How to: Redo a Bathroom for Under $20

A while back, I wrote a few posts for a freelancing blogging gig I’m doing. While I liked the topics I wrote about, the client ended up going in a different direction (don’t worry, still with me!) so the posts are once again mine to publish.

Basically, here is a post I wrote a while ago, but that is new to you. Savvy?

If you’ve discussed the topic of renting an apartment with me any time within the last year or so, odds are you’ve heard me express my…displeasure with our bathroom situation.

If you don’t fit into that category of people, here’s the short list of its downfalls:

1. Old plumbing: Until recently when we FINALLY got our landlord to replace it, the sink drain didn’t, well, drain. And no amount of Drain-O would do a difference.

2. Old wiring: The ONLY outlet in the whole room doesn’t work for modern appliances. Including, but no limited to: straighteners, curling irons, blow dryers, electric toothbrushes, and virtually any other appliance you would ever consider using in a bathroom. We’ve been told this can’t be fixed without rewiring everything, and that rewiring everything is just never going to happen. ENJOY!

3. Dismal paint: I will never understand why most of our apartment is painted the not-great-but-bearable Navajo White, while the bathroom is swathed in a vomit-y pale yellow. Which, you know, goes great with the pink and grey tile.

4. The tile: Not only is the wall tile pink and grey, but the floor tile is ANCIENT beige in serious need of a re-grout.

5. The tub: It’s just old and gross in in need of a re-caulking at the VERY least.

6. The built-ins: While I love a good built-in, our tiny cabinet is not constructed in a way to best use the space. And the built-in laundry hamper below the cabinet is too small for any actual clothes. We use it to store toilet paper and paper towels, but if they were just deep cabinets like the rest of the built-in, it would be a much better use of space.

7. The vanity: Old and made of particle board.

8. The medicine cabinet: Whoever built this apartment had a bizarre affinity for sliding doors, the medicine cabinet included. You KNOW how I feel about this. I’ve told you twice.

9. The ceiling: Before we moved in, the upstairs unit apparently had a leak in their shower that will occasionally spring up again, dripping through our bathroom ceiling and leaving us with charming brown water spots everywhere. It’s super glam, as you can probably imagine.

I think that’s it…I mean, I named everything in the bathroom, so, yeah. Oh, the towel bars are ugly and weirdly placed as well. Ok, NOW we’ve named everything.

The point is, the bathroom? I don’t like him.

After living in our apartment for over a year (and staring another eight months down at the moment), I’ve gone back and forth over how much time (and money) I should really invest in making it a more enjoyable space. I mean, it’s the bathroom. Sure, we spend time in there, but not nearly as much as we do in, say, the living room. Or the bedroom.

As with any rental, you’re also constantly reminded of the fact that in a year or so, you’re going to ship out, leaving behind any hard work you’ve invested. Thus, the bathroom has received very little attention.

A few months ago, though, I decided to challenge myself to see how much I could make over that room for under $40. I had big plans. I considered painting. I considered replacing the medicine cabinet. I considered adding shelves over the toilet.

The only thing I knew I wanted to do for sure was finally hang the shower curtain we had received on our wedding registry. (You know…a year ago.) It was actually one of my most favorite things we registered for (up there with the mixer and the punctuation book ends), but since our bathroom came with a glass door, there hadn’t been any rush to getting it hung.

So I bought a $10 curtain rod. And then…well…remember all those lofty goals I had for other updates? Well, once I hung up the shower curtain, the weirdest thing happened.

The room just sort of…came together. Like, instantly. Now, I’m not saying it suddenly looked like this or anything. But all of a sudden all of the randomly selected colors in the room came together. The grey in the curtain matched the grey tiles, and the taupe in the curtain perfectly matched the yellow-y walls.

After that, I straightened the cabinet (and added a few grey canvas bins I bought for $5), hung some fresh towels, and called it good. And, I’m not kidding you guys, it was like a whole different room. Here are the before shots (the pictures are awful, this room gets the worst light):

And here’s the after:

The pictures don’t even do it justice. I seriously spent the first couple of weeks just sneaking peeks at that pretty curtain, amazed at what it had done. The best part? Since I already had the curtain and the hooks, the whole “makeover” cost me about $20.

Anyway, for now, I’m leaving it be. I might hang a few black-and-white pictures (a la this) on the wall opposite the sink at some point (I do have a bunch of cheap-y frames I was going to donate to Goodwill), but other than that, I can’t bring myself to invest any more in this room I will eventually leave behind.

What do you think? Have you ever accidentally happened upon a super simple AND super effective solution for a problem that had plagued you for months? I can’t tell you how hard I kicked myself for not just hanging the dang curtain when we first moved in.