Master Bath Revamp on a small budget
My first attempt at DIY to our home began with my master bath toilet closet, yes I said toilet in the first sentence of my first blog post ever, that’s just how I roll. If you’ll allow me to brag for just a moment. Our master bath was beautiful, the millwork is incredible, I’ll never come close to the skill level that these craftsmen clearly have. The entire space includes two separate vanities, a soaker jet tub, and a tiled shower stall, plus the toilet room, not sure of the correct title of this room… What it lacked was our style or any style for that matter. We have His and Her vanities, the cabinetry is likely from a big box store which is fine and gives us plenty of storage and we have beautiful granite countertops. One thing that I always questioned was how none of the hardware matched… anywhere! As if four different people went shopping and everyone came back with a great deal so they just made it work… Our two sinks and jet tub faucet are brushed satin but the drawer pulls are antiqued pewter and the door handles are antique gold and the beautiful light fixtures are a dark hammered brown, wah??? All of those details were somehow overlooked in this master bath that usually can sell a home. After 8 years we still had the original paint which I have to assume was named “flat drywall primer” with a tan tint. Since projects in our basement had stalled and the cement floors were so much harder than expected I decided to put my free time to good use and learn something new, hoping I could apply it to the basement eventually.
So, I talked with my BFF who is an Interior Decorator and she told me about a nearby overstock warehouse that had incredible deals. Being uber cheap I decided it was worth checking out. To my surprise and delight, they were a plethora of stores all combined. Everything is close to 60-70% off retail because some unlucky truck carrying goods destined for a big box store, lost their load and damaged the goods they were carrying. But the secret is that all the goods aren’t damaged, some are perfectly perfect! It takes a little extra effort on my part because they don’t have tons of employees and aren’t open 18 hours a day, 7 days a week but the employees they do have are invested in their business model. I am able to walk in and they know my name and the project I’m working on, beside that, they are willing to talk/help/educate/encourage and still give you a crazy deal. An “employee” showed me around the warehouse on my first visit, asked about my projects and showed me the awesome pre-made panel frames ranging from $2.00-$3.50 each depending on the size (these are also sold at Lowe’s for a lot more than that) I also found a very common chair rail for probably half off the linear foot price that some other stores would sell it for.
Master Bath materials crazy cheap, check!
After a lot of research online I decided on placing the chair rail ⅓ of the way up from the baseboard and the other ⅔ new paint all the way to the crown molding. I measured the height of the wall and placed the chair rail ⅓ of that measurement up from the baseboard. Then I measured the width of the wall and took into consideration the width of my pre-made panel frames, and tried to space those as evenly as possible. Luckily this room is a perfectly small rectangle, only housing our toilet and never seen by anyone but me and my family. Surely practicing woodworking skills on your master bath is not the best idea for resale, but to me, it made perfect sense.
Since we didn’t own any power tools I had to figure out what would help me accomplish this spending the least amount of money as possible. First on the list was a compound miter saw and an 18 gauge nail gun. We also bought an extra caulk gun for the liquid nails I’d surely be using, as well as painters tape, paint brushes, etc. My husband knew the exact brand of the saw he thought we needed, I thought surely the name brand is overpriced and not worth the extra but I have come to LOVE my Dewalt compound miter saw. We bought an 18 gauge pneumatic nail gun/23 gauge combo set from Harbor Freight. That too has been a great buy that I use almost daily. Amazing how the right tools make everything so much easier. So I have this new miter saw that neither of us know how to use, so I turn to YouTube, thankfully there are so many people willing to make tutorials and share their knowledge. Since my goal was to add value to my master bath and not devalue it with some hack DIY job I really did a lot of homework and practice work. I would suggest getting some cheap furring strips or inexpensive trim, like at Loading Dock South they have a bin of “pick a stick” for .99 each and you can practice making inside/outside cuts without ruining your good stuff.
Free research online, check!
All of the research I did paid off, our potty room looked amazing! We quickly agreed I had to continue with the rest of the bathroom or it would look like they were meant to be in two separate bathrooms, not a continuation of one to another. So back to the wonderful Loading Dock South I go and bought a lot more chair rail and pre-made panel frames and started planning the rest of the bathroom. I figured things would go really smooth since I’m practically a journeyman now, I’ve installed chair rail and premade picture frames in 3′ by 6′ room all by myself! But as all things DIY go, I am now noticing some crazy angles and small spaces in the rest of the room that I didn’t come across in my little commode room. Thankfully my brain seldom shuts down and I somehow figured out how to get around the bathtub to the connecting small wall near my vanity with a 45 ° flat cut on a 1½” piece of chair rail that also had an outside angle 45 degree cut. I was so slow and careful, only thinking of the preservation of my precious fingers. With that patience and thoughtfulness, I came away with several things. First, a feeling of accomplishment that I cut the perfect piece chair rail with the weirdest angle ever for a novice, plus the self-confidence that I might be good at this naturally with my problem solver spirit and most importantly, all of my fingertips! My wedding ring still has a finger to rest on…
After the chair rail and panels are hung, I have to paint all of this to look like a real paneled wall, so a new dilemma begins. My existing extensive crown molding, baseboards and doors are painted with a cream colored oil based paint. I wanted bright white on my new panels but I was not going to tackle painting all of the existing trim to match the bright white, so I settled on matching the existing which really was for the best. I found that with oil based paint, the color ages at a different rate. So the paint in the toilet closet isn’t the same color as the window casings anymore due to lack of UV exposure. So I picked a little area in our towel closet that isn’t seen by anyone and took a shaving with a razor blade and brought it to Home Depot. They tried to match it the first time, but it did take several trips to get it right and I wanted it perfectly matched if possible. Thankfully they will tint paint you’ve previously purchased from them for free, who knew? I finally got the paint to match the existing woodwork and the painting and caulking began. Looking back now, I did only a fair job with the caulking, that part of the finishing work is really worth researching to have it done right. *I have a tip for that I will share later. So, after painting all of the faux panels and walls, I feel somewhat finished with our bathroom. Sadly, our vanities literally look like they belong in someone else’s master bathroom. Since I wasn’t up for the challenge of replacing sinks, faucets and cabinets yet, I could upgrade the ridiculously plain mirrors.
So back to Loading Dock South I go for some beautiful trim to frame the mirrors. I was so shocked that it was even harder than I expected, especially since I now fancy myself an actual handyman/handygirl/handywoman… The list of things I did wrong is long but some of the highlights that you can easily avoid is to simply read the labels. Unfortunately I didn’t do that when buying the Liquid Nails that I used to secure the new trim to the mirror since I couldn’t use my nail gun. The blue painters tape I had on hand was less than effective since it was a medium adhesion strength rather than the stronger type that can actually hold real wood trim to a mirror that has the incorrect Liquid Nails struggling to hold it up (it’s green tape, it adhere’s to concrete)
In the end, my silly bathroom practice project was so empowering, I would definitely recommend you pick a small area of your home to work on and you too can make your home fabulous with your own style, room by room.
Here are some "during" pictures.
I hope you’ll come back often since I have so many updates and improvements planned for our home I will have something new to share regularly. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave me a note with your thoughts on my Master Bath Revamp!