Hello there! It's been well over a year since my last post but for some reason you people seem to keep coming back to my humble little blog anyways. So for that I say, thank you! I appreciate your continued support.
To get your attention, here is the before and after that I'll be sharing today:
In my 1.5 year hiatus from the blog, a few things have changed around here...
1. I got married
2. I bought a house
3. I started grad school
(Wedding photo cred to the fabulously talented Holly Lynn Photography)
So WOW it has been a while and a lot of things are very different. But I'm back in full swing and have continued being crafty so there's no shortage of exciting projects to share with you all :)
First stop: the house.
The house that my husband and I bought was built in 1918 so it is almost 100 years old. We fell in love with its charm, character, and especially the location!
From our initial walk-through, there were quite a few cosmetic updates that we wanted to do to make it our own. BUT our budget is quite limited (newlywed grad student life doesn't come with a large salary!)
This little house has seen a lot in its lifetime...including some pretty ugly wallpaper and a watermelon pink bedroom.
The first room makeover I'll be sharing is our upstairs bathroom. It's definitely small but our budget couldn't handle any large-scale renovations to make it larger so we had to get creative and make it look and function the best possible with our limited finances. All in all, we were able to complete this makeover for about $300!
Here is the before and after again:
Today I'll be sharing the story of how I redid the countertop and the wall with the medicine cabinet.
(Please excuse the bad lighting and random tools; I took the initial pictures quickly right when we got possession of the house and started immediately on reno that day!)
First dislike: the tile. It was slightly off-white and felt dirty. Plus it just gave the whole bathroom an outdated look.
We also weren't terribly fond of the medicine cabinet. It offered limited (and poor quality) mirror space and, once again, felt outdated.
We wanted to keep the cabinet because its odd shape offered a reasonable amount of counterspace for such a small bathroom. Plus, keeping the cabinet allowed us to keep our budget low.
So the first step in making it all look good was removing all the tile plus the medicine cabinet. I used a hammer and a chisel and it was so satisfying to chip it all off. The countertop tile came off pretty easily.
This is what the countertops looked like underneath the tile. The countertop had originally been a laminate with boomerang shapes on it. Flashback to the 70's! I then removed all the laminate and stripped it down to the MDF-type material underneath in order to have a better grip for the concrete I'll discuss later.
So here I am, chiseling away, feeling like an empowered, construction-savvy woman and then...
I MADE WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE.
The wall tile. Gosh dern that stubborn wall tile. It just didn't want to budge. And when it did, it took everything else it possibly could with it. I kept chiseling and started to reveal more and more of the lathe.
This is the best picture I have of that hot mess:
Thoughts running through my head at this point:
What have I done? We can't afford to get entirely new drywall! What I've I've structurally damaged the walls? I'M ONLY A CHEMIST WHO ALLOWED ME TO DO THIS KIND OF THING. Oh crap, this is my house. I'm responsible for all of this. Haaalp.
So I did what any sane person would do, I called my dad. And next time he was in town, he saved our cute little bathroom from impending doom (AKA saved us from spending oodles of money on someone to fix my mistakes). He used drywall to patch up the part of the wall where the lathe was exposed plus the big gaping hole that taking out the medicine cabinet left.
The picture below also shows how the countertops looked post-tile removal and post-laminate removal:
Thank goodness for dads, am I right?
The next step was patching all of that uneven, drywall mess with lots and lots and lots of spackling putty. Here's a picture of me holding a putty knife and regretting my life choices.
This is the godsend of a product that I used for this:
In the beginning of home reno, I bought a couple small tubs of this stuff. In the end I started getting it by the gallon bucket. (Other projects I'll feature later will explain why).
So finally, after hours of patching and spackling, we had a smooth wall again. The next project to tackle was the countertop. We didn't want to fully replace the countertop because that would have cost a lot of money due to its funky shape (trust me, I got many estimates for everything from poured concrete to laminate to granite).
So I used my vast knowledge of all things Pinterest and decided to make a concrete countertop myself. To do this, I used the increasingly popular technique of skim coating the existing counter with feather finish concrete. There are good tutorials of that here and here.
This is what the countertops looked like after, but pre-sink install:
**You MUST use the feather finish type in order to do this. Trust me, I tried using another kind of concrete that was cheaper and it flaked off as soon as it dried. Learn from my mistakes, people!!**
After finishing up the countertops and installing the original sink, we switched out the sink hardware for a new, more modern look and this is the end result:
My mom and I bought this huge mirror at a yard sale for $20 (score!) and spray painted the frame a dark gray to match our color preferences.
I will definitely be posting more about the other updates in this bathroom (backsplash tile, floors, and more!), but for now here is the cost breakdown of the entire bathroom so you can see how (as advertised) it cost around $300!
Floor tile: $200 (cost of tile + installation)
Concrete countertops: $20 (materials cost, self installed)
Sink faucet: $25
Tile backsplash: $35 (materials cost, self installed)
Paint: free (leftover from kitchen painting)
We also got a new toilet but that was a Christmas gift from my parents last year (yay adulthood!) and doesn't necessarily change the updated look of the bathroom (it's just a lot nicer and less dirty) so I did not include that in the total.