Monday, September 12, 2011

Beadboard and Sheet Sets and Grommets, Oh My!

Last winter, I finally decided to tackle my downstairs bath. It wasn't the first time I had worked on this room. When I bought my 1935 cottage seven years ago, the first things I did after signing the papers and getting the keys was to begin stripping wallpaper in my tiny full bath. I then had white hexagon tile installed and the smallest pedestal sink I could find (the old vanity was hugely oversized as well as outdated). I also put in a new light fixture and replaced the wood grain toilet seat, wooden toothbrush holder and ugly mirror. Then I painted the room a sky blue and put up a new shower curtain. It looked a TON better, and I was happy enough with it ... for a while. 

As the years went on, the old plaster walls seemed to look even more uneven (I had tried to smooth them myself before painting, and let's just say this is not my area of expertise!). When the wall above the shower began flaking and cracking and the ceiling developed further cracks and stains, I knew it was time to do something. 

So I called in Eric the Handyman. He's installed doors and hung light fixtures and fixed plumbing for me in the past, and he's a great guy to have on speed dial. I didn't have much of a budget for a bathroom redo, but by focusing on the important stuff, I was able to get a new look or around $1500. Here's what I did:

- Eric did some plaster repair on the walls and installed new drywall on the ceiling. Since none of these very old walls are even or straight, it was easiest to use crown molding around the edges to cover where the drywall met the walls. 

- Eric also installed beadboard panels that went two-thirds of the way up the wall. The cost of this was offset by what I saved having him not repair the walls we were covering. It also really brightened up this small room and goes great with the period of the house. 

- Next came the fun part. I primed and painted the beadboard and trim, keeping them a crisp white. Then I painted the top third of the walls and the ceiling a warm gray color that was fittingly called "elephant ear." After all the priming and painting, I just didn't have it in me to tape off the crown molding at the ceiling to paint it white, so I just used the wall color there, too. Eric the Handyman was sad, but I like it. 

Now it was time for the accessories -- my favorite part. To save money, I decided to use the same mirror, light fixture and towel bar. That let me splurge on these amazing vintage porcelain hooks I found rescued from an old hotel at the turn of the century. They're actually my favorite part of the room. 

- For the shower curtain, I knew I wanted something different and I was fine to sew something, but I wasn't finding the fabric I wanted and didn't want to spend a fortune. This is when I turned to one of my favorite tricks: using sheets as fabric. At TJ Maxx Home Goods I found an Amy Butler twin sheet set for under $20. Score! The flat sheet was the perfect width and I just had to hem it to make it a little shorter. Then at the top, I added grommets. This seems scary, but it's so easy! You buy them at the fabric store in the "notions" section, and they come with a tool to install them. I cut a small "x" to insert the back of the grommet then slide the top over and use the tool and a hammer to secure. (If you're going to use a lot of grommets, invest in the plier-type tool they sell in that same section - it make it sooo easy!). 

CHEAT IT: If you're afraid to try grommets and don't want to hem, get some curtain rings with clips attached so you can just fold over the extra fabric to make your new shower curtain the perfect length and then clip it up! 

The finished bathroom is a little more grown up-looking than my other spaces, but I love the look. I loved the gray paint so much, that I used a slightly lighter version in the hallway that leads to the bathroom and in my kitchen, but that's another blog post for another day...


  1. Love it Wendy....I'm painting my kitchen cabinets white on top and grey on the bottom.
    xo Jana

  2. You're a genius. That's why we love you.