Main Bathroom Vanity Refresh
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Main Bathroom Refresh | A Low Budget (less than $700!) Face-lift

I’m working to update my Home Tour page, and I realized there are so many rooms I never shared the “finished” update. Today I’ll cover our main full bathroom. We have one full bathroom with all the bedrooms upstairs (sniff…no master bath!), and we made giving it a refresh our project last winter. Wait…2 winters ago! Wow, time flies!

Here is the bathroom when we bought the house: pinkie-beige laminate counter tops, oak vanity, and vinyl floor that I’m pretty sure was in my parent’s house growing up. The green on the walls was not a terrible color, but the finish was looking very flat and dull. It needed freshening up.

Full Bathroom Before

Full Bathroom Before

We set a budget of $500. The bathroom was fully functional. Our main complaint was it wasn’t our style. For that reason, we only planned a face-lift rather than an extensive renovation. The plan was to paint the walls, frame out the mirror, paint the light fixture, tile above the shower, add a backslash to the sink, and re-stain the vanity.

Paint the walls

I tackled the walls during nap times (naptime with a 6 month and 2 year old…how I miss you!). I painted it using Valspar Reserve. I cannot find the paint color anymore. It’s not listed on the mixer tag the store put on it. Bummer.

Frame the mirror

To frame the mirror, we bought trim from Home Depot, mitered the corners then glued it right to the mirror with mirror adhesive. We roughly followed this tutorial. We did have to notch the trim for the clips that hold the mirror, but our were much lower profile than Young House Love’s. Just a few chips with the chisel was enough to hide our clips.

We did not fully connect the frame prior to gluing it to the mirror though. We glued it one piece at a time to the mirror. This was a mistake because we weren’t able to do a good dry fit since we had four separate pieces. We were off quite a bit on the corners. I spent some time filling, sanding, filling, sanding, then more filling and sanding to make those corners look decent. Don’t do it like we did! Put the whole frame together first!

Framed Mirror Backsplash

Paint the light fixture

The light fixture was fully functioning, and although I didn’t love the style, I didn’t want to spend precious budget dollars on a new light fixture. So I spray painted it using Rustoleum’s Universal Metalic Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze. I happened to have this on hand, so all this update took was a few hours of prep and spraying then a couple days to dry. Voila, a whole new feel!

Tile Above The Shower

Here is where our super quick, super cheap update starts to fall apart. We have never laid our own tile. I always get ambitious and say I will, but then time gets tight, and we hire our friend to lay the tile for us. He’s so good, so precise, so we don’t have a hard time rationalizing hiring him! This project ended up being the absolute perfect one to hire someone to help us.

Tile above the shower seemed like such a cool idea, right? At that time, I was seeing it everywhere as an easy update without the cost and hassle of installing a whole new shower.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The cement board above a fiberglass shower unit is not straight. Not anywhere. Not by a long shot. The corners are not square, which rarely are in any corner of any house, but the bowed walls exacerbated this issue. This “easy” tiling project quickly turned into a nightmare, took two days with the help of a professional.

Look at that curve! The curve goes all the way around the shower where the fiberglass insert slips under the cement board.

Tile Above Shower Pitfall

Dan and our friend had to cut every side of every piece of tile. I specifically picked these tiles in this arrangement to minimize cuts, and it turned out not mattering a bit. Those poor guys had to make SO many cuts.

We did do all the grout and sealing of the tile ourselves after much thanks, blessings, and beers to our friend. 🙂 That process went as planned. It was lots of rinsing and wiping, but all went as it should.

The finished shower:

Tile Above Shower FinishedBackslash Around Sink Area

Thankfully, the vanity was level and the walls were not bowed. Tiling this section was a breeze. Whew!

new faucet

Re-Stain the Vanity

Last bit of bad news on this project: the re-staining of the vanity took FOREVER! It’s really all my fault. I should’ve used a new can of stain from the get go, but I just didn’t know what would happen with old stain. Now I do: it doesn’t soak into wood. Don’t use old, improperly stored stain like I did. Buy new!

For my first attempt to stain, I used the aforementioned leftover stain from my dining room table project (years before with improper storing in between, I’m sure). It did not soak into the wood. I, of course, thought it just needed more time. So I left it on overnight. What a mistake! The next morning, I was met with a sticky, gooey mess! I had to strip the entire vanity to get it off. Since I had little kids in the house, I used a more eco-friendly stripper, and it took several coats with many days of work. This was such a morale buster. I spent so much time on this vanity. I’m happy with the result now, but I was quite demoralized during the transformation of this beast.

The second time around, I bought a fresh quart of stain, and it worked beautifully! Even though I wanted to rip this sucker out and heave him to the trash, I’m glad I stayed in budget and persevered. It is a super sturdy, fully functional vanity. Truly nothing wrong with it! Now it looks better with its fresh new clothes on!

Re-Stained Oak Vanity

But wait! That’s not the end!

Bonus Features!

That completes our original plan, but while we were in the midst of the tiling debacle, our tiling friend got a hold of some close-out vinyl wood planks. He said it would be cheap, did we want to re-do the floor?

Hmmm, well, we really wanted to keep this refresh reasonably priced, but new floors would be nice…how much?

You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you: $30. Thirty dollars! What?! Score of the century.

Our friend also works in flooring; hence, his access to super reasonable, close-out vinyl wood planks. He installed it for us while we were gone for the weekend, and we came home to this:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksThe floor was a game changer! The room still looked tired and old until the new vinyl wood planks were installed. Now it feels like a fresh new room!

The other score of the century was the laminate to apply to the existing counter top. We bought it in a sheet and glued it to the old laminate. The sheet of laminate was $40. Now if we hadn’t had the expertise of our friend (who also owned the right tools!), we couldn’t have installed this so cheap. (Full disclaimer: I don’t think I cleaned the edge of the counter well enough before gluing, so we chipped off those two corner pieces within a week of re-doing the counters. Sigh. Clean well before gluing anything! We still need to glue the pieces back on…another project for another day!)

One more bonus: a new faucet! We somehow landed a gift card to Amazon, and I can’t for the life of me remember how we got it. We used it though to purchase this faucet as we thought the old one was just glaringly off in light of all the newness around it.

With those three bonuses, here’s the finished look on the right side of the room:

Main Bathroom Vanity RefreshJust look where we started!

Full Bathroom BeforeAnd the left side of the room:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksFull Bathroom BeforeSo much lighter and fresher…it has new life!

 


Since I waited 2 years to share this update, I don’t have all the specs and costs for this project. We did go over the budget of $500, but not by much! I believe the total was about $660.

This project made our bathroom so much more enjoyable. I still love walking into this room two years later. The floor, the tile, the mirror frame, everything makes me smile every day!


Have you scored any awesome decor or renovation deals that just MADE the room? The faux wood planks did it for me!

Any plans to plan a low-cost refresh of a room? Do share! I love hearing other people’s plans to maximize the impact within their budget!

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