picture, we started with bare walls and floor.

Green Wonder: After

Who: Chuck and Zandra H.

Where: Springfield, Oreg.

Most of the wood and the moldings are used, and salvaged by us several years ago. We kept them in storage. The cupboard we built into the wall from salvaged wood. The cabinet doors are from a local lodge that was remodeled. The vanity we built ourselves from salvaged wood and shipping crates. The legs are old claw feet from a bathtub. Oh, and the hinges and glass knobs are all salvage items, including the screws, and all repainted. The countertop is marble and new, but they used a tool to make it look old. All the moldings are from a hotel in Oregon built in 1904.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Beautiful Vintage Bath: Before

Who: Cliff D.

Where: Bristol, R.I.

Our home is a 1830s Cape/Greek Revival located in Bristol, R.I.'s downtown village historic district. We took the room down to the studs, thinking it was last remodeled in 1960/1970 (best guess).

Beautiful Vintage Bath: After

Who: Cliff D.

Where: Bristol, R.I.

We removed the side-by-side washer and dryer and relocated both to the basement. We moved the toilet, sink, and tub locations and replaced all fixtures, flooring, lighting, and wall material. We created two separate custom built-in medicine cabinets and one cabinet containing a laundry chute with storage for a trash can, toilet brush, and cleaners. We also provided additional custom cabinets over the tub/shower. The walls are treated with ¾-inch beadboard planks up to 6 feet high and capped with built-up moldings. The flooring is white 1-inch hex tile with custom black "flower" pattern inlay.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Bold Vintage Bath: Before

Who: David K.

Where: Detroit

My 1893 masonry Victorian duplex in Detroit was in sad shape when I purchased it, almost 8 years ago. The side-by-side home was cut up into 20-plus "sleeping rooms." One of the first projects I took on was to get a more functional floor plan on the second (main living) floor. This included demolishing the only existing (not original) full bathroom.

Bold Vintage Bath: After

Who: David K.

Where: Detroit

I moved a couple walls to give the bathroom a more functional layout and allow natural daylight to penetrate all corners of the room. Now the bathroom functions much better. All existing fixtures were replaced. From a nearby apartment building I rescued a 60-inch claw-foot tub, which I refinished inside and out, and 1880s porcelain subway wall tile, including the "egg and dart" chair rail. The existing woodwork was stripped and refinished. I installed a new pedestal sink, toilet, and porcelain mosaic flooring with detail.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Classic Bath Update: Before

Who: Dawn D.

Where: Charlton, N.Y.

This bathroom was large but very outdated. The vinyl tile, mauve walls, and shower stall made getting ready in the morning an unpleasant experience.

Classic Bath Update: After

Who: Dawn D.

Where: Charlton, N.Y.

Over a 6-month period, we gutted the bathroom, installed a new bathtub with subway tile surround and Victorian-style fixtures, put in 12-by-12-inch black and white tile on the floor, and my husband built the custom vanity. I did all the painting even though I was 7 months pregnant, and finally finished when the baby was about 2 months old!

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Classic, Bright Bath Upgrade: Before

Who: Douglas A.

Where: Mechanicsburg, Pa.

I transformed a dark, partitioned, small (4.75 by 5.75 feet) 1980s master bathroom into an open, bright, large 4.75-by-5.75-foot bath. The former sink was a marbled-yellow-laminate single sink top on a dark oak paneled-door cabinet. The shower was a 30-by-30-inch fiberglass insert with an accordion plastic door.

Classic, Bright Bath Upgrade: After

Who: Douglas A.

Where: Mechanicsburg, Pa.

The new sink has a custom-made (by me) cabinet, with double under-mount bowls in remnant black granite. The shower is now 3 feet by 4.75 feet with frameless glass enclosure (installed by me). I also poured the floor of the shower and used a piece of remnant white quartz for the triangular seat. I did all the plumbing, including moving the showerhead from one wall to another. Two custom-made (by me) medicine cabinets, recessed lights, and new windows (both the shower window and three new windows on the exterior wall) round out the redo.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Light and Airy Period Bath: Before

Who: Elisabeth L.

Where: Gettysburg, Ohio

When we purchased our circa 1900 Victorian, in 2007, any appeal was long gone. "Ugh" was the best word for our half bath tucked into a dormer. Our motivation was having a family of eight and just one bath.

Light and Airy Period Bath: After

Who: Elisabeth L.

Where: Gettysburg, Ohio

Leaving the plastering, plumbing, and electrical to the pros, we decided to do the rest. I convinced my husband if I could learn how to lay mosaic tile and hang crown molding, the money we saved would offset the vintage-style faucets, light fixtures, and lavatory. This was before the December 2010 issue of TOH suggested hiring a pro if you had out-of-square or curved walls, or were hanging built-up wood molding! Our bath had all three! Knowing none of this, I started my first attempt ever at crown molding with several back issues of TOH nearby for advice. The same with the tiling. It took longer than expected, but turned out as we hoped: light and airy with lots of period detail!

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Quaint, Tricked-Out Bath: Before

Who: Gerry and Bill J.

Where: Cambridge, N.Y.

We purchased an 1812 house in 2007 and have been transforming rooms. Our bathroom was originally a bedroom.

Quaint, Tricked-Out Bath: After

Who: Gerry and Bill J.

Where: Cambridge, N.Y.

We put in radiant heat with marble tile flooring. We installed an on-demand hot water system, an air jet tub, and a shower with multiple showerheads, subway tile, marble flooring, and a seat. The shower door is frameless. We found the sink and lighting at flea markets and had them refinished. The doors, door trim, and window trim were stripped and refinished. We retrofitted new windows and added crown molding; the beadboard and base are AZEK trim. We put speakers in the ceiling for surround sound. The bookcase that holds our linens was found in flea market.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

An Elegant Oasis: Before

Who: Jenna B.

Where: Wayne, Pa.

The old bath was extremely small and typical 1950s kitsch with salmon tile.

An Elegant Oasis: After

Who: Jenna B.

Where: Wayne, Pa.

We did all of the work ourselves, including plumbing and electricity, so it took us nearly eight months, but it was well worth the wait. We enlarged the space immensely by overtaking one closet in the master bedroom and another in an adjacent guest room. We gutted everything down to the studs and floorboards and installed new radiant-heat floors, a double vanity, Carrara marble nearly everywhere, a beautiful chandelier, and a rain shower. What people are most amazed about when they visit, however, are the televisions hidden behind the mirrors, which you can only see when they're turned on.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

Classic Bath Face-lift: Before

Who: Jeon F.

Where: Cleveland

Like a horrified bridesmaid, my newly acquired bathroom had been stripped of her original beauty and dressed in pink, white, and gold. Needless to say, I began demolition faster than the rise and fall of the bouffant, but once the debris was cleared, the more difficult work began: pulling a classic style from the era of the house and crafting it back into the present.

Classic Bath Face-lift: After

Who: Jeon F.

Where: Cleveland

The not-so-fun but important mechanics were replaced, but with an added bonus: a hinged door was retrofitted to be a pocket door. Where cracked linoleum had been, a mosaic floor now complements the white subway tiles that line the walls. Black accents, bullnose cap, and cove pieces serve as a splendid anchor to the room, and crown molding offers a graceful delight to the eye. Space restrictions did require a smaller sink; however, a buxom built-in cabinet makes up for the lack of pedestal endowment as does a marble sill deep enough for a martini glass.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself, but a contractor did most of it.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Black and White Bath: Before

Who: Kaylee M.

Where: Minneapolis

We planned on remodeling the upstairs bath in our 1924 home sometime in the future, but after our pipes froze, the project was moved to the top of the list. Once we gutted the entire bathroom, we discovered one of the pipes had actually been broken and contained within the 2-inch concrete floor for many years. The floor joists had also been cut and needed to be replaced. This allowed us to change the bathroom layout, which did not utilize the small space well.

Black and White Bath: After

Who: Kaylee M.

Where: Minneapolis

The built-in storage cabinet was removed, and the tub was moved under the window. This allowed us to contain the plumbing in an interior wall, versus an exterior wall where it had previously been. The sink was moved to the spot the tub previously occupied. The old radiator was removed, and heated floors were installed. We also removed the door and replaced it with a pocket door to gain more space. Because we wanted all the modern conveniences while maintaining the look and feel of a 1924 home, we selected floor tiles in a classic basketweave pattern and subway tiles for the shower and walls. We also chose a vintage-inspired vanity, toilet, and medicine cabinet.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Classic Blue and White Bath: Before

Who: Laura M.

Where: Jacksonville, Fla.

Our 1941 brick bungalow was part of a subdivision built for Navy families when a nearby base was constructed in 1940. The house has only one bathroom, which delayed my decision to remodel for five years. The tiny bathroom held only a small sink, toilet, and bathtub. Storage shelves outside the bathroom door were added in the 1960s, replacing a defunct space heater. The shelves and an unused chimney were removed and the space incorporated into the bathroom.

Classic Blue and White Bath: After

Who: Laura M.

Where: Jacksonville, Fla.

The room was gutted, rotted floor joists and subfloor replaced, and insulation added. The old bathroom wall was removed and a new wall framed in the hallway. These changes increased the size of the bath from 35 to 58 square feet. The door was relocated to the left of its original position, sparing my guests a full view of the toilet when they enter the house. Floor-to-ceiling shelving replaced the old chimney, and the sink is now the lone inhabitant of the small alcove formerly shared by both sink and toilet. The toilet was relocated to the area annexed from the hallway. I made the decision to remove the black accents from the flooring sheets and cut out replacements from the blue wall tiles.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself, but a contractor did most of it.

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

A 1928 Bath, True to Its Roots: Before

Who: Matt S.

Where: Tacoma, Wash.

This was our first remodel work to our 1928 bungalow that we just moved into in April of 2010. The old bathroom was horrible, with dark green tile, no storage, an old dingy oak cabinet, and an outdated squeaky whirlpool tub that we stubbed our toes on every time we got in or out due to its excessive height. Originally the idea was to move back one wall to allow an extra foot of room, and do cosmetic fixes to bring this bathroom back to its original splendor and simplicity with finishes that would have been in the house originally. As we were gutting and checking everything out, I discovered major problems with plumbing and electrical changes that were made by previous owners that left me no choice but to completely redo everything.

A 1928 Bath, True to Its Roots: After

Who: Matt S.

Where: Tacoma, Wash.

Since I have restored many of my previous older homes, I had the skills to handle the task. After the plumbing and electrical were fixed, I spray-foamed the walls to insulate, put up new drywall, classic black and white hexagonal-tile floors, white subway tile at chair-rail height and in the shower surround, and a new cast-iron tub. My favorite part of this bathroom is the fixtures, which I spent hours and hours searching for, as I wanted them to truly be unique, period appropriate, and affordable. The medicine cabinet I built myself.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Classic Bath Rebuilt: Before

Who: Melissa M.

Where: Raleigh, N.C.

My handy husband, Bill, and I gutted the first-floor bath in our 100-year-old house. Previously, it had a dropped acoustic-tile ceiling, vinyl wood-parquet-look floor tiles, white tile-look sheets on the wall, and a layout that placed the shower and vanity so close together I had a tough time squeezing through when pregnant!

Classic Bath Rebuilt: After

Who: Melissa M.

Where: Raleigh, N.C.

We changed the floor plan to open up the small space (5 by 9 feet) and raised the ceiling to its true full height (9 feet). We did all the work ourselves except for installing the shower glass. White and black hex tiles, painted pine wainscoting, a console sink, and white subway tiles gave us a classic look appropriate for the age of the house. The teal color we used for the walls came from trim pieces we uncovered during demo—a bit of the house's history brought back in.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Classic Bath Redo: Before

Who: Philip A.

Where: Rochester, N.Y.

At a mere 41 square feet, the room suffered from a cramped, awkward L-shaped layout because of a bedroom closet that jutted into the space. The difficulty of the project was compounded by it being the only bathroom in my 960-square-foot bungalow. The goal was to create a room that blends with the rest of my 1930 home.

Classic Bath Redo: After

Who: Philip A.

Where: Rochester, N.Y.

After weighing the pros and cons of gaining 7 extra square feet of space versus keeping a tiny bedroom closet, I opted to remove the closet and open the room up into a full, whopping 48-square-foot rectangle. This allowed me to reposition the toilet where the closet used to be, creating a wonderful sense of extra space. Almost everything in the room had to go: Only the arch over the shower, the cap trim around the window (I re-created the sill and trim using extruded PVC trim boards), the trim around the door, and the porcelain cross-handle in the shower remain! My other trick to create a larger sense of space was to convert the door to a pocket door. I took great care to create a room that blends with the rest of my 1930 home.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

1924 Bungalow Bath Restored: Before

Who: Ryan S.

Where: Minneapolis

Fortunately, the bathroom in our 1924 bungalow still featured the original bathtub and floor, and both were in remarkably good shape. Unfortunately, an earlier renovation had compromised the integrity of the space. By keeping the beautiful, deep cast-iron bathtub and the original hexagonal porcelain tile floor, we were able to restore the bathroom with a variety of carefully selected fixtures and finish materials.

1924 Bungalow Bath Restored: After

Who: Ryan S.

Where: Minneapolis

White subway tile with a handmade, olive green accent band create an appropriate backdrop for the new low-flow toilet, large pedestal sink, and period-appropriate fixtures. The existing wall sconces were restored and incorporated into a new medicine cabinet to provide the finishing touches in this carefully renovated bath.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Classic Bath Looks Original: Before

Who: Stephanie I.

Where: Denver

In February 2009 my fiancé and I purchased our first house, a 1901 Montgomery Ward catalog home, commonly known in our neighborhood as "Mary's house." Mary lived in the home for over 50 years, and it was near original when we purchased it from her son.

Classic Bath Looks Original: After

Who: Stephanie I.

Where: Denver

After gutting the bathroom down to the studs, we began our remodel by moving the south wall out by about 12 inches and framing the original door into the wall to be used as a pocket door, allowing for more space inside the bathroom. All of the electrical and plumbing were updated, as well as the old window. The floor tile pattern was chosen to try to keep with the age of the house, and tiles had to be individually cut where the black meets the white throughout the floor. The beadboard used on the walls was salvaged from the sun porch, and the original baseboard and trim was reused in the bathroom as well. The claw-foot tub (dated 12-19-1901 on the bottom) was also refinished on just the outside, as the inside was still in pristine condition.

Who did the work: I did most of the work myself.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000