Big Changes to a Small Bathroom – From Hatch to Drain

Hi everyone! So for this post, the man behind all of this remodeling work, my husband Mark, is going to write about our recent bathroom remodels.

Mark here. I appreciate Margaret giving me the chance to make my first guest post here on M&M renovation.

The half bath was in desperate need of some help. The bathroom door opened into the kitchen and collided with the door to the garage if they were both opened at the same time. Along with that, the ceiling paint was peeling, the vanity mirror was missing with only a large hole in the wall for where it used to be, and the bathroom had an old smelly smell. Cover your eyes! Here’s a before picture of the bathroom.

half bath before

This is a small bathroom, 3-1/2 ft wide x 6ft long.  Our goals for this remodel were to maximize home resale value in the most cost efficient way while creating a bathroom that we like. The wall behind the toilet connects to a small 3-1/2 ft x 3-1/2 ft room with a door to the garage. This odd room only had a crawl space access hatch.

Now up to this point in my remodeling career, taking out a wall is something I haven’t done. This space behind the toilet has the unique potential to be converted into a shower – just have to hop over the toilet to get to the shower – that’s not going to work…

Okay so now we’re talking moving the toilet and taking out a wall!? Margaret and I aren’t so sure we’re up for this. I move the toilet and vanity around the room seeing how I can arrange everything. That’s when we realize one very important thing – with the toilet positioned on the long wall, sitting down on the toilet becomes an awkward task. When sitting down on the toilet you naturally you lean your upper body forwards a bit, but with a wall so close there’s no room to lean forward. I’ll save showing you the picture of Margaret testing this out! Back to the drawing board this design isn’t going to work.

The toilet was moved out of the way into the garage. Most of the time during our early months in this house there was a toilet in the garage from which ever bathroom was being worked on. Our neighbors must think we’re trying to make a bathroom in the garage.

After brainstorming ideas for the layout and drafting it out on paper, I’ve got the design down. The bathroom door now needs to move too! This is turning into a whole series of home renovation items I’ve never done before – removing a wall, cutting into another wall for a new doorway, and running drain plumbing for the new toilet location. Somewhere along the way I just told myself I’m going for it and mustered up the courage to start the demolition.

It’s best to get the demolition out of the way early – and that’s the fun part too! Margaret doesn’t like demolition much, maybe it’s only a guy thing to think it’s fun? Reciprocating saws, pry bars, hammers, what’s not to like? Here’s a picture of the half bathroom with the wall partially removed.


I found a nice surprise when I opened up the wall (doesn’t that always happen?). The plumbing vent piping had come apart and there was black mold on the drywall from leaking water from the pipe. I was glad to get that smelly drywall out. Vent piping was rerouted out of the way and the leak fixed.

Next it was on to moving the door. Here’s a picture of the old door location with new drywall and around the corner where I moved the door to.

Door Moved!

I made a new crawlspace access in the hall closet and repaired the joists and subfloor in the old room off the garage. I ran plumbing for the new toilet location, vanity location, and new shower. Short crawl spaces are tough to work in. This was the tough part of the project – doing all the work that’s hidden behind the scenes.

I decided to custom pour the shower base from cement to avoid the overly pricey preformed bases available and to get the exact size I needed. Custom shower cubby holes with lots of room for the wife’s shower items are definitely essential in this project. Here’s a picture of the shower in progress:


The entire shower was coated in a green waterproofing membrane and then tiled. Margaret was the chief style coordinator for this bathroom and decided on some nautical modern design choices. Distressed white washed wood tile, teal glass tile, river rock shower floor, and a beige tile to tie it all together. Also a glass shower door and new toilet. This turned out really nice and a big change! Here are the after pics minus some new corner shelves I put in:

IMG_7834    IMG_7820


Fitting this all into a compact 9ft x 3-1/2ft bathroom is a very efficient use of space. This bathroom has officially become Margaret’s favorite bathroom of the house and she has claimed it as her bathroom.

That’s fine by me as I now get the bigger bathroom. Big design changes definitely paid off.






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