Has HGTV and Blogs Changed How We Renovate?

How’s that for a Monday morning title?

This is something I’ve mulled over many times in the years I’ve been blogging. Never before in the history of ever have we had so much home decor inspiration at our fingertips, have we? It’s everywhere!

We see it on TV, from HGTV flip shows to renovation stories, to blogs that show one after another beautiful home renovation projects. I’ve done plenty myself and still love a good Before and After. But it can become quite daunting to figure out how much renovating to do and how much money to spend on a house to get it the way we want it.

I think HGTV shows and blogs too have definitely spoiled us on home renovations. We want new and improved all the time, don’t we? I’m just as guilty so I know how it is. We aren’t satisfied with builder’s grade anymore. We see those hour long renovations on HGTV and it looks so easy and simple to get a beautiful space. We all know it’s not that easy either. It takes time and sometimes lots of cash to get a house looking beautiful.

I don’t see anything wrong with improving, but I have to stay within a budget, as I’m sure you all do too. We are mulling over our master bathroom and what to do with it. It’s not going to happen really fast but it’s something we are thinking about. We don’t have unlimited funds for a renovation like this will be. I’ve seen bloggers who spent $50K on a bathroom renovation. That will not be happening at our house, I can assure you!

Mark and I have worked diligently here at our newish house, making over one space at a time. We’ve done plenty of DIY projects ourselves, and have hired out plenty too. We know our limitations and how much to take on. But hiring things out can be expensive too.

Where do we draw the line in home renovations? That’s something I have to ask myself all the time too. Kitchens and bathrooms are the top spaces that people look at for renovating to add value to a home. It definitely works, so that’s one reason why we are willing to put money into this house. It’s for our enjoyment first and then it does add value to our home down the road.

So today, I’ll show you the whole bathroom to see what we are working with. Here it is in all its glory. It’s a sea of beige. There’s nothing wrong with our master bathroom. Many people would love to have this bathroom. It’s big and spacious. But do you think we love it? No, we don’t love it, we’re really glad to have it, but it doesn’t reflect our style. Growing up, we always had small bathrooms. And I’ve only had one other large bathroom myself. The larger the bathroom the harder it is to keep clean, right?

This bathroom serves its purpose and works well for us, but we do want to renovate it and make it nicer and better. But, as with any renovation we’ll have to figure out up front what our budget will be and how to stick with it. Our house is 14 years old now and this bathroom was done in 2005. It could definitely use sprucing up!

I’m fortunate to do what I do as a blogger and get to work with brands along the way. I’m sure I’ll be reaching out and working with some brands and sponsors on this bathroom, but we will still be paying a contractor to do most of the work. We don’t want to tackle tile work like this again, so we’ll hire it out, at least most of it. First, we have to come up with a design plan, order all the parts and materials, and then get a contractor’s estimate and decide how much we can spend.

Do we tear out everything and start over? That’s to be determined still, but I’d say we will probably keep some of this, like the vanity maybe.

Our tile in the bathroom is in perfect condition. It’s a little boring, but not horrible. But if we start tearing out tubs and vanities, then it will probably be necessary to tear out the floor tile too. I really want the bathroom to be prettier as well as functional and suit our needs. I don’t want to have to worry about matching the current tile with what we decide to do in here. I do think about resale too, down the road. We want to do a classic bathroom that will stand the test of time.

We currently have a huge jetted tub that we hardly ever use. I’ve just never been a bathtub girl all that much, but they are great for a good soak and bubble bath occasionally. I just don’t use it all that much and neither does Mark. But, I don’t think we want to take out the tub completely. There’s a huge picture window over the tub so we really can’t put the shower there very easily.

If we take out this giant tub, it would allow us to add a little bit of space to the shower and it could move over to the edge of the window above about a foot or so, making the shower bigger. That would be nice for sure, we would love a bigger shower.

You can see the bathtub is wrapped in this faux marble material and this is the same material inside the shower. It’s definitely not high-end fixtures, but very builder’s basic as was the rest of the house. We have good bones in this house, it just needs things kicked up a notch to make it better. So that’s what we are doing with every renovation we do.

The shower is just a basic square and it would be nice to make it slightly bigger and of course get a better glass enclosure for it. The faux marble material inside is definitely less than desirable.

The water closet is very small and you can see we don’t even have a toilet paper holder on the wall. For some reason, the former owners either took it down or didn’t have one either. There’s a mark on the wall so it looks like one used to be there. We haven’t bothered to put one up since we haven’t touched this space yet. But we’ll get one eventually. I know, that’s pretty funny to not even have a toilet paper holder!

So, here we are thinking about doing a master bath renovation, but it’s not high on the list yet. It might be next year’s big renovation, we will see. We have one other guest bath to redo too, but that bath will be done on more of a budget and we’ll keep most everything that’s there and just paint it, decorate it and make it overall better. We can definitely do that bathroom on a much smaller budget by keeping everything and adding to it.

But when it comes to a master bathroom, that’s a different story. If I have my first choice, it would probably include taking out the old floor tile, ripping out the shower and probably the jetted tub. Mark wants to get a free standing tub of some sort and that is definitely the trend now. Like I said, we want to make sure this space is done in a classic manner and stands the test of time.

I’m not quite sure what that means now though. What is classic and timeless? I see a lot of marble bathrooms right now, there are dozens of gorgeous bathrooms to be inspired by, aren’t there? So many gorgeous bathrooms out there, how do you choose the right fixtures and features when you’re renovating and tearing out the old?

It’s definitely something I’ll be pondering over for a long time before we actually do it. It’s a big project to take on something like this!

There are so many bathrooms out there that I love. One of them is Kim’s from Savvy Southern Style. She renovated her master bathroom a couple of years ago and I love it. I think it’s very timeless and classic and she made great choices in there. She did a post about her sources in the bathroom and mentioned that her husband had hoped to keep the budget at $14K, but they spent a “good bit” more than that. It helps to know what other people spent, so that’s why I freely share here how much we spend on most of our projects. I like knowing that when I see a big project like this.

I know this won’t be a cheap project at all, so we have to choose wisely and figure it all out up front. I’ll be finding a good contractor to handle it all and hope for the best. I’m not even sure how much our budget will be until we get there, but $14K sounds like a lot to me and more than we might be able to spend.

(photo: Sarah Dorio)

This gorgeous marble bathroom from Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles is stunning and such a classic statement bath.

I love this look, even though I doubt we’ll go with real marble in our bathroom. I don’t want the maintenance that I think marble would bring, especially in the shower. I want lower maintenance materials in there so a faux marble might be a possibility. We will be looking at all our options and making some good choices for us.

Via Domino

This is a beautiful black and white bathroom and I love this mix, but I’m definitely not going with trendy black and white statement tile like this. I think that’s a sure way to grow tired of something when it makes such a bold statement like these tiles do. They’ve been around for at least 5 years and still going strong, but this won’t be a look we go for. They used subway tile but in a more modern pattern. Black and white is always fresh and classic and I would be tempted to do black and white again, but just not sure in this bathroom.

via Craftsmanship Revival Instagram

Another example of the trendy black and white tile. It’s beautiful, but not the look we are going for.

These are 3 distinctly different bathrooms, all beautiful and all classic for the most part. So how do we choose what to go with since there is so much out there? 

Definitely sticking with more classic, which may be the safe route, but it’s what will fit us best. So what do you think? Are we all renovating too much because of the influences of HGTV and blogs? We didn’t do home improvement projects growing up all the time, did we? We just lived in our houses the way they were.

We are inundated with so much inspiration these days, it’s so easy to want newer and better. Like I said, I’m guilty too! We all fall for the new and shiny. But we all have to live within our budgets and that’s what we’ll be doing in this bathroom too.

We have not even figured out any of the materials yet, so that will be months in the making, I’m sure. Of course, when we get to this one, I’ll be sharing it all. How do you feel about renovating your houses? Do you feel inundated by all the inspiration we all see constantly? It’s hard not to feel envious at times when we see the beautiful After pictures on Pinterest and Instagram. But we all live in the real world too and have budgets to deal with.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Check out these renovations to for more bathroom inspirations! 

My sister and brother-in-law did a DIY master bathroom renovation a few years ago and it’s still beautiful!

Here’s the guest bath renovation Mark and I did last year that we love as well. The master bathroom will be much bigger & more costly we we want to do it right!

And here’s the tiny master bathroom renovation I did in my previous house. Well worth it to update this space and it will definitely help sell the house when the time comes!



- Rhoda


  1. Our master bathroom definitely needs a do-over, but I would never use the cultured marble again! It has yellowed over the years and is so ugly, so I would use tile probably since I am not a big fan of marble anyway. Maybe faux marble has improved but you should address that with your contractor. I would be interested to know what their opinion of it is.

    • Hi, Sue there is marble porcelain tile now which is really nice material. I think the new marble slabs they are using in bathrooms today are much improved over that old cultured marble, which I do not like either.

  2. Sarah Benson says

    This is so timely for us too. Our master bath needs updated (built 1998). We have never done a renovation more than new flooring here/there and refacing our kitchen cabinets. Based on HGTV flip shows I told my husband it may cost 5-8k to update finishes in our bathroom. The first quote we got was for 24k and that didn’t include the vanity! My husband thinks I tricked him. Ha. I told him I had no idea how much it would cost and that on all the flip shows they never spend more than 10k on the bathroom. Ugh. So, now we are going back and forth with a budget. I wish we could do a lot ourselves. I love your instagram/blog to see all your DIY projects. Your ideas are awesome and very much in line with my style. I look forward to seeing all your ideas and watching as you tackle this room.

    • Hi Sarah, thank you so much! I know it’s amazing how much these things costs now. We can’t afford to spend that much either, so it may be an eye opener when we get quotes from a contractor on the master. We will have to decide how much we can do when the quote comes back.

  3. Hi Rhoda, thank you for keeping it real. We all have budgets and unexpected glitches that get in the way. I have two bathrooms that need gutted and they are small. I’ll definitely be interested in watching what you and Mark decide. I love the black and white bathroom, but the tiles used today are too busy.

    • Thank you, Sue, it will be interesting to see how this turns out once we find a contractor and get an estimate on labor costs. That’s going to be half of the cost right there.

  4. You’re so right, our parents certainly did not do continuous home renovations … in fact I don’t remember any renovations happening in our neighborhood – until younger couples started to move in. HGTV, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs provide so much inspiration (and resources that are incredibly helpful) but also create a lot of pressure to improve.

    Your master bath reminds me of one we had several years ago. We spent the majority of our budget renovating the kitchen and family room so just did simple updates to the bath. I enjoy baths, but prefer a soaking tub and don’t use the Jets. Replacing the tub wasn’t in our budget. We replaced the shower glass, all the fixtures, painted the cabinets and walls, and replaced the flooring. Instead of marble we used a beautiful ceramic tile look a like on the floor. My husband was opposed to it, but ended up loving it and thanking me for insisting on this less expensive option. There are so many possibilities for your bath … the layout seems functional but it would be nice to have a larger shower.

    I’m excited to see what you do. Whatever it is I know it will be amazing! xo

    • Thank you, Juliet, I know there is a lot we could do by keeping some of what we have. So we will just see how things stack up when it’s time to get an estimate on all of this. I can’t wait to see your new home come together after renovations!

  5. I would love to have a bathroom as big and spacious as yours. I think it is fine as is. Beige is a good neutral color that goes with anything. Maybe changing it with paint, trim, and new hardware would be enough. Add some beautiful artwork to the walls. I, personally don’t have the budget to do anything more in my own home. I certainly wouldn’t be tearing out perfectly good tile because it’s beige. I no longer watch HGTV or read the blogs that are over the top. It’s just not realistic to me. I love to see reasonable decorating on a budget that the average person can do. Rhoda, I love your decor and how you put colors together. I’m really not sure what timeless and classic is anymore. I like to think my white kitchen cabinets and wood floors are classic. My great grandmother and grandmothers had the same in their homes.

    • Hi, Lily, I definitely hear you and understand that not everyone can tear out and start over. We feel like the bathroom renovation would be a good thing for us to enjoy as well as resale down the road. Kitchens and bathrooms continue to be a big selling point in homes, not that we’re selling anytime soon but it’s something to think about. It will take awhile to figure it all out that’s for sure!

  6. Carolyn King says

    Hi Rhoda, I copied my half bath after seeing your utility room. We did it all ourselves and love it!
    Now, our bathroom looks almost identical to yours….my hubby is sweating it! Don’t get me started but I can’t wait to see what you do!

    • Hi, Carolyn, oh my! What utility room are you talking about that you copied? I would love to see it! The only thing I can think of is my old laundry room in my old house?

  7. If it weren’t for the blogging world and HGTV, I’d probably be a lot more content to leave things along, BUT, I’m always exposed to the latest and greatest, so I’m always wanting to change things. (When we built this house 12 years ago, I thought it was perfect. I couldn’t imagine wanting to ever change a thing.)

    My kitchen is very similar to your kitchen before you redid it, and we finally got to give ours amakeover…new floors, new backsplash, painted the cabinets…it looks great! I did keep my granite though which is like your old granite. At some point, I’d like to get black honed granite instead.

    Now that I’ve made over the kitchen, my master bath is on my mind. Like you, that wont’ be for a long while. And I can’t imagine that we’d have even a $14k budget. Our bathroom looks a whole lot like yours. And like you, I realize so many people would love to have it. But, we would like a roomier shower. However, we love our tub. So, I wouldn’t want to get rid of that.

    I think just replacing the tile and painting the vanity might go a long way in refreshing the bathroom, mine and yours, and buy some time til the budget is bigger. BUT, I’m an all or nothing girl. So, we’ll see.

    How about you? Do you prefer to just do it all at once or in stages?

    • Hey, Sharon, I think once I find out how much the labor will be, that will help us decide how far we want to go. We can’t afford to spend thousands on the bathroom, so that will be something we will decide then. But I’m with you, I’m usually an all in girl too. But as you said there are a lot of things we could do to improve without tearing it all out. We definitely want a new shower, but then it snowballs from there!

  8. Amanda at Dixie Delights has a lovely classic style, and a fairly “normal person” budget. Might be worth seeing her Master Bath renovation, I think you’d like it seeing it, since it’s a similar layout to yours!

    • Hi, Tammy, I just looked it up today. Love what Amanda does & her bathroom is gorgeous!

  9. Rhoda, you are so correct in your questions! By the way, I greatly enjoy what you do with your home and think you have great taste and a more sensible approach than many bloggers do. And I hate to say it, but I don’t think that “timeless and classic” ever really existed! Change is constant, and while styles will leave and return, whatever we choose now will in a decade or so be deemed “dated.” Some styles more than others, of course!

    However, your bathroom, while too beige, I agree, would be absolutely wonderful to us! Twenty years ago we bought a house built in 1979-80, and we haven’t been able to do anything other than paint in all that time. And instead of getting better, our finances have gotten worse, since we had two kids go to college and still have a high-schooler despite being close to retirement age. So most of what people show as “dated” looks quite new and terrific to us, with our 40-year-old kitchen and bathrooms whose fixtures and cabinets are falling apart. And I know many people have less than we have, of course. So I think it’s great to think about keeping part of what you have and not wasting perfectly good materials and fixtures. Maybe just switch out the tub for a normal-sized one and enlarge the shower? Paint, add decorative touches, and leave the rest alone? Whatever you do, it will be lovely.

    • THank you, Caroline, I knew when I showed this bathroom that so many people would be happy with it as is. And you’re so right, we see so much out there now that it does cause more discontent than ever before. WE will definitely have a lot to figure out and I have no idea where we’ll land on this right now. But I know we will really think long and hard about what we do. I’m sorry you have had to wait it out and not be able to do what you want. I know how hard it can be to have financial issues.

  10. you’re so sweet, I like your blog Rhoda!

  11. Tina Ramer says

    Hi Rhoda,
    I am an interior designer north do Dallas, Texas. We have used real marble in bathrooms forever with no maintenance issues. We put it in our master bathroom 6 years ago when we built our current house and I still love it. Several of my clients seal theirs every couple of years, but I have not sealed mine since we built it and we have an open shower. I also have a large kitchen island that is marble that we have worked hard at aging. I wanted it to look like a piece of marble I would have found in an old French Boulangerie. Definitely a reason you see so much marble in all the high end homes. My bathroom marble was actually from Floor & Decor. Good Luck!

    • HI, Tina, thanks for chiming in! I know marble is a beautiful material and I love it, it just seems to be a little more high maintenance from what I’ve heard and definitely costs more, so I doubt we will go that route I’d like a good porcelain look a like maybe. We did put some marble in our guest bath and it’s beautiful.

  12. Hi Rhoda! I’m a day late to your party but your topic struck a chord with me. I do think all these reno shows, blogs, and beautiful images on Instagram make us feel bad about what we have instead of being grateful. Sometimes I catch myself sighing over my granite counters and hardwood floors because they are not what’s in style. That is crazy because it cost thousands, and I actually like it. Same thing with color…my walls are mostly blue, but everything is white. Should I paint to be in style, and then be miserable because there is no color enveloping me?

    That being said, your bath has good bones. It just needs to be Rhoda-cized! I know the beige is driving you nuts! I love a bubble bath and that is one thing i would change at my house. I’d take out my gigantic tub and put in a claw foot…just like the one we had when I was little girl! I do have a question…how do folks keep those all glass showers clean? I’ve tried every chemical and hack on the planet, and my door still gets mineral deposits.

    Whew, that was a long response! I will eagerly await seeing your bathroom being redone! Maybe I need to do a mission trip whenever I am feeling ungrateful for what I have.

    • HI, Roxanne, I know it’s a blessing and a curse to have all the inspiration we have now. It’s everywhere and you can’t ignore it. It does influence us in a big way. I just try to keep my head about me when we’re planning these things and a budget is always part of the picture. You just enjoy your house the way it is. We should all be proud and happy with what we have, right? I’m not sure on the glass doors. They are definitely a challenge to keep clean. I’m going to be reading up again on cleaning them and keeping them clean. I heard squeegees help on that, but I’m not completely sure. They definitely take more maintenance than wavy glass does.

  13. Labor is so expensive! I read the 24k quote post and that’s outrageous! I took my bathrooms down to the studs. They are both very small but my hall bathroom 7×5 cost me $1600. That’s everything a new tub , tile, hardiboard, drywall, lightening, toilet, vanity, faucets! I did it myself I used .15 cent subway tile from lowes and that saved us a huge bit! We could have easily spent thousands more if the tile was more.

  14. It’s so hard to keep a sense of perspective and contentment when we are exposed to so much wonderful design, isn’t it? We are in the midst of selling our current house and it is a challenge to make it appealing to all who might walk through it. I was completely obsessed with getting the “spa-look” in the master bath that my husband had to sit me down and gently explain that enough was good enough. Sure put pressure on myself to be perfect on that one. Hopefully a lesson learned. But, it sure can be fun, can’t it?

    • HI, Jan, It really is hard to stay content! It is fun but we all have to keep it in perspective too. Good for you and your husband.

  15. Diane Taylor says

    Hi Rhoda – omg YES please I would like that bathroom just as it is in my house :):) When you don’t have any bathroom off your master, I would kill for that space lol! But I get it completely, can’t wait to see what you and Mark do with this space. One thing is for sure, It will be beautiful and still functional.

  16. My husband has run a successful business for decades but in order to prepare for retirement we also have built or bought and renovated, then sold 8 properties (so far). Each time we made money to invest… but! we are both naturally geared to that lifestyle, he has wonderful creativity for spaces planning and can IY most anything, I am a natural decorator with a keen sense of color. It hasn’t been an easy way to live with constant change and construction but is MUCH (& enjoyable) easier for us than most. I’ve done many, many projects for others including commercial work. We also have access to the trades which is much cheaper. We did it to invest for the future as well enjoy for ourselves and family. You two seem to be geared this way also. The important thing is what motivates us. My experience is I’ve had a free standing tub and they are harder to get into plus the fixtures come from the floor and that is additional cleaning. I would never buy a home without a tub in the master, I have some physical problems and soak several times a week. I agree that Tv shows, blogs, insta-everything have created a ridiculous culture of more more more. Don’t these gals know that what is hot decor today will be outdated in 2 shakes? They sound like greedy, spoiled brats and I feel sorry for their spouses. I too miss the decorating, gardening, craft shows of old and even though I enjoy the blogs and shows I tend more and more to watch English television and read Aussie blogs that are more realistic and less greed driven. Thanks for another provocative post and saying out loud what so many are thinking…after all, there is still a lesson to be learned from the childhood story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”!

    • HI, Pamela, thanks for sharing your point of view and I think as most of my readers are older like me, we definitely have a different view of renovations these days. It has to be in the budget and there’s not going to be any going wild in this bathroom. We have to work with what we have and try to make this space as nice as we can on what we can afford to spend.

  17. I’m so looking forward to seeing what you do with this space. We have the same type of tub and shower, same cabinets. I’ve been wanting to redo it for a while.

    • Hi, Jackie, it will be interesting to see how it evolves as we get into the project and start pricing things out. That will be a big factor too on how much we can do.

  18. Pamela Campbell says

    A response to your opening thoughts about the deluge of home improvement ideas: I think back to my grandparents’ homes and realize they were comfortable, clean, functional, and beautiful. These homes were created by women who never saw a television or blog or website. They used their hearts and common sense and necessity. Although I am the magazine/HGTV queen, I still use the same test they did to determine what I do to my 125 year old home: 1. Is it necessary and can I afford it? 2. Does it make me smile and warm my heart? 3. Can I live with it if I never have the funds to replace it? And, I have followed you for a long time. You possess grace and wisdom. Thank you for sharing your life.

    • Thank you, Pamela, I appreciate you all sharing your feelings on this subject. I think it’s definitely something that needs to be talked about. We are all influenced by what we see and the amount of renovations that are happening are staggering, as well as the costs of many of them. I certainly cannot afford so many of the kitchens and bathrooms I see out there. We will be doing what we can on our budget.

  19. Great post! Love all the inspirational bathrooms you posted, and I think Kim’s is my favorite. I’ll be watching, Rhoda!!

    • Thanks, Lori, there is so much inspiration out there. Kim’s bathroom turned out great, I just don’t think our budget will be that big so we will see what we can come up with.

  20. Edie Walker says

    What an honest and thoughtful blog. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability here. I/we have the same situation. We have done some remodeling, but need to do more, and on top of it, need some furniture. For example, next up is a dining room table for us along with chairs. Our dining armchairs simply are not safe any more; we have glued loose arms on several times, and they easily loosen again. We are afraid for our guests.

    Blogs and HGTV are one source of comparison, but I have FRIENDS with gorgeous homes in upscale communities. And I have a tendency to see all that I/we lack. For example, on this morning’s bike ride, I rode past the home of one new friends, and the outside of her home is gorgeous. Meanwhile, we have dead plants on our porch, because new ones weren’t in last month’s budget, and I haven’t had time to go to Home Depot or elsewhere for new ones this month. And that’s the outside; our insides still need the furniture and some definite upgrades. So we create our spending plan, rank or re-rank order things, and have to spend a lot of time and patience waiting until the money is there. We are retired, so we can’t get in debt…

    I have to constantly go to my Lord for patience, for gratitude, and for knowing what is really important. I just spent the weekend traveling with my closest friend who has Alzheimer’s Disease that has noticeably progressed. We’ve been friends for over 40 years…. My former pastor’s wife (and an even longer friend) has the mind of a Supreme Court justice but had two strokes and she thinks she will never walk again. …

    Again, I thank you for your open musing about these home design issues. I need eyes to see what I already have. I think you and Mark have done a wonderful job on transforming your home in the two years you have owned it. And you have a beautiful marriage and family. You (and I) really have it all.

    • HI, Edie, thanks for saying all that. I know that everyone who comes by here is in a different place in life and we all have different budgets, so I try to keep that in mind when I share things around here. I’m so very grateful for all we have too, the Lord has truly blessed Mark and I so much. I don’t ever want to take it for granted and I always am mindful of what we do have an try not to want more. We truly do have it all!

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