We're Maryal and Chris Carter, the crazy-in-love couple behind the blog and the specs. Our love of chambray and mutual blurred vision unites us, and this is where we share our adventures in love, style, food, DIY and so much more, seen through our bespectacled eyes. Thanks for joining our journey!

Tiny Bathroom Remodel

Tiny Bathroom Remodel


Tiny Bathroom Remodel: Before

Tiny Bathroom Remodel: After

Wave your hands in the air, if you have a tiny bathroom and you just don't care! Anyone? ANYONE?! Ok hopefully it's not just me on this one and there's someone else out there who knows what it's like to live with the tiniest of tiny master baths and can sympathize! 

So yes, I have a teeny, tiny master bathroom in my 1950's ranch style house and when I got the house, I really didn't mind it all that much. It was functional enough, and I knew that at some point the tiny, slightly ugly master bath would need to be re-done, but it felt like a "down the road" kind of project a year and a half ago when I moved in. Then, about six months after I moved in and about a month after I met Chris, a nasty, rust-colored water started to come up through the bedroom carpet that sat just outside of the bathroom threshold... and I knew I had a major problem on my hands. 

So what does a girl do when rust-colored water starts coming up through the carpet? Well first I screamed for Chris. Then I panicked for a few days and went down a lot of worst-case-scenario mental black holes. And then I called in the big guns... my mom. Anna Miller spends about 90% of her time remodeling one house or another and keeping the wheels on at the Miller household with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and the other 10% critiquing every decision the hosts make on HGTV. In short, mom knows what's up.

After I told my mom what I was seeing, I had a plumber come out and check out the scene, and he left a little perplexed about what my problem was. Basically, he couldn't know the cause without ripping the bathroom up and getting a look behind the scenes, which created the perfect opening - time to give this bathroom a major facelift while fixing my scary little rust-water problem! And with my mom shepherding the project and helping advise me every step of the way, IT. WAS. ON.

After a long process of finding the tile, securing a contractor and figuring out how to make the most of the space in this teeny tiny bathroom, demo began and as you can see to the left, some seriously weird s%*t was going on behind the walls (that crumpled up old newspaper? Not cool.) and under the floors. The remodel in its entirety took about 2 months, and was definitely worth the wait! I absolutely love the way it turned out and am currently happily showering and primping in my gorgeous teeny, tiny master bath, sans creepy rust-water coming up through the bedroom carpet. 

Of course remodeling old, tiny bathrooms can be a rocky road and get a little crazy along the way, so I thought I'd share some honest tips and anecdotes from my own tiny bathroom remodel experience in hopes to help anyone else ready to take the big (tiny?!) bathroom remodel leap! So here's how it all went down...

Tip #1

Hit Pinterest for some inspiration and get a clear idea of the aesthetic you want, a.k.a. figure out what you want your tiny bathroom to look like and grab some ideas about how people out there have maximized the space in their tiny bathrooms. Even if you're not a serious Pinterest user, do some searches for tiny bathrooms, color schemes and tile types and see what's happening out there in tiny bathroom land!

What I Did

I absolutely loved the look and feel of retro, white subway tile with a few black elements scattered throughout - I like the idea of taking design inspiration from the era the house was built in and bringing it to life in updated ways! I was also stuck on on some kind of dove grey grout instead of a standard white grout. So I did a lot of Pinterest searches that involved white subway tile with grey grout, and got tons of inspo from seeing the ways other people maximized space in their tiny bathrooms! I also had to check out what other people with tiny bathrooms were doing with their shower door situation. More on that in Tip #5.

Tip #2

Hit the tile store. Several. Tile stores have tons of displays that offer inspiration, much like Pinterest. I found that a lot of the vignettes they display in the stores are a little conventional for my taste and don't exactly cater to super tiny bathrooms, but you may see some cool elements that inspire you! What's more, tile stores have tile, so walk the aisles, see the options, feel the tiles, and take some pics of tile you like so you remember what you saw and can reference it.

What I Did

I ended up hitting tile store with my extremely experienced mom in several different states over the course of planning this tiny bathroom remodel, and seeing the variety of tile that's out there really helped shape my plan. I'm a bathroom remodel and tile novice so I quickly learned that not all subway tile is created equal. Who knew?!

Tip #3

While you're at the tile place, grab one of the experts working there. Tell them about your project, that you have a very tiny space to work with, what needs to be done (Plumbing? Just tile work? Both?), and some of the design elements you're hoping to incorporate. Also be honest and tell them what kind of budget you're working' with - luckily, a tiny bathroom usually means you really don't need a gigantic budget! Be confident in your design vision when you talk to them - there may be a logistical (structural) hangup or two, but for the most part anything is possible if you just ask or insist, even in a teeny, tiny old bathroom like mine. Shoot for the moon and adjust from there.

What I Did

Right around the time I needed to start making some serious decisions about this bathroom remodel and get this project started, I went to The Tile Shop in Scottsdale with my mom and my sister and decided that they basically had all of the tile elements I needed, which you can see in the finished product pics in the gallery. While we were there, the most helpful, knowledgable manager at the store walked up and asked me all about my project and what my design ideas were. He was immediately on board with my retro subway tile plan and pieced it all together on a table for me using the tile elements I was liking to give me a visual. And what's more, this amazing manager recommended an independent contractor that he knew that he thought could tackle a small project like mine, and told me that he was the best of the best and would work within my equally teeny, tiny budget. SCORE!

Tip #4

That leads me to my next tip. Finding people to do the work... that is, if you're not DIYing they entire project, which is entirely possible to do in a tiny bathroom! I highly recommend taking the route of heading to the tile place where you're going to purchase your tile from and asking them for recommendations. And not only would I ask them for recommendations, I'd really insist on someone that's budget-friendly and just plain old friendly. If they only recommend a list of larger contracting outfits, just go down the list of names they give you, get estimates and go with the one that makes you feel GREAT about your project and backs your design vision. The nice thing about getting recommendations through the tile store you're buying from is that they'll coordinate with your contractor to get them the tile they need and reinforce your design vision.

What I Did

As I said, I went with the tile guy the manager at The Tile Shop recommended, and it was the best thing I could have done. His name is Scott Woodward and I'd call him an artist. He worked within the budget, could fix my major plumbing problems, was totally on board with the design I wanted, extremely meticulous, checked in with me every step of the way on the project to make sure what he was doing was exactly what I wanted and is just a down right nice guy, which is pretty important to me. These projects can take a while, and having someone ethical and friendly in your corner is one of the most amazing feelings!

Tip #5

And now, for the other contractors. For a tiny bathroom on a budget, or any bathroom remodel for that matter, hiring different contractors and contracting outfits to do the different jobs you need is totally doable. Scott took care of my plumbing problems and the tiling, but I needed a new shower door too. I knew that Scott had done a ton of bathrooms over the course of his career, so I asked him for a shower door installer recommendation and he gave me a great one.

What I Did

The shower door was a little bit of a pain in the butt for me. I really wanted a hinged shower door instead of a sliding shower door, but a lot of people told me that because of my serious space restrictions, it couldn't be done. But I said, "TO HELL WITH THAT!" I didn't want to go through the work of remodeling this bathroom into something so beautiful and get stuck with another sliding door eye sore. Luckily, when I met with the shower door guy he told me that a hinged door was a must, and it's absolutely perfect! So the moral there - stick to your guns. I saw a ton of pictures of tiny bathrooms that had hinged doors, so I knew that there had to be a way and luckily, I found just the guy to do it.

Tip #6

Be patient. We should all know by now that remodels are never about speed, even if you have a tiny space. Just go into it with the expectation that you're going to be slightly uncomfortable in your living space for the foreseeable future, but that the outcome will be worth the wait. In short, it's gonna suck, so adjust and know that the juice is worth the squeeze.

What I Did

Well luckily, I only had about 1.5 meltdowns about not being able to use my master bath throughout the course of this remodel. Even luckier, I have an amazing mother who could plan and execute a bathroom remodel in her sleep that helped guide this project, so with a little patience and some consolation from my mom (and Chris of course) along the way, I made it out alive.

Tip #7

Order as many of the furnishings and hardware as you can on your own! The best part about hiring independent, specific contractors for each specific job is is that it allows you the freedom to purchase a lot of the things you need on your own and really find the best prices to fit your budget, with total oversight and approval. 

What I Did

Everything I bought and used in the bathroom is listed below! I'm particularly in love with that vanity - it's perfect for the space and such a steal! You could also easily paint it if grey isn't in your color scheme.

Tip #8

DIY where and when you can. The most challenging thing about a teeny tiny bathroom is storage. Everyone needs ample storage in their bathroom (girls, I know you feel me on this one!), so you have to find room anywhere you can and DIYing things to fit your needs will be such a huge help.

What I Did

My genius mom actually bought (from Lowes) that shallow, tall cabinet you see on the wall above the toilet to get me some extra shelf space and spray-painted it white for me when I moved into the house, so it was the perfect carry-over piece. My mom (and dad) also came up with another genius space hack - see that outlet inside the vanity in the pictures to the left? That's where I plug my hair dryer and curling iron in, which both sit nicely inside the middle drawer of the vanity. Yep, that's right. They're plugged in and ready to rock and never come entirely out of the vanity and have their chords dragging on the counter, knocking stuff over. I also really wanted a pink barn light in the bathroom after seeing a couple in small bathrooms on Pinterest, and after only finding super expensive options to buy online, just went ahead and spray painted a cheap one from Lowes. Click the link below for the step-by-step how to on that project!


VANITY : Martha Stewart from Home Depot

MEDICINE CABINET: Kohler from Faucet Direct

PINK BARN LIGHT: DIY - Read my post that details how to do this project!

BATH MAT/RUG: Dash & Albert (2x3)

HAND TOWEL RING: Gatco from Amazon

TOILET PAPER HOLDER: Gatco from Amazon

TRASH CAN: Simple Human

LARGE SHOWER BASKET: Restoration Hardware

SHOWER SOAP BASKET: Restoration Hardware

SOAP DISPENSER: Old, Etsy (similar options)

WALL PAINT COLOR: Glidden "Silver Screen"

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