Monday, March 26, 2012

Powder Perfect for Under a Grand...Plus Some Blood, Sweat and Tears

From this...

....To this for under $1,000 in a week

A couple months ago I received a text from my friend Noelle with a surprising photo in it.  Shortly after seeing her that afternoon, she unexpectadly ripped out all the hideous tile from her powder room wall and floor. I saw framing and subfloor in the photo, and the message, "Now what?" 

Anything is better than what was there before. For me, this was a wonderful surprise! It also brought back memories of my first house. I accidentally did the same thing in my powder room in a one-thing-leads-to-another fashion.  These things just seem to happen to people who cannot stand to live with an ugly bathroom!  "I swear, the tile just fell off the walls!" I told my husband.  I'm not sure what Noelle told her's but...

With company coming and a potential holiday party looming, there was work to be done.  And, of course, Noelle wanted it done on a dime.  I love this kind of challenge-- no time and no money.  I promised her I'd help and so it began...

I called in some favors.  My drywall guy came right away to patch the walls.  He charged her a couple hundred bucks.  Noelle found a reasonably priced hardwood floor guy from her brother. The flooring guy re-did the powder room floors while putting in new kitchen flooring. We estimated that to be around $200.

I suggested Noelle paint the entire room the same color, including the trim since it's a small space and we didn't want to call attention to the tiny moulding. She used some paint she already had in the garage for this. The only problem was that it's glossy. I suggested she lightly sand the walls to bring out a hint of the more calming white primer, tone down the gloss, and fade the color. It worked great although it's impossible to tell in these photos since the light is reflected from the mirror in the small space.

Next, Ben installed the mirror trim, but not without a fight.  He spent the better half of one his weekend arguing with the chop saw about uneven walls.   This was his first moulding project in a 90 year old house.  Ben's a perfectionist when it comes to home improvement so he wasn't pleased with the gaps in the moulding.  I suggested Noelle play off the imperfections and beat up the wood with a hammer and then rub off some the dark gray paint (leftover from her exterior paint job) with steel wool to make it look aged and rugged.  She then took some nails from Paxton gate and hammered them into the mirror frame for added texture and interest.

Next we called in JT from Pacific Coast Glass to put in a beautiful custom mirror.  We were so excited as this was the "star of the powder room."  We actually video taped the installation and interviewed JT about his business.  I've been using JT for years for my projects but have never actually seen him do the job.  It was interesting to watch how he attaches these heavy mirrors to the walls single handedly.  Living in earthquake country I always feel better having them glued to the wall instead of just hanging there but it was  a little nerve wrecking watching the process.  The mirror cost around $200.

During Noelle's demo phase, she accidentally whacked the toilet. She purchased a new one for $200. Unfortunately, this wasn't a simple replacement. Ben spent another entire weekend wrestling with toilet rings. He eventually called my jack-of-all-trades handy man, Wai Woo, who told him what Ben already knew but wasn't thrilled to do. He had to cut the pipe. After that he was able to get the toilet installed properly.  (All of these annoying problems are not making the case for a similar re-do of Noelle's full bath!)

Noelle found a great ceiling light fixture online for just $100 and of course she popped in one of her Edison bulbs. 

There's a so-so window in this bathroom which is great for bringing in natural light but not the best to look at.  I suggested she cover it up with some airy fabric to filter the light and hide the window. Noelle had this fabulus Anthropologie shower curtain on-hand and cleverly installed it over the window using some thick rope in lieu of a curtain rod.  What a great look!

Noelle used some great nails from Paxton gate to hang the toilet paper and hand towel. She originally popped another nail in the wall for a hand towel but it turned out to be in an awkward place.  Instead of ripping it out she kept it there and hung an old rusty bell there.  I guess the kids can ring it if they run out of toilet paper!

The airplants floating on the walls is the finishing touch in this perfect powder room. 

Noelle got great deals on the flooring, mirror and drywall installations by shopping around. (She often got quotes that were double or triple what she ended up paying).  Noelle and Ben did a ton of work themselves (installing a new toilet, painting, installing mirror trim, and putting up accessories).  And, they re-used materials they already had (window treatment, paint, and moulding).  It wasn't easy but it was done on a dime.  This entire bathroom cost them under $1,000 and it was completed in a week and more importantly they're still married!

I really enjoy remodeling with a challenge.  This bathroom has a clever design that neither Noelle nor Ben would have dreamt up if they had an umlimited budget.  I truly believe that sticking to a budget leads to a more innovative and creative design process with unique one-of-a-kind results. Congratulations Noelle and Ben for creating a wonderful new powder room on budget and in record time.  We're so curious how you will tackle the full bathroom.  Right, Ben?


  1. Love the air plants and framing around the mirror! But not able to see the before picture?


  2. Thanks Camille. I fixed the before photo. Quite a transformation, don't you think?!