Day Two Of Our Big Bathroom Makeover For Granny

Yesterday you saw Day Numero Uno of what I lovingly call “Operation Granny Chic.” Mission: update my Granny’s bathroom over three whirlwind days. So with all of the prep work done, our day-by-day play-by-play continues with painting and new floors. Except for one minor step that stood in our way…

Notice that giant rust spot on the air duct near the floor? Since there’s no way paint would fix that on its own (it would bleed right through), we slapped some Rustoleum on that puppy before breaking out the paint cans. It was amazing how one fast coat worked like a charm.

The paint color we chose for the room is “Hint of Violet” by Benjamin Moore, which is a soft violet with some subtle gray undertones. Granny is such a colorful person (and often wears purple) so we knew had to do something cheery for her, but since the room is so small we didn’t want anything that would knock you over the head or make the space feel more cramped than it already is, so the plan was to bring in more pops of bolder color with the accessories, window fabric, etc.

The new wall color went on in two quick coats, including the slanted ceiling (in small spaces like bathrooms we love doing the ceiling the same color as the walls since it feels less chopped up and more open), so by lunch we were ready to tackle the floor.

Oh the floor. The existing floor was one of those old sheets of laminate. It was actually in decent shape considering it’s age and it was neutral enough to not offend. But Granny (who doesn’t ask for much specifically) wanted a new, more updated floor in the form of those individual vinyl tiles with a lot more texture, so that was a must for our to-do list.

We would’ve loved to give Granny some kick-butt hex tile or something else with a vintage vibe, but given the time and money constraints of the project we had one obvious option: those vinyl stick tiles that Granny had requested. Plus my parents suggested that we not risk any major plumbing issues – which would grind our makeover to an immediate halt – by attempting a sink or toilet removal considering the age of the pipes in this older home, so we were happy to oblige.

Sherry and I actually installed vinyl tiles about 6 years ago in our old kitchen, so we were a little rusty but we were quick to find our groove. The nice thing about this type of flooring is that it goes down super easy, doesn’t necessitate a wet saw or any sort of thinset/grout, and is über affordable (we got these from Home Depot for 99-cents per tile). The key is to make sure each tile is set very (very very) snugly against the others so you don’t get any seams, so we really pressed each tile firmly into the edge of the previous tile before sticking it down.

The other thing I love about these guys is that they’re crazy easy to cut. All it takes is a quick score with a utility knife and then it (I can’t believe I’m about to make a Legally Blonde reference) bends and snaps. Though unlike Elle Woods, it then breaks apart.

Granny’s itty bitty bathroom would’ve been a cinch to complete except that there were so. many. dang. edges. to cut. It’s not the hardest task – just time consuming. Again, since I was advised not to remove the sink or toilet – I had to cut around them (but we left Granny a bunch of spare tiles to bridge any potential gaps in case the toilet is eventually replaced). I started each cut by making a paper template. Typically I’d use a stiffer paper like cardstock, but Granny just had a spiral notebook handy – so I taped it into place and used my knife to cut right along the edge of (in this case) the toilet.

Gorgeous, no?

Then I taped my template on the to-be-cut tile and slowly sliced along the edge of the template.

Once I bent-and-snapped out the section that would interfere with the toilet – and did a test placement with the protective backing still on – it was ready to be stuck down. Voila:

By the end of about 23 tiles and 4 hours it was completely done. And it was definitely a huge upgrade from the old sheet o’ vinyl that was there before. Again, if we had the luxury of time I would’ve loved to remove the sink and toilet to go under them (so for those of you at home who do, I’d recommend it), but leaving Granny seven spare tiles was the next best thing – so if she ever has a plumber replace the toilet or sink, she can fix any gaps if either fixture happens to have a smaller footprint.

It was amazing how much the new flooring updated the room… especially in person since it has some great texture. And it looks pretty darn good with those soft violet walls.

With the paint and flooring done, most of our major projects were checked off for the day, so it was just on to prepping a few more finishing touches – like breathing some new life into some of Granny’s old cabinet hardware (which we think was added sometime in the 80s or 90s, but had since peeled a bit). Enter Valspar’s Indigo Streamer in Satin to the rescue (it looks kind of bright here, but it’s a true deep navy in person).

First we sanded them smooth and then it was spray-time. We had originally hoped to replace Granny’s cabinet hardware with some new shiny chrome versions, but the existing holes weren’t a standard size. That ended up being a blessing in disguise because not only did we get to reuse what she had, but we also got to make them a fun and less expected color. Navy definitely beats worn-and-peeling brass and adds tons of interest to an old white toilet paper holder.

So with our spray painted items drying outside for the evening, the room was looking like this by the end of Day 2 (pardon the terrible picture, it was late at night, so the floor looks Frito-orange and you can hardly see the voilet color on the walls).

Oh but we were able to tackle a few other minor items in preparation for Day 3’s big reveal – like giving Granny a playful blue glass knob on her medicine cabinet, and hanging a towel ring into some existing holes on the duct (we worried hanging something on the duct might be a bad call, but Granny said it used to hang there for years and since my dad also said it shouldn’t be an issue, we used the old holes that were there and plugged them up with a shiny new towel ring).

Oh yeah, and we replaced a couple of her outlets – including the burned one on the floor – so they were all new and white and up to today’s safety standards (an electrician had looked a them prior to our little makeover to ensure they were nice & safe before we messed with them).

Isn’t this little problem area by her sink already looking worlds better? That was definitely one of the more satisfying views of Day 2. Although for some reason the soft violet walls are really hard to see in these late night shots.

Happily after a day of painting, changing up the flooring, and doing a few little updates to get a jump on things, our to-do list was looking like this:

  • Brainstorm colors & go shopping for accessories (Day 1)
  • Spackle/sand/caulk everything to prep the room for paint (Day 1)
  • Rebuild the cabinets a bit so they look more balanced (Day 1)
  • Prime and paint the cabinets for a more updated and open look (Day 1 & 2)
  • Paint the entire room, including the ceiling (Day 2)
  • Fix a few issues, like a rusted duct and an old dingy corner below the sink (Day 2)
  • Redo the floors, which were that old sheet laminate stuff (Day 2)
  • Revive some hardware/accessories with a fresh finish (Day 2)
  • Make & hang curtains to add some charm (Day 3)
  • Bring in some meaningful art (Day 3)
  • Add some functional/personal accessories to finish things off (Day 3)
  • Reveal the whole shebang for Granny (Day 3)

We’ll have all of the official before & afters in tomorrow’s post about our final day of upgrading the room and – the best part – video and photos of us revealing it to Granny. We’ll also have a full budget breakdown for you (we just have some receipt-math and photo-uploading to do). In the meantime, is anyone else out there using peel & stick tiles for a super affordable upgrade? Did you make paper templates too? Or did you use some other method to size them?


  1. Amanda C says

    Ahhh you guys are the best! Since we bought our house in February, I have been dying to update the floor in our small master bath, which is also sheet laminate (they redid everything else, but left that – why?!). But other more important projects have taken priority. Never even heard of these peel and stick tiles, but think I will give them a shot until we can afford to get the floor we really want!

    • says

      You’re not supposed to caulk all the way around a toilet so that you know if it’s leaking (you want the water to come out so you can see it, instead of secretly collecting under the toilet until it falls through the floor after years of rot). Sometimes we caulk around the front and leave the back open so you can see leaks back there, but in this case it looked finished enough not to caulk it at all, so we left it well enough alone. Hope it helps!


    • Pam the Goatherd says

      I didn’t know that about not caulking all the way around the toilet. Our potty has caulk all the way around. We’re going to be re-doing the floor in there as soon as I can find the flooring that I want. Guess I’ll be peeling that caulk off…

    • Annie says

      Yeah, we just had to tear out the floor/subflooring and replace joists that had rotted from a leaky toilet and bad caulk job. The floor literally caved in. You don’t want that hassle… So gross!

  2. Cassie says

    looks awesome! I LOVE the color of the walls. I want to paint my daughter’s room and this is something I could easily see her loving but not hitting us in the face when we walk in!

  3. katie says

    My husband and I doing renovations in our condo. What we didn’t realize when we bought the place was that it was one of the most expensive condos in the whole community. So while we are doing the renos we don’t want to spend a lot of money. Our kitchen has been a big hurdle as the floors are currently peel and stick but UGLY. We are going to put peel and stick right on top but in black and white checkered on in a diamond pattern. I hope it works out okay I am really nervous about it, but it is not worth the money to put in the floors I really want to have. Black 6X12 tile done in a herringbone style. Oh well.

  4. Liz E. says

    Love the progress so far! I live in Huntington, too–want to make over another bathroom while you’re here? (haha, just kidding) =)

    I’m sure your Granny is so grateful for you both! Excited to see the reveal tomorrow!

  5. says

    Loving this reno, because Granny’s bathroom is about the same tiny size as our half bath and I am having a bugger of a time trying to figure out how to redesign that space!

    The previous owners in our house did peal & stick tiles as well, but def did not do a great job cutting them down.. there are gaps around every corner in the bathroom and adjacent laundry room!

  6. says

    OMG – thank you for that tip on how to cut the stick-on tile! I’m using that in my laundry room right now and could not figure out how in the world to make the cuts! Duh! that makes all the sense in the world now! I’ve just been trying to eye it – and not doing a very good job of it! Any suggestions for how to fill in tiny areas when the walls are evidently not straight? I’ve basically got maybe a half a centimeter left in one area between the tiles and the wall and I can’t cut the tiles small enough to make a piece fit.

    • says

      Hmm, that’s tough. Can you use a pencil to draw a thin line on the tile and use an x-acto knife to cut off that sliver and stick it into the sliver? It might be the best way to hold everything together (you could use quarter round or caulk to bridge the gap too, but tile shoved in there might keep stuff in place a bit better so you don’t end up with cracks down the line).


  7. Sara says

    So glad you did this post! My husband and I want to redo our bathroom floors, small downstairs closet and small laundry room using peel and stick vinyl tiles. We don’t plan to live in our house forever so we don’t want to sink a ton of money in by putting down expensive flooring, but the yucky vinyl floor really needs to go. (It’s bad.) If you have any tips to share on how to replace a tile floor cheaply (the previous owners put down this big, thin ceramic tiles and many of them have cracked. Underneath the tiles is the grate that tiles go on (I don’t know the technical term) and that is glued on top of the original vinyl flooring.) Help!

    • Sara says

      May I also add that this icky tile floor cover our entryway hallway, another small hallway and the kitchen and breakfast nook? We’re talking a massive area of ceramic tile. Would we have to break up all the tiles and pull up the grates (somehow) and put down flooring that way? I don’t see any other way to do it because when we bought our new dishwasher, it barely went in over the tile (since it’s tile on top of other flooring.)

    • says

      Hmm, it sounds like you’ll have to remove those tiles if you want to tile over them since they have cracked (you want your base to be level and even). Then once they’re out, try to make sure the ground is flat (they sell self leveling things like concrete which can help) before applying anything new. Hope it helps!


  8. Stacy says

    I love the wall color! We used these exact floor tiles in our half bath that has that yellow tile that you have in your guest bath :)

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