Upstairs Bathroom Makeover: Before & After

As you may recall, one of the goals I recently set for myself was to finally get around to painting the upstairs bathroom now that the wallpaper has been down for a few months. The pink butterfly wallpaper was painfully thick (not to mention hideous) and the hardest to remove so far. I spent many sweat-induced summer afternoons with a wallpaper steamer, cursing at the butterflies for being so impossible. Thankfully, there are no signs of butterflies in our upstairs bathroom anymore.

Here’s a look at a before and after of the progress made so far in the bathroom as of today. Eventually we’d like to install black and white honeycomb tiling, but for now we are starting off with budget-friendly baby steps. I’m excited to be able to finally hang our bathroom hardware so our toilet paper will have a home (I realize this is very geeky). This is the bathroom we use every day because the shower is much preferred, so it’ll be nice to see something other than primed walls.

This is a before and after of the bathroom when we first moved in and a shot of it from today. We’ll need to get a new toilet seat and a curtain to snazz it up a bit, but for now, I’m just happy to have fresh paint on the walls.

I definitely love the chinchilla gray by Martha Stewart—I’ve been struggling to find a gray I’m 100% happy with (since the other grays we’ve used so far have turned out more blue and mauve), so I’m really happy with the “true”-ness of it. Just as a side note, these photos were taken at sunset, so the gray is much brighter and lighter during the day.

Has anyone else been tackling home renovations projects now that the weather outside is getting frightful (aka cold enough to make me mumble obscenities like a crazy person whenever I have to walk the dogs)? Also, has anyone installed honeycomb tiling before? Should we leave it to the professionals, or is it something we can DIY on our own?

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Before Photos: The First Floor

On Thursday, Pete and I settled on the house! Unfortunately, there were some discrepancies between our requested repairs and what was actually finished, so we had to start an escrow to have those problems resolved within the upcoming month. It’s not an ideal way to start off as homeowners, but we will work together to figure it out I’m sure. Thursday evening we devoted to emptying out the house since the previous owner left a lot of belongings that we wanted to get rid of (rugs, curtains, a shed full of antiquated push mowers and lots of other stuff that made me sneeze).

We bought a wallpaper steamer, which has been our best investment yet, second to the shop vacuum, which has been a great help in cleaning up the place. There were nails, screws, dead bugs, peanut shells and dust bunnies galore, so it felt good to walk around without stepping on anything. Pete found a mummified mouse in the basement, so needless to say, there is a lot more cleaning to do before the place stops smelling like a smoky nursing home.

On Saturday, Pete’s family came over to help us with cleaning and prepping the living room and upstairs for priming. We finished up all of the primer on the wood trim, windows and doors, so we’ll move onto painting those after we tackle the wallpaper in our bedroom. Pete swapped out the front door hardware with a new deadbolt and lock, which was a big project since the deadbolt didn’t fit the hole in the steel door. Thank god for chisels. Lowe’s is officially my new favorite place. Gone are the days when I long to go to Target to browse their new dresses and shoes. Now I am more concerned with having a new kitchen than a new wardrobe, so unfortunately you guys might have to see me sporting some outdated outfits for a while until we can afford to revamp the kitchen.

This is the living room, which we will be painting a medium gray with white trim and a white fireplace. Our soon-to-be IKEA couch and chair in Isunda Gray will lend some lighter gray tones to the room. We’re scouting out chartreuse rugs to find something to bring a pop of color to the space. Not sure what to do about curtains yet, but we’ll get to that once the room is a bit more together.

Betty White is our tour guide, and here she can be seen in our dining room, which is now wallpaper-free. “After” photos of the dining room to come once we’ve sanded and primed the walls! The dining area will be painted a pale, cheerful yellow with white trim. We managed to take down all of the wallpaper in the dining room, the walls just need a bit of sanding to smooth everything out before we prep it for priming. Our goal is to have the living room, dining room and bedroom ready and painted by the time we move in. We’re not sure when we’ll be moving, it really depends on when our landlord can find new tenants for our current apartment, but we’re hoping it will be sometime in June.

Here’s my super crooked photo of the other side of the dining room. Sorry for the super rushed photos, I was just racing through the house to snap “before” photos carelessly because I wanted to shop vacuum the place before the sun went down (a lot of the rooms need lights in them). We bought a new thermostat so we won’t have to stare at that hunk o’ junk on the wall anymore thank goodness. There are large vents all over the house since the air conditioning/heating units are pretty ancient, so those are things that we’ll probably want to address next year once our home warranty expires. We also removed the door from this frame since it seemed pretty unnecessary and just made the room look smaller. We took the door leading to the upstairs down as well and listed them on Craigslist as a curb alert, so they were luckily gone within less than a day.

The kitchen is the room that pains me the most. The vinyl floors just look dirty no matter what you do, so we will be likely addressing that with some temporary stick-on vinyl until we can afford our kitchen makeover. Pete created a mockup of what we’d like the kitchen to look like in less than a year from now, so I’ll be sharing that with you soon. Hopefully we can save our pennies to make it happen sooner than later, because I’m not so sure how long I can tolerate the hideous sink/dishwasher combo. Until then, we’ll be removing the bunny wallpaper eventually, painting the cabinets white and replacing the hardware. It kills me that the knob on the middle bottom cabinet doesn’t match the others, but I’m trying to not obsess about it and focus on wallpaper removal instead.

The kitchen has a door on the right that leads to a mudroom (with clunky storage furniture that the homeowner left us), which takes you outside once you fling open the insanely heavy door. We’ll be working on getting that door replaced, as well as the basement windows since they are not good condition.

During our pre-settlement walk through of the house we discovered this plumbing in the room that will one day be our office area. The previous owner must have stacked things perfectly in front of it so we wouldn’t notice it, so this will be one of the things that will be addressed (and removed) as part of our escrow.

We were left with some pretty hideous Thomas Kinkade wall plates, which matched the border of the wallpaper remarkably. I’ll be sure to capture photos of all of the wallpaper borders before we tear them down so you can appreciate the “after” photos even more.

The blue bathroom is another room that makes me cringe, but we’ll work slowly to try to replace the sink with a nice vanity and address the floor situation. Until then we’ll paint the door, room and probably replace the medicine cabinet and lights with something more modern to distract from all of the blue.

This is our next project, which we’ll be working on every night this week after Pete gets home from work. Our goal is to have all of the wallpaper down in here by the weekend so we can focus on priming next week. Next up will be “before” photos of the upstairs and basement, along with the front and backyard, which just might be my favorite parts of the house.

The house needs a ton of work, so we are excited to work on small changes like removing wallpaper and painting since they’ll make such a big difference in the look (and smell!!) of the place. My goal is to make it not smell like old lady anymore by the time we move in. No offense to old ladies, but they just have a very specific scent that I’d very much like to avoid until about fifty years from now.