small bathroom renovationWhen I was at Mom’s last year helping with the  renovation of her master bathroom, we also did a small update to the small, second bathroom. (Mind you: Five children grew up just fine traveling daily through this “tiny” bathroom. Don’t even get me started with today’s 20-something house hunters who can’t LIVE in a house with a bathroom this SMALL.) For the small bathroom freshening, I count basically five steps or decisions — mostly inexpensive ones — that gave the bathroom a fresh and classy sassy new look. The most expensive and only “structural” change — but the one with a very fundamental quality impact — was tiling the floor, eliminating vinyl:

Step one: Replace vinyl floor with stock ceramic tile.

We pulled out inexpensive 1970s-era vinyl flooring, and replaced it with white octagon-and-dot ceramic floor tile. We got the ceramic at Lowe’s, it only cost about $2.50 per square foot, as I recall. We used medium gray grout so that the shape of the tile would pop. And so begins my small “graphic bathroom.”

peanuts shower curtainStep 2: Choose the shower curtain.

The tile was an easy decision (it sort of coordinated with the hex tile in the master bathroom). The shower curtain came easy peasy, too.  I was shopping around Target, there it was. I knew that this Peanuts shower curtain would coordinate just fine with the floor… It had simple, light colors and that nice punch of red… I knew that the large-scale graphics would look good in the small bathroom… kind of playing nicely against the conservative conventional graphic of the floor. Oh, and I love Snoopy. I just knew it work — that the shower curtain would become the not too big, not too small, just right focal point of the small bathroom. Note, this shower curtain is no longer available at Target online.

Oh, behind the shower curtain is a basic, almond-colored fiberglass tub/shower insert. If I had more time, I’d paint the gold rod with a shiny black lacquer spray paint.

small bathroom remodel

Step 3 (above): Repaint the walls.

Because we kept the original vanity — with its almond-colored plastic top — I chose a wall color that would bridge the white and the almond. I also wanted to keep the room light and bright… but with some gravitas. The color is Muslin from Sherwin Williams. I like it very much. It’s like the classic Navajo, but with a lighter touch. Glowy… classy… rich looking, even.

small bathroom renovation

Step 4 (above): Paint the vanity.

Previously, the vanity had been natural oak. I wanted to simplify the palette, so white it was. Note, we used an outside painter dude, and he used the wrong finish paint on the vanity. Within a few weeks, you could see see the fingerprints accumulating on the flat paint. And I wasn’t paying attention when I took these photos, so I didn’t scrub them off first. My bad. See things I’d changed, below.

bathroom shelf with sheep

Step 5 (above and continuing below): Accessorize.

When I painted the vanity in Mom’s master bathroom black using Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations, I also painted this old shelf that I found in a storage area. The old color was blue, as I recall. The Rust-Oleum kit did a fab job. Originally, I had thought this would go in Mom’s bathroom. But it seemed too cramped in there. So into the second bathroom it went. Again, I was trying to go big and graphic black-and-white in this small bathroom. So this piece worked well.

collectible sheepIt contains an important message for XX-chromosome users.

black bathroom shelfA key to being all graphic-like was not to clutter up the shelf. Mom collects these little sheep figurines, duh, hello. This is a fun and unexpected way to experience them daily.

toilet paper holderNew-fangled TP holder. Kinda works well.

What would I change? I’d paint the vanity and the light fixture base black, as well — to match the shelf and also the mirror I found at Target. The faucet also is new. And LoOk! I put the exhaust fan on a timer!

Towels and rugs are red — made possible by that red PuNcH! in the shower curtain. Overall, this cheap and cheerful bathroom update turned out great.

  1. David says:

    In the ranch house we just bought, the ming green hall bath is tiny. It has a non original vanity which we want to replace w/a wall hung dental or shaving sink due to room, not as deep as 17 inches would be great. The toilet I would like to be not as long as your legs bump up against the tub when sitting. Should I get a smaller tub too? I think it is a design dilemma but not sure. I have asked dea bath and done alot of research but it is becoming a slow process.

  2. sona says:

    Am new here. We have a ’40’s 900 sf bungalow. Do you know where I may find blogs/ reno ideas for that decade?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Sona, and welcome. I don’t know of another blog — but know, I have plenty of content relevant to 40s houses. Check out the categories… and spend some time going back… I hope you can find what you need. Let me know…

  3. lady brett says:

    “my aim is to keep this bathroom clean. your aim will help.”

    hahaha! i *need* that sign. i think i will make one soon. perhaps it will help with situations like when i went to scold the small boys about which of them needed to clean off the toilet *again*, and my adult brother-in-law giggled and admitted to being the culprit.

    anyhow, this 20-something homeowner has been fine with one tiny bathroom…though it needs notably more than a 5-step remodel =)

  4. claire says:

    What great tile!! I would love to incorporate it into my tiny 1925 bathroom. Just need ideas on how to prop up the very very heavy clawfoot tub enough to rip out the vinyl and lay the tile!!

  5. Dan says:

    Our “big” bathroom (don’t bother asking about the small one) is tiny, and was noticeably lacking in pizzazz. But it does have the original 1954 pink ceramic tile on the floor and surrounding the tub/shower, so not all was lost.

    To make it stick out, I painted the walls battleship grey, and put in a pink fabric shower curtain (to get that classic 50’s pink/grey look). For storage, I added a vintage 50’s clothes hamper, which we use for clean towels.

    Some vintage starburst towel rings, and steam-proof vintage wall art (plastic molds of Grecian ladies with urns in tasteful Formica frames) and the look was complete. For now…..

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