Downstairs Bathroom Makeover: Therapy Complete

I can think of a few dozen DIY projects that have ended with, “Huh. Why the hell did I wait so long to do this?” The mini-makeover on the downstairs bathroom is at the very top of that list. And, listen, it’s not that I haven’t wanted to tear into it for the last two years– in fact, there was a very serious expenditure of willpower to keep myself from doing just that– but I kept giving myself these very logical reasons about why it was a bad idea:

  1. The bathroom works just fine. It is, in fact, the only bathroom in the house that works just fine, so don’t tear into it until one of the other bathrooms is finished.
  2. In order to do even the smallest of makeovers correctly, you’re going to have to tear into the drywall and patch it, which is a total waste of time because when you actually redo the bathroom it’s all going to have to get torn out again anyway.
  3. No point in painting all that trim when you’re planning to pull it out to put wainscoting in anyway…
  4. Swear to god, you really are going to tear that floor out next month, then the “real” makeover will occur.

Lies. It’s all lies, darling.


It took a moment of sheer desperation for me to finally give in and listen to the little devil on my shoulder who was telling me to go get my paintbrush and get on with it, but I’m sure glad I did.


I mean, why the hell didn’t I do this sooner?

Let’s talk a little about what went on here. First, a few weeks ago I lost my shit when I couldn’t find rock-salt anywhere in town, so I did what any normal person does when they are tired, frustrated, and pissed off: bought paint and electrical supplies.

What? That’s not normal?

So basically this mini makeover was going to consist of:

  • Painting the walls, doors, and trim.
  • Moving the weird electrical outlet over the sink and swapping out all the old switches and outlets
  • Patching drywall
  • Installing a new light fixture, mirror, door hardware, shower curtain, and storage cabinet
  • Doing something to refresh the tile floor

The bulk of the work was actually done in two weekends. I painted first (seems like an odd choice, but sometimes you just have to go with what feels best… and inhaling paint fumes beats possible electrocution nine times out of ten), then had a far easier time moving the electric than I expected.


Here’s what the new electric looked like, pre-patches…


And I have to say, patching drywall gets a bad rap as being a pain in the ass, but I’ll tell you two of the secrets I learned from working with a drywall pro on my last house.


Once you get the actually wallboard patch in place, your instinct might be to finish it by spreading the thinnest coats of joint compound possible on the walls just around the patch. No. What you want to do is get your tape in place (yes, with a thin coat of joint compound) and when it’s dry, slather that shit over the top. You heard me. Then you use your drywall knife to remove the excess compound.

So the trick here isn’t how thin you can spread the joint compound, it’s how well you can remove it.


The second tip that the patch should end up being at least three times the size of the original hole. This is because there will be a slight raised texture to make up for the tape and added compound, and the idea is to make that area so large that it isn’t noticeable to the eye.

The only pain-in-the-ass part about patching drywall is that you have to wait overnight between coats, so 15 minutes worth of work ends up taking three days.

But, in the end, totally worth it.


Swear to god, it was actually more stressful trying to find a damn shower curtain than rewiring the outlets. I have this thing against shower curtains… I hate the patterns and designs on pretty much all of them. But I did eventually find an extra tall ticking-stripe curtain through Houzz. (It usually pisses me off when people all of the sudden start trying to sell you shit all the time, but in this case, I’m very grateful.


I also swapped out the old towel bar for a hook instead. (I did this in the beachy bathroom in the Memorial house too… folding towels over a bar is totally overrated. Frankly, I’m lucky if I pick the thing up of the floor.)

The storage upgrade went from old-chest-that-still-holds-shoes-to-stack-shit-on…


To an actual cabinet.


This is the white Giselle cabinet from World Market. Just happened to fit perfectly in this space.

I also considered– and actually started– staining the grout in the tile floor white, but that was going to be far too much of a time-investment for something that is definitely getting torn out down the road. However, I kind of love the way the bathroom looks now, so I might put off the full remodel even longer than I intended.


Here’s the breakdown of materials:

  • Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Roycroft Mist Gray (at 50%)
  • Trim Paint: B.Moore’s Moonlight White (at 25%)
  • Door Hardware: This was a gift from the awesome folks at Direct Door Hardware who sent me a few samples over a year ago when I built my new basement door.
  • Mirror: This is from Viva Terra a few years back. (The more I look at it, the more I think about making my own sometime soon though.)
  • Cabinet: White Giselle cabinet from World Market
  • Light Fixture: Outdoor barn light from Lowe’s.
  • Shower Curtain: Gray ticking-stripe curtain through Houzz.

So, I’m considering this one done for now. It was a great use of a couple of weekends, and a total pick-me-up project to help set the tone for some bigger projects that are underway around here.

23 Responses

  1. Looks great Kit!! Very calm and refreshing.

    (By 50% on the paint do you mean you cut it with water?)

    Thanks for posting. Good timing as tomorrow the (hopefully last of the) drywall is getting installed in the monster bathroom project!

    Then … the floor.

    1. No, I get it at 50% “intensity” (they only put in half the color) when it’s mixed.

  2. Looks great Kit!

    Trixie, usually that % means they had the paint tinted at that percent of the color, not full strength like shown on the color chip.

  3. Big improvement! I really like the contrast of that mirror with all the neutral color. I also really like that shower curtain. I looked for MONTHS for one for my bathroom and I’m completely satisfied with my choice.

  4. You don’t have to wait very long for drywall compound to dry if you use “hot” patch mix. I use the 20 minute dry time material and it works quite well. It is harder than the premixed stuff, but I can also keep a box of it around for the inevitable time when someone sticks a doorknob through a wall. I usually do the build ups over the patch with the hot compound and the final finish/feathering with the slower drying stuff.

  5. Big improvement! I agree with your towel hook vs a hanging bar. Love your shower curtain. I find it easier to buy a liner and make my own fabric ones then trying to find one that I like premade.

    1. I’ve been known to find a flat sheet I like and put 12 buttonholes in it. Usually the size is close enough (can’t remember if I used double or queen) but it is easy enough to trim a bit and put in a narrow hem if necessary.

  6. I still remember that post about the electrics! Like I said back then, great difference with the mirror, much more useful and thought through if you ask me.

    One question about the shower curtain though. I noticed it’s hanging over the tub, nearly to the ground. What about water dripping off of it? I think (but I’m not sure) it’s too long to hang in your tub, so any water rolling off will go on your floor… Have you thought about it, and decided it didn’t matter, or am I the one spilling the beans?

    1. There’s a liner behind it. This isn’t a full tub, it’s a walk-in shower, so the lip is only 4″ off the ground. The liner stays inside!

      1. Apparently an astounding number of people don’t use shower curtain liners. This is utterly bizarre to me. A curtain in the tub always looks like someone walking around with their pants tucked into their socks.

        I may have to follow your example with the stage 1 bathroom remodel though. We only have the one and it’s definitely getting remodeled at some point, probably WAY down the road. But honestly, do I really want to live with badly painted maroon wainscoting and a green door until then?

        P.S. LOVE the paint color.

  7. And just like that, you have another room done! The room looks great. Love the shower curtain and the towel hook. Towel rods are overrated.

  8. I saw the bathroom when you started this project and the end result is a simplistic serenity. Very nicely done.

  9. Job well done! You did some small changes that made a big change to the overall look of the bathroom. I like it. 🙂

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