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A Bathroom Redo

A Bathroom Redo

This post took me months to finalize. I did the work over Labor Day weekend (in September), and now you finally get to enjoy. I kept thinking that I would take more and better pictures, but I should know better by now, right?


Not to brag or anything, but I have the best boyfriend in the whole freaking world. I could list a hundred reasons why he is the best boyfriend in the whole world, but that would be annoying. Suffice to say, he’s pretty great. So I wanted to do something special for his birthday. Therefore, I decided to redo his bathroom. He lives in a super old building that has not been very well-maintained, so most undertakings are pretty daunting.

The inspiration for the color combinations came from The Little Green Notebook. The bathroom featured on her blog is almost exactly the same layout/style as my boyfriend’s bathroom. And Jenny has a great eye.

Here are some before pics. Yeesh.

Before 1.

Before 2. Drab.

Before 3. Ugly steam pipes that burn the holy hell out of you. Poorly painted door.

As you can see from the before pictures, this bathroom was in desperate need of a redo. He lives in city housing, so on the few occasions when they do repaint or repair things, they do it rather poorly. For example, in the bathroom, instead of using a proper primer, the contractor had painted latex paint over an oil based semi-gloss. Because this is NOT the best way to paint over semi-gloss oil paint, the latex paint on top was literally peeling off in sheets (see “Before 4” picture below).

Before 4. Cracks in the plaster paint, from when I had taken down some weird shelving ages ago. The latex paint coat that was most recent was no longer adhering to the semi-gloss oil (lead?) paint that was below it.

I was worried about trying to remove all the latex paint, because given the age of the building I suspected the oil based paint below the latex was lead, so I could not sand it down or scrape it. This presented a problem, obviously.  To repaint, I would need a surface that would take paint, and semi-gloss oil paint does not take paint well without sanding.

So here is what I did:

1. I peeled off as much of the peeling latex paint as I could, without sanding or scraping to avoid releasing lead paint dust.

2. I patched holes with spackle and sanded the spackle smooth once dried (being careful not to sand the surrounding suspected-lead-based paint).

Spackle the cracks – I used one that was pink when wet and dried to white so you know it’s been enough time.

3. I wiped down the walls to remove all spackle dust so that everything was clean.

4. I primed the WHOLE bathroom with oil-based Kilz primer. This stuff is AMAZING. It sticks to almost anything, and in a bathroom is great because it can paint right over mold or mildew (which fortunately wasn’t a problem in this bathroom). Just don’t use an expensive brush because after painting with oil paint, it’s often just easier to throw away the brush.

Sapphire Blue walls. They are a little darker than shown here. The art in the top frame is not staying – the piece I ordered for that frame had not arrived yet. 

5. I painted above the chair rail with Behr Sapphire Sparkle in satin. I would have preferred to use eggshell, but in a bathroom you want at least a satin because it’s more water-repellant.

6. I painted below the chair rail and the trim in ultra white semi-gloss (not sure which color exactly but it was whatever I had laying around).

Jute wrapped pipe.

7. I wrapped the heating pipes (or at least started to, I need to finish this) with jute rope. I will post more information on how to do this later. I have burned myself on these pipes more times than I care to admit. (See picture above).

8. I added manly accessories – wooden and brass frames, thick stripe shower curtains, bicycle art.

So much better, right?

The shower curtain is from West Elm.

The frames are from TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. The darling clip art pictures are from She has tons of free vintage printable clip art. I love that octopus print.

The basket is from TJ Maxx, and I spray painted it gold so it matched better. I also hung brass towel hooks on the back of the door. Many towel hooks is an important thing!

I use Zep mold and mildew cleaner to clean the white tile grout until it was mostly white. This took a while and I ruined one of my favorite pairs of pants because Zep contains a fair amount of bleach. (The picture below is a before – I don’t have an after picture).

Dirty “before” tile. I forgot to take the picture of the after, but it’s much much better.

Boyfriend loved it. I love it. It still needs some work, but it’s a vast improvement and makes the place feel so much homier.

I screwed these pretty glass drawer pulls into the bamboo over-the-toilet thing so that we could hang hand towels from them.

This bathroom is small and really hard to photograph. If I get my life together, I may post better pictures. If I don’t get my life together (the more likely of the two options), you will just have to use your imagination and trust me that the transformation is awesome.

One more final before and after comparison:

Before 2. Drab.

So much better, right?



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