Winnipeg Free Press

Small bathroom, big job

by Connie Oliver . Apr 16 2016


When we purchased our condo a few years ago, we had decided to tackle the bathroom reno at a future date as we were busy installing a new kitchen and painting the entire place at the time.

I had painted out the dated cabinets in the bathroom in white and put some colour on the wall for the time being.

Well, the future is here and we have just completed our bathroom renovation.

This is a small bathroom by today’s standards, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. The first thing I did was go searching for a great vanity that would be unique and would fit the small space. As you can see by our photo here, I found a really lovely grey vanity with a bowed front, which we purchased from Rona. It had a matching wall cabinet, but it was too matchy for my tastes so I didn’t purchase it, opting instead for something more unique.

Once I had the vanity I was able to make other colour decisions for the space. I decided to go with a palette of grey (the vanity), black (for drama) with teal coloured walls. I knew the combination would be stunning when all was said and done.

After an exhaustive search on painting sites I found the perfect colour called Teal My Heart, which is a Simon Chang paint colour by Beauti-tone paints. I used the Beauti-tone site to paint the colour in a virtual room to be sure of my choice before I picked up the paint. It is as stunning on the walls as it was on the website. It’s a fresh, scrumptious colour that works wonderfully with the black and grey accents. A bright colour like this can work well in a small room like a bathroom or a kitchen that has lots of cabinetry breaking up the colour.

I specifically purchased kitchen and bath paint for this project to make sure the job would last. The right paint for your specific project does make a difference.

When I was painting I decided to freshen up the ceiling with a coat of white paint and brought the white down onto the walls a few inches to mimic crown molding. We had done this in other rooms and I quite liked the look. Also, it’s a great way to obtain a straight edge rather than trying to cut into the corners, which are rarely plumb and true. The trim was about the same width as the new baseboards we installed so there is a balance in the space.

The large, bulky wall cabinet that was over the toilet that matched the old vanity was replaced with a smaller, shabby chic cabinet I found online at Bed Bath and Beyond. It just so happened to be the same grey as the new vanity, but had a lot more style than the matching cabinet would have. I also purchased a black toilet seat on the same site because I wanted to incorporate black into the colour scheme. (This brought the total up enough for free shipping.) The items were delivered to my door a week or so later. Funny how a simple thing like a toilet seat can make a huge difference in the look of a space. We kept the new fixtures in a chrome finish to match the tub faucet. This helps unify the look.

We had purchased a flooring remnant two years ago for the bathroom that had shades of grey and taupe, which would work perfectly for this space and colour palette. You can save a lot of money in small rooms by searching out flooring or carpet remnants. The flooring is top quality, but we got ours for a song because it was a small piece that not many people would want. It was large enough for our project so we made out like bandits and the flooring looks great. Before installing the remnant we made a floor template with cardboard then traced it out onto the remnant. After a dry fit and a bit more trimming the flooring fit like a glove.

The new toilet we bought is much smaller in scale than the behemoth that was the original toilet from the 1970s. This smaller profile allowed enough space for the slightly larger new vanity. As well, the new toilet is quieter, has a lined tank and uses a lot less water. Once we pulled the toilet we had to remove the old subfloor as it was rotted out in spots. This was a tough job, but once it was replaced with a fresh plywood subfloor, we were glad we took the time and effort to do it right.

There was a metal recessed mirrored medicine cabinet over the old sink, which we removed and replaced with just a flat mirror with a black frame. We found this mirror at AAA Consignment on Osborne Street and got it for a mere $7. Previously, I had been searching online on Kijij and department-store sites, but was not finding a unique framed mirror that was the right size and the right price. I found the one we ended up purchasing within three minutes of entering the AAA Consignment store. The frame is a soft black with a pattern that I’ve never seen before and just adore. What a great find!

We bought new, curved shower rod to replace the old straight rod and this also made quite a different in the look of the space. Again, a small purchase with a big impact.


The process

After purchasing all of the items we needed we started by pulling out the old vanity. At this point I painted the entire room. Then we pulled the old toilet and had to replace the subfloor. We then installed the new vinyl and new baseboards. We wanted the flooring to be under the new toilet rather than trying to cut around the base of the toilet as one might do if they did not want to remove the toilet. This would provide a clean, professional finish. Next we installed the new toilet then installed the new vanity. We had to cut into the back of the vanity to make the plumbing fit. Although we had measured beforehand, it still needed adjustment at the last minute. Then came the mirror, the wall cabinet, artwork and accessories. We had already purchased and installed black iron towel bars and robe hooks a year ago, which were perfect in our new space.

My husband and I did all of the work ourselves. We spent a lot of time on the internet researching videos on various installation methods and so forth but it all worked out just fine. It was a lot of work, especially removing the glued and nailed-down subfloor, but we can rest easy now that everything is solid and clean.

Do a lot of planning beforehand, watch for deals and try to incorporate a few unique items into your renovation project. With a little determination and some hard work you can have a wonderful new space. If you can’t do it all yourself, there are always professionals out there to hire.