Laurel Street Blog

Before & After: Master Bath on a Budget

Posted on: December 10, 2009

Well, let’s say that ‘master’ is overly generous. Our tiny bath, added in the 80’s (and never again updated) has undergone cosmetic surgery. My design brief was simple: Make it less of a rat hole for as little money as possible.

Like the kitchen, I didn’t want to make any changes that cost real money because a major renovation is coming within three to five years (-ish).

I only have one real ‘before’ picture (I’ll get to that in a minute) so I had to steal this other image from the Internet to show you what is not visible in the ‘before’ shot – a special gift to us from the previous owners. Here it is:

Behold. The only thing I can say about this is that for some months I had to resist the urge to call out, "Ahoy, Matey!"

So that was the err, focal point if you looked to the left upon entering. Here’s what you would’ve seen if you looked to the right (taken on inspection day before we bought the house).

Oh my God what the hell is that run for your life!

Truly, truly awful. I think the 80’s renovators ran out of steam (or money) when they hit this room. The shelving was clearly completed by a weekend not-so-handy handyman.

The paper-based stick-on floor tile had been laid over a particle-board sub-floor which was disintegrating (haha on me – I didn’t know that at the time!) and whoever installed the floor in previous decades had not known that flooring should actually go all the way underneath the commode.

The labor-saving concept of cutting out a toilet shaped hole in the flooring material and laying it around the fixture simply will not give your home improvement projects a superior degree of polish.

The marble sink is an antique – it was salvaged from a laboratory from old Tulane Medical School. My position on antiques is fairly well known – one is not required to love them all equally. Consider this is also an antique:

Merklen Victorian Chair

Merklen Victorian Chair

See what I mean? So while I’m a little nostalgic about the history of the laboratory sink, I can say that if you shave for any length of time in something about the size of a soup bowl, well… nostalgia eventually fades.

Replacing the sink was beyond the scope and budget of the project, however, so I ripped out everything but that. I’d just been focused instead on a new floor, new paint and reworking the shelves.

Whew. I'm no longer afraid to approach it and brush my teeth!

Really, just a little (well a lot) of Brasso on the sink taps makes me almost as happy as everything else I did to our microscopic ‘master’ bath. The paint is ‘Stone Lion’ from Sherwin-Williams and was chosen to complement the veining in the marble sink.

Now that I’ve posted this (and maybe at the time) I think I played it too safe with the wall color however. If I repaint – I might go with a very dark color. Walls and ceiling.

The shelves were tricksters as they are not square toward the back, instead they meet the wall at an angle. I should’ve asked to borrow a protractor from Toad. Anyway, just a little lumber and new fascia and I think it is all hanging together now.

And this may sound crazy, but I can’t rip the existing mirrors from the wall without major damage. So I thinking about hanging a prettier mirror OVER the existing mirror to add some “OOMPH” – like one of these:

Mirror over a mirror? Crazy talk? I could always use it again later after the full rennovation...

Oh why not?

I bought a few yards of this toile and made the skirt for the sink. And since the plain window wasn’t really adding much of anything to the room, I made a pelmet with the fabric as well.

Spear and magic pelmet!

Somewhere along the way when I was Googling “how do you take a toilet apart to renovate your bathroom” I took the toilet apart. Seeing it dissected I realized I had no real affection for the old thing and zero motivation to put it back together again. Someone else in the house agreed and decided his contribution to the overall re-do effort would be to go out and buy a nice, new fixture. Yay!

A vast improvement.

The little shelves came from Pottery Barn and all the rest of the accessories came from a clever little shop called ‘somewhere else in the house.’

The shelves are fine – I rotate fun travel photos out periodically, but I had originally intended for a REALLY BIG CLOCK – something with an out-sized scale to add some real surprise to this wall. I’m still hunting for something that’s not prosaic. I’m hoping to stumble over something while out Christmas shopping.

And that’s it – for now… I’m still shaving in a soup bowl, but at least the rest of the room feels somewhat less ‘accidental’ than it did before. And other than the new commode, I spent less than $350 (it would’ve been less if I hadn’t had to redo the sub-floor, but I did discover that a sub-floor was necessary if you wanted actually to walk around the bathroom, or use it or anything).

Right now it’s fine, but would love any ideas to pump up some drama in this tiny (did I mention the room is tiny?) little bath.


20 Responses to "Before & After: Master Bath on a Budget"

I actually like your antique sink.
especially now!

But then I almost like that chair too….*almost.*

Wooden toilet seats, however, I can not get behind. (get it, get it? never mind) I did my time with them. They tend to crack, and form tiny
insidious little vises….I’ll spare you the details

i, too, have suffered through my share of “ahoy, matey” toilets, so i feel your pain…

the new throne looks very nice!


Our en-suite ‘bathrooms’ were spawned from the same dodgey parents – they are identical twins! You know Nate you didn’t need to get rid of that loo seat, a beautiful decoupage job ala Derwin Rice would have taken it to a whole new level. Glad the significant other saw sense & parted with enough $’s for a new suite, very nice. Seriously though, this is one fab make-over, a very nice high five to you.
Millie ^_^
P.S. Glad you enjoyed today’s post – I’ve got the plaster cast blues at present so I thought I needed a Jonny fix. It worked for me & by the look of everyone’s comments, it worked for them too!

REMARKABLE improvement. Really nice job, Nathan! It’s too bad you don’t have a REALLY BIG red tub in there, though.

The Big Red tub is lurking around the corner – waiting to pounce!

you give me hope. you should have your own column in Real Simple or something to that effect :)

It looks great, the sink may be annoying but with the newly shiny taps it looks great, and I personally love mirror hung over mirror. If you want to add a little more drama, how about just the ceiling darker–the wall color does look great with the sink and floor, but a couple of shades darker on the ceiling–maybe a metallic–helm paint carries the metallics masters line which was a lot of options other that gold or silver–would add a nice touch without making the small space too dark.

Total genius – this metallic ceiling will be DONE.

Looks great! Quite an improvement. I even like the toilet…if that’s not too weird. A mirror over a mirror could be a nice touch. Every time I see this done I like it.

I’m amazed at how shiny your taps are – they look good. You did use a lot of Brasso. The shelves are 100%. You must be happy with the new loo as well. Our bathroom is pretty tragic but I think a new loo would make all the difference.

I think a large old clock would look great or a mosaic of framed art works.

oh my – beware of splinters from that toilet seat!
I love all of your changes -seroiusly -who knew that bathroom could look so good? Love the skirt under the sink and those shelves turned out pretty fantastic!
I think you definitely need to overmount a decorative mirror – love the idea of the venetian mirror! I look forward to seeing that on bathroom blog post #2!

AD – Wisteria is winging a Venetian mirror in my general direction as well speak. Thanks for the encouragement!

You did a fab job within the constraints you had. I actually really like the wall color and the (after) toilet photo is great – I would not have thought of a huge clock but now you’ve said it, I’m in total agreement – hope you can find something you like.
The before photo (on inspection day) really surprised me… wow, they didn’t make any effort at all to tidy up, did they?!

Fabulous job with the redo! I think the mirror over mirror would be great- someone posted on that recently with examples but I cannot remember who it was…

thanks for stopping by my blog!! Loved reading yours.

What an improvement! It looks great! I’m enjoying all the toilet seat comments…lol…never thought about the dangers of a wooden toilet seat before!

Thanks so much for all your great comments on House of Turquoise! I’m so happy you found it and are enjoying my posts!

Erin – I enjoy your blog everyday like a cup of coffee. It is always welcome!

Wow great job you did! Love the hits of red!

perch. has a nice little Venetian style mirror (that would be perfect to overlay as you are considering) for around $300., and I’ll give you my employee discount if you like :-)
xo xo

I think the mirror over mirror idea is BRAZILLIANT!!! I can’t wait to see how that turns out and please, please post directions on that little how-to. I have the standard builder’s boring mirrors and have been debating what to do with them for years. I am inspired, gracias!

Wisteria has some amazing mirrors right now. The venetian is lovely as are the bone-inlaid options and that hammered silver peacock makes me weak in the knees.

Personally I am in love with your gorgeous marble sink and brass taps. But I understand your issues. Still, promise you won’t toss it once the real renovating ensues. It would make a great bar sink, no?

Congrats on a job well done! Bravo! I’m actually on my way back to your magical city again this weekend. I could not stay away. Anything I “must see” or visit while I’m there?

[…] Comment! I am getting close to the finish line on updating the main bathroom… […]

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Laurel Street Blog

Nate and Louis

Well, hey there. I'm Nathan and this is the Laurel Street Blog. It's a place for talking about design, decor and DIY (with small amounts of snarkery snuck in). I'm a pretty restless guy who loves house projects and lives in a 150+ year old cottage on Laurel Street in New Orleans. Since the house always has something going on with it (or falling off of it) I'm subsequently blessed with a never-ending supply of Web content to share. Oh - and you can drop me a line anytime Enjoy!

Can I get a tweet up in here? Follow along @LaurelStreet

The Laurel Street Cottage

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