Guest Bathroom Makeover

I don’t think I did enough to call it a renovation. I didn’t really change out what was there, I just put a new face on things. It made a big difference though.


I tackled the simple, such as swapping out the brass towel racks with an updated darker style. The old hand towel rack was on the wall to the left of the sink which meant it hung over the light switch and outlet. It was an awkward spot. I moved it to the right which made a little more sense. I also painted the walls which gives the room a dramatic change that looks like I changed out the lighting but I didn’t touch the fixtures. The old paint color was a tan that had a lot of yellow in it. It gives the whole room a sickly yellow tinge. I painted it the same icicle blue that I put in the office. It is perfect in that little space. It looks clean and MUCH brighter. Seriously, there is no difference in the lighting in those two pictures. Exact same fixture and bulbs.

The vanity got a bit of a makeover. I covered the groovy faux marble formica in concrete. It updates the overall look and was a lot of fun to try out in this small space. The bag of concrete cost about $10 so it’s a great solution until I can get a new vanity. I also painted the wood which looks LOADS better! I was a little worried about the dated curly line detail but it isn’t so bad.


The concrete held up very well with use which included the abuse of a 10-year old and a 7-year old. I just went in this morning and wiped the toothpaste off everything with a damp washcloth and it looks perfect. The sealer I put on the concrete protected the counter just fine.

I also changed out the shower curtain which is very cute, but nothing looks good against the old linoleum.

I’m just going to have to figure out something to do about that. The kitchen linoleum tested positive for asbestos so both the bathrooms are probably positive too. I suspect the sub-floor around the toilet needs to be replaced though so I’ll probably have to deal with it someday soon.

I managed a few other updates such as the dining room window. This was half-started when I painted the dining room. I pulled down the louvres and then everything stalled and I was covering the dining room window with a sheet like it was 1992 and I lived in a dorm room. Sometimes the best way to finish up something you are avoiding, is to have someone come over and help you. I didn’t really need the manpower, but I did need the push so a pal came over and kick started me on a few things. The dining room window looks infinitely better without the sheet.


I never get used to how much a space is brightened up by the white trim.

She is also responsible for knocking out that 4th wall in the family room. Yay! no more paint samples on the wall.


The family room also got spiffed up with a new rug. Nothing fancy, just a shag rug in taupe but it is proportional to the room, the weight keeps it from sliding around too much and the color should hide all the grubbiness that goes on in this room.


And the last little update I squeezed in under deadline is the guest room window. I painted the trim and got a new set of blinds up to replace the old ones that the kitty had broken as she crawled through to chatter at crows. The room badly needs to be updated in general but that will be a huge project that will just have to wait its turn.


I didn’t get a picture of the broken blinds as they were embarrassing. Just imagine a kitty-sized hole in the blinds on the left.

In the meantime, everything looks a little better and was put to the test this week by my nephews and other family members as they cycled through about as fast as I could strip beds, wash sheets, and put them all back together. In the middle of it all I managed to come down with something but powered through and am prepared to sleep it off the rest of this week.

The new rug received a stamp of approval from the dogs who promptly tested its comfort as soon as it was unrolled. It hadn’t even had a chance to unkink yet.

Here we go Again

July has been a busy month. It seems like every weekend I have an obligation that takes me away from home which means basic chores stack up and, certainly, no project progress. I still have a wall to paint in the family room (it has been over a year with 3 out of 4 walls painted in there), a wall in the dining room, and 2 walls in the living room. The hallway is a disaster with the half-dismantled linen closet at the end of the hall shining like a beacon of procrastination to anyone that walks in my front door.

So when my brother let me know that he and his family would be stopping at my house over night on their way up north, I was thrilled! What fun! Even if I only had them one night after a long day on the road, I couldn’t wait to see them.

I also began looking at all the half-done stuff and wondering what I could get done before they got here. In addition to the walls, I have a lot of things that I’ve put off that I would really rather not show my brother (who is super good about getting things done. He and my sister-in-law are freakishly good about finishing things quickly).

The handle on my sliding glass door broke months ago. The second one in two years. I’m having a lot of trouble finding one that will even fit on the door, let alone lock. In the meantime, I stuffed the open hole where the handle went with plastic and I’m just worked around it. It’s classy looking.

I never did properly hem the curtains in the living room. Rather than look stylish like so many other people make them look when they floof at the bottom, mine just look messy. Can curtains look frumpy? Mine look frumpy at the bottom.

I have plants growing out of my gutters. Darn Oregon and our ability to grow anything anywhere!

The roses, loving the hot weather, shot up and are all the way up to the roof line. Maybe they just wanted to meet the plants in the gutter?

My family room couch badly needs to be replaced. It’s an old Ikea one that really has seen its heyday come and go. It is really kind of mucky looking. Not to mention the mucky rug in the family room. It was temporary to begin with but it was never quite big enough and it was too light so it slides all over the space. I tried one of those rubber mats that are supposed to keep it from sliding but the rug seemed too light for even that because the mat is always sticking out along the edge.

The dust and tumble fur around here is epic.

So what’s a girl to do? I started a guest bathroom reno!

Of course I did. Of. Course. I. Did.

Both of my bathrooms are very dated. Overwhelmingly dated. As soon as I start talking about small improvements I paralyze myself with how much really needs to be done. As a result, I’ve not done anything to the bathrooms except try to hide the 70s linoleum under bath mats.


I took this when I first bought the house. I swear it is much worse now. I’m sure, in no small part, to my failed housekeeping skillz.

But then I started that conversation where I fool myself completely about what I can do and how easy it is. I wrote out a list of tasks and then did a little math. I only needed to complete 1.25 tasks a day to finish it all before the visit! Huzzah!

Then I thought it through and, even I, had to admit that “paint the hallway” is not actually a single task. It is removing everything from the walls, patching holes, cleaning the walls, taping off the floor, cutting in, painting, and painting the trim. At the very least. That is when the complicated planning schedule came out. Because that is what I do when I want something done but I don’t want to put in the work to do it. I plan it to death.

The schedule looked something like this:


  • Pin drapes to correct length
  • Fix the rods so they stop sliding
  • Re-hang drapes correctly
  • Start sanding garage door


  • Take down hooks and leashes
  • Paint garage door
  • Paint door trim
  • Clean out guest room closet


  • Order new guest room blinds
  • Paint bathroom – 1st coat
  • Put away yarn
  • Clean out tub
  • Shred documents


  • Paint bathroom 2nd coat
  • Paint vanity
  • Replace towel racks
  • Replace shower curtain
  • Buy new couch

I immediately missed every deadline I set for myself when I was called to war with the ants again. It’s hot outside so the ants keep trying to come inside. Each time I stop them at one entry, they find another. The schedule also left out most everything practical I actually needed to do. Such as the gutters and pruning. Way to keep your eye on the ball, Laurie.

So, completely disregarding my own schedule, I have actually managed to take care of the gutters, roses, windows, cleaning the house and also get a few things done in the bathroom.

I started with the counter. It was enough to make anyone shudder.

The blue faux marble laminate was not only a wee bit out of style, but the corner was being held together with an old piece of tape. I’ve been dying for an excuse to try something with concrete. I really felt like it couldn’t hurt at all. Even if it failed miserably. I also thought that such a small piece of counter could be done by next week.

I was pleased to see how easy it was to pop off the side splash guard. I don’t think we really need a splash guard over there and the goal is to make the counter look like a slab of concrete. That little wafer on the side would hurt the illusion.

I immediately had help as I always do.

I thought about taking the back piece off too and replacing it with a piece of wood that had more thickness. That would help make it look more like a slab of concrete but when I looked carefully, it looks like the mirror is resting on that wee piece of laminate. Yikes!

I will change out the mirror eventually but decided it was too much for this pass at the bathroom.

You are supposed to rough up the laminate a little to give the concrete something to hold on to. A couple of the online tutorials recommended a wallpaper scorer but I swear, it didn’t do anything to my bullet-proof laminate. I think it may be harder than actual marble.

I also tried a little rough sandpaper. You couldn’t feel any difference when you ran your hand across the surface but I made a little dust so it must have been doing something. Finally I just went for it and made up my first batch of concrete. I used several sites for directions on how to do this: Little Green Notebook, Young House Love, Kara Pasley Designs. Their instructions are far better than any I could come up with so I won’t bother giving a step-by-step.

The first layer went down OK but it was anticlimactic. It just looked like I smeared mud all over the counter. The next day, after it had a chance to dry, it looked much better.

Last night I did the second coat. I was getting a bunch of annoying bubbles. Just when I had something smoothed out nicely, these would pop up. I suspect it is from forgetting to let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using it.

I kept working it though and managed to get most of the bubbles smoothed out. It seemed like a lot of people doing these counter tops were falling in love with the imperfections in the concrete which makes this my kind of project. AT first though, I didn’t like the trowel marks but then I put a second coat on the backsplash and really loved how it turned out. I actually did a crummy job. It’s hard to do it properly at that angle but it looks like rough-hewn stone.

I’m working to keep the counter surface much smoother for practical purposes. After I sanded it a bit today, I thought it was really starting to look awesome. One more coat and then I’ll seal it and paint the vanity to lighten things up.

In the meantime, regular life insists on being attended to. I picked up my CSA box which means I need to sit down and chop up a bunch of veggies to make this, this, and this. I’m having a mad craving for Cuban food (oh how I miss Versailles in LA!) so I need to make some pollo.

Laundry isn’t doing itself and for some reason, they want me to work to earn my paychecks so, clearly, everything I want to do for the visit (the 8 hours my brother’s family will be here. Sleeping) won’t happen. I think we should start some kind of pool and everyone pick a thing that won’t happen. Whoever wins, gets absolutely nothing except our deep admiration.

That’s admiration all right. For the food being held out in front of her but it’s still admiration.