From a Tub to a Shower From a Tub to a Shower

Here’s an update on our renovation project before I get into the details of changing the tub to a shower,

We have moved into the basement apartment as of last Sunday. Yay! It had been 5 weeks late… If you’ve been following along, you may remember that we sold our 100 year old house and purchased this mid-century house with a basement apartment.

We closed on this house 2 weeks prior to when we needed to actually move out of the old house. In that 2 week time period we were hoping to have time to renovate the basement apartment so that we could just move right into it from the old house, and then commence renovation work on the main house.

HA! Not quite!

This basement apartment needed waaaay more work than initially anticipated and had the majority of the main floor plumbing going through the ceiling. So it took 7 weeks instead of 2, and took a whack out of the budget…

In that time, we lived on the main floor, but because of the plumbing issues, both the kitchen and bathroom needed to be gutted. We did have 1 ‘sort of’ working bathroom… and 1 bedroom. Then we had a room we were using to hold everything I had packed for the apartment kitchen, including all the food. That room also serviced as an office and had the only chairs in the house: a desk chair and a aluminum folding chair… it’s been sort of like camping in the house.

The worse part was the smell… We found out that the roof leaked in several spots, so every time it rained, (and it’s been a crazy rainy fall!) the main floor started to smell like sour milk… that combined with the latent cigarette smoke from previous owners was enough to remove any desire to use the kitchen, (if I had one… which I didn’t because it got demo-ed right away) or even eat in the house. Every single meal in the past 7 weeks has been out.

I’m a slow learner I think… and I guess I struggle with empathy… true empathy… being able to really understand someone else’s situation if I’m not in it. Going through this has given me a glimpse for the homeless.

As our construction costs have risen because of the hurricanes that have swept through our country this year, I think of the number of folks that have been put out of their homes. Just the simple things like to not have your sofa to sit on or not have a dresser to put clothes in, or a sink to wash a dish in… it’s very unsettling on so many levels. It makes for this unspoken level of unrest in one’s spirit.

We have a light at the end of this renovation tunnel… I know this is so very minimal to truly being homeless or displaced because of the hurricane… but it does help me understand a tiny bit how it feels.

All this to say, we are so very thankful for the completion of this basement apartment. It is totally clean, smells good and we now have moved some furniture into it from storage, so we actually have a place to sit and relax. Now that we’re living in the basement apartment… we have a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, a living/dining room. We have heat and running water, and a lovely view of the pond. And after living 7 weeks without most of that, we feel so blessed in our temporary apartment home.

Being so busy moving into our apartment, I missed writing a post last week. My husband and I finished installing the surface mounted suspended ceiling Sunday afternoon, and immediately I cleaned the apartment from the construction dust, and moved in that night. We were both so giddy to have a clean place to relax our spirits in. We still have tons of work to do on the rest of the house, inside and out, but now to have a safe haven where we can cook and clean and have a place to sit is really huge!

So there’s the update of our lives, now here is what we did in the apartment bathroom changing it from a tub to a shower.

Since this is a 1 bedroom apartment, I figured a walk-in shower is going to be more functional to a single adult living here than a tub/shower combo, especially if we have an elderly person living here some day. To not have a tub side to trip over, will be so much better for them to have this changed from a tub to a shower too.

If you’re interested in shopping for the components to create a shower like this, I put a shopping list with links for each item at the end of this post.

Before: From a Tub to a Shower

It was an old tub with a ‘newer’ plastic type surround. Given the other issues we uncovered when we started to get into the walls and discover leaks etc. it was an easy decision to remove this to see if there was mold and decay hiding behind those plastic walls.

Once the tub was broken up, they actually needed to dig out the dirt under the concrete floor, so I took a picture of the wheelbarrow in the bathroom because it’s such a juxtaposition to see a wheelbarrow inside with a load of dirt in it: From a Tub to a Shower

Below you can see the old plumbing of the tub…

To get to the plumbing, the carpenter sawed through the concrete. (it was probably around this time that I realized we weren’t going to get into the apartment in 2 weeks…) From a Tub to a Shower

The hole to replace the bathtub drain had to extend into the hallway too.

The floor was patched once the drain was replaced. From a Tub to a Shower

The new walk-in shower was going to be entirely tiled. GoBoard is a lightweight water proof board that is one of the layers used under the tile. In the pic below, the floor pan was poured and curing. From a Tub to a Shower

Once it was all cured, the entire shower and floor was painted with RedGuard. It’s like a liquid rubber paint that seals and puts a thin waterproof layer on the surface. Grout joints etc. can easily fail allowing a hairline crack that water can seep into. RedGuard just gives a layer of protection.

This next picture of the shower area looks like it’s a split screen with 2 pictures side by side, but it’s not. It’s actually showing how now that it’s changing from a tub to a shower, there was more space that could be used for storage, the center white strip is the dividing wall built dividing the shower and cubby storage space. From a Tub to a Shower

The tile I selected for the shower was all in-stock ceramic tile from Home Depot and Menards, and I am tickled with how nice it looks installed.

We did a very traditional treatment of the tile layout, with a surprising treatment of a cut pebble stone floor in the shower. (I found mosaic choices in both full pebbles and pebbles sliced like these… I was concerned that the full round pebbles might be a little slippery and feel weird, in a tickle sort of way, under barefoot, so I opted for these sliced ones.)  I think the traditional glazed white subway tile on the walls contrasting the rustic pebble floor is an interesting visual design.

The top section of the shower is a mosaic small subway tile that is mounted on 12″ x 12″ mesh. The bottom section is a large single piece subway. The large size of the bottom tile nicely contrasts the much smaller top subways. The little line in between the two tiles is a pencil quarter round. Then the edges around the face of the shower is a bull-nosed subway. The last part of the tiles are the bullnosed pieces on the inside and top of the curb of the shower floor. (the face of the curb is the white bullnose) I selected a porcelain tile that coordinated well with the natural stone of the shower floor.

Below is a pic after the tile was laid when Dan was grouting. He smeared the grout on with a padded trowel. Since the tile was glazed ceramic on the walls, we used a non-sanded grout. (a sanded grout would scratch the tile) But on the floor, with the cut stone, we did use a sanded grout. Also, if you use natural stone, it’s important to remember that once the stone is laid, you must seal it before you grout. It is porous and the grout could stain it if it’s not sealed. From a Tub to a Shower

Here’s a tip…

For this shower floor with the round stones on the floor, I used a round drain cover, however, if using square tile, or tile with a straight edge, a square drain cover is much tidier looking for square tile and easier to cut the straight edge tile around. From a Tub to a Shower

For the shower door, I went with one from Home Depot that was in stock. They have a display set up to help you easily select the components to create your own semi-custom door. You have choices for hardware colors and styles, glass sizes and patterns etc. It’s so much more reasonable than a total custom frame-less shower door, and looks great and operates well.

In this house, I’m using a brushed nickel type finish on the plumbing fixtures, specifically for the ease of maintaining. Moen and Delta both have spot resist brushed nickel finishes and clean up like a charm. I’ll mix other colors of metals in the decorating, door knobs, light fixtures and accessories, both gold tones and black/ORB, but where water is hitting it, spot resist brushed nickel is my selection. From a Tub to a Shower

On that same mentality, the glass selection for this shower door has a rain pattern on it too. I love the look of clear glass doors, but I love love the grace a patterned glass gives. This is a nice compromise… it looks pretty.

The shower door kit comes with bumpers. These are the ones that get placed by the bottom for the door to slide into: From a Tub to a Shower

At the top are clear bumpers that just work to prevent the door from hitting the tile walls: From a Tub to a Shower

Speaking of preventing hitting…

The bathroom entrance door swings into the shower. There was no better way to do that. The hallway is a little narrow, so a sliding barn style door was out. We had plumbing and electric on both sides of the door so a pocket door was out. If the door swing was reversed, it would swing into the sink, which would have been even worse. Therefore we just had to be sure that it stops short of hitting the shower door.

This hinge doorstop does the trick: From a Tub to a Shower

Once the door stop is screwed to the right adjustment, it prevents the door handle from coming too close to the shower door: From a Tub to a Shower

Here are the finished… well nearly finished cubbies. At this point in the picture I still had a few things to finish… but you can see the progress here: From a Tub to a Shower

The cubby lower section is deeper than the top, and is floor level… I was thinking perhaps this might be the spot to store the vacuum. We measured my Dyson to be sure it’d fit.

We purchased melamine with pre-drilled holes to create the adjustable shelves on the top. This saves time and looks beautifully uniform, the carpenter just has to be sure to install both sides of the cubbies with the holes in the exact same position. From a Tub to a Shower

These pictures are actually a little behind current time… yesterday I finished all the bathroom details, like towel holders, curtains on the cubbies, light fixtures and final touch up paint. I’m excited to have a chance to take some pics and show you the entire bathroom all done.

Here’s the shopping list for changing the tub to a shower: (each item is a direct link to online store)

Did you know I now offer e-decorating? I can help you with your decorating needs via email, without having to step foot in your home. If you’re interested in more information, visit my e-decorating site: Frame and Frills. I’d love to help you with your project!

Here are more bathroom projects to inspire:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and now Instagram!  I appreciate you reading along.

Reader Interactions


  1. Phyllis E says

    It looks great, Liz! I love the classic subway tile and the interesting way you used two different sizes. I love the pebble floor. It looks like it would be easy to keep clean. Speaking of easy to clean… it is nice to see a designer choose a textured shower glass for a change, LOL! Clear glass is hard to keep looking perfect, AND offers no privacy if two people are trying to get ready for work at once in one bathroom!
    Are you and/or your husband doing all the tile work yourselves? Are you doing all the other “fixer-upper” work, too?

    • Phyllis E says

      oops= I meant to say “if two people are trying to get ready for work in one BATHROOM, while one is taking a shower!

    • Liz says

      Thanks Phyllis. No, I have a very dependable handyman carpenter that is doing most of the work. We’re only doing DIY friendly jobs ourselves.

  2. Margaret Robinson says

    I love what you all have done and the work you’ve done is beyond, beyond – it all looks fabulous!
    A rather silly question, but I was curious – if you put the vacuum in that spot in the bathroom, need it and have guests, doesn’t that present one of those awkward moments? Isn’t there another place for the vacuum, or at least another one upstairs?
    Can’t wait to see more pictures and continued good luck!

    • Liz says

      Thank you Margaret. I guess I didn’t explain well enough… this is a self – contained, so to speak, apartment in the lower level. The upstairs and other half of the basement is the main house and will have it’s own vacuum and storage. The bottom cubby in the bathroom would be a good spot to keep the vacuum just for whoever lives in the apartment. We are currently living in it while we’re renovating the main house.

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