northstory + co.

The Ensuite Bathroom Renovation – Before and After 

Let’s get into everyone’s favorite part. The ensuite bathroom renovation reveal, before and after photos and all the product reviews. Which let’s be honest, is really is what everyone really wants to see in any renovation project. That moment where you look at a space and go, “Was there really a soaker tub there?” Yes there was and now there is no bathtub. Please don’t send us hate mail, we are not bath people. Back to the ensuite bathroom renovation reveal.


One of the things as a consumer that I find very frustrating when it comes to ensuite bathroom renovations, and room renovations images in general, is the way brands often present their products that you are considering buying on their websites.

A product is usually photo-shopped to hell and back, on some fake photo background, that resembles nothing like your real home environment. I personally like to see appliances, fixtures and flooring in people’s spaces. Nice shots with real shampoo bottles that we buy at Costco and such.

I hope that we can show you some items we used that you will find photos of on the brand websites, being used by real humans (that’s us), in a normal home.

Disclaimer: Nothing is this post is sponsored. We purchased everything ourselves. Despite how many times I refer to Costco in this post.


You ready? Ok. Here is the before and after series of images and then I’ll dive into the products we used.




This was one of the first things we picked out.

I’ll be blunt. If you’re on a budget for your bathroom renovation, the absolute cheapest place to buy a bathroom vanity is IKEA. That’s it. That’s the honest truth.

You will not find a more economical option. However, not everyone wants the IKEA aesthetic in their home because we all have different tastes.

We wanted a vanity that had a classic feeling and an open bottom.

Originally this was supposed to be a solid wood vanity. And then we look at the comparable vanities of this style on Pottery Barn and wept salty tears, wondering why we hadn’t won the lottery yet. I have this one from them pinned on Pinterest forever.

At almost 5K, that ain’t happening. Seriously, if you have $5000 to spend on a bathroom vanity, there is a good chance you are not reading this blog post and neither is your designer.

Enter Costco.

Did you know that Costco has a ton of seriously amazing and affordable (compared to everywhere else) bathroom vanities? So we found this pretty little thing. The Ove Decors Palm Spring, 60 in. bathroom vanity in Seaside Blue.

Image: OVE Decors


I was hesitant on the blue but my husband insisted we give it a try because it seemed like a really nice looking vanity.

We originally paid around $1500 for it but it’s since gone down in price to $1349.00, so amazing news for you! AND of course in the history of murphy’s law renovations, as soon as we go this one, Costco came out with the wooden Pottery Barnesque one I had pinned.

This vanity is a true baby blue color. Think baby blue blankets in the nursery or infant section of a store, but it is SO nice and that counter top is a clean, white marble. No veins. No unnecessary nonsense.

The drawers on at the top on the right and left do not open to accommodate the plumbing behind it. It’s been really wonderful to use so far.

The only thing that would make it better would be to offer it in a single hole or double hole faucet counter top option. I am partial to single handle faucets and was unable to use them with this one.

If you have any questions about it or the install, please ask away in the comments. Highly recommend this one if you’re looking to add some color to a neutral bathroom.


Subway tile was always in the plan for the shower walls but the hex floor became a saga on their own.

If you read the previous post, it explains why we switched from the thin, inexpensive black hex to the Nero Marquina marble hexagon tile.

We originally wanted the honed look, but honestly, marble on its own over time becomes honed – especially in an environment like a bathroom or kitchen.


If you don’t want to deal with sealing your tiles and ensuring they are protected from potential damage such as harsh cleaners, do not get marble tile. We talked to the very helpful tile people at Whitby Tile (who have outstanding customer service) and then gave us the low down on what it would be really like.

We went for it anyway, using a black grout as I do not like contrasting grout lines, figuring we’ll deal with resealing.

It’s been 3 months of use and we are already going to have to reseal them, because this shower is used by everyone in this family. At this point between soap and harsh cleaners, it’s losing its lustre and the grout is always covered in white soap residue, which is either soap scum or efflorescence. Some areas are looking honed and others are glossy.

This is NOT a low maintenance tile but we still love it. We really do. If it looks older and vintage, it suits the look we wanted. But you have to go into black marble tile, especially your floors, knowing what you’re in for.


We have LED pot lights everywhere because there is no window in the bathroom and we needed a lot of lighting. The vanity lights are from Amazon and they’re called the Permo Vintage Industrial Wall Scone.

While they look really pretty, they were a huge pain in the ass to install.

We had to go buy a separate plate from Home Depot to attach them to the wall because the back screws and the plates they came with, did not match outlet box that we had installed.

So they look and function great once they’re up, but be forewarned you may think you’re installing IKEA lights with an allen key with these.


The walls were all painted using Behr Ultra Pure White and my husband cursed the whole time he was painting them. This is one of my favorite white color paints, but the final coat was done in Dulux Kitchen and Bathroom paint in white because honestly, the paint is thicker, better and way easier to apply.


I feel like this needs a separate blog post called “Why I may never buy a polished nickel finished faucet again”.

We naively (and this is 100% on us), did not realize how high maintenance polished nickel is. If you google polished nickel, everyone says it’s so easy to maintain. Just wipe and go! Use a 50/50 water and vinegar mix to clean with any dark spots. You’ll love it.


We invested in these faucets from the Nostalgia collection from Disengo / Aquadesign because we wanted a well made product to avoid nightmare bathroom leaks and so on.

They’re just gorgeous. The whole collection is a nod to vintage faucets which we wanted as part of this modern apothecary feel for the bathroom.

These photos were taken right after the install as we were testing them out and so forth.

As of the time I am wrote this, Aquadesign sourced someone to replace the fixtures for the same ones, because they were damaged in the first month of use.

We are grateful that the company is standing by their products as we really, and truly love the aesthetics of this collection and the rain shower is phenomenal.

The finish choice aside, the collection and brand is VERY well made. So if you’re going to get it and are low maintenance, get chrome.

The shower head on the left hand wall, is not from the Nostalgia line and rather it is from Riobel. It’s nice to look at but the water flow is awful.

I have long hair and I could stand there for 20 minutes trying to rinse suds out of my hair. That will eventually have to be replaced.


Highly and I mean highly recommend using waterproof vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom or your home.

If f you’re on a budget or don’t like the look and feel of tile floors. We used the DURACLIC Black Walnut Luxury Vinyl Plank that we got on sale at Lowe’s and we absolutely love them.

My husband installed them himself in a couple of hours and we are so happy with their performance.

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of vinyl plank and water.

These are completely waterproof and our shower is encased in its own separate area, so it’s not like we’re throwing buckets of water on the floor. Even when our kids do, the water just stays on top and doesn’t disappear under it.

We like it so much we’re considering using it for the entire second floor.


I feel like I sold my soul to the devil because I was like we should find some unique and vintage amazing toothbrush holders and hooks and blah blah blah.

Enter IKEA, Dollarama and Amazon. No really. The shower hooks which as a stick on’s are from Dollarama for the big towels and for the smaller side pieces are the TISKEN series from IKEA. Both work really well.

The above is technically for a hose reel for a freehand shower head but it makes for an excellent razor holder.

The fancy black toilet paper holder is from KES toilet paper holder from Amazon and costs a whopping $21.00 CAN ($14.50 US).

It’s great, easy to install but be forewarned if you use the jumbo Costco sized toilet paper rolls, the edges will be hard to move until the roll gets a little smaller.


  • The black cabinet is a now discontinued IKEA HEMNES cabinet that we picked up for $99.00 on clearance and now wish we had gotten two to put another one downstairs.
  • The black framed mirror is the IKEA NISSEDAL mirror and it is only $69!!
  • The toilet is one we bought 5 years ago from Home Depot and is the American Standard Cadet, Dual Flush Elongated Bowl Toilet. We have two of them in the house and love them both. 
  • Vintage inspired “Goods and Supplies” baskets are from Real Canadian Superstore.
  • Swiss cross first aid kit box is from Winners (basically Canada’s version of TJ Maxx) though Amazon has tons of vintage options that are similar:

We still do not have a towel bar because we can’t agree on a towel bar versus a ring versus hooks.

And this is what the shower looks like with real shampoo and conditioner bottles from Costco.

Behind that shower head wall is where the original shower was, is now a closet that you access from the hallway on the upstairs floor. This provides us with a lot of badly needed second floor additional storage.

Originally this bathroom renovation was part of a series of posts about what to do when a bathroom renovation goes wrong. Long story short, we were screwed over by a contractor that no surprise, is now no longer in business.

It’s years later and I want to put that negativity behind us, and focus on the end result. A great bathroom that we are really happy with. It’s going to be a LONG time before we attempt another bathroom renovation. When we do, at the very least we will know who to hire and what to choose.

As with every renovation we have done, including a basement, an IKEA kitchen and the IKEA kitchen in this house, you learn something new every time.

If you have any questions about the products, let me know.

And do send your recommendations on marble tile sealers. The one we are using we are not crazy about at all. Help!


Subway tile – Ceramic Tile World 4 x 12″

Marble Nero Marquina hexagon shower floor tile – Whitby Tile

Shower edging and bench tile sourced via Tileworx

Vinyl plank bathroom floors – Lowe’s

Bathroom Vanity – Costco via Ove Decors

Glass shower doors – Superior Glass and Mirror

Shower faucets and bathroom vanity faucets: Plumbing and Parts Home Center

Shower and bathroom vanity faucet brand – Disegno Nostalgia Collection – Aquadesign

Baskets under vanity: Real Canadian Superstore

First Aid box – Winners

Bathroom mirror – IKEA NISSEDAL

Bathroom stuck on hooks and hangers – IKEA TISKEN Series and Dollarama

Toilet – Home Depot American Standard Dual Flush

Toiler paper holder – KES black matter holder via Amazon

Cabinet  against the wall – IKEA HEMNES (now discontinued)

Bathroom soap pumps and toothbrush holder – IKEA EKOLN series

Bathroom faux marble tray – Real Canadian Superstore

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