May 14, 2012

Guest Bathroom: Move-In to Present

Here's the first transformation you get to see that's not close to finished.  I am kind of self-conscious about this blog anyway, so this is making me all kinds of nervous.  But my point in starting this blog was to catalog things for myself, not for every random person who ends up here from googling the term "plunger."  So I'm just gonna put the nervous to bed and get on with it.

When we moved in, the guest bathroom looked like this.

Hello, I am a bathroom.

We were digging the size, the nice wide doorway, the new vinyl flooring... and that was it.  So far as we could tell, everything was in good working order, the aesthetics were the only thing that needed a lift.

It took a few months before I could even form an idea of what I wanted the bathroom to be like.  There were so many choices, and it paralyzed me.  (Sidebar: amazing Ted Talk by Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice here.)  So this room remained paintless and untouched long after color had been applied to every other room in the house (and a few closets).

The first thing we did in the bathroom was to make a utilitarian upgrade.  We threw away the old toilet seat and installed a new one.  Yes, I am that neurotic.  To my credit, you would have done the same if you'd have seen the color of the old toilet seat. 

And then we pondered.  For months.  I guess technically *I* pondered while Steve awaited instructions.  So while I pondered, I Pinterest-ed.

Notice a theme?  I sure did.  Soft silvery greens, bead board, and LOTS of white.  It almost sounded like a plan.   We decided to start by changing out all of the accessories, light fixture, and sink faucet so they'd all be in similar style- brushed satin nickel to the rescue!

Let there be light!

 It was here that we found a problem.  We changed over the light fixture and the faucet first, figuring that anything else we changed out would make it harder to paint the room rather than easier.  When Steve took the old faucet off, he found that it had not been sealed properly.  Ten years of water seeping under the faucet had taken a toll- the sink had completely rusted through.  So we ended up buying a sink.  Actually we ended up buying three sinks- we found the same issue with the two sinks in the master bath.  Not the best kind of surprise, but I guess it could have been worse!

Rust-free, baby!

Next came paint.  I found a the perfect light gray-green color, too.  I was browsing the  aisles at Target and I saw a set of bath towels that were the EXACT color I had seen in my mind's eye.  Not too yellow, not too green, very light.  I bought a washcloth and carried it with me to the hardware store, where I matched it to Behr's Mountain Haze. It was seriously the fastest and easiest trip to a paint department I have ever made.  My darling husband agreed to put up bead board for me, too (that project ended up taking about 4 days and costing $80).  Next we installed a shower curtain rod.  We love the curved kind that bow out from the tub to give you more arm room (and keep the curtain from sticking to your legs, one of my personal peeves).  We already had one of these in our master bathroom at the old house along with a white shower curtain, so we just brought it with us.  Ahh, the sweet cost of $0.  We put up the rest of the accessories and a matching bath mat.  One thing about picking your paint color from a washcloth you found at Target is that it is reeeeeallllly easy to find linens to match your bathroom!

The carpet matches.

But we still had a whole lotta linens stacked on the counter.  And we both agreed when moving into this house that we were going to be diligent about not piling stuff on every counter we could see.  So we needed some storage.  I wanted something open, so that guests could find their own towels and get more if they needed.  Which meant that there would not be any open storage above the toilet (ewww, germy towels) or above the doorway (I know too many people who are shorter than 5'10" and would never be able to reach up there).  So after measuring eight million times, and reading eight million reviews, and making Steve walk into and out of the bathroom eight million times to determine if there would be any general interference, we took the plunge and got some floating shelves.  We were so excited when they arrived that we loaded em up right away!  Obviously the linens went there, but so did my collection of mercury glass and a bouquet of silk flowers Steve gave me before we were married.

Free levitation act when you visit our guest bathroom.

We also wanted our guests to have easy access to a few more things.  Ever go to a party at someone's hosue and after you've washed your hands, you find the hand towel provided is completely soaked?  Here's a fix to that problem- a decorative hook with a bath-sized towel right next to the door.  If the image below looks backwards, that's because it is- I couldn't find another angle where you could see it well.

Increased surface area means greater surface area for non-repeat dryings.

And another thing- have you ever gone to someone's house and found that their soap pump is empty?  We wanted to make sure that our guests would have access to anything they might need without having to ask for it.  We used a cake plate from Target to corral the goodies.  We've got a soap pump, two soap bars, a fingernail brush, lotion, and Q-tips.  The silver tray on the toilet tank holds votive candles and some decorative glass jars, which will soon hold matches.  (Psssst, there's also air freshener in the cabinet closest to the toilet, right next to extra rolls of toilet paper.)

Cake plate in the guest bathroom.  But of course.

And that's where this blog entry stops being nice and starts getting real.  (Anyone else having Real World flashbacks right now?)  There are lots of things we still want to do with this bathroom.  Some are quick fixes that we just haven't got around to or are waiting for our budget to replenish before we spring for.  Others are bigger projects that require more time and energy than we've had for them.

So there's this:

There's a naked wall in the bathroom.
As discussed here, we have some photos that are going to dress up the wall above the toilet.  The photos are currently hanging out on the dining room table.  Still haven't bought frames for them.

Then there's this:
Oak-y, but not okie-dokie.

Yeah, I know, it's fine the way it is.  But as long as we are really trying to LOVE this house, let's love it up right.  All of my inspiration pics featured a whole lotta white, and absolutely zero oak.  So one day this baby is getting painted a nice clean white and getting dressed up with some (you guessed it) brushed satin nickel hardware.  Unfortunately, when Steve installed the beadboard, I had planned on tackling this project over my spring break.  Also unfortunately, I spent most of my spring break catching up on paperwork and cleaning things around the house that had been festering in their own ooky-ness since Christmas or longer.  So my over-ambition got me this:

I see your true colors shining through.

When I patched the seams where the bead board met the back splash, I decided I'd go ahead and run some white over the back splash, "just to see."  Why, Lord?!?!  Not only does it look unfinished, but I can see all of the places where my patch job came up short (or went a little overboard).  Oh well, it's all fixable... it just looks sloppy in the meantime.

Then there's the tub.  It's not exactly *white*... a fact I overlooked when I decided that I wanted lots of *white* in that bathroom.  The good news is that our shower curtain mostly hides it's off-white clashing self from view.

But then....

...when you pull back the curtain...

...and look down towards the drain.... see it....


Yeah, not that big of a deal except for a weirdo like me who already has a baseless fear of drains.  I have a fiberglass tub patch kit.  It has been hanging out in that lovely oak vanity waiting for me to get a move on it.

And here's my last issue.  My whole idea with this bathroom is to make it so that guests never have to ask for anything in order to use it to its full extent.  Well, for some guests, that means having a plunger available.  Because nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to inform their hosts that the toilet is plugged.  And asking for a plunger is hardly less embarrassing.  So our lovely plunger is in full view, tucked back between the toilet tank and the vanity.  Does anyone have a fix for this?  How can I store it somewhere in the bathroom so that any guest unfortunate enough to need it can find it without leaving it out all the time?  I need a solution.  Plungers and cake stands just do not mix, people.

Eventually I'd also like to get some better organization going on in those vanity cabinets.  Right now all of our bathroom-type cleaning products are down there, just hanging out in a big mish-mash that requires scooting lots of bottles and cans around to find just what you're looking for.  Framing up the builder-grade mirror with some thick trim (in what else, *white*) is on the to-do list.  I'd also like to have a dedicated place for reading material and an assortment of travel-size shampoos, conditioners, and body washes available for use.  Someday I'd like to replace the shower head with something a bit prettier than the white-and-gray plastic one that's in there now.  And if we're dreaming really big, I'd like to replace the whole tub insert with one that makes better use of space (and is *white* for pete's sake).  I think that might edge over from "making the house we live in a house we love" to "making the house we live in a place where we over-invest our money."

So there you have it.  Seriously, I need help with the plunger issue.


  1. I HATE plungers just "hanging out" on bathroom floors, spreading their icky water and particles. O_o
    Here are some ideas I've had about my own plunger storage issues:
    1. Buy one of those plungers that comes with a fancy case to hide it.
    I believe that I bought the one I have at Target, but have seen them at Walmart as well. Mine is not as fancy as the one in the link, but was the perfect solution for my tiny 1 bedroom apartment.
    2. Use a toilet paper storage cupboard with some sort of "catch" to contain the liquids. I'm still trying to find a way to make this sanitary, but the closest that I can come is to make sure to keep it clean. Plungers are just messy. -_-
    3. I did a little google searching and found another cool idea...Building a cupboard into the wall! It will be more labor-intensive, but would look pretty fancy. It is metal, but I don't know how you feel about that.
    Well, I hope that these ideas help!

    1. Hey Monique,

      Thanks for the ideas!

      I think building a cupboard into the wall would be pretty hard... the only wall that might work is really narrow, plus Steve would have to chop up his beadboard. Although I'm sure he'd be up for it if I asked him to; cutting into drywall seems like it'd be an adequately manly job for him.

      I'm kind of intrigued about the toilet paper storage idea. Something non-porous would be good. Come to think of it, I've heard of using cylindrical vases as TP storage. I wonder if I could find an opaque vase that'd be wide enough for the base of the plunger and tall enough for the entire handle to hide in? That'd be awesome!

      Hmm, time to check Ikea's website.