Bathroom: That’ll Do

Fixing up the bathroom was at the top of my to-do list when we moved in. It’s small and, as I mentioned previously, it’s made even more cramped by the crazy angle of the door.  Here’s what it looked like with the previous tenants’ stuff.

There was a medicine cabinet above the sink, which I didn’t like because it protruded into the sink space and the mirror was too small, and there was a glass shelf above the toilet, which I didn’t like because those things are really only good for displaying your cologne collection and I stopped wearing Cool Water in seventh grade.

So, down came the medicine cabinet and the shelf along with the towel bar.

We painted the walls Benjamin Moore Decorators White (you might think the walls were already white, but you’d be wrong – note the swatches in the top left corner of the picture above). I shopped for a wall-mounted storage option before realizing that I could simply repurpose the cabinet I removed. I covered the mirror using the starch + fabric approach discussed on various blogs (e.g., here, here and here).  Measuring and cutting fabric super-precisely can be a drag, so I cut my material (a remnant I had on hand) a little bigger than needed and applied it to the mirror, using a defunct debit card* to push it tightly into the edges.

(I ironed after this step.)

* Defunct because Chase deactivated it to punish me for shopping at Michaels.

The next day, after it had dried, I used my X-Acto knife to cut off the extra fabric. Very easy and much more precise than if I had measured it. I’m pleased with the result, especially since it didn’t cost anything.

I cut a small hole in the back so that I could run a power cord from behind the mirror into the cabinet to plug in our electric toothbrush. I ran a second cord leading to my hairdryer, which I am far too lazy to unplug and put away each morning. Know thyself. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a beautiful solution, but it works. I may use another cord cover to conceal the south-bound cord; I’ll also paint the existing cover to help it blend in a bit more.

Here’s a bunch more pictures – sorry, it’s hard to photograph such a small space.

All in all, I’m happy with the bathroom now. It came together pretty quickly and cheaply thanks to using supplies I had on hand. The landlords paid for the paint. The only thing I splurged on was the West Elm stripe shower curtain and some cheap IKEA FRAJEN towels (which are actually pretty nice – they have a sewn-in hanging loop and I like thinner towels for quick-dry purposes).

Look at that crazy angle! How did this floor plan happen?! (Sneak peak of the black wainscoting, by the way, and that’s the aforementioned cathole.)

97 thoughts on “Bathroom: That’ll Do

  1. That *IS* a crazy angle! I love the shower curtain.

    I can’t wait to see the entire apartment finished! Also, I’m totally jealous that you get to be in a place that needs to be organized and decorated. I have just been reorganizing the upstairs every couple of weeks, unnecessary and a real waste of time.

  2. Loooove it! Simple ideas for a big impact. Way to go. I should send you some pictures of my bathroom for some make-over ideas. And, my living room, and the kitchen . . . :) Love the sunny yellow color on the shower curtain, too!

    Who knew IKEA sold towels with sewn-in hanging loops! I’ve been sewing in loops using grosgrain ribbon (cute little dinosaurs, etc.) on my kids towels for years. I should write a post about that!

    Anyway, awesome re-do! Congrats, and enjoy!

  3. Love the transformation of the bathroom! And your fabric cutting idea was genius! I can’t wait to see other projects of yours, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  4. This looks fantastic! The before picture cried out for personalization, and you rose to the challenge!

    The worst bathroom remodeling story I ever heard involved a bathroom that had three layers tile on the walls and floors. Not only did the contractor have to remove all these layers, but he also had to re-install the toilet at the end of every day since it was the only bathroom in the house! On the plus side, the bathroom looked much bigger at the end of the job, and it inspired one of my blog comic strips, “3 Wall Blues”.

  5. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I love the renovation and what you did with the medicine cabinet – I would have left the mirror or made artwork out of it, but loved the fact that your hair dryer and appliances are handy and safe! Great job and I’ll be sure to check out the rest of the space..

  6. Almost totally unrelated, but you rent right? I am only asking because if you are… how does your landlord feel about the improvements? I do think the few things I’ve noticed that you’ve done look really good and well done, but I don’t think I’d be a happy homeowner if I knew my tenants were doing improvements to my house. Just asking… not attacking.

    1. Totally a fair question. We do rent, and I try to only rent from landlords who seem amiable to tenants making changes to the unit. Our current and previous landlords, for example, let me deduct the cost of any improvements from our monthly rent. Also, a lot of the changes I make can be reversed: this bathroom can go back to its original form in 30 minutes with a screwdriver and some spackel. Thanks for checking out my blog!

  7. Great post! I admire your creativity. I have a similarly small bathroom that I’m trying to do something with. Where do you store towels and such? Or are they in a closet somewhere outside the bathroom?

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!!!

  8. That looks amazing! I love the splash of color from the shower curtains! Since you used some gauzy white material to cover up the mirror, how do you plan to keep that clean and white over time?

    1. Good question – getting it wet with any sort of cleaning product will likely soften the starch, but I think it should re-harden without much problem. If it’s a total failure, I’ll be sure to fess up online.

  9. Great job! I’m particularly impressed by the fabric covering of the mirror. I know you say it’s easy, but I’m sure that I would find away to botch the job. I’m not very good with those things.

  10. im not handy, but i knew when i kept banging my forehead whenever i bent down to splash water on my face i decided the inappropriately placed medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink had to go. seems to me, any nimrod would realize this was poor planning too. so i yanked it off the wall, and placed it above the toilet, high enough to not bang someone in the head if they sit on the toilet and the doors (3) of the medicine cabinet needed to be open. I bought a piece of mirror, that covered the hole that had been cut into the wall for the medicine cabinet, and covers more space, from the sink back wash all the way up to the cabinet mirror lights that are on a separate piece of hardwood then the actual mirror, and made sure the new mirror was also the width of the sink. In other words, I did them same thin as you basically and you are the only person I have come across who has done the same thing. Good work !

  11. I have a tiny bathroom that was a small bedroom in the 1940s & turned in to a bathroom in the 1950s. We plan to remodel, but the enconomy making things so high & making the other bills higher, plus regular cost of living getting higher & I stopped working due to Fibromyalgia; most of our remodels have been put on hold.

    I am glad I found your blog. You did a great job fixing up this bathroom with little cost. Thanks for sharing. I love the contrast with the bright yellow shower curtain.

  12. wow, cute. not sure i could do this myself though…i like the colors they look clean and peaceful. and the wicker baskets make it look stylish and useful for storage at the same time. there’s an unneeded towel rack just taking up wall space though…

  13. What an upgrade! Gave me food for thought – we’ve got an itty-bitty bathroom too, & it’s always fun how small changes storage-wise can make such a big difference in these little rooms. Love the curtain too! :)

  14. I am laughing at the craziness in this apartment! You have your work cut out for you, but it looks like you are very handy, so it should be a breeze for you. Keep us updated!

  15. Great Job. I love checking out others work and either trying to apply their idea’s or add to their idea’s.
    I have just finished my bathroom. I did it to look a bit mid-evil, but in a tasteful way, not dark.

    Thanks for posting, will look for more of your post.

  16. Great work, like the idea you did with your former mirror and medicine cabinet.
    I am all about the white bathroom, in fact, I just painted my bathroom what I thought was white… but it is actually white with a green tint. I am going to get the paint tinted more white.

    Got to love crazy floor plans, but you made a great use of the space and opening it up. I really like the big mirror that you added. Love your shower curtin as well.

    The cathole is interesting, can’t wait to read more, as I see there is at least one more post about it.

  17. Love the bigger mirror over the sink. I like how you put the hole in the former medicine cabinet to store the electric toothbrush, et al. I wonder why you didn’t leave the mirror, though? I like having two mirrors — it’s so much easier to brush/fluff the hair, and while I thought your fabric technique was excellent (especially trimming after you applied the fabric — so much better for a precise fit), I probably would have left the mirror, myself.

    I personally think the room could use more color, and although you chose a colorful shower curtain, for me it doesn’t work as a design statement because that yellow color isn’t used in any other place in the room, and that leaves it feeling kind of isolated. I would have gotten yellow towels and/or rugs, myself, to distribute the color around the room. That’s a huge design rule — make any accent color you choose look deliberate by dispersing it around the room. Otherwise, it tends to look unfinished or like an afterthought.

  18. That looks very nice, but I never feel really into changing things when I’m renting an apt. Maybe you are there for a long time and then it is totally worth it. At the moment I have no idea when sthg else will show up and I will have to move again, so it sucks bc I love decorating, but I feel it will be useless if I will be moving soon.

    Great job on the bathroom though!

  19. wow that is definitely a crazy angle! How ever would that have passed council regulations lol.

    I love the bright shower curtain and the new larger mirror. Why would the previous tenants have put in such a small medicine cabinet. Great use of the space :)

  20. Good work. Provided you have additional budget later on, you can remove the tiny cabinet that’s holding the faucet. That can save space, and in that way, you won’t have to put the hairbrush basket near the toilet. Or, you can put them inside the cabinet (just make sure it’s really, really clean!) :)

  21. I discovered this post through Freshly Pressed and I really enjoyed reading about your bathroom makeover project! I am very interesting in decorating, especially DIY. Thank you so much for explaining in so much detail. I’m definitely going to read up on your past projects!

  22. Looks much bigger now! Did you keep the bronze faucet in the shower? I’m working on redoing our bathrooms. After renting a place with the smallest bathroom (Seriously, Hubster had to duck in the shower and you couldn’t sit straight on the toilet or your knees would be pushed into the sink) in excited to have larger ones to makeover!

  23. Thanks! We have a huge bathroom project in store for us when we have the time/money and I appreciate any tips that are low-cost AND relatively simple. (I am good at painting, but that’s about it when it comes to home improvement.)

  24. I am a single mom on social security income so I can not just buy what ever I want when ever I want, but I do get by and I always know that I will have income. There was this plaid shower curtain at Walmart that I saw probably a couple of years ago now, that because my apartment bathroom is so plain I thought would look absolutely “stunning” is a word a commenter wrote on here about your shower curtain. It looked like this nice thick cotton texture and if I wanted it I am sure that it was machine washable. I have a 6 year old boy so plaid would work. Still I am thinking that I should go and pick it up when I have money, but it is so hard to prioritize.

  25. That looks amazing!! But your landlord let you do all the makeover even though it’s a rental? How was that possible?

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