My Sweeten Story: Siblings Renovate an Arlington Basement Bathroom

When a sister moves in, a never-used basement bathroom lands on the remodel to-do list

virginia renovation

  • Homeowners: Sisters, Nicole and Missy posted their basement bathroom remodel on Sweeten
  • Where: Arlington Ridge, Virginia
  • Primary renovation: Updating an old bathroom on the lower level to feel more modern and open
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote: “I scored with a respectful and professional contracting group that made my rip-and-replace renovation run smoothly, even as I worked from home.”
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovators with vetted general contractors, offering input, support, and secure payments—for free.

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Nicole. “After” photos by Nova Soul Imagery for Sweeten. Styling by Simon Staging.

Remodel a basement bathroom for a welcome upgrade

I love my Arlington Ridge neighborhood with its hilly streets and access to the metro, my favorite Mexican restaurant, and grocery store. When I found the 2,000-square-foot 1950s Virginia ranch home, I fell for the windows, cathedral kitchen, glass porch, and spacious yard. My older sister, Missy, deciding to move from San Francisco back to the East Coast, was a perfect excuse to renovate. She asked to use my downstairs as her temporary home.

before bathroom
before shower
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basement bathroom

Before we renovated this (almost) windowless basement bathroom, it was creepy and unwelcoming. The shower had a horrible wall partitioning it off from the rest of the room. The door opened to a full view of the toilet. We never used it. I wanted an open-plan bathroom with plenty of light—a room that guests wouldn’t be scared to use when they visited me in Arlington.

I went into this as a first-time renovator. My biggest question was: Will it be a huge interruption in my workday? I work in business development, so I am on Zoom a lot. We posted our project on Sweeten and we could not have been happier with the woman-owned general contractor we selected.

Behind the not-so-pleasing wall

When the contractor removed the wall, she discovered a very vintage pipe system that needed replacement. We looked for a plumbing specialist, and that search set us back a couple of days. Meanwhile, our contractor took the room down to the studs so the plumber could install new piping. The job involved breaking the foundation concrete, but even on days when the jackhammers were out or the water had to be turned off, we had advanced warning.

Expanding the design palette

Arlington bath remodel

My Sweeten contractor made the job seamless and easy, even though what I initially envisioned changed dramatically. I thought I wanted the bathroom all white and clean but decided instead to let this room give the downstairs character. When she proposed the sliding glass barn door as a shower enclosure, I was sold.

The vanity is another fantastic piece, not only for its look but for the storage it brought to the room. I never would have guessed I would pick the gray shower floor, but it all came together and it works.

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Image of glass shower with gray penny shower tile

“My contractor was really helpful…providing the right resources and materials. I understood what to expect throughout the process…”

Image of recessed shower niche with white tile

Image of wooden bathroom vanity with circular mirror

A beautiful result, and a satisfying experience

I wanted a modern bathroom to match the rest of the house—and my future renovation plans—and I really lucked out. My contractor was really helpful, connecting with my sister and me and providing the right resources and materials. I understood what to expect throughout the process, and we are both so happy with how the bathroom turned out. Missy, a former tech executive, now works as a startup advisor. She is really enjoying the new digs.

Image of bathroom vanity sink top

Throughout the process, my contractor’s crew was amazing. My one-year-old beagle, Callie, would shake with excitement when they arrived, play for ten minutes, and then allow them to work. She returned throughout the day to check progress and get head scratches.

My Sweeten general contractor answered my questions, updated me on changes, and discussed any challenges. The team was respectful of my space, too. They covered the downstairs areas to keep them as clean as possible and left the workspace tidy. I scored with a respectful and professional contracting group that made my rip-and-replace renovation run smoothly, even as I worked from home. I always knew what to expect the next day.

Image of Moroccan floor tile in bathroom

Image of open wooden shelves in bathroom

After a remodel, a basement bathroom has real appeal

Missy’s gorgeous bathroom is now my favorite thing to show off in the house. It inspired her, too. She recently sold her house and is thinking about where she—and her Aussiedoodle, Ellie—should buy next. New, modern, and clean…what an upgrade.

Thank you, Nicole and Missy, for sharing your dream bathroom remodel with us!

Renovation Materials:

BATHROOM RESOURCES: Adessi Florentina gray ceramic 16” x 16” floor tile; Villa Artisan Mist ceramic 3” x 12” shower wall tile; Festival matte gray porcelain Penny Mosaic shower floor tile; Zipcode Design’s New Milford metal bathroom/vanity mirror; and Varenne sink faucet: Wayfair. Fontaine by Italia’s Hotel de Ville single-handle square 1-spray-setting shower faucet in matte black: Italia Faucets. Frameless sliding shower door: Glass Warehouse. Woodbrook 37-inch vanity in white-washed oak with cultured-marble vanity and white sink; Power Flush two-piece 1.28 GPF single-flush elongated toilet: Glacier Bay. Three-light dimmable vanity fixture: Joss & Main.

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