Friday, January 16, 2015

Budget Bathroom Remodel

A "new" DIY bathroom, without spending a fortune!

So often redoing a bathroom involves expensive changes like new vanities, floors and fixtures. The trouble was that I had a bathroom that needed big changes, and a small budget.
My only option was to so my best to make cosmetic changes, without spending a lot of money.

Removing the Wallpaper

The first plan of attack was to remove the wallpaper. As you can see it even came complete with, not one... but TWO borders. While I appreciate that the former owner loved this room, it simply wasn't my style. 


The flowered walls had to go.

I've heard so many horror stories about what a nightmare removing wallpaper could be, but it really wasn't that bad.
Basically I peeled off anything that I could get off before getting anything wet. It's so satisfying when you get a really big piece!
Then, I used this mixture to loosen the adhesive and remove the wallpaper :

2 parts hot water
1 part liquid fabric softener
2 parts white vinegar 

Using a rag I saturated whatever was left of the glue and paper with the mixture. After letting it soak in for a few minutes, it was easy to scrape the remainder off. 



It was tedious to get all that paper off the walls. But with some good podcasts* for entertainment the time went by fast. I was able to get all the paper off in about a day. 

*My favorite podcasts to listen to are: Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, Serial, Radiolab, Freakanomics, Stuff You Missed in History Class and The Moth. You can find them all on the iTunes Store


When redoing an entire room, it's best to start from the top and work your way down, literally. So the next thing I did was paint the ceiling. 

To brighten things up without making the room feel too cold, I used my favorite warm white paint (Benjamin Moore's #925 "Ivory White") on the ceiling.  Then I used the same color for the 2 walls, the cabinets and the door. Many paint stores don't have this color on display in their inventory. But, they should have access to the codes and will be able to mix it for you if you request it. Next I used a warm blue (close to turquoise) on the 2 remaining walls. 

Covering Old Surfaces

Dingy fake marble wasn't on my list of preferred countertops, but unfortunately a new countertop wasn't in the budget either. That meant that it was time to use one of my favorite "cure-all" products. Rust-oleum Tub and Tile.


Not only was the counter ugly, but it was stained too!


Rust-oleum Tub and Tile is an epoxy based product that literally glues itself to countertops and tile. I even used it on the old beat-up porcelain sink. Once you mix the product together, you have about 4 hours to use the it, so plan accordingly. Also, plan on using a junky brush that you can just throw away afterwards. Even paint thinner wouldn't clean this stuff out of my brush.

For some subtle variation in tone I used "Almond"on the counter and the shower walls, and "White" on the sink, the floor tiles and on the shower floor. 

Completed countertop

Yes, as you can see from the photos bellow, Rustoleum even covered the dark blue floor tiles. It took a few coats, and several cans. But before long we had a gleaming white floor, for less than $100. 

Dark blue tile before

The tile was dark blue, cracked and chipped. I just covered it all up with this great stuff!

I used "Almond" on the walls of the shower freshen up the 70's era tile. 


This stuff is really drippy, so be ready for a constancy that is thinner than regular latex paint. But, as long as you keep checking back for drips and making touch-ups wherever needed, you'll end up with a nice new surface. 

WARNING: This product produces very strong fumes. Be sure to work in a well ventilated area, and if you can wear a protective mask. I use one like this.

Spray Paint is Your Friend!

Once again, since new fixtures, towel racks and even light switch covers weren't in the budget, I had to make do with what I had. 
The old brass light fixture was definitely dated, but it had good lines and an interesting shape. Enter: Matte black spray paint! (Also called "flat" black")



We took the fixture off the wall and coated it with a couple coats of spray paint (no prep work needed, just slap it on there). I also ran the glass shades through the dishwasher and then shined them with some white vinegar and a rag.

For this project you could also use Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze paint, if your faucet and drawer pulls are finished in that color (a dark matt brown). 

I used black because I knew it would look better with the silver toned faucet and drawer pulls I panned to add. 

We added new LED lightbulbs. They are a bigger investment in the short term, but will pay off eventually in longevity and lower energy costs. For a more comfortable space be sure to look for "warm" LED's, the lower the "K" number the warmer the light. 2700K is the lowest and warmest I've seen. We used bulbs like these. 

I also removed and painted two old pewter toned towel racks and a matching light switch cover. Instantly everything was updated and matching!

I's amazing what a can or two of spray paint can do!

Little Extras

It's the final touches that can really bring a room to life. Again I chose these things with cost in mind, and by that, I mean low cost!

For extra storage, add a shelf above your door. This white one I found inexpensively at a hardware store, and the black brackets holding it are from Ikea. 

For quick reference I labeled the bottom of baskets with their contents. 

Anytime you can corral items into baskets or bins (rather than just leaving them sitting out) your room will look more pulled together. This not only goes for bathroom products, but for things like DVDs and kitchen gadgets too. 

I replaced old tired hardware with new chrome pieces found in bargain bins or on sale. The chrome goes nicely with the painted black accents and the new stainless faucet (also purchased on clearance!).

Since there wasn't much of a mirror to begin with, I needed to figure out a new solution. Instead of putting up an expensive mirror meant for a bathroom I just hung a regular wall mirror. I was able to find a decent one with a black frame at a discount store. 

I also found a retro looking mirror at Home Depot that I hung on a side wall. I love mirrors because the reflect light and make a space feel larger. 

Above the window I added a (discount store) black curtain rod and black and white curtains. To keep the room light and bright I chose a sheer design. 

Since this is such a small space, to save money I only purchased one curtain panel. Then I just used pinking shears to cut it in half (regular scissors would have caused it fray).

I was super happy to find the black candle holders (originally marketed as Halloween decorations) on sale in November for 75% off!  The ceramic birds I found on clearance at Michaels.

The internet can be a great resource too. I found these black mirrors and metal star discounted on

Crisp white towels were an easy choice because the go nicely with the white floor, and I can easily bleach them to keep them looking fresh and new. 

We also added a new low=flow toilet. Check with your city, often times you can get these installed for free, or get a rebate when you purchase one.

I'll leave you with these "Before and After" shots!



Thanks for stopping by!

(Fun Fact: It actually took longer to get this blog post together than it did to do the actual bathroom! Haha!)

Linking up to these fun parties: Meme
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