$97 Bathroom Renovation: from Dreary to Dapper

It’s no secret that people are struggling to make ends meet these days. Many people are finding themselves in a position where they need to downsize their homes – perhaps down to a third of the amount of space that they previously owned. The good news is that there are a number of people who are taking the good with the bad and are enjoying the challenge of making the new space, their new home.

Bathroom Renovation

This was the case for me when I suddenly found myself thankful for a tiny little farmhouse we have been asked to house sit for an indefinite period of time. The plumbing leaves much to be desired, but we are warm, dry, and cozy. Still, going from a master bathroom and master closet that were, frankly, big enough to be quite generous bedrooms into a house with only one very small bathroom in need of some TLC took some creative adaptation.

Although not in horrible shape, the walls needed a thorough, and I mean serious, scrubbing. That shine reflected from the camera flash was not visible when we first moved in. The square footage is minimal as you can see from this view from a bedroom across the hall. There are about 12 inches of space between the toilet and the door. Also, notice the toilet paper holder inconveniently located directly behind any unsuspecting and desperate forager.


The bathtub/shower surround was warped and proudly exhibited an approximate 3/4 inch gap between it and the wall. No amount of nailing was going to prevent it from standing at attention, so I filled the wide gap between the wall and the surround with Liquid Nails, allowing it to cure for a week before beginning the long process of filling it in with pliable silicone caulking in several layers. Liquid Nails and caulk totaled about $10.


The cabinet is not level, nor flush with the floor, which is slowly sinking. I thought about repairing it, but often times if you do, you find that one thing leads to another, and since this is not my home, I didn’t want to open a can of worms. So it remains off kilter. The floor was badly discolored, tacked down with nails around the edges. It was also poorly cut around the base of the commode, curling up in several different directions. Cleaning it was not making much of a difference.


But what a great thing it is to find carpet remnants at your local store. Cut carefully to match all the moldings, this was laid down and kept loose, not fastened. I did not want to change the structure of the home without permission. I extended the edge of the carpet past what would be considered standard so as to soften the acoustics of all the hard surfaces in the bathroom. $20.00


The bathroom contained no outlets whatsoever. This was remedied by a handy invention that was picked up at WalMart. Remove the bulb, and screw in an outlet adapter. The solution is less than ideal, but it is workable and inexpensive. $2.00


Here you see the third and final layer of caulking as it dries. It is a bit bulky, and it was really difficult to get a long, smooth application with such a large area to cover. Even so, it is white and clean and, most importantly, easy to keep that way.


This was the biggest expense. Purchased on sale, this rack came to our rescue to hold the towels and all the little storage bins from one of the bathrooms in our previous home. Also, you will notice a new white toilet seat to replace the wooden one. Seat – $5.00 and rack – $40.00.


In case you did not notice, the toilet paper roll is now in a much more convenient location. The item that sets the tone for the entire room is the shower curtain. We had a brown theme going, with the carpet remnant, the towels, and the pre-existing, naturally hued curtains, so the choice was easy. A clear liner with suction cups on the inside and these beautiful brown stripes on the outside pulled all the elements of the room together and created a cohesive coziness that we truly enjoy. Liner – $5.00 and curtain – $15.00.


With the addition of a candle, a floral arrangement and our matching towels, which were already on hand, the simple transformation is complete. Grand total: a little elbow grease, some great memories and laughs, and $97.00


One of the most important things that you can do is to make a house a home in the simplest of ways. It doesn’t take a lot of money. Shop at local thrift stores. Don’t be too proud to pick things up off of FreeCycle groups on Yahoo. Shop for anything that can be purchased at a discount and do the work yourself. Finishing touches like photos or knick-knacks that hold special memories will automatically bring a homey feel to any space you want to make your own. Transform one room at a time, and enjoy the process.

Meg Jones works from home and writes for Smith Mountain Homes, real estate company based in the beautiful area of Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.



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