Brown dog in shower after renovation
Home Improvement, Making a House a Home

Yellow Brick Home: How We Renovated Our Bathroom to Maximize ROI

The Results: How We Renovated our Bathroom to Maximize ROI

In part one of this two-part series, we laid out the plans we hoped would increase the long-term value of our home while incorporating stylish elements. We’re happy to say that our intentions to prioritize layout, utilize classic design elements with new fixtures, and a few special touches have all been realized in the completed bathroom! Our friend and Realtor, Jennifer Downey Piehl, stopped by after the bathroom was completed to assess the new value of our home and determine if we successfully maximized our ROI! Did we do it? We break it all down for you below… 

Brown dog in shower after renovation

Pre-Renovation CMA

Before we dive into the renovation, we’ll jump back to last fall when Jen stopped by to provide us with a Comparative Market Assessment (CMA) of our home before bathroom renovations started. At that time, she determined that if we were to list our home for sale with the former bathroom configuration, she would recommend a price at $675,000. This was a great starting point for our comparison!

Kim signing a contract for her bathroom renovation

If you’re curious about your home’s value, most real estate agents provide CMA’s free of charge! Don’t have a Realtor? The Find Agent tool on is a free resource to help connect you with a great real estate professional in your area.

Now, let’s dive into the changes we made.

Renovation Cost

Once Jen had assisted in establishing our pricing baseline, we were ready to tackle the renovation. For the sake of simpler math, we’ve rounded numbers here, but we’re confident that our final figure is within $100 of our total spend. This is where we’re sharing the real costs of a home renovation in the hopes that we can guide you towards the best decisions for your home.

  • $10,000 – Contractor Labor (includes demolition and re-build to our specs)
  • $4,600 – Construction materials (includes tile, toilet, vanity and lighting)
  • $1,800 – Custom glass shower door and transom window
  • $400 – Custom stone/fabrication of shower curb and all ledges

Total Renovation Cost: $16,800 

Before and After

To get an understanding of where we started to where we are now, let’s dive into the good stuff – the before and after. We started with a cramped corner shower, and we were determined to push back the wall by more than two feet to allow for a full standing shower. It was one of our best decisions! Here’s the room before:

Recently renovated bathroom with gold vintage mirror

And after:

Bathroom with pink accent cabinet

The New Layout

We’re absolutely thrilled with the new layout that allowed for a full-length shower! We were slightly concerned that we’d miss the extra square footage we took from our workshop, but we’ve found that the new smaller footprint makes for a more efficient workspace. The new footprint also allowed for a significantly larger and more comfortable shower in the bathroom! Jen seems to agree: “Current buyers demonstrate a preference for move-in ready homes. Kim and Scott’s decision to expand the shower to full-length was an excellent choice. I hear time and time again that buyers feel a current shower in a home is too small and they are not willing or able to tackle a renovation project to expand the shower size.”

Expanded bathroom shower

Had we maintained the old layout, our only option would have been to replace the old cramped corner shower unit with something of similar size and shape. While this would have maintained the full-bath status of the room, it would have been a short-sighted decision that would have left future potential buyers wondering where else we cut corners! 

Classic Design Elements & Special Touches
Our intention was to integrate classic design elements that would work well with the vintage style of our 132-year-old home. Jen noted that “Buyers will appreciate the many upgrades including the extra-tall frameless shower door, marble top vanity, classic subway tile, and radiant heated flooring while cherishing the charm of the hexagon tile pattern and board & batten wall details.”

Bathroom with pink accent cabinets

We paid careful attention to ensure that the bathroom’s style worked well with the rest of our home. We tend to utilize classic finishes for things like millwork, cabinetry, flooring, and doors. We do, however, incorporate modern conveniences and design elements. In this case, the heated flooring, frameless glass shower door and huge transom window above the shower enclosure don’t necessarily fall into the ‘classic’ category but work well with the vintage-inspired details of the bathroom. 

Shower floor with while round tiles and black accent

Regarding the unique addition of an interior transom window, Jen notes: “The transom window adds coveted natural light and helps the space feel larger and more open than it already is.” We took a bit of a risk with the transom window, and we love how the natural light that passes through each space accentuates the ceiling height and brightens things up!

View of the glass shower with a brass light fixture adjacent

All New Fixtures
When it came time to select fixtures for the bathroom, we continued the theme of classic styling with modern function. The dual flush toilet saves water over the model it replaces. The showerhead, sprayer, and sink faucet also incorporate water-saving technology. Jen noted: “The updates made the bathroom much more practical and functional and the finishes and details chosen will appeal to a wide array of today’s buyers in the market.” Our decisions aren’t guided by mass-appeal, but we worked hard to select fixtures and finishes that work well with many décor styles!

Hand towel with grid pattern hanging in the bathroom adjacent to the mirror

The Final Scorecard! 

And now, the official estimates per Jennifer Downey Piehl

Pre-Renovation CMA – $675,000

Renovation Cost – $16,800

Post-Renovation CMA/Comps – $700,000

ROI – Net positive value of $8,200 = 149% Return on our investment! 

While we’re absolutely thrilled with the final ROI figures, there are a few unique factors to keep in mind in our specific situation: 

  • This bathroom was the final interior space in our home to be remodeled. The former bathroom was not only in need of updates and repairs, but would have likely kept buyers from even considering our home as an option. This fact would have contributed to the lower list price of $675k. Per Jen – “Buyers are demonstrating a preference for move-in ready homes. Many buyers lack the skill, knowledge and time to complete renovations after they move in. Buyers also fear renovations will cost more and take more time than estimated.”
  • In our Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square, the average price of single-family homes has been increasing rapidly, with 9% year over year gains seen recently. While Jen gave us high praise for the decisions we made, we also benefitted from fortunate timing.  
  • Median home prices and buyer expectations in our area foster demand for higher-end finishes. If our home were located elsewhere, we may have consciously eliminated things like heated flooring and a custom shower enclosure as to not out-spend when compared to our home’s value. 

We’ll let Jen sum up the project: “The completion of this bathroom renovation with all the special touches makes their property truly move-in ready and modernized to compete with new construction in the area, all while maintaining the charm of a 100+ year home! This combination is sure to drive high demand for their home and help them to achieve success in the sales process when the timing is right.” 

Finished renovated bathroom of Kim and Scott

We sincerely appreciate Jen’s assistance with this project and cannot recommend her enough to anyone in the Chicago area. Her expertise and level of professionalism are a rare find. Many thanks to Jen and you for following along on this renovation journey! We hope it was helpful in planning for your own renovations.


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Kim and Scott Vargo are the muscle behind the blog Yellow Brick Home. Together with their two rescue pitties and a silly, cranky feline, the team is DIY-ing their way through their 130-year-old house, taking down walls, building them back up and nurturing back the character that was so rudely taken away over time. They share their story with an honest rapport, encouraging friendly feedback and discussion from readers around the world. Follow their adventures at, or on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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