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ShowerHow many times can you remodel a room? Well, we’ve remodeled our kitchen twice. Once as an inexpensive “tie us over” until we have money remodel, and one serious reconfiguration and total renovation when said money was available.  Our children’s rooms were given touch ups and treatments several times over the years, and now since we are empty nesters, they have become our grandson’s room and the “exercise room”.  So they have been overhauled more permanently.

The bathroom the kids shared while growing up in our home experienced a makeover in which we pretty much let them choose the colors and type of flooring.  We added wainscot to the walls for durability and aesthetics and it came out quite nicely and has lasted for about 6 years until our youngest started his second year of college.

This remodel was filled with experiments.  Our first attempt at laying a decent laminate flooring, adding wainscoting, tearing those dreaded wall strips out and covering with paintable, blemish-reducing wallpaper, adding a real light fixture over the sink that was a bit heavier than cheapo manufactured housing walls can endure.  Not everything went as smoothly as we would have liked, but we think this project went pretty well and the kids seemed to like it.  The hardest part for me was letting go of color choice since they all agreed on STOP SIGN RED.  Yep, that’s right.  You read that correctly.  This, in a home with neutral earth tones and lots of white.  Hmmm, how would I ever get them to change their minds?!

Bathroom remodel-toilet and showerWell, I decided not to change them at all, and, in the end, it was pretty lovely and very masculine for a bathroom shared by the three males in the house.

Since doing this room, we have used paintable wallpaper in another room, removing the strips prior to hanging the paper.  We used DAP Fast and Final Lightweight Spackle to spread in the seams between the wallboard pieces.  It indicates no sanding is necessary, but you may want to spread it as smoothly as possible, making sure to really fill the seams full and smooth at the edges, then perhaps sanding the edges of the smear of spackle with a very fine grit sand block to keep the look of seams under the wallpaper at a minimum.  This will not be perfect, but the more patience you use while filling and smoothing the spackle, the better results you will have in the long run.

Sink with Wainscot and Light FixtureWe used an inexpensive vanity and one of the less expensive brands of laminate flooring, but it took less than 3 boxes of flooring to complete the whole room (9’x7′). We use wainscot that is quick install and available at the Home Depot.  We’ve recently seen a comparable product at Lowes, but it seems to be a bit more expensive.  You can do a room this size for less than $100.  You can purchase either Cape Cod MDF Wainscot Planks or the vinyl product that is similar. You can install this stuff in less than an hour with Loctite Clear Power Grab Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive.  It’s easy-peasy.  We have the MDF version all through our house and it is every bit as durable as the vinyl in our estimation.  It comes primed and just requires a quick coat of paint.  The difference we have found is that the vinyl product doesn’t need to be painted, but is twice the cost.

You can purchase packs of corresponding bottom and chair rail in 8′ lengths for about the same price as two of the wainscot packs.  If you choose to use wainscot on your walls, be sure to measure your sink vanity and allow for any back splash that’s on it.  You won’t want the back splash to sit against the chair rail.  If the vanity is in the way of where the chair rail should be, you may want to discontinue the rail until the other side of the vanity and continue it after that space.

Full Bath with FloorWe did not upgrade the tub in this remodel.  Remember, it was done to get us through raising the boys and having a better bathroom for them that was acceptable for company to see!  The tub was fine for our purposes and only had minimal scratches.  The sink fixtures we used were brushed nickel.  Now, I don’t know how to recommend sink fixtures for a bathroom.  So much water sits on them in a bathroom, especially with kids, spitting their toothpaste all over the place, splashing water and never wiping up after themselves.  If you have hard water, any kind of fixture you get is going to have lime deposits and water spots on it in no time.  I own a cleaning business and clean our fixtures weekly.  This is no matter…after only a couple of years, there were visible collections of water damage on these fixtures.  Our shower fixture was the cheesy chrome style and even that was easily rusted and water stained. If you are lucky enough to have softer water, you shouldn’t have as much trouble with your fixtures.

Light FixtureThe light fixture was a royal pain.  Our walls were the normal cheap gypsum board that doesn’t hold a picture frame, let alone a 5 lb light fixture! We ended up cutting a 3/4″ thick piece of wood about a foot long and drilled a hole in the center to feed the wiring through, then mounted it to a stud in the wall.  Once installed, we painted it the same red as the wall and it served as a mount for the light fixture in order to center it in the place we wanted it over the vanity.

The medicine cabinet needed to be replaced, and, since the kids would be using the bathroom, we just replaced it with a similar, inexpensive cabinet that cost less than $20. It fit snuggly in the same space the old one came out of and looked fine.  An inexpensive white framed mirror was centered over the sink eventually to finish off the space.

Bath Towel HooksAnother treatment we included was a nice row of towel hooks that matched the room.  This gave the boys a place to hang towels and gym clothes, belts, etc… A nice, masculine shower curtain from Target and a set of red towels finished off the room nicely.  The one thing we just never solved well was a hand towel hook.  Because of how thin the wall board is, hanging a hook for boys to grab a towel from each time they used the sink just wasn’t a good idea.  It would be hanging out of the wall in no time.  We tried the 3M brushed nickel wall hooks with the removable sticky strip on the back.  I have to say, we have tried these in several different applications and they are useless.  Sorry to give such a bad review on your product, 3M!  But, they don’t stick for longer than a day and certainly not when they are expected to support something that’s hung on them.  Very disappointed.

Anyway, I eventually learned to love the red.  The kids loved the look…it sort of had a barber shop style to it.  And it lasted for quite a few years. But interestingly, in our house, things rarely stay the same for very long.  We’re very fickle folks and regularly switch things up. While we were really happy with this bathroom remodel that cost less than $1000 and added a real “pop” to our home, once we became “empty-nesters”, we decided it was time to change things in this room once again. It’s time for a grown up look.

Bathroom Tear Out Part 1

And so, that is why this same bathroom now looks like this…

Bathroom Tear Out Part 2







And this!



Alas, the fun never ends!  Stay tuned for a look at the most recent renovation of this bathroom.  I promise, we’re done this time :-)!

Happy renovating in the New Year!

The McGees