Wednesday, August 6, 2008

our $400 bathroom makeover

The weekend my sister Ellen was here, she and I painted the bathroom. I'd had high expectations of getting it done before she arrived, but I was on chemo, and we spent that whole week with blue masking tape on all the edges and splotches of paint samples on the walls. It was great to have Ellen's help. We made a good painting team!

Steve and I went into the spring season fully expecting that this would be the year we remodelled the bathroom. It was the most challenging room in the house when I moved in nearly six years ago. The terracota tiles were matched by an equal shade of intense, pinkish-melon walls, and it felt oppressive. (I don't have any "before" pictures here, but you can click here for an idea.) The light fixture was ancient and flourescent and sometimes took 20 seconds or more to flicker on. And the mildew between the tiles on the shower walls was just insidious. Steve detested that the most. I detested the overbearing color.

But things happened (cancer, new fence), and we put the remodelling plans on the back burner. In the meantime, we've tried to make the most of some basic cosmetic changes. I was inspired by an article in Real Simple magazine that showed bathroom makeovers without the need for remodelling. A new coat of paint and some updated fixtures and accessories can go a long way.

So we lightened up the paint on the wall above the tiles, using a rich, creamy color (Benjamin Moore's Antique White), and it really opens up the room. (Ellen said it felt "spiritual, like a Jewish temple" — not that she could explain what that meant; it was an impression she had, and she went with it.)

Late last year, we ripped out the ugly light fixture and replaced it with a more modern one. Unfortunately, this left gaping patches of unpainted wall and screw holes where the new one wasn't able to overlap the borders of the old. The paint job, along with some sandpaper and Spackle, took care of that. (See right photo.) And, after I got spoiled during trips overseas, we replaced our fixed shower head with a handheld one (mounted overhead so it can be used as a fixed head), which feels like a little luxury.

And finally, we got rid of the mildew. Loathe as we were to contaminate the house with highly toxic cleaners, I did not say no when one of the women who cleans our house once a month (thanks to a generous and wonderful gift from some friends) asked me if I wanted her to scrub it out with some heavy-duty bleach cleanser that left an odor wafting through our house for about 20 minutes. What magic, though! Steve's jaw dropped when he got home and saw it. It was like having a whole new tub! (I wish I could remember the name of the product; I think Clorox makes it.)

Now I've grown to be at peace with — even a little fond of — our bathroom. The total cost? Probably around $400, including what we paid the electrician to get the light fixture installed. There's still more I'd like to do, but ... knowing we can wait on a complete overhaul? Priceless.

(And while we're on the subject of bathrooms, you must take a look at my friend Vanessa's new downstairs bathroom. Gorgeous!)


Vicki (aka Kodi's mommy) said...

Love the changes!

We had one of those bathrooms too. I hated every moment I had to spend in it. The tiny, multi-colored floor tile that would NEVER look clean. The old, ridiculous looking light fixture (which also housed the only electrical outlet), the tub with it's ugly chip in it.

After Jay remodeled it, I fell in love with that bathroom. Heated floors...what a luxury, the beautiful tile. Ahhh...that is the one room of the house I will miss.

Madwoman of Preserve Path said...

Love those lights! I have the same ones in one of my bathrooms. And, as the spoiled wife of a contractor, I can't imagine paying a dime to put them up. I'm blessed. Your changes look terrific! It's amazing how a little "nesting" gives you a lift, isn't it?

kristine said...

I also love those lights and am pretty jealous of that shower!

Rebecca said...

Ah, we need to do this, too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Betseeee said...

We have a similar bathroom downstairs - that same tile, although it's accented with grey and a probably-never-looked-clean-even-the-day-it-was-laid-in-1959 grey octagonal tile floor. When we got rid of the old medicine cabinet/flourescent light thing and put in a big white-framed mirror and a nice light fixture, I felt like the heavens opened up and smiled down on me. I'm glad you got a taste of the same, and I hope someday we can both get rid of our pinky-melon tile.

Ahuva Batya said...

I love the changes, and your sister is right-- it does have a new peacefulness now! I'm so glad you were able to make it feel "new" despite not having the full remodel. It's funny how those little changes can just lift you up-- especially in a room you visit many times during the day.

Anonymous said...

Only 400 bucks! Amazing! It looks like a 5-grand makeover!

Also, Em, I posted something under your "this is the good part" thread. It's the link to an article I think you would like.

- Susanne

Julie said...

My friend Tracy goes to church withy you. She sent me the link to your blog as a not so subtle hint about the complaining I have been doing about my bathroom. My tiles are EXACTLY like yours - the peach/terracotta with the reddish tile trim. I have done a similar paint color called "muffin mix" from Behr and updated with light fixtures. I have been considering ripping out the tiles, but can't afford it right now. Your makeover looks great!

Piccinigirl said...

so pretty, enjoy your new refuge!!!!

Soupy said...

LOVE IT! Yay for you and your sis!!