Out with the Old and In with the New…DIY Home Update


March 2, 2013 by Dragonfly Diva

This DIY home project was way overdue.  We moved into our house in the late 90’s and have done very few updates to date, so every project is overdue.  Its not that we didn’t want to.  Its that we never had the time and energy, or if we did have the time and energy we didn’t have the funds.  Isn’t it nice how life works out like that?  Well over the last two years I decided to take the bull by the horns so to speak and start fixing things up.  One room or space at a time if necessary.  Two summers ago I repainted the living room and updated the decorations to match the new colors.  Last spring was this project – the main bathroom.  I was taking a week off of work and wanted something small (yet make a big difference) that I could do the bulk of the work within that time frame.  Now for those of you who love viewing pictorials of home make overs, I apologize, I’ve learned something valuable about prepping pictures for blogging the process and results.  More pictures are better than less and you have to get over your internal cringing about showing the before photos.  In this case I took very few before shots cause I didn’t want to show the yucky and outdated.  But here is a couple that showcase two of the features I wanted to be rid of.

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First is the stenciled border that was right up my alley when we looked at the house all those years ago.  I mean, at the time I loved it.  This is a smallish bath that had only a few updates since the house was built in the 50’s.  New dark blue ceramic tile on the floor and a new vanity, counter top and mirror, but the tub, toilet and tile tub surround had stayed the same.  The previous owners added this border to tie in the new tile.  I loved it, till it started supporting the growth of mold.  As a result I had to use mold/mildew remover products and over time certain spots in the border had faded, and then when the bathroom got steamy, it would get little light blue rivers running down the walls.  I could get rid of those streaks, but honestly who wants to get up on a ladder every couple days to fight that?  So that was part of my plan – paint to get rid of those stars and moons.

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The second thing I was excited to tackle was the huge mirror that hangs over the entire vanity.  The thing has to be about 4 foot square.  It is a bear to clean as to reach the top part I have to get on a step stool and lean over the sink.  Want to take a guess as to how often I go to that extent?  Let’s just say the bottom of the mirror gets a weekly clean, but up higher well… So do you see the funky looking edge, where it looks like the mirror is peeling away or something.  Yeah, I learned that when you put up a mirror like this, caulking any gaps between the wall and the edge is critical so that moisture doesn’t get back there.  If it does it changes the mirror backing and ta da!  No more nice edges.  Given the size and nature of how they put it on the wall I didn’t want to go the route of tearing it off and starting over.  Initially I was going find tile and glue up a tile frame like I’d seen on Pinterest.  (Here’s the link to that web tutorial.) So I began to search for tile that would work with the dark blue floor tile, and the tan speckled bathtub tile surround.  After searching for tile with nothing screaming “I’m the one!” at me I figured I’d better look at other ways of disguising this flaw.  Dad to the rescue!  He is a wiz at wood working and he offered to make me a wooden frame that we could finish to match the wooden vanity.  Problem solved!  (Stay tuned- it wasn’t as easy as you would think.)

So those were two of the changes that had to be made.  Plus I was tired of our old shower curtain and curtain-less window.  I will ALWAYS love the frosted glass on the bathroom window – so much privacy!  But we’d never put up a curtain to soften the square window that dominates the one big wall of the room.  A color palate of blues, browns and creams was chosen.  Also all the hardware in the room had been gold, and I was tired of gold.  I don’t have any pictures, but the lights used to be a builder grade gold chain model with the wiring running through the chain – man did that get yucky with dust on a regular basis, and the gold on the rim of the lights had worn off with cleaning over the years.  Thank goodness one just quit working one day.  I believe I got a gift card for my birthday that year that I used to purchase the new ones below.

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This shot is from part way through the redo.  New lights were put up first.  They are a brushed nickle that I love…so all of the new hardware is a brushed nickle.  See the shower curtain…so over that.  I think over the first 10 years in the house we had two shower curtains.  One plain 90’s style navy one and this one.  And there is that unadorned window peaking out.  But it is the best picture of the lights I have.  Painting came next.  Have you ever painted a bathroom?  A SMALL bathroom?  Its not like a living room where you can move everything away from the walls.  I still have a spot behind the toilet tank that is not painted.  I was not about to drain the tank and take it apart on our older model toilet.  Lord knows what I would have been in for then.  And you can see the big round hole in the ceiling – a new, better working ceiling fan is going in there.

The part I like least when painting is the prep work.  Taping off places you don’t want painted, etc.  Doing the ceiling was easy cause I didn’t care about the walls.

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While I did the ceiling I also covered up the stars and moons, just in case they needed an extra coat to not bleed through.  Then to keep the tan paint off the white ceiling and off of the mirror, tile, etc. came the taping.  Sigh.  Took the better part of a morning to mask all that off as you can see in these shots.

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I painted the inset around the window the same color as the ceiling to make it look brighter and to ease the transition from the darker tan walls to the white window casing.  Oh and in this one shot you can see our lovely brownish tan and speckled tub tile.  Someday I will get rid of that!

So the painting was done, now it was time to think about decorating and style…probably my favorite part!  First I worked on finishing out replacing the gold hardware.  Above you can see the new bowed shower curtain rod…if you were thinking of getting one I say do it.  The first couple weeks we felt like the shower was now HUGE!  It really does give you more space.  I also replaced the hardware on the vanity, the TP holder, and towel holders.

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Everything is brushed nickle now.  In the non-existent “before” shots you would see a boring gold bar hand towel holder.  Well I wanted something different. Something with character.  A couple of brushed nickle door knobs and some great wood working on my Dad’s part and Wha La!  Two really neat looking hand towel holders.  And the TP holder – well I saw a picture on Pinterest of a fabric holder for the extra roll and got to work.  It really does come in handy!  You can also see the wonderful wooden frame my Dad made for the mirror.  So here is the story on that ~

He measured and made the frame, we matched the stain to the cherry like tones of the vanity and then the time came to put it up.  Not an easy task.  Its hard to get to the mirror, on the top and right side there is no wall area to attach it to and the bottom would be resting on the top of the counter top/back splash for the sink.  Oh and did I mention that our older home’s walls are not straight.  Yes, this wall bows slightly in a long arch.  So after we put up the frame with special tape…it popped in places after a day or so.  So we tried some liquid stuff that you put on the frame and the mirror and let it dry a bit then stick them together and its supposed to stick forever.  NOT!  My Dad moved on to plan B.  New frame designed a bit differently and connected on all four sides like a picture frame.  He also screwed it into the walls on the sides he could.  It is up there now for good, and you can barely see where it isn’t flat against the mirror due to the curve of the wall.  I have no idea how they got the big flat mirror to stay up there.  The amount of glue and filler to bridge the gaps must be unbelievable.

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Next came the shower curtain and a curtain for the window.  I’d been looking at ready made curtains for a long time and just could not find anything I really liked.  So it was time to take out the sewing machine and dust it off.  Literally.  I’d gotten the machine when I was in college and had not used it in about 20 years.  I figured curtains – all straight seams would be a cinch.  Off to the fabric store and found some that I loved – the stripes, and decided that I’d jazz things up a bit with some muslin.  It went better than I thought, but let me tell you, sewing that shower curtain was a chore because it is so large.  But it worked out well I think.  After I got that finished I made the window curtain.  The stripes on the shower curtain seem to take over the room a bit since it is small, so I turned the material sideways for the bottom edge of the window curtain to break it up a bit.

I’m still working on the decorations, but I did find a metal hanging that I loved.  I just didn’t love the color, so I painted it navy with spray paint and now it looks great above the toilet.  And I got letters for the first initials of all our names and jazzed them up with some plain old Elmer’s school glue, more of that spray paint and a dry brushed acrylic finish.

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The letters I put up with those new Velcro hangers.  They work wonderful in rooms with straight walls a no humidity, but not so much in a bathroom.  My son’s Z is the only letter still on the wall for now.  All will go back up as soon as I figure out what to put in the space above the window.  Its too small for anything big, but too big to leave bare.  Any thoughts, or suggestions on smallish decorations welcome!

While it took me longer than the week I took off to get this done, and as is my way, it is still not done to a T.  Almost a year later and I’m still fussing with it to get it perfect, but it was fun.  What room to do next is the question.  What DIY projects have you undertaken?  Were they finished with ease?  Did you run into trouble?  What surprises did you find along your change journey?  I’d love to hear all the stories!


3 thoughts on “Out with the Old and In with the New…DIY Home Update

  1. Wow! You’ve been busy. Love the new lighting! 🙂

  2. […] Out with the Old and In with the New…DIY Home Update […]

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