Arrivederci Ugly Bathroom, Saluti Brand New One!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with American Foursquare Realty RM423982

About eight weeks ago, I wrote a post saying Arrivederci to the world's ugliest bathroom!  And that bathroom was mine.

In some ways, it seemed much longer than eight weeks, because a major demolition and remodel can play havoc with your schedules and day-to-day routines.

So I'm going to pass along some of the things I leaned along the way:

•·         Make sure you know what you want!  If you are planning a major layout change, mock it up with cardboard boxes and duct tape to see if that new cabinet layout is really going to work for you.  Really think about your day to day needs.  In my case, there just wasn't enough counter space.

•·         During the design stage, write out in explicit detail what the job is to include.  This will cut down on misunderstandings between you and the contractor and help you avoid costly change orders. I got through this project with only one $65 change order!

•·         Tile beats vinyl every time.  Splurge if you can.  But ceramic tile can save you lots in both material and installation costs over marble or travertine - and looks great, too.  Stick to a classic color and pattern.  Trendy tiles will last a lot longer than the design aesthetic that inspired them.  Want color?  Paint the un-tiled walls.  Much easier to change down the road than the tile!

•·         Think lighting.  You don't want to change electrical issues after the fact - especially if the dry wall is already up.  Try to save money on the fixtures themselves by shopping at a place like  I found beautiful fixtures at a fraction of the cost at a local lighting gallery.  One of the issues with the old tile was that the dark color sucked the light out of the room.  White tile made a world of difference.

•·         You need one or two splurges.  I had four:  1) Granite counters gave the bathroom some luxury that Formica just wouldn't, 2) Frameless glass shower doors are much more elegant than the framed kind you get at a big-box hardware store, 3) I went for a mosaic tile floor. Twelve inch squares would have saved a lot of money, but I was going for a look, 4)  The tub.  Fun to use (it's a bubble tub - which I find more relaxing than a Jacuzzi) and pretty to look at.  But only splurge as much as your realistic budget will allow!

•·         Think safety.  Temperature controlled shower plumbing will stop you from being frozen or scalded.

•·         Be prepared for the unexpected.  My tile installer got sick and missed a few days.  I had to reposition the tub because of an unexpected joist pattern that was revealed when the floor was removed.  I couldn't park in my garage because of where they delivered the Dumpster.  But above all, remember the Serenity Prayer:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Don't sweat the little things, but at the same time don't cave in on things that you are contractually entitled to.

•·         Make yourself available at all times by telephone!  You don't want the contractor to guess at what you want - you want him to ask you!

•·         Above all, remember that you are doing this so you can enjoy it.  While it may give you some return on investment when it comes time to sell, it's unlikely to pay for itself.  If you go too overboard in your design, don't expect to recoup the costs from your buyer.


So, goodbye ugly, dated mauve horror.  And hello fresh, clean and bright master bath.  I'm looking forward to getting to know you!

Posted by
 Richard Strahm is an award winning Realtor specializing in the North Penn areas of Montgomery County -- Lansdale, Upper Gwynedd, North Wales, Towamencin, Hatfield -- and beyond!  Visit him at or call today at 215-853-2624 for a free and private consultation about all of your real estate needs.
Richard Strahm
Broker / Owner
American Foursquare Realty - Lansdale, PA

415 North Broad Street
Lansdale, PA 19446

Direct: (215) 853-2624
Office: (215) 647-0700
Fax: (215) 529-8931


PA Lic # RM423982

Copyright © 2010-2018 Richard Strahm.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Carla Dimond
CATARRA - Mountain View, CA
(Silicon Valley)

Nice new bathroom and very classic looking.  Love the tile floor

Jun 13, 2010 09:56 AM
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

Che buon!

Jun 13, 2010 10:00 AM
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Richard - What a wonderful difference.  Your new bathroom is light, bright, and beautiful.  And you had some interesting challenges with your roofline like it is.  Looks like you made the most of it.  Good work! 

I also agree that you need to design for yourself.  It's good to refrain from going wild because there may be a day when you want to sell, but if you will be living in  the house for several years, it is worth the money to get what you want, even if it is not 100% recoverable in a resale.

Jun 13, 2010 10:05 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Hi Richard.....beautiful that a contemporary cape that you live in.....looks like those are dormers.....very nice job.

Jun 13, 2010 10:10 AM
Dinah Stallworth-Lewis
Priority Real Estate LLC - 318.332.8281 - Natchitoches, LA


Great bathroom! I have 2 bathrooms I want to upate at my home.  Thanks for the inspiration to get started.

Jun 13, 2010 10:51 AM
Richard Strahm
American Foursquare Realty - Lansdale, PA
Lansdale and North Penn Real Estate

Carla - The nice thing about classic, is that it never goes out of style.

Linda - Mia cara! Mi piace quando si parla italiano!

Susan - I plan on leaving here feet first, so resale didn't come into play.  I restrained myself a bit because of the economy, but did get what I wanted.

Barbara - It's actually a 98 year old Arts & Crafts home -- and the bathroom is tucked under the eaves of the third floor.

Dinah - Make sure you take plenty of "before" pictures -- it really helps you appreciate the "after" ones!

Jun 13, 2010 12:25 PM
Charles Edwards Bentonville
Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 - Bentonville, AR
AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker

Strictly class Richard. VERY NICELY DONE!

Jun 13, 2010 01:28 PM
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

Great difference Richard.  With the low ceiling treatment, they laid out the bath well.

Jun 14, 2010 04:13 PM
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Nicely done, but I must admit that I did like your ugly bathroom, too. Does that mean I'm an ugly person? LOL

Jun 14, 2010 04:42 PM
Richard Strahm
American Foursquare Realty - Lansdale, PA
Lansdale and North Penn Real Estate

Jim - you would have had to have seen the ugly bathroom in person.  It only looked okay in pictures!  The tiles were falling off, the cabinets were falling apart, the shower was dark and cheap.  There was lettle usable conter space.  I went out of my way so I didn't have to use it . . .

Jun 14, 2010 11:33 PM
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno

Richard ~ I love the before and after photos! You did an amazing job remodeling your bathroom. It is very chic and elegant looking.

Jun 15, 2010 11:16 AM