Imaginary One Room Challenge – Phase 1 bathroom makeover

The One Room Challenge kicked off last week. I’m not a regular participant in the challenge, but I wish I was. It’s such a good way to update a space and actually complete a project. I love the rooms that I’ve done in the past (check out the laundry room, master bedroom, my office and dining room). I also love following the ORC, seeing everyone else’s makeovers.

This fall, I will mostly be an observer rather than a participant (though I do have plans for a few updates this month that I’ll hopefully be sharing soon).

But I’ve been having fun doing an imaginary makeover.

I started thinking about the main bathroom and how I could update it in advance of our big gut makeover (which I’ve talked about before and is still a someday project).

Main bathroom

I’m not a big fan of phase 1 renos. I feel like they can be a lot of work and potentially a lot of money, only to be ripped out in a few years.

However, we’ve lived here for more than 7 years and the main bathroom still looks exactly the same as when we moved in. A few updates a few years ago could have made it a more enjoyable space. (Although we have added a baby to the tub, which gives a whole lot of joy.)

Baby in a bathtub

Here’s the bathroom as it looks now. It’s a big space with a nice window, lots of storage, counterspace and everything you need in a bathroom. However, it’s dated and some parts of it–tiles, caulking, faucets, even one of the sinks–are actually broken.

Main bathroom before

Main bathroom before

Bathroom Before Collage

To fix all of the issues, we will need to do a full gut. However, there are some simple updates that could make the bathroom look a lot better now. Here’s a moodboard with some of my ideas.

Moodboard for phase 1 bathroom makeover

Sources: Vanity | Mirror | | Floor tile

The biggest change would be simply painting the walls. They are fake paneling that was painted yellow who knows when. The yellow clashes with the purple-ish tile and the Care-Bear-esque countertop. Fresh white paint would help the tile and counter and would also make the paneling look more like on-trend vertical shiplap.

If I painted the walls, I’d want to take down the big sheet mirror. The silvering is deteriorating in a few spots and the mirror is very dated. I could frame it out, but I like the idea of injecting some wood tones and different shapes with a pair of arched top mirrors.

The makeover could easily stop here and I’d be happy. But if I was going to make this project worthy of the ORC, here’s what else I’d do.

Build wood shelves over the toilet. These could add some decor and storage. It would be nice to get the bins of Ellie’s bath toys, washcloths and soap off the counter.

To go with the wood shelves, I’d update the linen closet by facing the shelves with wood strips and covering the floral shelf paper with plain white.

The white cabinetry is looking a bit dingey. If the walls go white, the vanity might be a place to introduce some more contrast and make the colours of the tile and counter make more sense. (Aside: This photo shows how a frame can make a big mirror look more current.)

Grey bathroom vanity

Source: Juniper Home

The current floor introduces yet another colour to this room. Beigey taupe, which, of course, goes with nothing else. There are so many options out there today for simple peel-and-stick tiles, which could simply be laid over top of the existing vinyl. This could be a place to introduce some fun pattern, although I don’t want anything too busy to clash further with the counter and wall tile.

An alternative to new flooring would be a better rug. A nice runner that would cover more of the floor and serve the function of a bathmat could be a good option.

While I’m updating the floor I would also remove the terrible metal transition strip in the doorway. Not only is it ugly, it’s also not screwed down properly, so it rattles every time you step on it–every time for 7 years.

Alas, it’s likely going to be 7 years and counting for this bathroom. The dreaming is fun though and I know one day this room is going to be everything I imagine.

Are you participating in the One Room Challenge–for real? Or do you have an imaginary makeover happening as well? How do you feel about phase 1 makeovers?

If you can’t stand the heat

Normally, the second half of that phrase above goes: “get out of the kitchen.” However, in this case, it’s “call a plumber.”

I mentioned awhile ago that we were having some issues with the cold water tap in my bathroom. As in it didn’t like to turn. As in hope you like scalding showers.

Old taps in the tub

A consult in the Home Depot plumbing aisle suggested that the cartridge on the tap might be worn. We needed to figure out the brand of tap so that we could buy the right replacement cartridge. As there was no logo or maker’s mark anywhere on our taps, we turned off the water (to the whole house), took the tap apart, removed the cartridge and went back to HD to find a new cartridge that matched the old.

We found what we thought was the right one, but upon our return home, Matt and I could not get the cartridge properly installed. We screwed it in–repeatedly, cautiously turned on the water, and then quickly shut off the water as it sprayed and dribbled from all of the wrong places.

Eventually, we gave up and reinstalled the old cartridge.

Old tap cartridge

Over time, the tap got stiffer and stiffer. Turning it hurt my hand. I resorted to covering the tap with facecloths and towels to cushion my grip. I started to worry that one day I wouldn’t be able to turn the water off.

Plus the tap would only turn so far, and showers were approaching boiled alive territory. I like a hot shower, but there’s a fine line between hot and cooked.

We called the plumber.

In less than a half an hour, he installed the new cartridge–the very one that we had bought–with absolutely no problem.

Old tap cartridge

My next shower was like something out of the 20th century. Warm water at the turn of a knob. Temperature adjustments as needed. Wondrous.

Except it’s getting a little hot again. Turn the knob. Oh isn’t that wonderful how easily it turns.


Okay that’s still a little hot. Adjust again.


Getting hot again. What’s going on?

About every 30 seconds, I had to adjust the temperature. Thanks to our new cartridge, I could adjust the temperature fairly easily, but constantly playing with the faucet wasn’t what I had in mind.

I tried turning on just the cold water. It ran for a little while, but gradually the flow decreased to a trickle. Turn it on a little bit more, and the same thing happened.

Old taps in the tub

We called the plumber again, and he thought that the cartridge might be a bit too lubricated and might be slipping. So before we were too tight and now we’re too loose. It’s like the Goldilocks of bathroom faucets.

We’re leaving it alone and the faucet does seem to be tightening up on its own. However, this bathroom reno can’t come soon enough–in case you can’t tell from the cracked mildewy tile you’ve seen all through this post.

Have you ever replaced a tap cartridge? Any tips in case we ever have to do this again? Why do you think the cold tap is turning itself off? What’s the worst idiosyncrasy in your bathroom?

Beautiful bathroom to be?

I mentioned last week that we had some issues with the cold water tap in our main bathroom. I started to think that the solution might be a bathroom reno.

I really don’t want to do anything to this bathroom—including fixing the taps—until I can do everything.

And by everything I mean go back to the studs and start over.

The layout of the bathroom is decent: big linen closet, large vanity with good storage, long counter and double sink. Plus the basics: tub-shower combo, toilet, window.

Main bathroom before

Main bathroom before

However, everything is old, chipped, discoloured, beat up–or, in the case of the countertop, Care-Bear-coloured.

Bathroom Before Collage

We were able to get the tap working again, so we’re not hauling out the sledgehammers any time soon (yay for the wallet, boo for my bathroom beauty). To cheer me up, I dove into my Pinterest board and pulled out some inspiration to share with you. I also need your input on a couple of areas where I’m not sure what to do.

For general inspiration, I really like what Jenna Sue did to her guest bathroom in the most recent One Room Challenge. It’s a clean, country space with lots of personality. I probably want something a bit brighter (more white), but I love the overall feel of her space.

So let’s dive into my not-so-loved space, okay?

My plan is to leave the fixtures in the same places (likely–I’ll talk about what might change below).

I want a new vanity (I’ll stick with white) with lots of drawers for storage and a beautiful white/light/natural coloured countertop. Undermount sinks (for function) with shiny retro look faucets (for form).

Bathroom vanity with lots of drawers

I like how this vanity squeezes in another drawer below the sink. Source: One Week Bath

Above the vanity, what do you think would work best for a mirror? We have a pretty big bathroom, but I like how the sheet mirror makes it feel even bigger. I’ve seen some cool ideas to get the space-expanding effect of the sheet mirror but in a little more stylish fashion. Or should I just go with two big wood framed mirrors? (That would let me do some fun wall-mounted sconces).

I’ll break up all the white with a beautiful solid wood built-in floor-to-ceiling linen closet. Again, I want lots of drawers, but I’ll probably do glass doors on the upper half. I do okay at keeping the linen closet tidy, but there are always those mismatched sheets, shampoo bottles or tissue boxes that aren’t as aesthetically pleasing to have on display.

My biggest question is whether I should try to separate the tub and shower. It would be a bit of a squeeze to fit everything in, but we could probably do it. Is a country style claw foot tub worth it? If we keep the tub and shower together, how would you get a country feel?

With the high iron content in our water (even after it runs through our filtration system) everything turns orange very quickly. I’d rather not have tonnes of grout to clean, but one of those acrylic monsters doesn’t say “farm” to me. I also don’t love getting up close and personal with a shower curtain. What would you do?

The floor is an area where I’m open to having a bit of fun. A patterned cement tile like Jenna Sue? A wood-look tile? Really retro with black and white?

I also like the idea of wood planks on the walls. We currently have fake paneling that’s been painted. It’s so stained, that no matter how many times I wipe it down I can still see where pictures hung in the past. I think real wood would be a step up. But would that be okay in a bathroom? I like a really hot shower, so I’m worried about how the steam will affect the wood.

Lighting is still TBD. I actually really like the cut glass swags that we have currently. In fact, you might remember I found a vintage light to match them. However, I’m not sure that they go with my vision for the new space. Do I just do pots and sconces?

Hmmm, I still have lots of things to sort out apparently. Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t have to dive into a full on reno.

What would you do with this space? What style is your dream bathroom? What fixtures are on your wishlist?

Vintage cut glass lights

We’re all familiar with the way too common boob light. Now meet the nipple light.

(A really bad picture of a really bad fixture).

Ugly 80s light fixture

This light graced the main bathroom.

Honestly, the light fixture is the least of the problems with this bathroom, but it really bothered me. It was painted, rusted and had absolutely no personality.

Browsing Value Village one day, I found a perfect replacement.

Value Village light fixture

At first glance, you may not agree that this is the perfect light, but let me show you the other lighting in the bathroom.

Vintage cut glass pendant lights

I’m sure your first reaction is not unconditional love for these lights (mine wasn’t), but they’ve totally grown on me since we’ve been living here. Sure they’re vintage. They’re a little bit rusted in a few spots. But they have personality. The shape of the shades is pretty unique and the glass, in my opinion, is just plain pretty.

Cut glass hanging light fixture

The cut glass on my thrifted fixture was a much better match than the nipple light. What wasn’t a match was the pseudo brass base. It took me three attempts to find the right colour of spray paint. ORB was way too dark. Pewter was too bright. Rosemary (what kind of a name is that for a metallic spray paint?) turned out to be the closest. It’s a silver with some gold undertones. It’s still a bit light, but it’s close enough.

Cut glass light fixture

Here’s how the lights look all together and lit up.

Vintage cut glass light fixtures

I love the patterns the cut glass makes on the ceiling. It’s a bit of prettiness that distracts me from the rest of the ugliness in the bathroom.

Alright, let me have it. What do you think of my lights? Are you a cut glass fan or are they too vintage for you?