DIY & Projects,  Home Improvement

How I (Affordably) Spiffed Up My Ugly Bathroom

When I first purchased my fixer-upper, my least favorite room was absolutely the bathroom.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post about my very-scary sunroom, the bathroom did take precedence over any other repair or reno in my house. We spend a lot of time in there, whether showering or getting ready!

I have been trying to hide my house from anyone aside from my best friend and my mom because I don’t want people to see it in its haphazard unfinished state. My countertops are littered with sawdust and loose nails 98% of the time, my baseboards have yet to be re-caulked, and there are literally like two uninstalled ceiling fans in each room right now. And it wasn’t until last week that my dishwasher was FINALLY repaired and we were also able to install our washing machine.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of a bunch of ceiling fans

That’s why the majority of the projects I have posted on this page have just shown a small corner or portion of my house, such as the over-the-fridge display shelf, or the coffee rack by the window, or photos of just my cat-door. I am trying to keep it all under wraps until I can have a housewarming reveal party.

However, I have decided to unveil my bathroom because it’s transition has been somewhat of a miracle. It was truly my most despised room and has since grown-up into now both my favorite room (at the moment), as well as the only room in the house that is basically finished.

This transition took place over the course of about 2 and a half months. And while I still wish to one day rip out and replace the horrid space-capsule/time-machine/coffin-esque shower, it is now not only tolerable but also somewhat likable.

Below I have posted the BEFORE photo, and saved the AFTER for at the end of this post!

P.S. Apologies for the lack of great photos – the bathroom is so small and has little natural lighting, so it was tough to get good shots!

Goals & Garbage - A before bathroom photo

How I (Affordably) Spiffed Up My Ugly Bathroom:

As I have mentioned, when I first bought this house it was nasty AF. It had been smoked in for years and was very, very dirty. Both of these were highly apparent in the bathroom. I have literally no idea why but the two rooms in the house that smelled extra smokey were the guest room and the bathroom(?). There were also big splotches of old pee left for me by the toilet which I thought was really charming.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of my dog Lola and a gross toilet

So, first thing first was to clean. The shower was caked in 30 years worth of shampoo scum and I tried various methods to remove it. First was general soap and water, then bleach, then paint thinner (I know, I know – dumb). Finally, I was successful in scraping the build-up off with a putty knife.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of me cleaning my shower

Next, my mom and I painted the nicotine stained walls with a new color. I chose to do my entire house in off-white because I was so sick of the beige/green/grey combo I had previously suffered in my former apartment.

Lastly, we took out the toilet and sink, and then pulled the floor out. This does not fall into the “affordable” portion of spiffing up the bathroom, but I was replacing the floor entirely throughout the house and so I factored the bathroom into this as well.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of David tearing the floor out

Side note: While replacing the floor, the contractor I hired was cutting out around the base (because the former owners installed the door frame on top of the base floor for some reason) and as he was doing so, he happened upon a box of ancient Monistat that had somehow gotten installed into the wall when the original owners renovated. LOL WHAT.

You always see on HGTV how Chip & Joanna Gaines find all of these cutesy little artifacts while renovating, such as notes left by previous owners or the freaking deed to the house, and what I got was a box full of used fungus cream. I am debating on putting it in a shadowbox.

After cleaning up, it was time to do some repairs.

Both the shower head and the valve to control the temperature were broken in the shower. I have no idea how the previous owner bathed themselves but I have to imagine it was not an easy task. Luckily, my step-dad gifted me a double shower head for Christmas because they are marvelous. I had one at my previous apartment and was tempted to steal it, they are so great. He then installed it while I put in the new valve I purchased from Home Depot.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of the broken shower valve

Because the shower is a (completely useless) oval, fiberglass enclosure, the “ledges” installed in it are curved… Making it basically impossible to set any shampoo or soaps on. For that reason, I also had to get a shower caddy to hang up so there was somewhere to put everything.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of my double shower head

Next was the medicine cabinet fiasco. Somehow during the inspection, I didn’t notice that the mirror in the bathroom was actually a medicine cabinet. The issue with it was that the former installer had accidentally cut the hole in the drywall too big, thus leaving a giant gaping hole around the cabinet’s edges. I am certain that this is where the Declaration of Independence was hidden when Nic Cage was looking.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of empty wall space behind medicine cabinet

The hole posed a problem because the only mirror that could work was the one that fit the medicine cabinet. Because there was no wall, there was nowhere to hang a new mirror if so desired. And I desired one, of course.

This led to David and me on an excursion into the drywall world; we first watched oodles of Youtube videos on how to do it, then went and purchased the drywall and studs ourselves for all of $6.00, then cut the pieces to size in our basement, and then finally squished and hammered the square of wall into the gaping hole and joint-compounded it on up.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of installed drywall

Goals & Garbage - A photo of blog owner Jenn Meyers installing drywall

You definitely aren’t supposed to smear joint compound with your hands as shown in the photo above. Do as I say, not as I do.

All in all, I would give us a solid C- on the endeavor, but luckily the new mirror covers up our atrocious, first attempt at drywall.

Once the repairs were finished, it was time to finally decorate!

The previous owner left me a basic, wooden bathroom cabinet which I decided to upcycle. The exterior was a fake wood, so I sanded it down and painted it “Blueberry Hill” blue/purple. I originally had been wanting a periwinkle-ish color, but I settled for this because I liked that the name was St. Louis-ey. I then replaced the round cabinet knobs with floral ones I found at Home Depot.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of a freshly painted bathroom cabinet

Goals & Garbage - A photo of trinkets in bathroom cabinet

Then we replaced the original vanity lighting. My mom convinced me to go to the Habitat for Humanity Store with her to look for a cabinet for over my fridge (which you can read about how that worked out here…). Instead, we found this vanity light which matched my bathroom much closer than the original light fixture and cost a whopping FIFTY CENTS. I could barely believe it and had to ask a store employee to verify, just in case.

Remaining was the finishing touches. Like I said, we replaced the drywall so I could install a round mirror to give the bathroom a more contemporary look.

Afterward, I spruced the space up with all of my millennial terrariums, pastel colors and succulents. I had a handful of awesome smelling candles that I received for Christmas which also made the cut. And as a final measure, I bought a Boston Fern to attempt to grow, as I heard they liked moist and steamy environments. So far he isn’t doing too hot, but with some newly purchased Miracle-Gro, I am hoping Fernie will make a full recovery.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of my Boston Fern

All-In Bathroom Budget:

(The list below contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click and shop through my Amazon links, I get paid a small portion. Thank you for supporting me and my blog, at no extra cost to you!)

1G Behr Cream Colored Paint (for walls, also used in the bedroom) – Home Depot: $33.00
1Q Glidden Blueberry Hill Paint – Walmart: $11.00ish?
Floral Knobs – Home Depot: $4.00
Shower Caddy – Walmart: $11.00
Double Shower Head – Amazon: Gift from stepdad for Christmas.
Shower Valve Replacement – Home Depot: $25.00
Ikea TOFTBO Bathmat: $8.00
Fake Marble Trashcan – Amazon: $5.00
Amazon Basics Herringbone Shower Curtain – Amazon: $11.00
Toilet Scrubber – Walmart: $3.00
Shower Curtain Rod – Amazon (no longer available, but here is a similar one): $9.00
Wax Oils Candle in Cucumber – Amazon: Gift from my sister for Christmas.
Fox & Gold Votive Holders, & Candles: All gifts.
Round Mirror – Target: $38.00 (expensive but worth every penny)
Vanity Light – Habitat for Humanity Store (on clearance): $.50
Soap Dispenser – H&M (on clearance): $5.00
Moisturizer – Trader Joe’s: I don’t remember, have had it for eons.
Gold Air Plant Holders – Amazon: $12.00
Succulents – Home Depot: $6.00
Boston Fern – Home Depot: $18.00
Cabinet itself, toilet paper holder, towel bar, hand towel holder, vanity sink & toilet: All came with the house

Total: $199.50

Just under $200.00. Wahoo!

I didn’t include the cost of the drywall/studs/joint compound, as I have used those in numerous other projects and don’t know how to divvy it up.

I also did not include the cost of floor installation which was $2,300.00 (gulp) and the installation which cost $1,200 (double gulp). However, that covered the entire house which had formerly been nicotine-infused carpet and vinyl (helping to remedy the smoke-smell/plus my allergies will thank me later). Hopefully, your own floor isn’t so nauseating and (if using this blog post for inspiration) you can just upgrade your bathroom’s appearance with some cute, millennial thingies like succulents haha.

Goals & Garbage - A photo of succulents

Goals & Garbage - A photo of a rubber duck

While I still think spending around $200.00 is a little high, I think I did okay considering the number of broken objects and the fact that it looks so so soooo much better. Plus, the quoted cost I received to replace the shower was $2,000.00 so this is certainly a bit more affordable than that.



Goals & Garbage - A before photo of my bathroom


Goals & Garbage - An after photo of my bathroom

Goals & Garbage - After photo of my bathroom

Goals & Garbage - After photo of my bathroom

Goals & Garbage - After photo of my bathroom

In the end, I am pleased with my bathroom’s facelift. I hope I have helped inspire you to help make your bathroom a bit cuter as well!


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