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Budget bathroom update

When money is tight, and demolition is out of the question, a bathroom can still be updated with some paint and a couple of new fixtures.

The house was built in the fifties and when I bought the house in the mid-nineties, the bathroom was still stuck in the fifties. Long and narrow, with blue (or should I say “BLUE!”) wall tiles with peach border, and a peach and blue tile floor, the room was a prime candidate for a complete gut and remodel.

outdated bathroom
Before

Given the limitations of the size of the room, I couldn’t change the layout nor could I borrow any space from another room.  Besides, the wall tile was in excellent shape, so I couldn’t justify tearing it out. And a complete remodel was not within my budget anyway.

Flooring Options

My biggest problem with the bathroom was the peach and blue floor tile.  In my opinion, it was just plain ugly.  That was the one thing I really wanted to change.  I had a couple of options:

Tear out the existing tile and lay new neutral tile.  This would have been messy and inconvenient as there is only one bathroom.  Plus there was the risk of damaging the wall tile and tub.

Lay new tile over the existing tile.  This requires a lot of prep work to remove any waxes and scuff the surface glaze of the tile with a sander. Sure, it could be done but the finished floor would have been higher than the entry threshold.

Install a vinyl floor over the tile. Again, this would take a lot of prep work to remove any dirt and wax and then apply a leveling compound to fill the grout lines. The edges of vinyl floors tend to curl if there are no moldings to hold them down. The entire bathroom has wall tile meeting the floor.

Install peel and stick tile.  Not recommended for bathrooms as water can seep down between the seams and weaken the adhesive. Besides, the prep work was required here too.

Install bathroom carpeting:  A high maintenance option, not to mention the squishy-squishy. Carpets simply don’t belong in bathrooms.

In the end, I chose the easiest and least expensive option:  live with the floor as is.  Besides, this kind of floor is actually coming back into style and is original to the house.

Surprising what a couple of changes and a fresh coat of paint can do…

minor update to bathroom
After
  • New brass vanity fixture replaces the chrome fluorescent fixture that looked like it belonged in a gas station restroom.
  • New beveled mirror replaces the old silvered mirror.
  • Baby blue vanity counter replaced by a new gray counter.  A new china sink and a chrome and brass faucet complete the look.  The faucet was the big ticket item, but it adds a touch of elegance to the bathroom.
  • I painted the vanity using the same paint as the walls: a medium gray .  Replacing the vanity was not an option. Vanities this wide (4 feet) tend to be a couple inches deeper than this one.  And with such a narrow thoroughfare to get to the throne, a couple inches just could not be spared.  In hindsight, I probably should have chosen a more durable finish. However, it held up perfectly fine as long as we lived in that house.
  • Gray blinds and towels help neutralize the blues and peaches.
  • A solid blue bath mat helps hide some of the peach and blue tile. Gray would have worked here as well.
  • The medium gray walls help to subdue the overabundance of blue.  There are enough reflective surfaces in the bathroom that the darker paint does not create a gloomy space.

Not seen:  The bathtub was professionally refinished and looks like new.

And, while some people may dismiss the tiles as “outdated”, I don’t regret keeping them.  Sure, that decision was based on finances, but the end result was that the original details were preserved.

Project completed June-July 2001.

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