Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bathroom reno

I finished my bathroom renovation, a while ago, but it took some time to gather the right accessories, to finish it off. I'm still on the hunt for a few things, but when you're on a budget, you have wait to find the right bargain.

I believe the last place I left this particular renovation though, was a cryptic clue...

Mystery object

Back in February, while still enduring the summer heatwave, I showed what I was working on. This little installation, was why the renovation began at all. Because we were experiencing a problem in our main bathroom.

It has to do with moisture (natural environment in the bathroom) and perhaps two different kinds of boards meeting together.

 Pre-drilled Holes

This crack, about a half to a third, up the wall, was where the plaster join was cracking. It was a problem in our main bathroom, as well as our ensuite. It's law in Queensland, to have a special board for wet areas, up to a certain point, then you can have drywall/gyprock, further up.

The bathrooms, are the only place in our entire house, we're seeing these cracks. If it is a moisture problem, weakening the plaster join, or a result of two different boards, expanding at different rates (due to the moisture present) then patching it up, would only be a temporary fix.

Enter, our little wooden installation, to place over the crack. You can see we drilled into the board (above) already. This was to install...

 Plus, boards

 ...a baseboard and shelf. Which results in a permanent fixture over the joint, doubling as a storage area in the bathroom. I mean, who doesn't need more storage in the bathroom?

But those screw heads, were a little too obvious for my liking. So enter the molding, next.

Plus, molding

The molding, not only covered the screws, but added extra bracing for the top shelf. It was installed with little tack nails, I pre-drilled holes for - top and bottom. As it was an awkward place to swing a hammer, so needed the pilot holes first.

But I wasn't going to rely on nails alone, with a shelf. So used heavy duty, epoxy glue, to affix all the wood in place. I originally purchased this glue to fix our dining table, chairs several years ago. I also used it recently, to adhere a ring to the back of an owl, so I could hang it on the wall. I've gotten a lot of value out of that original epoxy glue, purchase!


Once I had affixed both shelves (either side of the window) it was time to paint them. I really liked the grain and colour of the original wood, so a stain wasn't necessary. But it did need a clear varnish to protect it, and made to withstand marine conditions. Which is exactly what I had on hand, in my supplies. I like using what I already have, rather than buying something new.

Same with the tools to apply the varnish with. I cut the base off a plastic milk bottle, and used it to mix the varnish with turpentine, for the first coat. Even the sponge brushes were given to me. I always use traditional bristle brushes, but challenged myself to use what I already had. As my bristle brushes were reserved, strictly for acrylic paints only. This marine grade vanish, was a solvent based paint.

 Ready to go

This is what it looked like after the first coat. It needed to be thinned down with turps, to help it adhere to raw wood. But all subsequent coats, were just straight satin varnish. I still used the milk carton for subsequent coats, as my wide sponge-brush, wouldn't fit in the tin. Four coats were required, in total.

If you notice, I had to tape the window trim and part of the mirror (above) as it's a really narrow space to wield a brush. I'm glad I did that.

Between window and mirror

After adequate time to dry, we were able to use the small shelf to hold a candle, and some shells collected from our last rental. We knew the owners and their son had collected them on their various holidays. He had since grown up though, and our young daughter at the time, had fun, unearthing these gems from under the house, or in the garden.

With their blessing, we were able to take them when we left. They had been living on the bathroom window sills, and it just didn't do them any justice. So it was good to put them in full view again.

Between window and shower

The second shelf, holds more shells, sandalwood scent bottle, and an ornamental succulent. I think bathrooms are a tremendous backdrop to bring outside plants, indoors - which this bathroom really needed.

It was plain, cream walls, from top to bottom, with absolutely no dimension. Yet just outside those windows was a garden. It was my plan in this bathroom renovation, to bring some of those outdoors elements, inside. Which is why you may have noticed, some of that green paint.

I wanted to make a small feature wall, with it...

Introducing colour

As you can see, even before I applied the full colour, this wall screamed utilitarian and boring! I wanted something to highlight the toilet, inviting you to sit on it. Rather than make it look like a harsh, blinding wall of light you needed to get away from.

I tried the colour sample above, first, which was a little too citrus (aka: warm). I really liked the colour in the pot, but it didn't mesh with the existing cream walls. So I went for a cooler coloured green, instead - aptly named, "Cool Aloe".

Feature wall, done

I thought the new colour, looked so much better! Notice the dimension it adds to the white toilet too? It allows the eye to rest in that area now, without wanting to look away from all that white.

Speaking of which, one of the accessories I'm waiting to find, is to replace that white laundry hamper. I thought a nice rattan basket would be more inviting, especially by introducing more natural fibers. But I'll just have to wait until I find the right accessory, at the right price.

Silhouette painting

That green feature wall, however, is why I made the painting of a plant, to go on an opposing wall. I didn't want to paint the whole bathroom green, just invite some feature colours in various areas.

It highlights the plant theme, I wanted to introduce into the bathroom as well. But really, there's no imitating the best - which is why I wanted a living plant in this bathroom, also. Which (surprisingly) proved harder than I thought. You can't have just any plant in the bathroom. It has to like the prevailing conditions.

I needed a dedicated place I could keep it in the bathroom, though.


Enter another naked wall, where the corners just happened to meet. Not very exciting. It was another utilitarian space, screaming desperately for new life.

So I went looking at my local Mitre 10, hardware store. I actually stumbled across it, when I was looking for the molding to build my little shelves. I was excited to find it, because it was perfect for what I needed.

Plus, shelf

For under $25, I was able to install a hidden corner shelf. It added new dimension to the walls, now being used for something other than holding up the roof.

This would soon become the mantle, to hold what I hoped, would become the highlight of the room. A plant! Am I the only one who goes crazy, ga-ga, for plants? Surely not.

Plus, plant

I really loved this plant, it's called "baby panda", and is part of the bamboo family. Only it grew outside in different light conditions. The light in this bathroom, wasn't strong enough. I'll save that story for another post - the saga of finding the right plant for the bathroom.

But that's really all I did in this bathroom renovation. Very small solutions, and within budget. I would have spent around $100 all up. I don't include the new towels I bought, as that was a necessity. Holes were starting to appear in our old ones. I just picked lovely green towels, this time around.

So we went from a bathroom that looked like this....


Sorry, it's not a very good picture. I was rushing at the time, as I wanted to get into the work. I had already started painting behind the toilet.

Over a period of a few months though, we slowly transformed it to look something more like this...


All those additions of shelves, plants, wall art and colour accents, added more dimension. My favourite part was introducing real wood into the room, via the wooden shelves, to accompany the existing, wooden blinds. I loved using the vertical space available too.

While the shells might seem trivial, they are filled with memories of two children (the original collector, and our little archaeologist) and they bring more natural elements into the bathroom too. It looked stale before, now it echoes a little more, the elements of nature.

To think, it all started when cracks first appeared. It gave me the opportunity to evaluate the room, beyond just fixing that little area. What else did it need?

As they say in permaculture circles - the problem is the solution. And I really enjoyed implementing these ones. Although, I don't think anything can really beat this bathroom, for introducing natural elements. If I had to build a bathroom again, I would want that one!

Since this is the bathroom we had though, it took not a lot of effort (but some dedication) to make relatively, inexpensive changes. Do you keep plants in your bathroom?


  1. Just one word. Wow! OK, maybe another....Lovely!

    My bathroom's too small and dark for plants, but I have a garden full of them, so no problems!

    1. Shucks. Thanks. It was a lot of fun to put together.

      You have an awesome outside garden, which I'm glad you shared the pictures of recently. So inviting! People and plants, we're really made for each other.

  2. What great solution to the crack in your wall, Chris. Clever! Bathroom renovation looks lovely, the green you've chosen looks really fresh. I love the leaf artwork. Meg:)

  3. Chris, that's a great job you have done. Our old bathroom needs renovating big time. I wonder if one of the renovating shows on TV would like to come here. LOL!

    1. Maybe you could entice them, by offering fresh sourdough every day? ;)

  4. Chris you are a clever and talented lady. To take an older style bathroom and modernise it with paint and a few simple additions. It is lovely

  5. You have done an amazing job in your bathroom Chris. I love the green tones, it looks so refreshed!

    Adding the right accessories can change a whole room :)

  6. Thanks everyone for the lovely feedback. It was fun, a little challenging, but most of all, within budget. :)

  7. It's amazing how a few well placed touches can make a huge difference! Well done!

  8. you did a lovely job on the bathroom, especially love the little timber shelves

    1. The shelves are probably my favourite part. Vertical spaces in small places, are highly valued real estate. :)


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