Building it Back Up: Remodeling a 1950s Home Reminds You That They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

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My home has been standing since 1952, according to DCAD. In that time it has seen a cycle of haphazard “renovations,” including a rather embarrassing “remodel” of the home’s sole bathroom. My home didn’t come with the cute vintage Daltile in the many different colors of the rainbow, nor did it have one of those fun vanities with the cool scrollwork cutouts.

Instead, it had an ugly particleboard vanity from the 80s that had so many stains in the cabinets and drawers you really had to wonder what the previous owner was doing in there. The shower, well, it had jacked up tiles and ugly grout, and more caulk than San Francisco’s Tenderloin (see what I did there???).

But we loved the rest of the house. It had a great layout and big windows for a home of its size, and a much larger kitchen than most of the houses we’d seen. We were willing to see the bathroom as a project that we could get done in time. Despite the discolored linoleum, stained formica, and tarnished brass fixtures, it was still functional.

That was almost 7 years ago.


Last December I finally snapped and said that we were redoing the bathroom if it meant that we couldn’t go on vacation. My husband and I both make modest livings, and we decided that, after savings, whatever was left would go to building a better bathroom on a budget.

So here we are, on day three of our week-long renovation, and we’ve made some incredible progress. On Sunday we celebrated the beginning of the project by taking a sledgehammer to that disgusting vanity. We came just short of throwing it on a bonfire and dancing around the flames in our birthday suits. On Monday, the professionals came in and gutted the bath, tearing out the tile, linoleum, and fixing our wobbly subfloor.

Today was the day we started to build her back up, and might I say that I am thrilled at the thought. We did a rough fit of the bathtub, put in the membrane and backerboard, and now things are starting to take shape.


For those who doubt that we can get this done in a week, mind you, our bathroom is maybe 90 square feet on a good day. Its modest size is our asset, as that means less surface to cover. Also, we’re doing a lot of the work ourselves, including assembling and installing the Ikea vanity we purchased for the project, which should be fun considering the plumbing is metric (more on that later).

Do you think we can do it?

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

Reader Interactions


  1. mmCandy Evans says

    Yes I do! Can hardly wait to see the end results. Go team go! Now protect that new tub there, put some cardboard in there so it does not get scratched.

    Caulk. Funny!

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