One Year Later: What We Love, Regret, and Still Plan to Do in our Guest Suite

When we first moved in to this house, one of our top priorities was to update the guest suite in our basement. We love to host and frequently have overnight guests so we wanted to have a nice, comfortable space for them to stay. This coming Sunday will mark one year since I revealed our completed guest bathroom renovation (you can find that reveal post, along with all the sources, here), and two weeks after that I revealed the adjoining guest bedroom renovation (reveal post with sources here).

This was the first major renovation we’ve ever done, and it was the first, and still only, time we’ve worked with a contractor. We learned so much through this project and while we haven’t had nearly as many guests as we thought we would (definitely did not predict a global pandemic coming less than one month after we finished the room!), I thought it would be fun to look back on that project and talk about what we still love, what we wish we had done differently, and what we want to do!

As a reminder, here’s what both rooms looked like pre-renovation!

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What We Love

Honestly, I love 98% of the decisions we made with these two rooms! The biggest change we made was adding a window to make a legal bedroom and that was a no-brainer that we are so happy with. The addition of natural light makes a huge difference!

The updated baseboards, chunky door trim, and board and batten on the foundation walls in both rooms all bring some much needed interest and character and I still adore all those added details.

I’m thrilled that we turned the built-in TV nook into a linen cabinet with doors (see more of that process here). It added so much functional storage and I love that the accent color (Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay) makes it a special feature.

The choice to forgo a dresser and instead use a narrow console table as a vanity was also the right decision – guests don’t need all the storage in a dresser and this provides a functional use for what was otherwise a pretty awkward slanted wall.

We also added heaters to both the bathroom and bedroom (there was previously no heat source in either!) My mother-in-law suggested just adding radiant cove heaters to a few of the walls and this was a good choice. They provide a nice heat for our guests and are tucked up near the ceiling and blend in fairly discreetly.

In the bathroom, I love almost everything we did. I love all the fixtures, the color choices, the different tiles, and the mixing of matte black and nickel finishes. I’m glad we saved money by reusing the same vanity with additional trim on the bottom and sides to make it fit the space perfectly.

I especially love the custom vanity top and undermount sink!

We have absolutely no regrets over the decision to expand the shower into the dead space we found behind the wall – it is so much more spacious now! And the double niche is so handy for our guests to keep their toiletries!

What I Wish I Had Done Differently

My biggest regret with this whole project is the top of the bench in the shower. I’ve talked about this before, but I didn’t plan all our materials in advance so when our tile guy presented an option that he thought would work for the top of the bench, I felt pressured to agree to it even though I didn’t love it. I’ve regretted this decision ever since. The tile he presented wasn’t even big enough to go wall to wall, so there is a grout line right down the middle. Not only do I not love the tile itself, but I really hate that grout line.

I was afraid to speak up and say no to that tile for a variety of reasons. I didn’t know where to go to source other tile options, I didn’t know how long it would take to order something else, I was afraid of going even more over budget, I didn’t want to be a problem client who delayed a project or was being difficult, I still hadn’t decided on a vanity top so I didn’t know what would match that . . . the list goes on. I wish I had just spoken up and said “thank you, but that’s not what I had envisioned. How can I go about finding other options?”

On that note, I wish we had relied less on our contractor and done more of the work ourselves. In the end, our contractor did a great job, but this was his side job that he fit in during evenings and some weekends and there were many moments I was itching to just jump in and do things myself so the project could keep moving. There’s also a LOT of communication that has to happen with a contractor and there were a few things that had to be re-done because they weren’t quite what we wanted the first time. That being said, working with a contractor made Justin and I realize that while we need someone else for major things like changing plumbing, moving electrical, knocking out and moving walls, etc., there are many things we can do ourselves. Our experience here actually propelled us into all our future DIY projects, which have saved us lots of money and ensured things happened just like we wanted. So maybe it’s a good thing we had this experience first to show us all the ways we could do things differently in the future!

What We Still Want to Do

I still want to replace the overhead boob light (if you know, you know) in the bedroom. I didn’t do this the first time around because we were already way over budget. Plus, the light box is off-centered in the room and the current light blends in well enough with the ceiling that it’s not very obvious. It will take the right kind of light to work and not make things look weird and off-kilter but I’m up for the challenge!

The carpet in here and throughout the rest of the basement is old, bubbling up in places, and has lots of discolorations and signs of wear so it definitely needs to be replaced. I also want to re-address the walls. I didn’t include the paint color as something I technically regret, because the white is honestly fine. At the time it felt fresh and clean; however, now it’s feeling boring and pretty uninspiring. I still love the contrast trim but I want to add wallpaper to all the walls (something a bit more understated than the previous wallpaper haha!) I’ve ordered a few samples and I’ve been having fun dreaming of different options for this room.

Lastly, down the road I’d love to have someone else come and re-do the shower bench top to something I actually like. I don’t know what that will involve or how difficult it would be, but I want to at least look into it and see what my options are (which I should’ve done in the first place!) It stinks to want to replace something that we spent money on to install, but I think it would be worth it.

Overall, we’re still really really happy with this space and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to have a lot more guests come visit in 2021!