Friday, July 6, 2012

The Bathroom Remodel

For this Friday, I'm gonna have a bit of a show off...

As I've mentioned before, our beautiful Cecilia used to be a rental house.  It was built in 1971, as part of a grouping of 4 spec houses out in the middle of cow pastures {literally-- our neighbors still have cows & chickens & sheep}.  The story I was told, was that sometime in the early 80's, the original owners' wife went on vacation & for a surprise, her husband "updated" the house-- which led to all sorts of odd things {like roofing nails being used to hang up kitchen cabinets, & the pipes in the bathroom and kitchen being unusual sizes}.  Then they sold it to someone who used it as a rental house & it proceeded to fall on hard times.
When we bought it, the bathroom was in pretty sorry shape.  The huge double vanity {also an odd size, so the DIY husband simply hacked off one end of it to jam it in place} was in trouble.  At best, it had been the low end of 80's design-- badly laminated faux marble countertops in blue and white, cracked mirrors, plastic laminate cupboards that were falling apart, and the pièce de résistance? Someone had tried sponge painting the walls by slapping a kitchen sponge in navy blue paint and randomly smacking the walls with it.  When you put that paint next to the faux marble & spider-y mirror cracks it gave the room a sense of motion that made anyone who used the bathroom feel like they had reached the nausea stage of drunk.  
It was so bad, I didn't take pictures of it.
I guess its been 5 years ago now that we attacked the bathroom for the first time. We ripped out the vanity to discover that behind it was half a wall of incredibly badly put in tiles.  I don't know what they used to put the tiles on the walls, but it wasn't right-- & they just sort of cemented them straight on to dry wall instead of tile board, so when the tiles fell off, they peeled away the drywall paper leaving nasty tears all over the walls.

Now we are just lowly college profs with three kids & we don't make the kind of money that would allow us to call in tilers or remodelers or any -ers, so we had to do it all ourselves.  And we sort of made things up as we went along.
We got a few boxes of commercial floor tiles & glued them the lower half of the walls to cover up the damage left by the ceramic tiles.  That went fairly smoothly except for having to cut around the pipes under the sinks {easy to cut straight lines, not so easy to cut circles-- my husband was not amused}.  We installed glass bowl sinks with metal stands that I had bought online-- this one was my job, and the uneven pipes made that really exciting {though I know own enough plumbing tools to hang a shingle}.  We used textured paint on the upper part of the walls, again to hide the damage as best we could.  The original color we used was a dark purple, which gave the whole room a sort of metropolitan feel that never really matched the rest of the house.  I just painted over it again with this lovely pool color & I love it much more.
The mirrors were another inexpensive online find {I paid $125 for each sink, pedestal, faucet and mirror combo here, but they no longer carry sinks}.  They had originally been a mish-mash of colors that I was never overly fond of, with red circular stones added in for dimension.  Over last Christmas break I had painted them white, which I liked a bit better & in this latest go round I added the yellow & green accents & now I love them~*


Without the vanity, the bathroom had no storage.  Fortunately I had my Grandmother's cabinet {in her house it used to hold books, including those Christie's I talked about earlier}.  It is a beautiful piece, but it desperately needed refinishing & I had intended to do a straight restoration for it.  But given our need, I decided to give it a distressed finish instead.  I cleaned it thoroughly, used a candle to apply wax to the edges and places where natural wear & tear would occur, applied a coat of flat slightly off white paint, washed it {literally with a damp rag} with a diluted burnt umber, & let nature take its course.  To speed things up, you could brush the edges with a light sand paper, but I wanted the distressing to occur as naturally as possible-- applying the wax to the edges meant that paint would chip off easier than normal so it "aged" relatively quickly.  The end result is one of my favorite pieces that I own.


 I painted the inside a jewel toned aqua blue, and added some small gold cup hooks on one side to hang necklaces & jewelry & keep my make up brushes and sundries as well.  The sea grass baskets are his & hers {we don't have a master bathroom because Thing 3 is actually in the master bedroom & we are in what was a sort of living room...just go with me this is the guest/master/Thing 2's bath} & will be the fodder for an upcoming craft project I've been mulling over & folded towels take over the rest of the visible part of the cabinet.

The coolest bit of this latest redo {in which I painted the walls pool blue} was what I did to the bathtub surround.
Again, in its original incarnation, the tub had been tiled in {badly}.  At some point, we aren't sure when, an almond plastic surround was added to conceal the falling down tiles.  By the time we had purchased the house, that too was in bad shape-- structurally sound, but I'd be willing to bet the renters never cleaned it & it was badly discolored.  I spent days scrubbing it, then I used a Krylon's Fusion white plastic spray paint on it, hoping it would hold up.  To my amazement, it did-- and it even held up to shower cleaners.  
Flash forward to two weeks ago.  While cleaning the tub I noticed that the paint had begun to peel a bit in the built in soap holders of the surround-- the soap had "melted," which required extra scrubbing, which caused the paint to disintegrate.  When I decided to repaint the bathroom, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up another can of fusion and touch up the tub while I was at it.
It was while we were looking at the spray paints that my hubby muttered those wonderful words that had not occurred to me, "Does it have to be white?"

 No, honey. No it does not.

This bit made the whole project much more complicated & inconvenienced Thing 3 since we were all using her little shower for 3 days, but it was worth it.  I taped off the edges & made a spray tent of sorts using the old vinyl shower curtain liner, scrubbed the surround within an inch of its life, and started spraying.  It took A LOT of elbow grease,  3 cans of paint at $3.27 each & a few tubes of caulk & now it feels like I am taking a shower in the sky {I also removed then repainted the bar thingy in a school bus yellow, just 'cos I could}.  I think it was worth it ~*

I finished the whole thing off with new track lighting & a few decorative touches:


{I'm still waiting for the new spring green floor mats to arrive-- and I'll have how to's on the toothbrush holder & artwork coming up next week}, and Ta-Da!  

So, what do you think?


  1. I love that you painted where the tub is. And I love your Wonka quote. =)

  2. Looks great! And like a LOT of work!

  3. Ohhhh, some lovely ideas here- the girl did good! Loving the toothbrush holder and 'dreamers of dreams'. Beautiful.Rx

  4. Great work- the bathroom looks great and it seems like it's been a fun project!

  5. I love your frame around the mirror, it gives such a calming feel to the bathroom. The contrast of the greyish blue walls in combination with the yellow diffuses some sort of atmospheric calming. I love it.

    -Bronx Shower Doors


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