Bathroom renovations done and all done by…….myself. If we weren't planning on putting the house on the market in the spring this isn't what I would have done with the bathroom, but I was after "more bang for my buck" renovations and so the results I have are what they are.
Although in these after photos it appears that the room is darker (the before photo is at the end of this post), the room is actually MUCH brighter than it used to be. The wallpaper border is gone (took 3 days to get it down and get all the glue removed), new towel racks (the wooden ones that were there were gross), new door (this one doesn't drag on the floor because it's properly installed), new door lock (the old one only opened if you turned the door knob in a certain direction and caused many guests distress when they got "stuck" in the bathroom…..not a problem now), new toilet (that was an ordeal), all new grout (the old grout was broken and patchy looking and the original dark color just looked dirty) and a new shower curtain (that was the EASY job)…….:
Refinished cabinets with General Finishes Java Gel Stain (See * NOTES at the end of the post). I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull it off, but it looks good…..it does NOT look streaky in person. New cabinet hardware, new faucet (also a new faucet in the tub - no photos of it), new medicine cabinet (not my first or even my second choice, but it was what was in the budget), new light/circulation vent and new outlets/switches (one old switch fell apart when I took the face plate off the wall….I'm surprised there wasn't a fire before now!). I kept the sink because other than needing some scrubbing and sealing there wasn't really anything wrong with it:
I thought I'd need to replace the cabinet above the toilet, but it turned out pretty good once I refinished it (the stain isn't this red….in person it looks like a black/brown). When I removed the wallpaper there was some wall repairs I needed to do. They weren't bad, but I noticed other areas were too rough to paint without a LOT of work so despite my HATRED of wallpaper I decided to go ahead and wallpaper that wall in a paintable paper. It's not covering anything structurally wrong as all of that was fixed, but it saved me a LOT of time. This was a bad place to attempt a first wallpaper job because there were LOTS of things to wallpaper around:
Most of the paintable wallpaper patterns were awful. They were either boxy looking stamped tin designs or 80's looking swirls. I finally found one that I thought would fit the decor and I think it looks alright:
If we were staying the entire room would likely have been gutted. There are still minor "issues" with this bathroom, but it's visually pleasing, safe, easier to clean and not leaking.
Unfortunately, I only have one before photo and it doesn't show the awfulness that the dark green "country" wallpaper was on the left wall. It also doesn't show the awful (and not very useful) medicine cabinet with the saggy shelves. However, it does give you an idea of what I started with:
I have carpenters coming tomorrow to finish up some work on the kitchen. They're installing 2 doors, making a narrower pantry doorway (it's currently a 6' double bifold door…..a waste of wallspace in a 9' x 12' kitchen that already has 3 other doors going into that space), widening another door (so I can put the refrigerator there and the door can open all the way) and drywalling a closet. These are all things I'm perfectly capable of doing, but I'm running out of time (and energy). They've been able to accomplish this FAR faster than I could and while they're working I can work on other things. So, when they're done I get to get started on the kitchen (I've already removed the kitchen wallpaper thats shown around the doorway in the "before" bathroom photo so that's a BIG start).
* General Finishes Java Gel Stain - This is pretty amazing stuff. I'd never heard of it until recently, but the comments I'd read about it online were all good. I was skeptical because I'm always skeptical about internet "quick fixes", but a friend tried it and the results were exactly what I was reading online. Do a search for it….there are LOTS of tutorials and before/after photos of it. I liked it so much I'll be doing the same thing with the kitchen cabinets.
The bonus with this stuff is that you don't have to strip down your original cabinets…..only clean them REALLY well and do a light sanding with 120 grit paper to rough up the surface (I made the mistake of using what I had and my sandpaper was too fine….caused some issues I had to resolve later, but it was still manageable), apply the stain and put on a clear coat. If I didn't want a more solid look I could have wiped on one coat (even that first coat made the cabinets look SO much better!). The second coat always looks like crap according to everyone and I honestly thought I'd made a bad decision after putting the 2nd coat on, but the 3rd coat fixes it all. You can still see the grain under the finish so it doesn't look painted.
I put the stain on using a rag (a sock works too) and nitrile gloves). If I'd sanded it properly it would have taken only 3 coats, but I had some repairs to make so a few areas needed a 4th coat. The clear coat I used was Minwax quick dry wipe on polyurethane in satin…..SUPER easy to put on! The amount of staining time was minimal….it was the waiting between coats that stretched it all out, but even then it took about a week.
The tall cabinet and the cabinet over the toilet are cheap, fake wood cabinets. I figured I'd try to refinish them and if it didn't work then I'd consider replacing them, but they look REALLY good once I refinished them. They don't look like high-end cabinets, but they don't look cheap and crappy anymore.