Sarah Saves: My “Custom” Basement Shower

Sarah B.
Sarah B.

I love saving, whether it’s time or money or the planet. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction, and it allows me to channel my “do it yourself” energy in a lot of different ways.

When Kevin and I decided it was time to tackle our basement, I knew we had to keep the costs down. I also wanted a nice shower – one with a custom feel that set it apart from your typical inexpensive fiberglass or acrylic surround with a curtain.

I decided to tile the shower walls, so I started with a standard sized shower pan. I picked the pan I wanted instead of tiling the floor because it’s less expensive and easier to execute, especially for a DIY’er. When you’re tiling a shower floor, you have to get the right slope for the drain if you don’t want to experience leaks down the road. If that doesn’t scare you from attempting it, consider a pre-molded base that’s ready to have the tile applied to it, like those from Tile Redi.

I love the look of thin, rectangular marble tiles, but they were too expensive for my budget. To cut costs, I bought 12 x 12 marble tiles at Home Depot for $3.99 a square foot and cut them down to 3 x 12. Home Depot sells by the individual tile, so I was able to buy a bunch of boxes and sort through them, picking ones I thought looked good together and returning the rest. I sanded one tile down with an orbital sander and 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper to see if I preferred a honed look, but I ended up preferring the polished look.

If you’re considering using marble tile in a bathroom, make sure to research all the pros and cons. It’s also a good idea to seal polished marble before and after grouting to avoid a cloudy finish on the tile when you wipe off the grout.

Curtains in bathrooms are not my thing, so we purchased a pre-made clear glass door enclosure from Overstock. (I got it for $750 with a coupon, it’s now listed at $944.99 – timing is everything!) It obviously set me back more than a rod and curtain would have, but it was cheaper because we installed it ourselves.

I do not miss that border at all.
I do not miss that border one tiny bit.

The finishing touch – a wood shower grate to hide most of the inexpensive white shower floor. You can buy pre-made grates out of teak, but that can get costly – somewhere between $150 to $200. We made one from clear cedar and stained it to match the vanity, then sealed it with an outdoor use poly. It has rubber feet and can be removed for cleaning, and we used decking screws so they wouldn’t rust. We paid about $40 for the wood, so you do the math.

Since this shower isn’t used constantly, our homemade grate has held up well, and overall, the project has added to our basement’s versatility. I can send houseguests down there to shower and feel good doing it!

– Sarah B.

We made our shower grate out of cedar and stained it to match the vanity.

getting that designer look

“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my home just doesn’t feel pulled together. Can you help?”

I get these calls a lot. Let’s face it, it’s hard to view your domicile with an objective eye. It’s the place you’re comfortable being naked in, the space that offers you refuge at the end of a craptacular day, the nest where you watch your squawking baby birds grow into happy, successful adults who eventually move out and catch their own worms.

Have no fear. We’re happy to pop over and brainstorm fixes that will make you eager to throw open your front door to family, friends and the occasional Girl Scout selling cookies.

May we suggest…

Undertaking a minor project with a major impact.

Changing out your light fixture can make a big impact without breaking your budget.
Changing out your light fixture can make a big impact without breaking your budget.

Think about painting a wall or adding a backsplash tile or changing a light fixture. One of my favorite minor projects is adding a small built-in feature like floating shelves or a window seat with storage. The latter is great for people with kids and grandkids who have tons of toys that end up everywhere they’re not supposed to be (playroom – ha!).

Hiding your little one’s stuff will open up your floor space and help create a calm environment. A window seat with large drawers will help you reclaim your room. When play time is over, scoop everything up and dump it into the drawers. Then fix yourself a martini, grab your laptop and pour over Pinterest while perched atop the toy booty.

Rearranging or repurposing existing items like furniture and accessories.

Identifying statement pieces that support your existing design.

This Bliss down-filled sofa will give you a statement piece as well as bliss.
This Bliss down-filled sofa from West Elm is a statement piece that will fill you with bliss.

Maybe you’ve got a large, empty room that’s got you stumped. We’d be happy to suggest a few key items that take it from “meh” to “meow!” by selecting some online examples for you to consider or shopping with you locally – as long as we can stop somewhere for coffee.  (We love to support local businesses!) Perhaps it’s a pair of killer side chairs and an accent table, or bookshelves and a game table, or a fabulous rug or a large grouping of art objects.

Assisting with seasonal decor and arranging.

We can help make your holiday less stressful by helping ready your home for guests.
We can make your holidays less stressful by helping you ready your home for guests and all the fa la la la la they bring.

Our homes are oftentimes the setting for large gatherings of family and friends, and we want the atmosphere to be just right, whatever the occasion. If you’re not a Martha Stewart-type, you might want some help, and that’s right up our chimney! We can take a look at your existing holiday decor, purchase a few new items and arrange your room so it looks like something you’d see in a magazine spread.

We might add something as simple as snowflake pillows or large groupings of candles with fake snow on them – you’d be amazed at what a difference in ambiance little touches can make. And, if you’re less stressed out with how your house looks, you’ll be able to enjoy the things that matter, like spending time with loved ones and making memories you’ll look back on when you’re old and crotchety.

Until next time, I’ll be keeping an eye on design for you.

– EM