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Best Bath Before and Afters 2014

As we gear up to announce the 2015 winner of the Search for America's Best Remodel, take a look back to last year's top wash rooms

Big Payoff

It may be one of the smallest rooms in the house, but that doesn't mean the bath should get short shrift when it comes to renovations. This Old House readers really impressed us by going the extra mile: From installing basketweave tile on the ceiling (surely a neck-cramp-inducing move) to hand-scraping boards for a vanity, you are a dedicated lot. Here are just a few ways you gave this hardworking space extra special attention this year.

Winner: An Outdated Guest Bath Becomes a Serene Oasis: Before

Who: Brett Y.

Where: Reading, PA

"The last project of the renovation of our 1870 Italianate was the third-floor bath. Quite frankly, it terrified us. Yellow 1960s-era gingham wallpaper covered the walls; smelly brown wall-to-wall carpeting of a similar vintage padded the floor; and a hideous vanity with Formica countertops dominated the room."

Winner: An Outdated Guest Bath Becomes a Serene Oasis: After

Who: Brett Y.

Where: Reading, PA

"We wanted the room to feel like a luxurious retreat. We reconfigured the space, incorporating square footage from an interior linen closet and a larger hall closet. Board-and-batten paneling and marble tile fit with the vintage style of the home."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

Summer Home Gets a Colorful, Cottage-Style Bath: Before

Who: Lynn and Luanne C.

Where: Taylorsville, UT

"When our house was built, in 1906, there was no indoor plumbing. The previous owner built a false floor out of 2x4s to conceal the water pipes he installed. We tore out the floor, dropped the pipes into the joists, and reworked the layout."

Summer Home Gets a Colorful, Cottage-Style Bath: After

Who: Lynn and Luanne C.

Where: Taylorsville, UT

"My husband and I did most of the labor. A friend helped with the plumbing and my son did the electrical. The tongue-and-groove plank flooring was salvaged by my father-in-law over 20 years ago; we sanded it down and refinished it. The bathroom was the worst room in the house, and now it's the best."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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Blend of Old and New in a Big Easy Bath: Before

Who: Melissa G.

Where: New Orleans

"When this house was on the market, it went through three different contractors, so it was a hodgepodge of everything. The bathroom was gutted, reframed, tiled, and painted. We had a new vanity, new sinks, and a new toilet and walk-in shower installed."

Blend of Old and New in a Big Easy Bath: After

Who: Melissa G.

Where: New Orleans

"I love my new double vanity the most. We had it custom made at a shop here in New Orleans called Dop Antiques. The top is old cypress and the bottom is new cypress. I love the combination of the two woods. It's a perfect blend of new and old."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

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A Bath of the Right Vintage: Before

Who: Melissa K.

Where: Prairie Farm, WI

"My husband and I gutted the entire bathroom. All the fixtures (bath, sink, toilet, light, cabinet, etc.) were replaced with original vintage pieces that we found at yard sales (pedestal sink, $25, and light, $5), free piles (claw-foot tub), and the ReUse Center (toilet, $10, and wall cabinet, $15). The hardest part of the remodel was the replumbing of all the fixtures."

A Bath of the Right Vintage: After

Who: Melissa K.

Where: Prairie Farm, WI

"My husband and I love vintage fixtures. We tried to keep things looking true to the era of our home. Our bathroom was remodeled to look like it did back when our home was built, about 90 years ago."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $100 to $500

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A Second Door Solves an Access Problem: Before

Who: Heather T.

Where: Ijamsville, MD

"We adore our 1950s Cape-style home, but with only one bath on the main level—with access through the bedroom—we knew that a floor-plan revamp was needed. We gutted the space and added a second door to allow additional access from the main-level hall. Moving the plumbing was a challenge, as was fitting a double vanity into the cramped space."

A Second Door Solves an Access Problem: After

Who: Heather T.

Where: Ijamsville, MD

"Before the remodel, it was odd to have everyone traipse through our bedroom in order to use the loo. The floor plan on the main level is much more guest-friendly now. Although the space is not huge, we feel like we've made the most of the square footage we do have. We saved money by doing the labor ourselves and by shopping for the best deals we could find."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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A Much-Needed Spa-like Makeover: Before

Who: Kalena C.

Where: White Bear Lake, MN

"A combination of dark wallpaper, poor lighting, and original 1960s tile with gold flecks meant a renovation was in order. We removed the wallpaper, old tile, and ball lights, but we kept the vanity base, for storage, and the white tub."

A Much-Needed Spa-like Makeover: After

Who: Kalena C.

Where: White Bear Lake, MN

"We installed new subway tile and radiant heat in new mosaic floor tile. We added an auto-humidity sensor exhaust fan, and a Solatube for natural light. Then we recycled the mirror by trimming off the worn edge and painting all the wood white."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

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A Tiny Cottage Bath Gets New Life: Before

Who: Sharon M.

Where: New York, NY

"This bathroom is part of a 300-square-foot studio cottage, which we gutted down to its frame. There were dead animals in the walls and dead bats in the ceiling. We installed brand-new plumbing; a new tub and toilet; new floors, walls, and a ceiling; and all-new wiring and electric."

A Tiny Cottage Bath Gets New Life: After

Who: Sharon M.

Where: New York, NY

"I did lots of research and chose all the right fixtures, paint, etc. I also found an antique claw-foot tub that I silver-leafed and restored myself. This saved a ton of money and time. There's nothing like hard work and elbow grease to save you time and money."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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It's All About the Shower: Before

Who: Greg N.

Where: Novi, MI

"I first changed the window to a much smaller size, knowing that this would be the new shower. Then I gutted the bathroom in preparation for rough plumbing work and minor electrical. My brother-in-law helped me complete the rough plumbing, which was definitely the most difficult. We added a drain for the new shower, moved the toilet and sink drain pipes, and installed new supply lines for the shower, toilet, and sink."

It's All About the Shower: After

Who: Greg N.

Where: Novi, MI

"Without question, the shower is the best. Considering that we have two kids and have been living with only one shower in the house, having this additional shower now is fantastic. Personally, I like the skylight that allows us to use the bathroom during the day without any power consumption."

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

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

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This Vanity Is Fully Loaded—With Personality: Before

Who: Matt T.

Where: Goshen, IN

"We gutted the bathroom and repaired the rotted floor around the toilet. We closed off the doorway to the bedroom and installed V-board on the walls. Then we painted the tub and replaced the surround. We added a new toilet and a built-in cabinet to save space."

This Vanity Is Fully Loaded—With Personality: After

Who: Matt T.

Where: Goshen, IN

"Last year, I found a sewing-machine cabinet on the neighbor's trash pile, so I scooped it up for later use. The hardest part was modifying the cabinet into a vanity. The combination of the wall boards, painted mirror, and converted vanity give the bath a vintage feel."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $500 to $1,000

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They Said "Adios" to Gross!: Before

Who: Tania D.

Where: Redmond, WA

"We moved in four years ago and never used the bathroom because the early-1990s carpet was downright crunchy. We gutted the bathroom, replaced drywall, and extended the shower area. We ripped up that gross carpet and installed under-floor heating and slate tile. We replaced the tub, toilet, and shower, and installed wainscoting."

They Said "Adios" to Gross!: After

Who: Tania D.

Where: Redmond, WA

"The 'during' process was painful, largely because it took so long, but it was extremely satisfying in the end to see that we did it largely ourselves. We saved a lot of money on cheaper fixtures that had the same heft, look, and feel as higher-end ones. Years of reading TOH were an inspiration! Everything in TOH about paint schemes, and the super classic, timeless design of some folks' homes, kept us going."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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Rustic Style and a Rewarding Experience: Before

Who: Kevin D.

Where: North Potomac, MD

"Our 24-year-old master bath had a moldy shower and poor water flow—something needed to change. I spent four months tearing down and building up the space, complete with new floors, a spa tub, and a digital shower. Every day came with new unforeseen challenges, from the uneven floor to the plumbing through the attic to the inadequate electric. The hardest part was solving the daily unexpected challenge."

Rustic Style and a Rewarding Experience: After

Who: Kevin D.

Where: North Potomac, MD

"From the second I put the hammer through the wall to the last trowel of grout, this was by far the most difficult task I had ever taken on. I am so thankful for the time spent with my dad, who spent hours doing the early "dirty work" with me. The most rewarding part: My kids got to watch me build it, and they helped. Maybe they even learned a little."

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

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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Baby Bumps Up the Time Frame on This Redo: Before

Who: Courtney Z.

Where: Silver Lake, OH

"We were expecting our first child soon, and my husband worked himself ragged to get the bathroom done in time for the new arrival. Laying the hex-tile floor border was a puzzle for both of us. Moved a wall to add about 4 by 4 feet of useless dormer space from an adjacent bedroom to the bathroom."

Baby Bumps Up the Time Frame on This Redo: After

Who: Courtney Z.

Where: Silver Lake, OH

"We added new subway tile, a vanity, a medicine cabinet, and fixtures. I love that it looks so high-end, but we achieved it on our own! I did a lot of bargain shopping online to find the fixtures and materials that I wanted."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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No Pain, No Gain in this Reno: Before

Who: Brooke F.

Where: Lagrangeville, NY

"We gutted the bathroom and removed all the plaster and lath. We rewired and moved the electric and installed new insulation, drywall, and beadboard. This remodel involved blood, sweat, and tears—literally! Sean was installing the last piece of drywall, adjusting it in a tight spot, and tore his left biceps. Pain! Tears! Immediate surgery to reattach! Three days later, he was helping me hang the beadboard while in a cast."

No Pain, No Gain in this Reno: After

Who: Brooke F.

Where: Lagrangeville, NY

"This bathroom turned out exactly how I had envisioned it. Although we didn't go without injury, we do have a great story to tell. We saved money by doing the entire project ourselves (it cost us $600). We have lived in our 1820 farmhouse for three and a half years. This was our first major remodel, and was a great learning process. We now know we have the stamina to take on more."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $500 to $1,000

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A Tree Lives On in a Remodel: Before

Who: Robert F.

Where: Leeds, NY

"The bathroom needed to be gutted. I reinforced the floor with ¾-inch plywood, then installed onyx tile. I built the vanity out of 3-inch rough-cut pine and hand-scraped the top surfaces. The wainscot was made from a 100-plus-year-old cedar tree in my backyard. I brought the tree to a mill and had it made into 1-inch boards."

A Tree Lives On in a Remodel: After

Who: Robert F.

Where: Leeds, NY

"The cedar alone would have been cost-prohibitive if I'd had to go out and buy it. I was able to use the cedar tree from my backyard instead of throwing it in the woodstove. The tree was supposed to be cut down because it was too close to the house and the pool. Now it will be around for many more years."

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

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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No More Cold Feet With Heated Floors: Before

Who: Brian D.

Where: Harvard, MA

"We gutted and renovated our large master bathroom, kept the overall footprint, and reconfigured the space to build a separate toilet room. We added beadboard and crown molding, built new cabinets, installed a heated-tile floor, and added a medallion and chandelier, plus mirrors above the doorways."

No More Cold Feet With Heated Floors: After

Who: Brian D.

Where: Harvard, MA

"We really love waking up and getting ready in this bathroom every day. It's over our garage, so the heated floor is a major benefit. On very cold days, I go over to the unheated tiles under the tub and toilet and touch them, just to remind myself how great this feature is."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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Their House Gets the Bath It Deserves: Before

Who: Preston D.

Where: Dalton, GA

"The old bathroom didn't match the style of our 1930s house and was outdated. I wanted to make sure that the new bathroom would "fit in" with the age of our house. We gutted it down to the studs and enlarged it by moving a wall 3 feet into our closet. When we tore out our leaking tub, we realized three floor joists were rotted and needed to be replaced."

Their House Gets the Bath It Deserves: After

Who: Preston D.

Where: Dalton, GA

"We tried to use traditional colors and materials. The floor is actually tile and not hardwood. We liked the warm look of wood. We found out my wife was pregnant right after we gutted the bathroom. It was tough coming home from work every day and working on it, but the end result was well worth it!"

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

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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A Thrift-Shop Find Puts Toiletries on Display: Before

Who: Karen B.

Where: West Haven, UT

"We gutted the bathroom, partially removed a wall, and built a new half wall. We tore out the old closet to make a new vanity area. We added a new toilet, tub, sink, and faucet. We found a display case as well as mirrors, lights, and other decor at a thrift store."

A Thrift-Shop Find Puts Toiletries on Display: After

Who: Karen B.

Where: West Haven, UT

"I love the fact that we spent less than a thousand dollars on it and everything looks new, even the display case (which we repurposed for the vanity) and the painted-pine-board floors. It was hard work but satisfying to know that my husband and I did it ourselves."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $500 to $1,000

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An Elegant Bath Worthy of a Party: Before

Who: Russ S.

Where: Granby, CT

"This is not the first home project for us, but it is the first plumbing project for us. Our new tub was bigger, which required us to move the mixing valve. This meant that we needed to learn how to sweat copper pipe. Internet searches were invaluable! Then there was the grouting of the shower tiles. Even though we've done floors before, tiling walls was difficult. A weekend project turned into a few weekends."

An Elegant Bath Worthy of a Party: After

Who: Russ S.

Where: Granby, CT

"We bought this starter Cape 14 years ago, after many owners who didn't stay long. Nobody ever loved this house, but we do. So we took our time mulling over ideas for the bath. We would joke with our friends that we were going to have a party when this bathroom was finally finished. We completed it right before Christmas, so we sent out the invitations and had a bathroom party!"

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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A Dark Bath Sees the Sunshine: Before

Who: Lara I.

Where: New Paltz, NY

"After living with our dark, cramped, outdated bathroom for a few years, we decided that we were finally ready to renovate it. The quotes we got from contractors were out of our budget, so my husband took on the remodel himself, using books, advice, and YouTube videos to guide him. The layout stayed the same, but everything else was replaced, including the flooring, fixtures, tub, toilet, vanity, lighting, mirror, and hardware."

A Dark Bath Sees the Sunshine: After

Who: Lara I.

Where: New Paltz, NY

"Our bathroom is now bright and open and feels fresh and clean. The niches in the shower keep items organized and contained. We chose the Euro vanity because it has such a slim profile, yet it still has plenty of storage. My husband did all the remodeling himself over a six-week period. Turns out the really simple things—like beadboard and paint, and taking down walls to let the light in—made a big difference."

Who did the work: "My husband did all the work himself."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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Rising to the Challenge of a Round Room: Before

Who: Rebecca M.

Where: Meadville, PA

"The room's shape, its woodwork, and one door are the only remnants of the original house, built in 1906. The room was gutted to the exterior stone and overlying stud work. It required insulation and new heat ducts, electric, plumbing, and framework. Working within a 100-year-old curved room on the second floor presented challenges, but this most difficult feature is also what made it special."

Rising to the Challenge of a Round Room: After

Who: Rebecca M.

Where: Meadville, PA

"Hunting turn-of-the century period pieces to incorporate into the room's decor was an adventure my husband and I equally enjoyed. We also added modern conveniences, such as dual showers and a heated tile floor, to update the space and make it more comfortable."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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Pennsylvania Home Restored to Original Condition: Before

Who: Christopher C.

Where: Bath, PA

"The entire house was gutted down to the original plaster walls and floors. The plaster walls were all restored along with the floors. The kitchen was remodeled along with all the rooms of the house. Seven fireplaces were restored. New period-correct windows and an addition were added. The 'summer kitchen' was also restored with a walk-in fireplace, and a barn was added to the property."

Pennsylvania Home Restored to Original Condition: After

Who: Christopher C.

Where: Bath, PA

"We saved money by doing most everything ourselves. The hardest part was living in the residence while the restoration was being completed. The best part was that the house was restored to its original beauty."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: More than $100,000

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