Budget Friendly Bath Refresh

I was going to write this post yesterday, but it was 75 and sunny so I worked outside instead. Today’s weather is gloomy and 47…so here I am, wrapped in a blanket at my desk to tell you all about my bathroom project this past weekend.

As you may recall, my daughter and her family went to visit her in-laws for a few days so I took the opportunity to do some painting and updating while the house was empty and the guest bath wasn’t being used. I managed to get quite a bit done, but I’m still putting the finishing touches on the living room, so I’ll share that mini-makeover in another post.

I tackled the bathroom first because it was the one room that needed to be done before they returned. It had not been painted in several years and was in dire need of a facelift. The original color was a tan/light brown; don’t ask me why I painted it that color, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Thankfully, I think my taste in paint has improved over the years!

I started by giving the bathroom a through cleaning (I mean, who wants to spend several hours in a dirty bathroom?). Once it was clean, walls and all, we patched any holes and sanded them down. After that was done, I primed the entire room. I did this because I could see on the walls where condensation had run down over the years and I did not want that to show through the new paint…those darn teenage daughters and their hot showers! Once the primer was dry I applied two coats of a lovely light gray paint that, you guessed it, I got off the oops shelf at Menard’s for five bucks.


Before: Why did I choose these colors?

Originally, painting was all I was going to do for the time being, but once it was done the vanity, medicine cabinet and dresser that we use for storage looked really shabby and I needed to spruce them up. I already had enough projects on my plate so I couldn’t afford to do anything complicated, but I also didn’t want to do something that wouldn’t hold up to regular use.

The vanity and medicine cabinet are pretty basic builders grade fixtures. The fronts are real wood but the sides are particle board with a plastic wood-look veneer on them. We bought them when the girls were young. Knowing how hard teenage girls and their beauty products can be on a bathroom, we went with something affordable that we wouldn’t feel bad about replacing down the road. Since my daughter now has a young child and they live with us, we aren’t ready to upgrade it just yet. So, I had to do some brainstorming to figure out a quick and inexpensive solution.

I decided to paint the fronts with some lovely blue paint, that I already had on hand, while I figured out what to do with the sides. I have never had much success with paint sticking to that plastic stuff and I didn’t want to try figuring it out on something that lives in such a busy and humid environment. After a few “Aha”s followed by “oh no, that won’t work” I finally landed on using contact paper. It comes in a lot of fun designs now and if it gets damaged, it’s easy and cheap to replace; so I thought that would be an excellent solution.


Originally, I was just going to get a simple pattern or maybe something that looked like barn wood, then I saw this pretty floral pattern and I had to have it. Isn’t it lovely? (The piece of paper is my stencil for cutting around the baseboard) I bought two rolls for around thirteen dollars, so it definitely ticked the inexpensive box. I cut my pieces and put them all on in a very short time. I covered the sides of the vanity and medicine cabinet. It’s not necessarily something I want to live with for the next 10 years, but it’s bright, cheery and it gets the job done. It’s a definite improvement over what it looked like before.

Here is the before:

Here is the after:

I also decided to use the contact paper on the dresser drawers to make it look nicer and also continue on with the flower theme. I replaced the existing drawer pulls with some that were leftover from a project I did about 15 years ago. (I told you guys I never get rid of building materials…I think I may have a problem.) It is not the permanent solution for the space, but it looks cute while it does the job. Eventually I will be installing shelving, but that will have to wait until some other projects are completed.


I am pleased with the end result. It feels clean and bright.  While it’s not what I would do with the space if I had unlimited time and resources, it’s a huge improvement and it makes me smile. It should make that bathroom a much better place to get ready in the morning.

Who else is decorating on a budget? What cool tips or tricks have you learned?


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