Before & after - DIY-mad couple save thousands on stunning grey and gold bathroom makeover

They transformed a dated 1960s bathroom on a tight budget

grey tiled shower in bathroom
(Image credit: Laura Crombie)

Two DIY lovers have saved thousands on their dream bathroom after designing, sourcing and installing everything themselves.

  • See also: Bathroom ideas – 51 stylish looks, trends and tips to inspire a makeover

Laura Crombie and her husband Rian, who live in a UK village with their daughter, Sophie, 3, received some hefty quotes for their bathroom transformation. But, they have managed to do it all themselves for a fraction of what they were quoted.

grey tiled bathroom with gold hardware

(Image credit: Laura Crombie)

‘The old bathroom was pretty awful, with a weird pelmet above the bath, a turquoise suite and thick carpet,’ says Laura. ‘We knew it was the first room we wanted to renovate when we moved in but we couldn’t believe how high the quotes were.’

After moving into the four-bedroom detached 1960s house last July, Laura and Rian ripped out the old bathroom and then received quotes from a number of local bathroom companies. ‘Our budget was a maximum of £5,000, so we were gutted when the quotes came back at three times that amount,’ says Rian.

If you're currently considering a bathroom renovation, make sure you know bathroom remodel costs and how to budget.

Before

old fashioned bathroom with blue bath and sink

(Image credit: Laura Crombie)

Undeterred, the keen DIYers decided to tackle the project themselves. Laura, who is a homes journalist, had a clear vision for how she wanted the room to look and was confident she could achieve a high-end look on a budget. 

‘It was hard work but I spent hours shopping around to get each element as cheaply as I could,’ she says. ‘We ended up with the suite in our hall for six months as I ordered it from Victoria Plum as soon as there was a sale on!’

With a new layout drawn up, Rian, who was on furlough from his job as a pilot, started using YouTube videos to teach himself how to plumb everything in. He took up the old floorboards, created new water supplies for the two sinks and a separate bath, built a stud wall with a storage niche, and even rerouted the soil stack.

old fashioned bathroom

(Image credit: Laura Crombie)

‘A lot of it was trial and error and it was slow going at times,’ he explains.

To achieve the high-end look, the couple opted for on-trend gold shower, gold taps, double vanity and back-to-wall bath from Victoria Plum. They also chose real marble tiles from Topps Tiles, which they installed themselves. 

The wall light, from Made.com, and mirrors, from Wayfair, were all purchased in sales. Some of the best savings included the bespoke shower screens and white tops used to finish the half wall and shelf above the toilet.

‘The quotes we got for the shower screens were ridiculous, so we decided to call local glass companies for quotes. We had to make our own templates from MDF but we got both screens for £340 and then we just had to buy the u-channels to attach them to the wall, which were about £90,’ says Laura. 

After

shower with storage and grey tiles

(Image credit: Laura Crombie)

The white surfaces were worktop offcuts and a local company cut them for just £40.

In fact, the only thing the couple didn’t do was fit the Karndean flooring, in a warm oak finish. ‘The flooring was the finishing touch and we wanted to make sure the warranty was valid, so we paid a professional to install it – we decided we could treat ourselves at that point!’ adds Laura.

If you’re considering trying a bathroom remodel yourself, take a look at our guide to bathroom plumbing for some basic knowledge of how your bathroom works. Plus, our grey bathroom ideas piece features beautiful, calming bathrooms sure to inspire. Here are a few of Laura’s top tips.

double sink in grey and gold bathroom

(Image credit: Laura Crombie)
  • Start by stripping everything out and take up as much of the floor covering as you can to see where the pipes are and how you can move them. 
  • Building stud walls is easy and allows you to conceal pipes and create storage niches. Use tile backer boards instead of plasterboard if you'll be tiling.
  • Check that the tile adhesive and grout you choose are right for your tiles. You have to be careful with marble tiles.
  • The more tiled surfaces you have, the more it'll cost. Stick to smaller tiled areas to really cut costs.
  • Shop local for things like glass and worktops - ask for 10mm toughened glass for any shower screens.
  • When putting your new floorboards or chipboard sheets down, mark where all of the pipes run so you can easily access them in the future.

We're loving the shower storage nook with on-trend hexagonal tiles and the under-sink storage for tucking shampoo bottles away.

Millie Hurst

Millie joined Real Homes in January 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.