Updating a Rental Home Bathroom

bathroom refresh

I finally decided to tackle the upstairs bathroom.  It mostly belongs to the girls, but we live in a split-level home, so most of the living space is upstairs and this is our main bathroom, and we all use it as well as our guests.

bathroom refresh

bathroom refresh

This lemon lime paint color has been bugging me for over 2 years now.  We’re in a rental that has so many great features, and yet so many really annoying features.  This pastel-y paint is one of them.  *cue 1980’s Twisted Sister song: We’re Not Gonna Take It*  That song has been running through my head!  I don’t need to take it.  I can spend $25 and a couple hours and make a huge difference with paint!

bathroom refresh

The bathroom has been redone in the last 15 years maybe, so in many ways, its not that bad.  Other than the fact that this yellow wall paint should only be used with white cabinetry and tile, not the dark cherry wood and very brown tile and countertop with lots of pinks and terra cotta tones.

bathroom refresh

A couple coats of Ultra Pure White by Behr from Home Depot did the trick.  I have used this color in the past, but only on trim and cabinetry – I love it!  It is the brightest pure white I’ve found – no blue, pink or grey undertones – just white.  But I am debating whether its maybe a little too bright white for the walls (I’m considering this for our new house).

bathroom refresh

A new shower curtain, rug, towels and a few accessories tied it all together and makes this a much happier place to be.  I have realized we have been in this house for 2 years, just living in it, but not really enjoying it.  And now, I really enjoy this bathroom!

bathroom refresh

The rug is super soft and just thick enough that it doesn’t fit under the door – darn!  Usually I’d want it centered in front of the sink, but the door hits it, so I scootched it back a bit.  It shows dirt really quickly, being white, but washes up well.  The pink is the prettiest pink!

bathroom refresh

I love this shower curtain!  I always keep it covering the shower, to cover as much of that brown tile as possible.  By the way, I actually like travertine tile.  We had it in our last house.  But this batch is particularly brown and would work better in a bathroom with higher end finishes, maybe more mediterranean?  I just don’t think it works here.  Back to the shower curtain – the fringe is just so pretty and adds a touch of bohemian to the bathroom.

bathroom refresh

I pulled this little stool from the living room where it sat as an extra side table that we’d move all around as needed.  It doesn’t serve a particular purpose here in the bathroom, other than maybe to hold the ipad while my teenager watches a show while taking a bath!  But it sure looks cute and I guess I could have styled it out with a turkish hand towel and a loofah, pretending we’re fancy enough for that ;) . Its not a large bathroom, so I couldn’t really add anything much bigger.

bathroom refresh

bathroom refresh

The towels were a recent gift from my mother-in-law.  Our towels throughout the house were looking so dingy and I almost forgot how refreshing bright white towels are! bathroom refresh

I also wanted to add some sort of art/picture/something in here, but there’s no fan so I was afraid anything in here would get warped from the steam.  So I played around with watercolors and came up with this cactus painting, and won’t be devastated if it gets ruined.

bathroom refresh

bathroom refresh

bathroom refresh

The towel rack above the toilet wasn’t necessary since its just the 2 girls that use this shower, other than when we have overnight guests.  So I took it down and tucked it under the sink until we move out.  I filled that space with a new wall hanging I made recently.  I’ll give the super easy details on that in another post.

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bathroom refresh
The counter space isn’t large, so putting any accessory there felt silly.  But once I did, we all loved it!  Having pretty things to look at there is actually encouraging the girls to keep that space cleaner – #parentingwin!  The pink vase is filled with dried eucalyptus branches and the aloe plant is actually fake, but is a pretty good fake.  This bathroom doesn’t really get very good light most of the day, so I’m not sure if I could keep a plant alive in here.  This vanilla candle is always burning in some room of our house – it’s inexpensive, burns for hours, and is nice and simple. I was also really happy with how the countertop actually looks better with the pink vase on it.  It has such a weird mix of colors in it (grey, black, brown, cream, terra cotta and pink) that I haven’t found anything to look good with it.  But I think this works!  Rather than fighting against it, I just went with it!

bathroom refresh

When recently cleaning out Sean’s parents’ garage, Sean found this beautiful old tin tobacco box and I love it in here, holding the face masks my girls love to use (having teen/tween girls is super fun!).

bathroom refresh

Other than the paint, all of the items I have in here can move with us to our next house… whenever that may be. #patienceishard

bathroom refresh

updating an old dresser

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One of my more popular posts from years ago was when I painted a sweet vintage dresser from white to mustard yellow.  French Pale Gold by Behr, to be exact.  It was a total statement piece, and generally stood in our entryway, so it was a bright sunny welcome to everyone!  I love that dresser.  It was one of the very first pieces I got garage sale-ing when we first got married.  It was a dark cream color and I painted it white, because I was deep into the shabby chic thing (those over-used words now make me cringe), and I painted everything white.  Then chipped off some of the paint, of course.

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The dresser has bounced from house to house and room to room.   Once we moved to our current house, it was a chance for me to figure out what my design aesthetic really was.  It had been changing over time, and my previous house hadn’t really been reflecting that for awhile.  In this new house, it’s been a time of slowly discovering what I love for my home.  And French Pale Gold was not it anymore.

Give me all the woods, creams, whites (am I going shabby chic again?!), black, grey (nope, definitely not shabby chic), and then pile loads of texture on top of that.  Yes, thats more of the direction I’m heading.  So that meant I either was going to repaint the dresser AGAIN, or strip it.  So I stripped it!  I had no idea the condition or quality of the wood underneath, whether the top would be melamine or veneer or solid wood.  But I knew if it was really bad, a couple coats of white paint would cover a multitude of sins.

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My dad helped, of course.  He always helps.  I rarely start a project unless he’s visiting (my parents live with us about a week out of every month), so naturally, I waited for his help and expertise.  I knew he had stripped furniture in the past, so I was relying on his experience.  It totally paid off!  He suggested using a citrus based stripper called Citristrip from Home Depot.  (Definitely get the 1/2 gallon size rather than the quart because it takes a couple applications.)  The stuff was amazing!  The paint bubbled up and after testing a couple spots and waiting longer, it came off really easily.  We used flat scrapers and for the indented areas and curves, we used a wire bristle disc on a drill.  After the majority of the paint was off, we sanded it down and cleaned it off.

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There is still a little bit of paint pocketed deep in some spots, but I am totally ok with that.  I love a little imperfection.

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And that is all!  I really should give at least the top a clear coat to protect it, but I really love the way the wood looks now, but as soon as it is wet (like it would be with a clear coat, it had a strong reddish/pinkish tint, which I didn’t love.  So I’m keeping it raw.  In the picture below, you can see how i=different the woods are between the drawers and the trim, but I actually really love t!

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The next dilemma was what to do about the handles.  We lived with blue tape handles for about 6 months, which got a little annoying immediately.  The previous handles were original to the piece and super ornate and dated.  I really wanted to find a mix of all the styles I love: Warm woods, vintage shape, and modern handles.  The problem was that there are 9 drawers, and 3 different handle sizes.  After lots of searching, I realized I’d have to come up with my own solution because I couldn’t find coordinating handles to fit the various opening sizes I had.

The center 3 drawers just needed knobs – easy fix.  I found these great brass knobs on a trip to Target (where I find everything I never knew I needed!).

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Then I had to devise some pulls that could vary in size, depending on the hole spacing on each of the drawers.  I have seen some leather handles lately that I love, so I decided to try to make them on my own.  I ordered a long strip of 1″ wide leather.  It came raw, which means it was undyed, so I experiemented with some old shoe polishes I had on hand.  The dye soaked in quickly and was such a quick project.  I rubbed on the polish, buffed it in, and haven’t had any issues with the color coming off at all.  I had enough leather to experiment with the length a little, and made a size that was just big enough to comfortable fit my hand in without sticking out too far.  I have a leather punch leftover from my old business, and it comes in handy pretty often.  If you don’t happen to have one, you can always use a hammer and thick nail to punch holes in leather.

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Then I went to Home Depot and found some screws long enough to fit through the leather and the drawer, with just a tiny bit left to screw on a nut on the inside of the drawer.  I found brass screws that looked great, although I was really hoping to find some with a cool hex shape – no luck.

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The total cost of the whole project, stripping and adding hardware, was maybe $55 (the Citristrip isn’t cheap, but worth it).  Not too bad!