Sometimes the reason for starting a project isn’t really that good of a reason. But in my opinion, the reason isn’t the most important part. The doing is the important thing.

When I look around and listen to the internet chatter, I hear a lot of talking about doing but I don’t see a ton of doing. And I’m just as guilty as the next person. These days I have more ideas than I could ever possibly execute on. I’ve got more irons in my fire than I can reasonably tend to and so many choices I could waste my whole day away just keeping up with the fires and considering my options.

But I try not to.

The reason for my rambling on about reasons, is because I don’t think you need a good one to take action. ANY action, is usually better than NO action. Especially when you’re striving for progress; which is my only goal that will always stand.

So I took some action. You might say I took half an action. Here’s my reason.

Here’s the before.

Our bathroom was fine. New tile probably in the ‘90’s or ‘00’s, original vanity but painted and a new countertop. Fine.

But I have to share this bathroom with my two children, because our master bath project has yet to get underway. (See: How I Plan a Remodel) for details on that project). And two kiddos plus a grownup on this small countertop results in too many elbow jabs each morning and three crabby humans. We don’t have a ton of space here, but I thought that if we offset the sink, we have room for maybe 6 more inches of counter space. Six PRECIOUS inches.

I did some googling and found one on sale at Home Depot. It’s not super high end, but the cabinet is solid wood, the top is one piece of porcelain with a nice-enough looking finish and super easy to clean. Also, it was like $234 or something cheap so I couldn’t resist.


I got home from drop off, ready to roll. I threw a quick load of wash in the dryer and cut my knuckle somehow before I even started the dirty work. Oy.

I found some super gross stuff under the vanity, like maxi pad, circa 1979 and some super hold hairspray. Ish.

I always think that vanities should come out in one piece so I can resell them, but they almost never do. This one shredded.


Side note: for small projects like these, I use dumpster bags rather than ordering a whole big dumpster. They are around $100 and usually can be picked up curbside from your normal trash company.

We knew the tile was laid right onto the old linoleum so I thought it would come up relatively easily (we have SEVERAL cracked tiles and loose tiles in our house for this reason, never lay tile right on top of vinyl or linoleum!).

In my opinion, the tile came up pretty easily with a hammer and chisel, but my dear husband who was trying to work downstairs was tired of my hammering and showed up after 30 minutes with a hammer drill. Had I known we owned this amazing tool, I would have started with it!

The hammer drill made such quick work of the tile, I wanted to bring it downstairs and demo our whole main level tile! That’s a project for another day though.

Never lay tile on lenolium!
Here’s the uncovered lenoluim.
I stapled down a layer of tar paper next.
And then laid the cement board.

After cutting the cement board to fit, I screwed it down (screws every 12-16”-ish). I use a ton of screws for this because we don’t want the floor to move, at all. After it’s screwed down, I used cement board mesh tape to tape the seams and then mudded it in place with some thinset mortar. By now, I have all of this stuff on hand so it doesn’t require any special planning or trips to Menards.

Lunch Break!

After lunch the mortar was dry (or dry enough, I’m impatient) so I started laying the tile. After taking a poll I decided on the direction and got busy. I love the one-third stagger so I cut a few tiles to get the pattern started, a one-third and a two-thirds. The hardest part of this was positioning my body without stepping on the previously laid tiles. Once I got past the part around the toilet hole, it was a bunch easier. If I would have taken the door off in the first place, I would have saved myself some awkward body maneuvering.

These plank style tiles are pretty easy to work with and go down quickly. The toughest part is making sure all of the edges are level. You have to press the tiles down evenly so one end doesn’t come up and create a ridge. It works best if your mortar bed is very even but gets more challenging when you take too much time in one area and the mortar starts drying.

Pro tip: only spread as much mortar as you can tile in about 15 minutes. It dries fast on the cement board.

I wrapped up with the last few tiles just as Hazel was getting off the bus. Cleanup took me another hour but overall, this whole project took me just about 6 hours.

Here is the tile.
The next morning (should have been the next evening, but I had an open house to get to and a full day of showings to work around…) I mixed up the grout and got it smeared in all the cracks. I don’t have a pic for you because I was in a rush. You want to mix up your grout into a somewhat liquidy-consistency, like a little drier than yogurt but not as tough as play dough. This way it spreads easily and settles nicely into the cracks. Use your grout float to smash it left and right, up and down, and diagonally. Then scrape of the excess and let it dry for a few minutes. Maybe 10. You’ll notice the grout film drying to a haze on the tile. This is when it’s ready. Get two buckets and two sponges plus a few dirty towels. Use one bucket and sponge as your ‘dirty bucket’ and wipe down the excess. Let it dry again, then use the ‘clean bucket’ to wipe again. Continue like this until the tiles are all clean and the grout is nicely filled in and smooth. Wipe it dry with a dirty towel and relax, the tile is DONE!
Here’s my demo & reno in a day timelapse video!

Before we could put the toilet on I had to get the wall behind it painted. Because I was in a rush, I rushed through the mud and sand process and it’s definitely noticeable. In general, I like to get three coats of mud and sanding done before priming and painting, in this case, I only got to two and I probably didn’t sand as thoroughly as I usually do. It really shows, so I’ll have to go back and touch it up when we do phase II of this project, the shower!

Since our vanity is open, I realized I also needed to get the trim on before we could install. This ended up being a bit of a problem as the trim pushed the vanity too far away from the wall for the countertops to sit flush. We ended up cutting out little chunks of the trim. If I did it again, I would trim AROUND the vanity feet to save some effort.

Here we are, more than a week after the original demo day, and we still don’t have a bathroom. Projects ALWAYS take longer than you think they will, so give yourself plenty of time!

We finally got everything installed the following weekend and we are HAPPY to have the space back in use.

The kids thought the inner workings of the new toilet were pretty cool, especially when playing with the toilet was an excuse to delay bedtime….

So here it is! My done-ish, half a bathroom reno. I got the mirror at Home Goods for $99. The floating shelf and the shower curtain are from Target for like $20. I think all-in, this project was less than $500, maybe 8-10 total hours of effort, and looks GREAT.

I can’t wait to tackle the shower tile!

See ya soon, thanks for reading!!

xoxo, Amy Ranae

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