Bath­room gets a bud­get makeover

The Progress-Index - At Home - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARY BETH BRECK­EN­RIDGE

AKRON, Ohio — I am a cheap­skate.

Fru­gal is a nicer word, but the truth is I can pinch a penny till Abe gets bruises.

So of course I brought my skin­flinti­est spirit to my re­cent ren­o­va­tion of my pow­der room.

The room had long bugged me, with its out­dated van­ity, coun­try blue walls and sac­cha­rine wall­pa­per bor­der printed with berib­boned bou­quets. Oh, and a gold faucet. At least it was gold be­fore the fin­ish started cor­rod­ing.

But the project was fairly far down my pri­or­ity list, and my orig­i­nal dreams of an over­haul would have cost more than my bank ac­count al­lowed.

Fi­nally, though, I could stand it no longer. I aban­doned my vi­sion of wood floors, a wain­scot and a pedestal sink and de­cided to make the best of what I had.

I’m pretty pleased with the re­sults, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing my in­vest­ment — less than $700, plus another $125 or so in tow­els and dec­o­ra­tive ac­ces­sories. Advil not in­cluded.

The room won’t make the cover of House Beau­ti­ful, but it’s a big im­prove­ment.

My proud­est ac­com­plish­ment is my makeover of the van­ity, which was cov­ered in white plas­tic lam­i­nate with an unin­spired blue lam­i­nate top.

I wanted to re­place it but found that wasn’t an op­tion, since my tiled floor ex­tends just to the edges of the van­ity but not un­der­neath it. Since I couldn’t find another van­ity with a big­ger foot­print that would cover the gap, and since a new floor for the bath­room and the ad­join­ing laun­dry room wasn’t in the bud­get, I’d have to make do.

I primed the base with a goodqual­ity primer for­mu­lated for use on plas­tic lam­i­nate, and then painted it in a beau­ti­ful brown­ish gray. I re­placed the doors with un­fin­ished wood doors painted to match, which I’d found for $10 apiece at Build­ing 9, the dis­count build­ing-ma­te­ri­als ware­house near down­town Akron, Ohio. The doors were nar­rower than the orig­i­nals, but I knew that by adding a stile — a ver­ti­cal piece of wood be­tween the doors — they’d cover the open­ing just fine.

But the stile would have made the open­ings in the van­ity too nar­row to be prac­ti­cal, so I bor­rowed a trick I learned from a car­pen­ter ac­quain­tance: I at­tached the stile to the edge of one of the doors in­stead of the cab­i­net. When the doors are closed, you can’t tell the dif­fer­ence. Three screws were plenty to hold the stile in place.

A new light brown traver­tine van­ity top with an in­te­grated sink pur­chased online (free ship­ping!), a new

faucet and a cou­ple of glass knobs, and I had a whole new van­ity.

Don’t want to re­place the doors? If you don’t like their style, you can al­ways cre­ate the il­lu­sion of raised-panel doors by glu­ing a rect­an­gle of trim mold­ing onto the front of each. Seal all the joints with paintable caulk so you won’t see cracks af­ter you paint. If the doors have a de­sign carved into them, fill the grooves with wood putty first and sand smooth.

Another hur­dle I faced in my bath­room ren­o­va­tion was the mir­ror, which was glued to the wall. Saw­ing be­hind it with wire got me noth­ing but sore hands, so I re­sorted to pulling the mir­ror off the wall with a cou­ple of dent pullers, strong suc­tion cups sold at auto parts store for re­mov­ing car dents.

My hus­band and I at­tached one dent puller to each of the up­per cor­ners of the mir­ror and pulled, and we were sur­prised by how eas­ily the mir­ror gave way. I knew in ad­vance that this method would tear away some of the dry­wall cov­er­ing and was pre­pared for some sig­nif­i­cant patch­ing, but it turned out the dam­age was lim­ited to a cou­ple of fairly small spots. Since they’d be mostly hid­den by the new mir­ror, I was able to fix them with just a skim coat­ing of dry­wall com­pound.

The towel bar was a bit of a chal­lenge, too, since the stan­dard sizes didn’t fit my space. That was eas­ily re­solved: I bought a type con­sist­ing of a hol­low metal rod that fits into two end brack­ets, and then I used a tub­ing cut­ter to cut the rod down to the size I needed.

With a fresh coat of paint and a few pic­tures on the wall, the pow­der room has a fresh new look.

And I still have money left for the next project on the list.

• Mary Beth Breck­en­ridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or [email protected]­bea­con­jour­nal. com. You can also be­come a fan on Face­book at­breck, fol­low her on Twit­ter @MBBreck­en­ridge and read her blog at


At­tach­ing a dent puller to each of the up­per cor­ners of a mir­ror glued to the wall al­lowed easy re­moval with mi­nor patch­able dam­age to the wall and op­tions for a new mir­ror.

Left: This bath­room with an out­dated van­ity, coun­try blue walls, sac­cha­rine wall­pa­per and a gold faucet has been on the list for a makeover. Right: The bath­room makeover in­cluded the van­ity, which was cov­ered in white plas­tic lam­i­nate with an unin­spired blue lam­i­nate top, and was re­placed with a new light brown traver­tine van­ity top with an in­te­grated sink.


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