evolution of my home | part 7 | the three bathrooms

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Master Bathroom, My House, upstairs bath

And now it’s time for part seven of the history-of-my-home tour when we look at all three bathrooms in my house.

MMS bathroom collage

Let’s start with the upstairs bathroom…

This is the bathroom that’s next to the boys’ room and guest room and it’s in the original 1940’s part of our home.  It is teeny-tiny by todays standards.  I think there’s no more than about 6″ between the toilet and the tub and you can easily reach the paper on the opposite wall from the potty.  The wide angle lens I’m using makes it look a little bigger than it is.

When we moved in, we painted the walls in a pale aqua, Jeff built the shelf for storage and I made a shower curtain out of remnant fabric and then another one for an HGTV.com project.  Other than that, we left it alone.  There just wasn’t much I could do to change this space until we had the budget for new floors and fixtures.


The mirrored medicine cabinet that was in the house when we bought it was “smoked” and it was hard to see your reflection, but I was able to pick up an exact replacement at a yard sale for $5.00.


When we started working on this bathroom earlier this year, I was originally planning to replace the sink, but I realized that I just didn’t like the faucet and the messy caulk job.  The sink was fine.


So, I used a scraper and razor to clean it up and re-caulked.


I painted the ceiling white and installed a wallpaper mural from Anthropologie for an HGTV.com tutorial.


wallpaper - step 6

We paid to have the 2″ marble hex tiles installed.  I installed the herringbone marble tile backsplash in the kitchen and I learned that I can do tile, but I don’t like doing tile.  There were also some tricky areas in this tight space, like a curved detail on the front of the tub, the radiator and the sink pipes.


I gave the trim a fresh coat of paint as well and we replaced the almond toilet with a white one.


I love using vintage mirrors, when possible, so I used an antique plaster mirror I found for $25…


…and painted it in a mix of MMS Milk Paint Lucketts Green, Boxwood and Mustard Seed Yellow with a Furniture Wax finish.  The new light is from Pottery Barn.  It really was the only one I could find that would fit in the space, given the low ceiling height.  I think the style of it is perfect, though.


The soap dispenser is from Target and the flowers and glass bottle were given to me by a sweet reader.  I found the “gentlemen’s” sign at the flea market in Raleigh, NC.  I figure it’s a subtle way to give fair warning that I cannot vouch for the cleanliness of the toilet at any given moment!  (Boy moms everywhere are nodding.)


Now, I was planning on making a sink skirt and rad cover with some shelves, but you all talked me out of that!  The longer I lived with it, the more I loved how much of the mural you can see and the radiator and the sink pipes work with the style of the space.  I need to give the radiator a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint, though.  We do need some storage, though, so I ordered two glass shelves to hang above it, so there is a place for extra TP, tooth brushes, etc. and a toilet paper holder.


On the wall behind the door, we’re going to hang a board with vintage hooks on it for towels.


I still have a few things on my wish list for this space, like reglazing the tub, but I’m not sure if we’ll ever do that.  We’re hoping to move in a couple of years, so we want to carefully pick the projects we put money into.

So, this bathroom’s story isn’t quite finished, yet…


The half bathroom, which is downstairs was probably one of the worst rooms in the house.  This is the only “before” picture I have of it…


Oh, the carpet.  I despise carpeting in a bathroom.  We ripped up the carpet and found 1940’s maroon “marmoleum” floors.  It’s marbled linoleum, if you can imagine that with me.  The wall was clad in pink plastic tiles with maroon accent tiles.  The window, which used to be the light and ventilation for the space, was boarded over when the addition was put on.  Since we didn’t have the money for a full makeover, we used $50 in sticky backed tile to cover the floors.  I painted the maroon accent tiles black and put a gathered curtain over the “window to nowhere.”

Bathroom Before

As I was browsing the internet one day, I saw a contest True Value was hosting for a $2,500 bathroom makeover.  I had never entered a contest like that, but decided I would give it a shot on a whim.  I grabbed the camera and made a quick video giving a tour of my bathroom.  I was wearing my painting clothes and, in the middle of it, my youngest, then a toddler, waddled in and flushed the toilet.  I wish I still had that video, but it’s been deleted!

Anyway, I was a finalist and entered the “voting” stage of the contest.  I asked my readers to vote and ended up winning the contest…


I drew a plan for the back wall for a rad cover, built-ins and bead board to cover the old window…


I ordered marble hex tile, which unfortunately came in two different tones, so we had to get that fixed before the install…


We ordered all of the bead board, trim, lumber, faucet, backer board, thinset, grout, a sink and a toilet.  Again, I opted to have the tile professionally installed, which cost $300.  Well spent.


They installed the new backer board right over the sticky tiles!

We also paid someone to move the light from above the mirror to an overhead.  Between ordering all of the materials, DIYing most of it and hiring some of it out, the projects took months to complete.  It was just a lot to coordinate and things kept going wrong.  It was definitely the hardest reno of the entire house.


I was planning to remove the plastic tile, but there was some concern about asbestos in the glue, so we just put the bead board directly over the tile with construction adhesive.  We made a paper template of the back wall, so we could cut a piece of bead board to fit exactly.

DSC_4331-copy-537x800 DSC_4342-copy-530x800

I painted the walls in Owl Gray by Benjamin Moore and the trim is in “off the shelf” white.  The light fixture is a floor sample from Home Depot and I embellished the shades with gray ribbon.  The mirror is vintage and so are the locker baskets.  I hung them on the walls with nails and use them to store TP and hand towels.

Bathroom After

The room has stayed pretty much the same, but I played around with the accessories last year.

mms-4062 mms-4060 mms-4068 mms-4064

I love this bathroom.  The only thing I would change is the white grout.  I wish I had chosen gray grout, but lesson learned.


And, here is how the master bathroom started.  Like the half bath, there was no natural light in this space.  The walls were painted green when we moved in and it had a smaller mirror, but it was otherwise the same as the pictures below.

mbb 3 mbb 2

I really hated this bathroom.  It was functional and fine, but I still hated it.  The vinyl floor wasn’t glued to the floor properly, so there were bubbles in it.  Everything was beige and almond and cream, which is totally not my thing.  The vanity, light and fixtures were nice, but just not my style.  The tub was very shallow and small, which was not good for soaking at all.  Since it was our master bath, I wanted it to look and feel more luxurious.  It just wasn’t a priority, so it stayed like that for years.

It was my job as an HGTV.com freelance writer that got the renovation started.  If you’ve been following this series, you know that gig has kicked off most of my makeovers and large home projects!  My editor asked for bathroom tutorials, so I pitched installing a skylight tube, turning an old dresser into a bathroom vanity, making a cornice for the tub and making a lined shower curtain.  We were hired to do all of those projects, so you know how that is…  If we’re going to do the vanity, we need to do the floors first and if we’re going to do the floors, we need to replace the tub and the tile surround and so on.  We decided to do it all at one time.

I installed 3/4 height board and batten to add some architectural interest to the space.  I selected 12 x 12″ marble tile for the floors and we had them placed as close together as possible, so the grout line would be very small.  I also gave the ceiling a fresh coat of white paint.

 mbb 5

We were connected with a handyman who worked with us on removing the old tub and installing the new one.  He also installed pot lights and a pair of antique sconces I bought on eBay.  Since we acted as his “labor”, the cost was a lot less than if we hired a company for this project.

I selected 3 x 6″ marble tile for the shower surround as well as niches for shampoo, soap, etc.  I was so done with the wire rack that hangs off the shower head!

I hired the tile work out for this project as well and I’m so glad I did.  The floor was a pretty simple install, but it took them about a week to complete the shower surround!

The new tub fit in the existing recess, but it was deeper and wider, so it feels more appropriate for a master bath.  Jeff built the front panel for it.

mbb 6

We found a sink to fit in the $50 Craig’s List dresser and retrofitted the drawers around the plumbing pipes.  Moen sent me the faucet.  I sealed the dresser top with Waterlox, the same product I used to seal our butcher block counters.

mbb 4

Since this room had no natural light AND it had attic space above it, we decided to install a skylight tube.  I absolutely love having natural light in that space.

Here’s how the master bath looks now…

mbb 1

The curtains are made out of Artissimo, the same fabric used in the master bedroom.  They really pop, since most of the bathroom is white.  I bought the shower faucet off eBay.

mbb 7 mbb 8

Here are the shower niches I was talking about.  I bought those off Amazon.  (It’s pretty funny.  I ordered all of the tile, toilets, fixtures, etc. for all of these bathrooms online, so the UPS guys love me when I’m renovating a bathroom!)


Jeff designed and built the built-ins and radiator covers…


The antique beveled mirror was free and the sconces were bought on eBay.  They are in the same style as the chandelier in the master bedroom, again, tying those spaces together.  The walls are painted in Simply White by Benjamin Moore and the trim is in off-the-shelf white.




mbb 10

Whew!  I thought the bathroom post would be shorter than the others, but these rooms all have undergone pretty major transformations!

The next room in our “evolution tour” will be the guest bedroom…

If you missed the other room tours, here they are…

Part 1 | Living Room

Part 2 | Dining Room

Part 3 | Home Office

Part 4 | Kitchen

Part 5 | Family Room

Part 6 | Master Bedroom

evolution of my home | part 7 | the three bathrooms

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