How We're Updating Our Main Bathroom for (Almost) $0

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you may have missed this challenge I’m doing over there. Myself and seven other female designers are doing various types of makeovers in our homes spending as close to zero dollars as possible. I’m doing a full bathroom makeover using the supplies and tools we already have (plus a $25 gift card we had to Home Depot).

The Background

Spearheaded by Sandy of Ellee Home, the Zero Dollar Update serves to challenge participants to spend as close to $0 as possible while updating an area of their home utilizing what they already have.

One of my goals for this year is to live more intentionally (barf — I think this phrase is so overused) and more sustainably, and I can think of few things I like to do more wasteful than home design projects. Why do I feel the need to disregard my growing lumber pile in the basement or my closet full of paint samples when I start another project?

The Rules

To be frank: there are almost no rules. Spend $0 or as close to $0 as you can using the supplies you have on hand.

That being said, there is value in doing a project the right way the first time, so some of us have decided to spend a little bit of money on things like wallpaper to get it done right.

The one other rule (and honestly, it’s kind of a suggestion… but please do it!) is to use the hashtag #zerodollarupdateyourspace.

The Plan

Jake and I have always hated our hallway bathroom. It’s dark, poorly painted, and had a dropped ceiling in a room with already-not-high 8 foot ceilings and zero windows.

We had drywall mud and tape in the basement that was leftover from when we did our kitchen. We also have caulk, spray paint, ceiling paint, primer, and scrap wood that we plan to use in that room to clean it up.

At this point, we have removed the dropped ceiling, put up new attic insulation and green drywall for the new ceiling, removed the wall heater, and used the leftover drywall to patch the walls and the $25 Home Depot gift card to buy paint. Removing the old ceiling was a piece of cake because it was basically two 1/8″ piece of melamine board, but our house was built during the wood shavings as insulation era, so cleanup was gross and plenty. Scroll down to see some photos before, during, and after ceiling removal, including how gross cleanup was!

And to clarify: yes, we are spending money on the green drywall and the attic insulation for the ceiling but we plan to completely renovate that bathroom in the not-so-distant future and we wanted to make it right the first time to save us money and time in the future. I almost don’t want to count it, but we’re going to for fairness. When we first tore out the dropped ceiling, we had hoped that there would be drywall underneath but we were wrong. The right repair is worth more to me than not taking the right precautions.

We also used some recessed lighting we had in the basement for the overhead lighting in there and I spray painted the existing chrome fixture. Not sure when it was installed in the bathroom, but I actually kind of weirdly like the vanity light. The glass shade has a weird, geometric plaid vibe going for it. I don’t think I’ll keep it when we fully gut the bathroom, but I’m happy with it for now!

Drawing mega inspiration from Courtney (@hierathc on Instagram)’s kitchen here

For the rest of the plans, I want to spruce up the plain vanity doors that already exist in there just to add a little visual dimension to the bland wooden cabinet fronts; I felt particularly inspired by my friend Courtney’s kitchen cabinets she did herself. No idea what color I want to paint the cabinets though — may mix a few colors I have on hand, or may go full-on pink. I’d also potentially make a frame for the mirror, but I haven’t checked to see if I have any wood pieces that are small enough. I feel like I’ll be able to figure something out.

We also have a ton of spray paint in the basement, and I want to spray paint our existing (very sad) chrome fixtures either matte black or matte deep walnut because those are the colors we have on hand. Chris Loves Julia spray painted one of their kitchen fixtures with success, so I figure I may as well take a stab at it too. Like I said, if it doesn’t pan out like I hoped it would, we’re probably going to gut this bathroom within the next few years.

As for the floor and the existing tile: it’s staying, but it’s going to get a deeeeeeep clean. I like to use vinegar and baking soda paste to clean old, dirty grout lines. Works like a charm! And, better yet, I already have those on hand.

If you’re wanting to partake in the Zero Dollar Update with us, do it! Just make sure you use the hashtag #zerodollarupdateyourspace so we can follow along with your progress.

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