Budget bathroom

Quick and easy bathroom update

Mike was out of town a few weeks back and I'll be the first to admit that the house projects blew up while he was gone. Am I the only one who does this? I mean evenings get lonely, right? Nothing kills time like home improvement projects. I wasn't messing around. I painted our dining room door to the garage, changed out door handles to the front door and main floor, had recessed lighting installed in the living room, bought some things at Ikea (that I've already forgotten about), and last but not least gave our spare bathroom a little makeover. As much as I love an evening on the couch with Mike, I'm in my element when I'm (pardon my French) getting s*** done. 

This bathroom of ours has been on m' list for a while. I believe it was recently remodeled but that really means nothing to me when it comes to interiors. Unless I built a house myself or just gutted an old one and got to select every. single. accessory. – nothing would really be how I want it to be. I think everyone feels this way, right? If you've read my blog posts of yore, you'll know that our house was covered in either tan or a dijony paint. Slowly, I've been covering it all room by room in an effort to make it feel more like us and to brighten the space. This is one of the last rooms to be covered. Here's where we started...

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We decided that we'd rather put our kid through college than pay for another full bathroom remodel right now so I took it easy on this one. Paint, mirror, fixtures, art, vase. These are the only things I bought for this space. We kept the vanity, lighting, the tile on the floor and the shower insert. Yeah, it's beige-y yellow (and a shower insert!) but I rolled with it. I started by painting the ceiling and replacing the vent covers that were rusty and yellowed from time. That alone was truly a transformation. When you DIY, the little things really make you happy, don't they? 

Next, I took the cabinet off the wall as well as the builder grade mirror above the vanity. One way to give your bathroom a whole lot of character is to get yourself a pretty mirror that doesn't match your vanity. Trust me – it will be OK. 

Once I removed those few things along with the toilet paper roll and towel rack, I got to spackling. While that stuff was drying, I painted all the trim a basic white in semi-gloss (same stuff I've used everywhere else in the house because yes, I have painted all of our trim... it's a terrible job but I can't stomach what it would cost to pay someone to do it.)


For the walls, I tried to think of a way to tie in the floor tile but that meant going down the tan/beige route again. Not for me. I went with Owl Gray because I had a little surplus of it from the spare bedroom and also because I wanted this bathroom to flow nicely with the look of that room. Owl Gray (Benjamin Moore) is just too pretty to go to waste and I figured baskets and such would tie it all together somehow. Fingers crossed emoji (which finally exists! hooray!)

Once the paint was up and looking pretty, I got to work on decor. Originally I thought I'd do shelving behind the toilet but I wasn't loving any of my affordable options and since it's a spare bathroom it's not as though it really needs storage. And let's be real, I would have just put a bunch of tchotchkes on them anyway. Instead, I put up one of these baskets from an ever growing collection and then quickly jumped to more is more (but three is PLENTY). They certainly add some texture to the space and what do you know? They pull in the yellow/brown from the floor tile, too. Sold.

The rug is not new. I bought one from Anthropologie but decided this more subtle approach was working better with the floor tile and the baskets than something with more color. Saving money all day. 

I bought this vase as a Christmas gift to no one in particular but then decided it's a gift to my guests! They can enjoy it when they visit (wink, wink). The print is from Target and it's so pretty. I love the color it adds to the space and Henry says he can see a train in it so also it's apparently one of those trick images that if you stare at it long enough you see things. 

The mirror (West Elm) was just what I was looking for – something more fresh to fit the space. Since I was sticking with original chrome fixtures, the campaign hardware in polished nickel was perfect. See?! Non-matchy mirror/vanity. It works. Just because you go builder grade doesn't mean you have to overdo it and get all of the things to match. 

Lastly, I put in a new towel rack and toilet paper holder from Ikea. The freestanding guy is cute, right?  

Another easy fix was the lighting. I had a new fixture in my shopping cart but then discovered you can just buy new shades at Home Depot. It's not my dream lighting but they're a little more fitting for the space than the traditional frosted ones from before. Also they were $4 so I couldn't resist. 

Voilà! Christmas is saved! Our kind of dreary guest bath is now a brighter, happier version of itself and just in time for Christmas visitors. All in I spent just under $300. Yes, I wish we could start over and tile it something pretty but sixteen months into this old fixer upper and we broke. Ok, not broke but ready to stop spending for a minute and ENJOY what we've accomplished so far. Ima need a lot of pep talks (side eyes) from Mike to stop myself from yet another project. Luckily, I have lovely people like you to help out, too ;)

On meeting lifelong friends in bars and a budget bathroom update - kids edition

A friend and I were recently talking about how hard it was to meet guys in a bar when we were single. A conversation that is totally irrelevant these days but still – it was. When writing this post tonight, it dawned on me that's how I met her. It was probably our second week in the suburbs and Mike, Henry and I biked to the local brewery (our first of many trips). When we sat down we noticed a couple with a little girl about Henry's age. My heart leapt! She's a mom, I'm a mom. She likes beer, I like beer. She seems normal, I am mostly normal. An hour or so later we were exchanging numbers. Our wingmen (husbands) giving air fives (head nods). It was just like how I thought I'd meet someone at a bar but way better. This could be the start of a friendship and that was just what I needed. 

This friend (though she may not know, er, she will now) is one big reasons that I stepped out this year to start doing what I love. Mike gave me the real push I needed but I also think it helped to have someone else (that didn't have to love me unconditionally) to validate that I was pretty ok at my passion (there has got to be a better word for that). I am really thankful for this friend. She and her hubby are always game for a casual Saturday hang and have helped us in already countless situations. They are good, fun people and we are lucky to know them....and this WAS their bathroom.

Now what was going on in the 80's? I wish I could get in a time machine and ask some questions. This, the era of neon and mesh shirts. Was this really the best we could do? Apparently so because it's everywhere. Anyhow, my challenge was to transform it into a bright and cheery kids bathroom in a budget-friendly way. Gender neutral for their daughter and baby boy on the way. They had already updated the countertops with a nice granite and installed an undermount sink...easily a giant improvement. With this gray flecked counter in mind I got to work designing – I'll share sources at the end. 

We knew the only way to brighten the space would be to change the color of the cabinets. I chose Baltic Gray by Benjamin Moore and a nice light greish for the walls - Balboa Mist. With the gigantor mirror down I picked a pretty big round mirror for it's place – lights on either side. I gave a few tile options and did a little happy dance when they chose the octagon. I thought it would pair well with the pink tile in the shower that they weren't planning to remove anytime soon. Oil rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware because I have a real crush on it and I like the contrast.  

For decor, I started with that killer rug. The room needed some color and those tones didn't lean too far boy or girl. I was loving the Pillowfort stuff from Target and those oars were too darned cute. All of the sudden we sort of had an outdoorsy theme so I went with the owl and fox prints. As for the shower curtain, I chose a fun but not too kiddo geometric print. The bathroom will be for guests, too so I didn't want to pick Ninja Turtles...not that I would. Ever. Sorry, Henry. 

There was some consideration around refacing the cabinets but in the end painting them seemed like a perfectly good solution. My jaw dropped when I saw them for the first time. The entire room was lighter. The paint I chose for the walls ended up looking too close to the cabinet color so we quickly picked a different shade of white - Cloud Cover by Benjamin Moore. 

The tile turned out awesome (my Birkenstock tan line, not so much) it's so fresh and pretty and the light gray grout just gives it a little more definition. 

They chose to place the lights over the mirror rather than one on each side. I love how it turned out.

The shower and eh hem, commode, are separate from the powder room. Considering it only has artificial light, the space feels tons brighter. I love the playfulness of the prints and the shower curtain and that pink on gray reminds me of my 10-speed when I was twelve in all the right ways. Pink and gray are back as far as I'm concerned.  

So there you have it – a bathroom update done on the moderately cheap. It helps when you have a handy husband for sure but still wouldn't have been crazy hiring it all out. It went from a boring 80's bathroom to a fun and cheery kids bathroom for roughly $2700. Baby boy is here (tiny and sweet) and I can already see shoving matches in front of the sink with big sister. That's love.

In closing, say hi to strangers. I mean don't be weird but be open. You never know what could come from it. You might just meet a really good friend and your next design project ;)

Sources: Tile / Faucet / Mirror / Lighting / Cabinet Paint / Wall Paint / Knobs / Shower Curtain / Prints / Oars / Rug

Bathrooms on the brain

Don't you love when you go to replace a window in your bathroom and realize you'll have to redo all of the tile surrounding it. And while you're at it you may as well address the lack of storage with a new vanity and medicine cabinet. Oh and that lighting won't work anymore either. One seemingly small house project inevitably opens a can of worms. Like when you get those new shoes that require you to buy new pants because yours aren't the right length and then what top will you wear? You get it. (That may or may not have happened to me this week...but these shoes.)

I'm (not so) secretly loving the idea of replacing all of the bathroom tile. This is one of those rooms that you can clean and clean but it still looks the same...kinda yucky. So then I think, why clean it at all? Because I'm not in college anymore and have not been in a VERY long time. Man, life was simpler (and grosser) then. 

So, I've been living and breathing bathrooms this week. I'm helping a new client select bathroom tile for her and her fiance's 1920's home and also tile hunting for us on the sly.

Here's the current state of our bathroom. 

I did my best.

I won't even show the grody window that's been painted shut one hundred times over. What I will show you is what I've been pinning this week for ideas...


Simple, clean, bright. Maybe a little something funky for the floor. I definitely want to incorporate some wood (maybe in the vanity?) and a fun vintage rug to soften the look. I've been seeing that white, square ceramic tile all over lately and I love how it can be modern and classic when laid in the subway pattern. I think it would work well in our mid-century home. And I guess I'm on trend because I opened my email today to a subject line from MyDomain "Could this be the next subway tile?" So it seems it is. This makes me think twice only a little. Will it still be cool in ten years? I think it's simple enough that it will be. Anyway, I'm not immune to trends. Heck, I bought these Target beauties, didn't I?