Vanity Flair

In our 1950’s built home, there is one main level bathroom. It’s pretty basic, just a single sink/vanity, toilet and tub with shower, with not a whole lot of extra room to get creative. We don’t find we particularly suffer for lacking a separate master bath, but it does make this bathroom all the more important. Back in the spring, we wanted to finally show our bathroom a little love after having put so much work into updating the living area, dining room and other main level spaces. I had already repainted a cheery yellow over the french blue that was there before. The blue wasn’t the worst color, but it was peeling and even a little moldy in places and was beyond need of a good bleaching and repaint. The main low-cost upgrades that we chose to start with were 1) ditch the painted oak framed medicine cabinet, 2) ditch the matching painted oak light bar above it and 3) replace the fixtures (towel bar, faucet, TP holder, etc) which were a dated brassy finish.

For whatever reason, we put this project off forever, but finally one day when Chad was working, I turned off the power in the basement and just detached and unwired the light fixture, and unscrewed the medicine cabinet out of the wall. Nothing like a big hole in the wall to get us both going on a project. My beef with the medicine cabinet was not only how dated ours looked, but also how dinky the mirror was. I was aiming for a large wall mirror for more functionality and to bounce some more light around.

Home Depot sells small sections of drywall for this very kind of thing, about 2 by 3 feet in size. I carefully cut it to fit this hole using a utility knife and some patience. Then we screwed in some wood pieces behind the existing wall so we had something to screw the patch into, kind of like this. I also used drywall mesh tape in the edges, along with standard drywall mud (premixed) and followed the instructions on the package. This is one of those things you have to be kind of good at to have it come out invisible in the end, but since this was ultimately going to be hidden by a larger hanging mirror, I wasn’t too worried to give it a try.

We also did some small patching around the light fixture after we moved its position to the right slightly to center things up. After the drywall mud was layered, smoothed and dried over a few days, I primed the areas, then painted with my same yellow paint.

In this photo you can see where we have also now hung a brushed nickel towel bar above the toilet for the hand towels and installed a coordinating faucet. The opposite wall has the larger bar for bath towels. I loooove my larger mirror ($40 from Marshall’s, frame spray painted in hammered nickel). The only problem with taking out a medicine cabinet is that you, obviously, lose some storage space. As this plan was originally churning up in my head, I knew I was going to have to finish a different project so that the missing space wouldn’t bug me.

Enter the mini room: this little room had been a junk hoarding spot since we moved in and it was beginning to be a little embarrassing! You can get away with piles of junk I think within a year after moving in, but then it starts to get a little stale…

This little space is across the hall from the bathroom and totals about 30 square feet. What does one do with a 30 square foot room, you ask? (This picture was taken during floor refinishing, so no, the floor in the hall doesn’t look like that anymore!)

Well, I decided to cutesy it up and convert it to an extension of the bathroom, a little vanity room. So, in losing the medicine cabinet, I gained a whole 30 square feet for my extra bathroom stuff! Mom got some vintage-y fabrics on and made a cute little curtain set for me, designed to let light in, but give 100% privacy. This window looks onto the front yard/street and since I would be using this room to get ready in the morning, ya know, kind of needed some privacy. The walls were repainted to the same buttery yellow that the bathroom was, to make things kind of visually cohesive across the hall. I didn’t undertake painting this window white yet… still too painful to think about after completing all those coats of white in the living room project… but it’s on the ‘eventually’ list, if we stay in this house long enough.

On the wall, I hung a mirror (one I wasn’t using, but already had) to do hair and makeup.

I also picked up a few discount canvases from Michael’s, stretched some leftover curtain fabric over them, stapled the fabric snug on the back framing and attached cup hooks to the bottom to hang jewelry.

The cute orange chair was also Mom’s creation, a Craiglist find repainted in cheery orange to coordinate. The curtain rod was one I had from an old apartment that was black, but we spray painted that lime green, like our dining room table base. I still want to put in a larger vanity table (upgrade from the little round table- covered in a white bedsheet!), and possibly put in some other jewelry/shoe/accessory storage and display on the wall opposite the mirror, in addition to doing a proper paint job on the trim and window.

But for now, I am enjoying the much bigger mirror space and upgraded nickel fixtures in the bathroom, minus one dingy old medicine cabinet… as well as my cute girly room for putting myself together in the morning.

In practical terms, I think this change helps the house seems more functional. With multiple people getting ready in the morning and only one main level bathroom, having a little separate space for primping leaves the bathroom a bit more available. I must apologize that I am not photographically talented enough yet to get nice photos of small yellow spaces under incandescent light, so forgive the bad coloring in these pics! We have some other plans for upgrading this bathroom with little $$ investment, including painting out the vanity cabinet and replacing the floor. But we are also talking about doing some improvements to Chad’s bathroom in the basement as well, so plenty more bathroom stuff to come, for those of you who can’t get enough of the hanging out on with the throne.

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