Thursday, October 10

Low-Budget Bathroom Update (during our spending freeze!)

Today I want to share a little inspiration for anyone taking on the Fall Budget Refresh Challenge - so I'm going to show you how we totally refreshed our second bathroom during our spending freeze and spent (almost) nothing. It's a tale of thrifty updates, leftover paint, and a broken toilet seat. You have been warned.

Are you joining the Budget Refresh Challenge this fall? There are still two weeks left to work all kinds of thrifty magic! Let us know in the comments or tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

The "before" wasn't anything terrible - in fact it was updated just before we bought the house - but the style just wasn't right. It didn't feel like ours. And it was all dark wood that made this little bathroom without natural light feel even smaller and darker.

There were also a few functional problems I wanted to address:
  1. There was only one towel bar and it was right over the toilet. Just waiting for a towel to slip off and take a swim.
  2. The tall cabinet was so hard to open. It was anchored to the wall and I was always a little afraid we would rip it right off the wall opening those doors! Definitely just a problem with the cabinet, but I was over it.
  3. The mirror was hung waaay to high. We are not tall people. 
  4. It felt so dark and crowded. Which counts as a functional problem in my book.

Ever since we moved in I've wanted to make changes in here. So one day I whipped up this very accurate and professional rendering and sent it to my sister. Who very honestly replied:

"Well, it's hard to judge from that. As long as it doesn't actually look like that it will probably be fine."

And folks, that's all I needed.


My first step was to remove that tall cabinet. And it was instantly so much better in there.

Then I took down the towel bar and robe hook. This is the point in the project where I stood on the toilet seat and broke it. Thus incurring our first expense in this supposed-to-be-free makeover. My bad, guys.

Once we crossed into broken toilet seat territory it became a definite "need" expense and was thus immune to the old spending freeze. So we replaced it. With our dream toilet seat (that sentence is proof of my undeniable adulthood). A toilet seat that is NOT plastic (in case I stand on it again. I might.), has a soft-close lid, and a built-in child seat. Hashtag living the dream. It's this Mayfair Next Step seat and we found it at Menards.

Thought I could get better leverage if I could just stand a little higher. I was right! But I was also so, so wrong. #dreamtoiletseat

But back to that pesky Towel Bar of Despair and Wet Feet. I patched the holes, sanded them down, and gave the spots a fresh coat of paint. It was fun to see the bathroom's history of paint colors hiding under there!

All the blues. I just hate blue so much. For no discernible reason. Except for that time I painted our house blue. Obvs. 

While the walls dried, I moved on to the vanity. It was in good shape, but like everything else in the bathroom I wanted to lighten it up. Remember, this was supposed to be a free project! So I raided my leftover paint stash in the basement and came up with two shades of green from the mural I painted in the boys room:  Zebra Grass (OL740.4) and Pine Garland (OL740.5). They are both an eggshell finish in Behr's zero VOC paint.

I decided to try the lighter one (Zebra Grass) so I sanded the vanity just enough to rough it up and gave it two coats of paint. It's a good quality paint with a built-in primer so I just went for it. Crossing my fingers that doesn't come back to bite me. I'm at the point in my motherhood where I'm just tired, guys. This is all I've got. 

But guess what? I was scrolling through my pinterest the other day (after painting our vanity) and it turns out I've pinned a few green vanities over the years. It was destiny. Here are a couple of my favorites:

And here's where we ended up:

Once the vanity was done, I hung three shelves on the wall to gain back the storage we need. I love that they are lighter and so much more casual than that cabinet! And I'm totally counting them as free because they've been hoarded in my basement so long that the money doesn't count any more.They are Ikea shelves + brackets and I only paid $5 for the whole set at a yard sale. They were brand new! I snatched them up and just knew that one day they would be perfect. Today is that day.

**I feel like I need a I'm Not a Total Hoarder disclosure. Did I store these for like five years and even transfer them to our new basement when we moved? Yes. Yes I did. Do I have a reasonably-sized hoard in the down there that I pull from on a regular basis? Yes. Yes I do. But it is reasonably sized and contains only things I really truly love and believe I'll use one day. Mostly. These shelves are a treasure. End of disclosure.**

Second disclosure of the day: I hung the first shelf the day I pulled out the cabinet and patched holes and painted the vanity. I was almost done. Then it took me a solid two weeks to hang the other two shelves. My momentum does not last, guys.

You can also make similar brackets yourself and it's so cheap! I did that for my low-budget office reno last year.

I added a new set of towel hooks in place of the towel bar and robe hook (it's the same strip we used in our upstairs bathroom). Now we can fit five towels and none of them are hanging over the toilet!

Then I just had to bring the stuff back in and style the shelves.

And this was the second time I broke the $0 budget. 

Containers are such an important part of open shelving. They hide all the things that aren't pretty and are a great way to create balance and a visual anchor. So I rounded up a few baskets and bins from around the house... and none of them were the right size.


So I bought the basket on the top shelf to hold bottles and a couple hand towels. It was only $5 so I pretty much felt amazing about it. No harm, no foul. Just a reasonably price basket that was perfect and made this a $5 update.

Then I also bought the metal box on the second shelf for smaller things like bandaids and nail clippers... but mostly because it was so darn cute. That one was $15. I mean, maybe the toilet seat didn't count, but I still destroyed my $0 goal once and for all.

The deed is done. Don't tell Dave Ramsey. K thanks.

Ok it's mostly done. I do want to add a couple more details when budget allows, like a new mirror. I didn't bother moving the old one down yet because I don't want to make another set of holes when I'm planning to replace it anyway. I've had my eye on something like this or this.

I also plan to hang some kind of artwork where the towel bar used to be. 

This bathroom has been a bit of a thorn in my side ever since we moved in. Mostly because there was nothing wrong with it. Everything was in good shape, it was recently updated, and for goodness sake it was bigger than any other bathroom we'd ever owned! But I just... didn't... like it.

It's hard for me, sometimes, to balance my dreams for our home with the reality that there's nothing wrong with our home. I don't ever want a home update to come at the cost of financial stability or take priority over other things that are more important. But I also want to make our home our own and to make it something beautiful. Even though I know that our home is so much more than what is on the walls.

Although I am trying to decide what should go on this wall. What do you think? I'm considering a landscape print from one of my favorite etsy shops, an artsy family-photo, or looking for some kind of painting (I don't even know what exactly). What would you do?

I'd also love to hear how you balance updating your home and finding contentment where you are. How does that look in your own home?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Georgia,
    your Budget Refresh Challenge is really interesting. I did many little experiments with my place too. The way you installed set of towel hooks in place of the towel bar and robe hook is very nice to do. Since I am working and hardly get any time my approach was bit different. I outlined exact what I want then estimated a budget for it.Finally hired My Home Handyman services , explaining them clearly about my budget and time constraints. They really did a good job with little over budget but final look of my place was stunning.