Budget Bathroom Makeover


Before After

We knew we’d need to make over the bathroom eventually. The laminate cabinet doors were cracking and exposing the mdf middle to water. The vinyl floors were looking shabby and almond toilet needed too much babying (ie plunging). The story began with the flooring. Since we were laying down new flooring on the first floor, we decided to include the first floor bathroom as well.

It kind of starts like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. To my husband’s dismay, he knows this tale too well. If you have to lay down a new floor, then you’ll have to remove the toilet. And if you have to remove the toilet, you might as well replace it. And if you replace the toilet then you might as well paint the cabinets to match….and it keeps going and going until you and your family are exhausted, the rest of the house is a wreck and eventually, you have a well functioning, good looking room (and you overlook the rest of the mess).

But in my defense I did the majority of the work, saved lots of money and am thrilled with the outcome. So let me share this tale with you step by DIY step.

Here’s a picture of what the bathroom looked like before.










80’s Almond

And here are a couple pictures of the water damaged cabinets.
















Like I said it all started with the floors. And they were the easiest fix. TrafficMaster Allure flooring was our flooring of choice. We put this everywhere on the first floor. We absolutely love it! Not only does it handle water, it’s a breeze to put down. And it’s affordable. For the bathroom I followed the manufacture’s instructions and laid it down directly on the old vinyl. It goes down without a pad, without glue and lays down in easy to manage planks. You don’t even need a saw to cut this stuff but it is durable. Since it was a little room it took less than two boxes to transform the room. I made sure to caulk around the edges where the toilet and tub were. It looked so much better!


At Home Depot we found this Glacier Bay Dual-Flush Toilet. I know, I know, you’re thinking a dual-flush toilet sounds fancy. And you’re thinking your going to pay a premium for such energy savings…but you won’t. Nope this toilet was less than $100. But let me give you a few tips. Don’t get the flange screws mixed up with the tank screws, like we did. Or you will have to buy another wax seal and start over again (like we did). The directions are really kind of crummy for this toilet. They are small and don’t give much detail or description so it’s easy to spend more time than necessary to decipher the code. But now that it’s in we love it!






After looking at the homestores and craigslist for a cabinet replacement, I noticed the cabinet size was not standard. I thought maybe I could repurpose an old sideboard to become the cabinet but then worried that the exposed wood wouldn’t be too practical. So I decided to repurpose what I had. That meant no waste and little expense.

First I started by taking the doors off the hinges…simple. I purchased ¼ by 2 inch lattice stripes from the hardware store and cut them to fit around the sides of the doors. This solution not only hid the water damaged cracks but also make the doors look shaker style fitting in better with our 1920s home. After nailing those down I added wood filler to the sides, making sure to seal any cracks. I then sanded, primed with Zinsser Primer, Stain blocker, Bond Coat, sanded and primed again. I added on a couple of coats of paint, waited for it to dry and shazam, I put the doors on again. I was worried that the paint would have a hard time sticking to the laminate but it’s working really well so far. I even tried scratching it and nope, the paint wouldn’t come off at all. For the final touch I added antiqued silver knobs that matched the existing hardware in the room. Don’t you think it looks tons better?



Walls, Molding, and Mirror

For the walls I wanted wood wainscoting, however there were a few drawbacks to this. One, I don’t have a table saw. Two I wanted to be able to do it myself without someone’s help and Three, wainscoting is rather expensive. I found a solution. Lowes offered wallpaper that looks like wainscoting. So I simply removed the icky rubber molding and slapped up the wallpaper and painted it. I finished it off with a chair rail molding at the top and baseboard molding at the bottom. So at a fraction of the price of real wood wainscoting I was able to pull off the look in true DIY fashion.

For the rest of the walls I used left over paint from our basement. It’s a nice grayish blue and feels really clean and calming.

I also took down the huge mirror that every builder puts up and replaced it with something basic yet pretty. The oval mirror was purchased at Home Depot for less than $40.


Vintage Sheet Shower Curtain

The last project for the bathroom was to make a shower curtain. I wanted something light and made of fabric and as always budget friendly. I pulled out my stash of vintage sheets as well as my trusty sewing machine and got to work making one. It was a simple project. I started by laying out the old shower curtain to get the dimensions. I ripped the sheet to size with added seam allowance, stitched up the sides and sewed button holds where I wanted the shower rings to go. Here it is.







Here are some more pictures of the finished bathroom. What do you think?










3 thoughts on “Budget Bathroom Makeover”

  • Wow! I love the shaker style doors – very crafty of you.
    Home improvement projects are not my favorite job, but the results are always worth it.
    Well done, Jess!

  • Woman, you are genius for making those cabinets look shaker style! We have some old cabinets in our kitchen that I would *love* if we could try that on… Ours are odd size too, so rehabbing the doors would be excellent!

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