Project by: Roger + Chris
Location: Sharon Springs, New York
The drab downstairs bathroom in our 160-old Italianate Victorian was in desperate need of a style infusion. Likely installed in the 1940s or 50s, the bath hadn't received much attention in the ensuing years. A cute but well-used pedestal sink with separate taps, a tiled (and tiny) shower, fairly gross floor, and square tile running halfway up the walls. On the plus side, the large window brought plenty of sunlight into the space.
Our goals for this project:
- Spend as little as possible. This was one of the last rooms to tackle when renovating our house and, well, the budget was running out fast. We kept the tab low by working with what we had. That meant no plumbing or electrical changes.
- Get rid of the floor. The wall tile seemed salvageable, but the floor wasn't. The chipped 1-inch tile with thick grout lines and grime that we couldn't ever seem to remove was unpleasant to look at and walk on.
- Make it fun. The bath was utilitarian, but we wanted something everyone could love. During the day, the existing room wasn't terrible, but at night it was pretty unappealing. This is the bathroom most of our guests will use, so it needed to wow, whether day or night.
We started by painting the walls and ceiling a bold blue. With so much of the wall space covered with tile, carrying the color to the ceiling avoided chopping up the small space any further.
We covered the floor with the cheapest product we could find: vinyl peel-and-stick tile. Mixing white and black tiles in a diamond arrangement and adding white painted baseboard moulding to create clean edges make the bathroom so much more pleasant. The tile feels great underfoot and is easy to keep clean - essential for our muddy region. Should a tile get damaged, replacing it is effortless and costs just 76 cents.
Roger revitalized the existing medicine cabinet, taking off decades of flaking paint and repainting it in a bold red. We wanted to replace the utilitarian sconces, but needed to keep the location. We found inexpensive replacements at one of the big box stores, but they were too shabby chic for us. We painted them the same color as the wall, added small chandelier shades, and installed a dimmer switch. They look terrific during the day and provide a cozy glow in the evening.
We're not fond of most towel bars and hooks. They seem to multiply, particularly in small spaces, with two bars for bath towels and another for hand towels. All mounted at different levels and spread around the room. Our low-budget solution was to create one long bar that could hold everything, including a soap-on-a-rope over the sink. We used 1/2-inch pre-threaded galvanized pipe for the project, combining one long run with two 90-degree elbows, short nipples, and two floor flanges fastened to the wall. We made a matching bar for drapes, and hung the white drapes using small metal ring clips. The result is plenty of space for towels without adding clutter to the tiny room.
We fell in love with the little pedestal sink, but were less enamored with the exposed drain pipe and chipped base. Chris sewed a skirt for it out of a polka dot print, hemmed to just above the floor. Roger applied industrial strength adhesive-backed Velcro beneath the sink, and Chris sewed the other half of the Velcro into the skirt. A little bit British boutique hotel, a little bit Minnie Mouse, a lot of fun. When we get bored of the pattern, we can replace it with something new for under $20.
Because of the tight dimensions, anyone entering the bathroom walks right past the shower curtain. The uncommon size demanded a custom curtain. We wanted one that felt a little bit special and connected with the rest of the home. Black and white ticking is one of our go-to patterns for The Grey House, so it was a natural fit. We used cut-and-snap drape grommets and a tension bar; a second, waterproof curtain is mounted behind our fabric curtain.
Other little touches include a black toilet seat to play on the black-and-white floor, a funky toilet paper holder that was created by painting a wood sculpture white, a vintage oil portrait, and a black Shaker ladder-back chair that we use as a towel stand.
The downstairs bathroom of our home may not be big, but its bold, cheeky style leaves our guests — and us — smiling.
Read more about the project on Roger + Chris!
Thanks, Chris & Roger!
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