Redesigning a Small Corner Shower (+ other bathroom reno updates)

A couple of weeks ago we started this $1,500 bathroom makeover with the intention of doing phase 2 reno in a few years.

As you can imagine in a very old historic home, things didn’t go according to plan. The shower (which was going to get some maintienence ) needs to be completely removed due to water damage.

Find us through the ORC? Nice to meet you!! We’re Susie & Mitch a couple of DIY lovers who have been updating our 1847 Historic Colonial in Western Mass for the past couple of years (a craftsman bungalow before this). Find out more about us here.

Week One- The Plan

Week Two- The Design

This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on a link and purchase I will get a small compensation at no extra cost to you, win win. Read the full disclosure here.

Since we weren’t able to keep anything we decided to change the shower corner for budget, function, and looks.


From the Ground Up

We picked this Dreamline Shower Pan because it came in the same existing size we had.

That cuts down on plumbing costs.

Because it came in black, working seamlessly with our black hexagon flooring.

Making the small bath appear larger.

Annnnd, because it had built in slip resistance

We’re a multigenerational family, young to old this bathroom is used by all.







We then decided to keep the side walls open.

First, so the bathroom appeared larger than it is. Like I mentioned before.

Then, so that we wouldn’t need to tile two more walls.

And finally, we decided on a shower curtain instead of glass panels.

This cuts down on costs as you can imagine, but also made the shower easier to get in and out of. My mother lives with us and we decided to build a shower she could ‘age in place’ with. Something no one likes to actually discuss.







Can a shower look ‘real’ without tile?

This was a hard decision for me, both upstairs when we used a tub enclosure (I do have to say the Delta Upstile does the best I’ve ever seen), and with this bathroom.

Putting in modern materials into a historic home feels…. well wrong.

I’m sure lots would say it is. But we believe home renovation should function for you on so many levels. Budget, function, and aesthetics.

Tile gets expensive, and time consuming. Since this is still a phase one renovation (phase two will probably be further out at this point) we decided to look at surround panels.

The ones we used upstairs weren’t actually made for a corner shower so we went on the hunt.

and found absolutely nothing. zilch. nada.



They were all really fake, very expensive (why not tile at that point?), and practically none of them fit our small corner.



NEXT idea…



I had already decided on a shaker peg rail paneling on the other bathroom walls and got to thinking.



They make exterior plastic PVC “wood” for contractors, couldn’t that be used to make our very own shower panels? Could I just make them look exactly like the walls?

Had anyone else ever done it? One click over to pinterest and I found the answer, yes they had.

Here are two examples of shiplap surrounds using this exterior PVC “wood"



Click Photos for Sources



So were venturing down a unknown path, it can be done, but can I make it look the same as my wall paneling plans? We’re going to find out soon!




So there you have it. A small wild corner shower design, budget friendly, all while being convenient for aging in place.




Now back to instagram where we have been creating a vintage look out of a modern ikea vanity, DIYing a hidden recessed cabinet for above the toilet, and even creating privacy by frosting our windows.


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Want to see finished beautiful spaces?!!!! Go, Run, (or click) and check out the other One Room Challenge guest participants REVEALS! Since we aren’t even close to a reveal yet!




A Modern Cement Tile Stenciled Fireplace (+ Easy Tutorial)

I swore I’d never stencil again, not after the kitchen stenciling I had already done for this Umass Amherst Sorority Project. But then here I was stenciling this mantle hearth while the sisters were moving in. Talk about down to the wire, but that’s how it goes when you have a vision, sometimes you’ve just have to see it through.


New here? Thanks for stopping by! We remodel and DIY our own 1847 Historic Colonial and take on various other client projects. This was a remodel of a UMASS- Amherst Sorority living room we worked on this summer!


A Modern Cement Tile Stenciled Fireplace (+ Easy Tutorial) at this Umass Amherst Chi Omega Sorority House | Designed by This Giant Life

Here’s where we started at the beginning of the summer (flooring was already demoed).

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Now Its a whole different mantle with cement look tile.



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This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on a link and purchase I will get a small compensation at no extra cost to you, win win. Read the full disclosure here.

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Prepping the tile for paint

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Our tiles needed a good scrubbing since the house was built in 1971 and the mantle area I stenciled is horizontal. It’s seen a lot of bottoms sitting on it and feet stepping on it over the years.




TSP is a chemical cleaner that does the trick, but be careful and use high grade chemical gloves when using it. Wear eye protection! 

Mix and use according to the directions.






I was particularly lucky in the sense that these tiles were already matte. Think old restaurant floor tiles. They were similar to concrete tiles, and didn’t need any sanding or deglossing on my part.




A good scrub with TSP insured no grime was left on the tiles and we were ready for paint.


The stencil strategy

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Painters tape helped me ensure the stencil didn’t shift while I was painting. I would keep on changing out the tape when it lost the stickiness.



I also alternated which stencil I used, and which tile, to make sure I wasn’t overlapping before the paint had dried. 



Time for Paint

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I couldn’t use primer because I wasn’t painting the whole tile. So I decided on milk paint which adheres really well.

You should test on an inconspicuous spot like I did in this fire wood nook, in order to get a rhythm down. Here was my routine: 

  1. Put a little paint on the roller and spread evenly

  2. Roll it off on paper towels

  3. Light-medium pressure on the stencil

  4. Create layers until it looks full

  5. Carefully peel off stencil

*pretty much exactly what the directions say BTW*

Corners and Cutting Your Tile

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Eventually you will need to cut one of your two stencils (you got two right?!) in order to get into corners and odd spaces.



I cut one into half and then into fourths to have options. Depending on the pattern you may need a triangle etc.




Basically the stencil will need to be lightly taped down and bend into the corners. This is no easy task when the cut outs are lines like my stencil. The lines tend to get bigger as you press into the corner, making the result look odd compared to a normal tile.



My only advice. Slow and steady wins the race (not my strong suit). But I made (most) of them look great. 



Reality Check

This was easy, and now that I’ve seen the results (for the price) I would totally do it again. Especially for a phase 1 makeover, I would then save and circle back to replace the tile at a later date.


But getting all the details perfect was difficult, not to mention I tweaked me back which made it impossible to get into that fire wood nook very well.


In the end I had some smudges and figured if anyone had time to sit on that and bend over looking at every detail... they probably should go get a life. It was a $50 makeover. It’s not like I replaced the tile.

It’s a little forward but that my two cents. I’m a little bit rough around the edges y’all!


Love Love,

Susie Q















Starting A $1,500 Makeover on the Bath the Entire Family Uses | One Room Challenge Week 1

All right, we’re back at it again joining this year’s Fall One Room Challenge! We’ve done a few of these in the past. The first being our previous home entry remodel with that dark moody feature wall DIY, and the second our sons vintage mid-century modern nursery.

Find us through the ORC? Nice to meet you!! We’re Susie & Mitch a couple of DIY lovers who have been updating our 1847 Historic Colonial in Western Mass for the past couple of years (a craftsman bungalow before this). Find out more about us here.

We tried to do the Airbnb bathroom during a One Room Challenge but life got in the way twice! Eventually we did take the room from this before to this after!

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I’ll officially reveal that bathroom sometime this month on the blog. 






Until then I have another project space to reveal! 

Our family bathroom will be the next One Room Challenge Project.

And boy is it gonna be a challenge! When we bought the home 2 years ago we knew this space needed work, that the shower stall was going to need maintenance among other issues. Just like everyone else does, we had to back burner this project until we came up with the time and the funds! 

Now, it really needs an overhaul, but we have a tight budget of $1,500. Not only do we need to stick to that budget but we really need this space to function for us since it’s our only full bathroom.

Because... the Airbnb is almost always booked! Yeah! 

So the entire family uses this bathroom which includes Mitch, myself, our 4 year old daughter, (almost) two year old son, and my mother! 

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We are a multigenerational family, and we all have to use this bath! So it really really needs to function. I mentioned that right?! 



Side note: If you are new here Welcome! Just a little back story... we moved from a 800 SF house to a historic 3,200 SF colonial. Moved my mother in, we created an Airbnb, moved my husband’s Nana in... twice!  We became her full time caregivers for a bit until she passed away this summer.

And....( as if that wasn’t enough) We have built two chicken coops. Now we sell eggs on our roadside stand as a little business for our children to grow into! Whew! 


Now back to the $1,500 bathroom makeover!

Here it is now:

Starting A $1,500 Makeover on the Bath the Entire Family Uses

We pretty much need to deal with everything! Its gotten bad especially the shower.


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The list of things to do:

  • Floor

  • Shower Maintenance

  • Vanity

  • Sink and counter

  • New accessories

  • Vent fan

  • Window treatment situation

The list of things to keep:

  • Tall cabinet storage

  • Shower tile, faucet


Those lists are a little lopsided so wish me luck and some way to make money streeetch reeeaallllyy farrrrrr. (That’s annoying huh?) Next week i’ll give you all the nitty gritty details, for now……I need to make all those design decisions!

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Check out of of the other guest room projects!