Home Improvement

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:

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?

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Day One Of Our Big Bathroom Makeover For Granny

There are almost always three main steps to the room makeovers that we tackle, and depending on the scope/depth of them, they can take a few days or a few months (ok, and sometimes we jump around so much that things take years). Either way, the order seems to go like so:

So when John’s mom mentioned his grandma’s half bathroom could use a little makeover we got to put those three steps into action. It resulted in a three day bathroom blitz that involved two seven hour drives and some obligatory midnight painting (thank goodness John’s parents traveled with us to keep Clara busy and happy). First you should meet Granny. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia, and is one of the happiest, kindest women you’ll ever meet. Here she is holding baby Clara for the first time:

And you know we love to share the day-by-day play-by-play, so with further ado, here’s what our To-Do list looked like for our turbo-charged three-day project (along with guesses about when we’d actually tackle things in parenthesis after each line item):

Here’s her charming 1920’s house, which they’ve in since the 1940’s so John’s mom and her siblings all grew up here. John’s late grandfather (“Papa”) actually did a lot of the handiwork himself over the years so there are lots of stories and memories tied to this place.

In fact, it was Papa who converted an old kitchen pantry into this little half bathroom! So everything from adding the plumbing to the electrical was all him. But that was decades ago, and the room was looking ready for an update, especially thanks to some wallpaper that Granny was “ready to tear off the walls” herself (at 90 years old, she still has that DIY spirit running through her veins, by the way). So here’s what the room looked like before the wallpaper was removed:

Thanks to Granny, our Aunt Ellen, and our Uncle Dean, the wallpaper was all miraculously removed before we arrived around dinnertime – just in time to work the night away prepping the rest of the room. But not knowing our store options in Huntington, we did some shopping before we left, including a mad dash into HomeGoods for some items we thought could work (we over-bought, knowing we could return whatever she didn’t need). We also knew Granny might have some of the items that we grabbed, so ideally we would get to use some of the new stuff, and some of her existing stuff, for a nice mix (and some nice savings).

We also stopped at our favorite fabric outlet (U-fab) and grabbed a yard of pretty floral-printed fabric that felt a lot like Granny (it’s made by Braemore, for anyone looking for it) to make sweet little cafe curtains for the one small window in the bathroom. Here’s that fabric with some of the accessories we picked up, just so you can see where we were “going” in our brains:

We also stopped into Home Depot and grabbed some new flooring (which you’ll see more of during Day Two) and we used our seven hour drive to brainstormed a few other ideas for the space while we took in the road trip scenery (slash kept a pooch and a toddler occupied).

Here’s what the room looked like when we arrived. It was already looking worlds better with just the wallpaper being gone.

Apparently the paper came down with just a little tugging, so that was the good news. But without the wallpaper, some areas of the room actually looked even more worse for wear… like the bottom corner of the sink, the burned outlet, and the rusted vent on the other side of the pedestal sink.

Yup, there were definitely some areas that needed attending to…

So we got right down to business. My job was cutting all of the old caulk out. It’s a step that doesn’t look much better immediately (sometimes it looks worse)…

…  but once we get some fresh caulk and painting done, it looks as good as new.

Speaking of cutting out caulk in general, it’s amazing how much of it there can be. Just look at my pile after tackling the sink, the baseboards, and other random corners that also had bits of leftover wallpaper and cracked flooring:

I actually ended up using an entire tube of caulk in this tiny space! Everything from the baseboards to that area around the sink and the doorway/window trim got some fresh caulk. It’s definitely a tedious job, but so worth it for a polished look.

Then it was on to spackling and sanding. We just used regular old Dap spackle (with the blue lid) and a spackle knife, and pressed it into every crack and crevice, working our way around the room. Sometimes I’ll sand something before I spackle it, just if there’s something hanging off (ex: a flake of plaster) so I get a better finished look and a less crumbly foundation under my spackle job.

Meanwhile, John was off doing some wood cutting in the middle of the kitchen. I guess this is what happens when you don’t have your usual workspace and tools with you?

He was cutting a small plank of wood to cover a gap in the top of Granny’s cabinets since they’re actually two cabinets pushed together and topped with an old hollow-core door. So we filled the gap for a seamless look by nailing the plank into the 2 x 4 pieces that were already there to support the counter.

It would of course look more seamless once it was painted, which meant it was time to remove the hardware and prime those cabinets.

Here’s John rolling on some primer (this post has a much more thorough rundown of how we prime and paint cabinets).

And here are the drawer fronts all drying in Granny’s back-room-turned-cabinet-painting-studio:

It took us a good four or five hours to prep the room as well as prime the cabinets and the countertop, so our to do list now looked like this (with little notes next to each remaining task about when we hoped to tackle them):

We had high hopes that we could bang everything out in our three day blitz, and we were really happy with our end-of-Day-1 result. A nice fresh clean slate to start gussying up in the morning. So it was off to bed exactly at midnight, after a very full day of shopping, driving, prepping, and priming.

We’ll be back with the full Day 2 rundown tomorrow, we just have to edit some photos (um yeah, we might have taken 1,294 in just three days…). Are there any other bathroom updates going on? Or shopping/prepping/brainstorming? Have you ever done a little room makeover for someone you love? It sounds weird, but it was even more fun than doing something like this for ourselves because the excitement of the big reveal for Granny got us so dorked up and giddy.

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