In May of 2010, my husband and I became first-time home owners. We purchased a foreclosure home that needed some work because the low price fit our budget and gave us more house than we were expecting. Neither of us has ever been the handy type and we had fear that a fixer-upper home might be too much for us. Living in apartments or rentals our entire lives after leaving our childhood homes meant that we simply made a phone call when something was broken or needed replaced. The first task we took on was the upstairs bathroom. It didn’t occur to us to take pictures as we knew we needed a working bathroom in the house and were eager to get started.
The Jacuzzi bathtub was disconnected and the sink vanity was speckled with holes and missing drawers. The dingy white tiles on the floor had been scratched up by a large animal and showed signs of water damage near the tub. Both of the Jack and Jill doors to the bathroom were hanging off their hinges and one had five or six holes of varying sizes through it. Even with this dismal diagnosis, we were excited to put in some elbow grease and DIY renovate the bathroom ourselves.
Dismantling the Destruction
After removing both doors and taking the old toilet to the local dump, we pulled up the destroyed tile and were pleased to find a solid foundation that had not suffered water damage as the tile had. Then we removed the sink vanity and the towel bar that hung from only on screw and temporarily took down the medicine cabinet. The dingy walls benefited from a thorough scrub down, primer, and fresh coat of tan paint after repairing the many screw holes left behind with joint compound. Manipulating the paste was a little trickier than I thought it would be, but was easy to get the hang of. Next, we had a plumber come in and check to that all the pipes were in good condition and hook up the Jacuzzi tub. We also had my husband and his father, a journeyman electrician and master electrician, inspect the wiring to be safe.
Starting From the Floor Up
Then it was time for a new floor. Home Depot had a sale on a stunning brown and blue hued linoleum stick on tiles. It took a bit to figure out the best way to cut the tiles to fit the floor space, but it was super simple to lay the piece and then use a safety cutter to get it to size. Then we simply peeled off the paper backing of each tile and carefully stuck it to the clean floor foundation. I will admit, there are a few spots that are not perfect, but it looks amazing and I have a lot of memories from the process.
Replacing the Bones
Once we had the clear on the pipes and wires and the floor down, we purchased a low-flow toilet and a new sink vanity from Home Depot and spent a few hours installing them. The most difficult part was connecting the sink and we invited over a plumber friend of ours to help us. We paid him pizza and beer which kept the cost down. The toilet was less than $90 and came with a mail in rebate for another $30 back. The vanity was purchased as a floor model and only cost us $79.It featured two pull drawers, an under-sink cabinet, and an extra pull out door underneath for storing away even more bath products. Next, we re-hung the mirrored medicine cabinet as well as a second medicine cabinet above the toilet as we have a large family and only one full bathroom. We found the second cabinet on Craigslist from someone who simply wanted it gone. It was in great condition and didn’t need anything more than a quick cleaning. We used wall anchors for stability on both cabinets and needed two sets of hands to ensure safety. We purchased Safety First brand child locks for the cabinets and installed those to both medicine cabinets and the under sink cabinet. A towel bar from Home Depot set us back $11 and took mere minutes to install. We were almost done!
The last step of our DIY renovated bathroom project was to replace the doors. Fortunately, Craigslist had come through for us again and my father-in-law found a set of doors that fit our small door frames. We brought them to the house and used work horses to lay them flat and apply two fresh coats of white paint. When the doors had a few days to dry in the cold and moist weather we had at the time, we attached them to the door frames with hinges purchased also from Home Depot. It was a little tricky getting the holes to line up, but using a pencil to mark the door and door frame through the hinges really helped us see what we were doing. Once the doors were installed, we did one last quick dusting, sweep and mop, and a little interior decorating, our bathroom was brand new. With some hard work, about $300 we went from an unusable bathroom to a cozy, yet playful and kid-friendly bathroom in just three days.