Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011: A BATHROOM ODYSSEY or HOW TO REMODEL YOUR BATHROOM FOR UNDER $1,000 w/ Lunch for 2 for 2 Bucks!

FOR UNDER $1,000
w/ Lunch for 2 for 2 Bucks!

OK, I lied.  I didn’t really ‘remodel’ our bathroom for under $1,000, but I did ‘reface’ it for $750 making the bathroom look like a million.

We have an old house.  Well, old by LA standards.  Built in 1941, very little was done to ‘update’ this ‘bungalow/cottage home after about 1962.  When we bought it twenty years ago, it was a sea of tired linoleum and formica in the kitchen, some 50’s aluminum windows and layers of linoleum and 50’s/60’s vinyl flooring in the master bath.   Home prices being what they were (and still are in LA even in today’s housing recession), we didn’t have extra cash after slapping down our down payment.  No remodeling for us.  But, paint’s cheap, so I had fun creating our rooms in various ‘decors’ and showing them off as a design consultant on HGTV.  But over the years we did make some bigger changes.  I designed the long add-on room into a home library.  We had decks built, and eventually replaced the aluminum windows and redid the kitchen.

But... back to the master bath. 

It’s a quirky bathroom, consisting of three small rooms. 

The ‘main’ room holds the washer/dryer, has a walk-in closet (which we had built years ago), a built-in vanity and a French door (which we also installed when we first moved in, replacing an old composite 50’s door) which leads out to the garden and pool. 

The second room has a walk-in shower and holds a wonderful old cast iron, claw foot tub that I’ve painted various colors over the years.  Once I even painted a desert scene on the tub (I was in my Sante Fe, Georgia O’Keefe period)… another time I painted it green w/ gilt ivy vines climbing up the tub (my Italian ‘old world’ period) – now it’s painted espresso brown to match the color I painted the old vanity. 

The third room in our ‘en-suite’ bath, is the water closet (WC).

The floor connecting all three rooms was covered in dated and tired vinyl.  Underneath were layers of even more dated and tired vinyl/linoleum.  To remove it all, rebuild the sub floor and put in new, ‘today’ flooring would cost thousands.  So over the years I’ve painted the floor along w/ the tub.  Once w/ splashes of color a la Jackson Pollack, another time those gilt ivy vines and until this most recent redo, a solid gray (the bathroom made many guest star appearances on HGTV’s “Your Home w/ Kitty Bartholomew”).

But no matter what I did, the bathroom still didn’t look ‘polished.’  Finished.  I wanted to really love it.  I wanted to smile when I looked at it.  I wanted it bright and cheerful.  Don’t get me wrong, I did love my funky designs of the past and they brought me a lot of attention… but that was then.   Now I wanted something that would be pleasing not only to us, but to potential buyers in case we wanted to sell. 

Remember I told you we have a kind of bungalow/cottage-y house?  Well, that’s where I decided to go, design-wise.  And, what’s more ‘today’ for that style house?  Wainscoting.  Wide crown molding.  Check out the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware catalogs and the recent bathroom design books and you’ll know what I mean.  Wainscoting and crown molding are sweeping the nation along w/ those little ‘vintage’ octagon white floor tiles (some w/ decorative black or brown designs and borders).

But, here’s that but, again.  Cost.  Out of work writers don’t have large cash flows, so the floor was out of the question.  But talking w/ my wonderful, fabulous, fantastic painter (who can do anything), he told me he could install the wainscoting and crown molding, paint everything, even the floor w/ my latest “simple” border design (I can’t be on my hands and knees for hours anymore – hell, not even for 5 minutes) for $750.00.  Sold!

Oh, and that two buck lunch?  While carousing around Ikea in search of some brushed nickel accessories (didn’t find anything we liked), we had lunch at the little counter by the check-out.  Two hot dogs, one diet coke and a bag of potato chips:  $2.00.  The hot dogs were all-beef ‘Hebrew National-y’, steamed the way I like them, and the potato chips were Swedish “Original Lantchips, Scandinavian Style” – delicious.

So, a new bathroom:  $752.00 (including lunch).  A new look:  Priceless. 

Here are a few ‘before’ and various ‘after’ shots of our ‘remodeled’ bathroom.







THE TUB/SHOWER ROOM - Because of the tub and mirror, we were unable to put in wainscoting, so a chair rail defines the walls instead.

All after shots: 

VANITY - Before:



Niche above vanity:


Our room w/ a view.  I love our 'new' bathroom.

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