Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Bathroom Makeover

Aside from a few finishing touches, we have finally completed our makeover for the bathroom - the smallest room in the house, yet one which made the top of my "cons" list when we first toured this place: "ugly bathroom", I wrote, underlined!

In the four months we've lived here, I've been hit with a strong dose of reality about how long it actually takes to complete DIY projects when you have three young children.  It takes forever.  We have to work on things in little snatches.  After you factor in the prep-time, clean-up time, and inevitable four or five trips back to the hardware store for stuff you forgot....you get just the tiniest window of time to actually work on something before the kids are up from naps or it's so late at night that you can barely keep your eyes open.

So the bathroom took us four months, working in tiny bits at a time.  But it's DONE, and I can finally show some pictures!  I handled the "design" elements: I came up with the plans, and did the purchasing and the painting.  Tom did the "grunt work": plumbing, electrical, construction.

Here's approximately what it looked like when we first moved in [this was the photo in the real estate listing]:

It just felt like a dingy earth-tone cave.  The first day in the house, I took down the previous owner's ugly tan shower curtain, and those terrible green mini-blinds.

We lived for a while with this temporary set-up:

My antique wash basin was in the alcove mainly as a spot to hold all of our toothbrushes and other daily toiletry items.  Because the bathroom had no medicine cabinet.  Just a big hole in the wall behind the mirror where a cabinet had once been.

There was a flimsy little shelf above the sink to put things on, but I really wanted to hide all our things away away - not only for aesthetics, but for practical reasons.  For months, Stella was stealing people's toothbrushes or contact cases, and leaving them all over the house.

Walls: Two-tone. Beige/tan on one side of the room and earthy green on the other
Trim: Either matched wall color (in some places) or was off-white (around the door)
Behind the sink: Black mirror, outlet cover, and scones (which were dim and created shadows across my face when I tried to put on makeup). 
Storage: Bamboo shelf on wall - no medicine cabinet
Fixtures: Gold faucets, toilet paper holder, towel bars, etc.

What we did:
Walls" Light blue walls with one teal accent wall
Trim: Painted true white, along with inside of the door and the ceiling
Behind the sink: White "shabby chic-esque" mirror, outlet cover, and lighting fixture (mounted overhead).  Storage: Medicine cabinet behind mirror.
Fixtures: Switched to silver.  We put in a brushed steel faucet and TP holder.  I spray-painted the towel bars silver, and left the shower fixtures alone (for now).

Some Solutions
Figuring out how to put in a medicine cabinet was the trickiest part.  There was a hole already cut in the wall, but the previous cabinet must have been a weird size.  I scoured stores and the internet trying to find a replacement to fit, but none existed.  We realized we would have to just find one we liked (that could only be *slightly* bigger, since we were limited by the location of a joist), and cut a bigger hole. 

exposed lathe board, because we have plaster walls
I got in my head that I would like a shabby-chic sort of mirror....but without the "shabby."  What I mean is, an elaborate white frame without the intentional "distressed" look.  I found plenty of mirrors like this, but not a single one that was on a medicine cabinet.  Medicine cabinets - especially ones that embed in the wall - are completely and utterly out of style right now, it seems. 

Then one day we were at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store,  and I found an old medicine cabinet with just a solid steel door on the front, no mirror.  Bingo!  It cost $5.49.  Back home, I pulled out the gold-framed mirror that the previous owner had left in a closet - a perfect fit! 

(it does have shelves, but they were removed in this picture).  Also, I wish we had the budget to replace the ugly brown tile.  It's not linoleum.  Someone actually paid good money for ugly ceramic tile that looks like linoleum.

A can of white spray paint for the mirror, and a tube of Liquid Nails to glue them together...and we had an instant "shabby" chic medicine cabinet!

Over the span of several weeks, Tom then made a huge mess of the bathroom by cutting open the walls, moving around some boards, re-wiring the lights and outlet, and other such skilled tasks that I don't know how to do.

I repainted the cabinet doors white and teal, and replaced the brass hardware with silver.

And I trimmed down some old flowered curtains to fit the window

Before-and-After Comparisons

above the sink

above the toilet

view from doorway

Approximate costs
Paint - walls,ceiling, trim: $50
Spray paint - towel bar, mirror, outlet cover: $5
Light fixture: $23
TP holder: $20
Knobs and handles: $12
Faucet: $80
Dry wall and various supplies: $35
Medicine cabinet: $5.50
Mirror, curtains, beach glass: Already owned

Phew....that was a long, complex post!  Are people interested in this level of detail in the future, or should I just post one picture as we finish each project?


  1. <-- creeper. I have the same statue of our Blessed Mother as the one reflected in your mirror! My grandma gave it to me at my bridal shower.
    Also, the level of detail is good. The bathroom looks great! I love your creative medicine cabinet solution.

  2. Looks nice--I like the colors! And I liked the level of detail too.

  3. Beautiful! We're facing a move in the near future, I love detailed breakdowns of cost and what you did! It will help me figure out any issues we have in our potential new house.

  4. Weeeeell at least the tiles will hide any stains and dirt really well? I'm not a fan of our kitchen counter top but it's not in the budget to be replaced, so I keep reminding myself that at least it makes it really hard to see any dirt or crumbs on it :P

  5. You guys did a great job!! Especially on a limited budget. I'm really impressed, Christine!