This weekend, I fell into a home repair quagmire that I didn’t see coming. I ended up devoting hours and hours to sprucing up a bathroom that we plan to tear up and completely re-do in the near future. What happened? Well, it’s kind of a long story, but it got me thinking about fairly inexpensive fixes that are worth doing while you wait for the “real” remodel. From the paint color to the organization, you can make things a lot more pleasant for yourself while you save up for a big bathroom renovation, and a lot of these ideas would be perfect for renters, too.
Easy Upgrades Worth Doing While you Wait to Remodel
1. Paint – Especially if you have a color you hate on the walls, it’s worth investing in some inexpensive paint to help keep your mood up. Super cheap paint might require extra coats (aka extra time), so I would at least spring for mid-range paint, and keep an eye out for sales and even “oops” buckets if you’re determined to temporarily upgrade your paint on a budget. It’s a great way to test out a paint color you’ve not sure about, and even just plain white can make a huge difference.
2. Swap light fixtures – If you can score an inexpensive (or free!) light fixture, all you’ll hopefully have to do is a bit of wiring (my story notwithstanding). Or pick one out that you know you’ll want to use in your remodeled room. I knew I’d want to use the ceiling light I found (see below) in our future room, but I’m not going to spend serious cash replacing the fixture over the mirror because I’m not sure what we’ll want for that one. Be strategic!
3. Add hooks and bars – I think I spent like, 2 years wishing that there was a hook closer to the shower/tub to hang my towel on before I just added one. It was like, $3 and 5 minutes of work, and now I don’t have to wad my towel up on the sink while I shower. If I get rid of this one when we remodel, it will still have been totally worth it. I kick myself for not doing it sooner, so learn from my mistake!
4. Upgrade textiles – Towels, curtains, and rugs are likely to be 100% reusable (especially if you stick to neutrals), and will make a big difference in your enjoyment of the space. White, fluffy towels are always in style!
5. Add houseplants – They clean the air, look pretty, are inexpensive, and are easy to fit in a new space (or move) after you remodel. The steam-loving plants in my ugly bathroom are the prettiest element, so I try to look at them instead of the hideous tile. So they’re good distractions, too!
6. Organize – Make the most of the space you have by organizing it. There are tons of DIY and store-bought options for maximizing your storage. Pull-out drawers aren’t nearly as cheap as some organizers, but they helped me make use of awkwardly deep cabinets, and hopefully I’ll be able to re-use them. At the very least, they’ve made my storage much more pleasant and usable.
7. Hide eyesores – My secret weapon for this is tension rod curtains. The area under my bathroom sink is completely open in the middle (maybe it used to be a desk?), so I added a long tension rod. I even managed to avoid buying a curtain for it by using the bottom of a curtain I’d shortened for another room. I just added a pocket casing to the top, hung it up, and now I have a place to hide my extra toilet paper. You may have to get more creative to hide your eyesores, but it can be worth it.
8. Accessorize – You don’t have to wait to buy a pretty soap dispenser or toothbrush holder. Even if you don’t end up wanting to use the same ones in your new space, you probably didn’t spend much for the upgrades. This applies to art and decor, too, which hopefully you’ll want to continue to use.
Okay, back to the story of how I reluctantly gave my bathroom an upgrade.
It all started with a schoolhouse-style glass shade (like this one) that I spotted on my neighbor’s curb. As a confirmed scavenger, even though I wasn’t sure where I’d use it, I snagged it, thinking that if I didn’t need it, I’d just put it back.
Looking around my house, I noticed that one of the few lights that we hadn’t yet replaced was on the bathroom ceiling. That is partly because the bathroom is so ugly that it seemed pointless to even bother with the light. But the shade, combined with a new porcelain flush-mount fixture, would fit the space a lot better than the other light, and jive perfectly with my future vision for the remodeling.
So we replaced the fixture, but in doing so, we needed to patch the ceiling a bit, because the footprint of the new light was smaller than the old one. I patched it up with joint compound, and grabbed a can of the light yellow paint that the house came with, and that I assumed matched the existing paint on the walls (and on the ceiling, weirdly). When it dried, I realized that it was much lighter than the existing wall and ceiling paint, so that I now had a noticeable ring around the light. And none of the random buckets of paint that our house came with matched. So I wasn’t left with much of a choice other than to repaint the whole ceiling. Damn, not really what I was planning for this weekend.
The bathroom doesn’t have any ventilation or fans, so it gets steamed up during showers, and what looks like rust spots appear all over the ceiling. We initially wiped them up when we moved in, but they came right back, so we gave up. We figured that they were nails beneath the paint that were rusting from the moisture. The paint was also bubbling up in many spots, so I figured I’d scrape one of those spots, and see if there were nails beneath the paint that I could seal with primer. The paint came right off, and so did the ceiling, in big chunks.
Well, not the ceiling, the joint compound somebody had put over it, along with some mesh tape, to repair tiny cracks. So after scraping all of the bubbling paint and joint compound, not only did I need to paint my whole ceiling, first I needed to patch, sand, and prime it.
BUT on the upside, now I have a pristine, clean white bathroom ceiling with moisture-resistant new semi-gloss paint, no spots or bubbling paint, and a new light fixture. Photographing a small bathroom is tough enough, let alone the ceiling, but here’s a peek:
The rest of the bathroom (someday I will demo that tile…) is still really ugly, but at least I can hate it slightly less while we wait to remodel!