My Home

My Half Bathroom Remodel Reveal!

August 17, 2011

I’m finally ready to show you guys my new half bathroom! I started this project back in April, and it took about 3 months to complete, but someone else could have done it in a couple weeks if they worked on it tirelessly. I am not tireless. Oh no. I also had a mini disaster in obtaining lighting. But that’s all behind me! This was my first major home improvement project and I am thrilled with what I’ve accomplished.

When I bought my home it was in need of all new carpet and paint which I was able to finance. What I wasn’t able to address immediately was the rather horrid, outdated, falling apart bathrooms and kitchen. As you’re probably aware, bathrooms and kitchens are easily the most expensive rooms to renovate. I decided a good place to start was the tiny 4′ by 5′ half bathroom because A) it’s small so hopefully won’t be so pricey to fix up, and B) it’s embarrassing. The very first room to peer into when you walk through my front door should not look like this (please ignore my pajama-ed self in the mirror):

It should look like this!

Certainly nothing to put in a magazine, but I hope you can appreciate the difference as much as I can. Here’s that before and after again side-by-side.

Literally everything but the flooring was changed. And this was absolutely necessary, as you can see. When I moved in the back wall and the wall to the left were covered with an incredibly outdated forest green floral wallpaper which I had ripped off. That’s right, I’d been living with ugly exposed yellowy drywall and messy spackle marks all over these walls for nearly a year. It was a thrill to freshen up the ceiling and baseboards with white paint and the walls with Cement Gray by Benjamin Moore (color-matched at Lowes.)

But before painting happened, the old junk had to be ripped out, which is where the help of my father began and positively not where it ended (he did all the heavy duty installing). Then began the very drawn-out task of making the old wood parquet floors no longer appear to be rotting around and behind the toilet.

Just to the right of that before photo is a nasty jet black spot, clearly the result of some steady plumbing drips over the years. I had never used a power sander before. I power sanded the crap out of that floor. It was scary taking something so abrasive to such a structural part of my home. It definitely helped a lot though. The wood around the toilet still isn’t perfect, but it no longer looks rotting. A win as far as I’m concerned. Painting that baseboard made a huge difference too.

My condo was built in the 1970s. I have reason to believe the builder intentionally sought out the absolute cheapest built-ins on the market. My bathroom’s vanity doors were made of what appears to be plastic. What?! Yeah. And the countertop… oh the countertop… the countertop does not deserve to be called a countertop. The fauxest glue-on pee-colored marble finish you have ever seen. Now I have this!

Finding a vanity that would work in this space was no small feat. I tried and failed once before finding this piece. The trick was the builder’s were kind enough to leave me an empty footprint in the wood flooring where the old vanity was, so I needed a replacement with just the right size to cover the exposed subfloor. Do you know how hard it is to do that? Real hard. I finally found this vanity and countertop at Discount Home Improvment, a pretty neat local (West Michigan) place to find cupboards for bathrooms and kitchens for those of us who can’t afford custom. The quarter round trim around the base of the vanity was bought separately and is actually covering more exposed subfloor.

My vanity was not as dirt-cheap as I’d been hoping to pay, but I’m actually happy I was forced to choose a higher price tag because she is nicer looking and more functional (hello cute little drawers!) than any other option I looked at. The countertop was just the basic white top they sold for that size vanity. Together the vanity and top were $220.

And my faucet! I love my faucet. She is a satin nickel finish with a lovely high arc made by Moen, purchased at Lowes for $88.

Do you see that ugly light those ugly sconces are ugly casting? I’ll spare you the close up of the jarring, oddly shade-less blue and white mottled sconces. I think you’ve seen enough.

This is so cathartic for me. Those lights are the crown jewel of this make-over. I went mid-range or cheaper with everything except these lights. By my standards they were a total splurge at $99.99 each. Especially when I had been planning on finding something for more like $30 each. They are called the Murray Feiss Ethan 17″ High Wall Sconce and are available through many online retailers. I purchased them through Euro Style Lighting because they had the best return policy (and were also very helpful and speedy!).

Here is a product shot of the lights so you can see it a little more clearly.

I wanted something modern but approachable with simple lines that would cast plenty of light. For the longest time I was planning on a different pair of very similar lights that were back-ordered, and out of frustration one day decided to look again even though I felt like I’d seen every stinking sconce on the internet. It was like a dream when I found such a similar style that I actually liked better that had the perfect finish and was in stock.

The lights are considerably larger than the old ones (which I dig) requiring me to find a tiny mirror. I spent an entire evening driving all over town searching for a suitably narrow mirror and finally found this nice little black number at Bed Bath & Beyond for $20. While the thick frame reduces the amount of mirror space (a cause for my concern originally), I’ve decided that I quite like the look and it is still wide enough to serve its function.

This little shelf was a bit of a risk for me. I had never done anything like it before and was unsure if it would work. Honestly these walls are still a little too bare but I think the shelf helps a lot to fill that empty space and add some personality. I found the shelf in its original wood finish at a Salvation Army thrift store for $3.81, primed and painted it the same color as the walls. It was the first time I had ever painted wood, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. The pink mercury glass candle holder was around $4 at World Market. The white milk glass vase was also something like $4 at one of my favorite places to shop, 29th Street Antiques. The pink flower is by IKEA.

I love this little guy. The day I bought him I brought him to my parents house, walked in the door, and squealed, “Lookit! It’s a tiny… vintage… celluloid… deer figurine!” as I dramatically opened my hands revealing his cuteness. He was also found at 29th Street Antiques. I paid $6 for him, which was difficult considering his size but I had in fact been searching for months for a vintage celluloid deer. He was exactly what I wanted.

All told I spent about $650 on this project, which is several hundred more than I had been planning on. So I learned a pretty valuable lesson: it is not a good idea to guess low when it comes to the cost of a home improvement project. Whatever you think you’re going to spend, budget at least 20% more. Even this tactic wouldn’t have saved me in this instance, though. I would have needed to budget like 60% more. Ha!

There’s always things you I won’t think of: new outlet covers, fresh paint and new hardware for the door, glue to attach the countertop, wood floor refinisher, and so on and so on.

This room is so much more comfortable to use now. My new high efficiency toilet is awesome, I’m thrilled with the wall color, and I’m really digging the pink accessories. Success!

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  • Reply Erin August 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm


  • Reply Brian August 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Congratulations! Great job. The before and after pictures, especially the side by side one, really show what a striking difference your bath remodel achieved. You have inspred me to consider some improvements of my own. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply Mama August 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Yes I love the before and after pictures it really puts it in perspective…and I love the deer figurine too. 🙂

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