Upstairs Bathroom Refresh

The upstairs bathroom sees a lot of traffic. For one, it contains the only useable shower in the entire house. There is another working shower in the scary basement, but none of us will touch that one with a ten-foot pole. So, for a family of six, the main bathroom must function at a superior level, and ours falls short.

I have always been opposed to refreshes vs. renovations because I don’t enjoy spending money and doing work twice within a close timeframe. However, I am softening on this concept. The upstairs bathroom has some form challenges, and it functions only marginally well enough for our large family. 

Let’s take a look.

The Good

This beauty has some serious potential. Measuring in at over 7.5′ X 11′, the bathroom, in its current state, has enough room for a small dance party, or at least one couple performing a tidy waltz.

Some of the highlights include the gorgeous clawfoot tub and this original marble sink top with cast-iron brackets:

The Bad

The bathroom has almost no storage. We use a dresser to store washcloths, hand towels, and toiletries.

We use that small basket on the left to store towels, and that terrible trashcan was leftover after we remodeled the kitchen. The trashcan design is Millie-proof, and that is why we kept it. She has a bit of trash problem. We try not to talk about it. That classy reusable shopping bag holds supplies that do not fit inside the drawers of the dresser.

On the wall near the toilet, there is one small built-in cabinet.

Opposite of that wall, there is an additional hanging wall cabinet. The door does not stay closed unless we jam a small piece of cardboard near the knob.

Lighting is also a problem. Two sconces flank the mirror, and there is one overhead light. None of them are situated near an outlet.

Also, all of the fixtures look more like porch lights than bathroom lights. (Side note: The mirror is kind of fabulous, though.)

The Ugly

On nearly every wall, the wallpaper is falling off or peeling away. There is no exhaust fan in the bathroom, and the steaminess of four to six showers per day has been its undoing.

The upside is that it will not take much to effort to scrape it off the walls. I’m a look at the bright side kind of person.

On the outside of the tub, paint flakes off in pieces that I have to sweep or vacuum on a regular basis.

Also, notice I have not mentioned the elephant in the room yet. I know you see it. Plastic pink paneling anyone?

I suppose there are two elephants in the room, but which one bothers you the most is subjective. Take a closer look at the floor.

Currently, the floor is wood-patterned vinyl. Right at the seam, it is lifting up from the floor underneath. While I appreciate the bullet-proof qualities of this flooring choice, it is not our style.

The High-ticket Future Master Plan

Over the past three years, the master plan for this bathroom has been evolving. We have settled on the following:

  • Move the clawfoot tub to the opposite wall and remove the shower kit (Andy added that in 2015.)
  • Update the electrical to incorporate lightswitches, outlets in the proper place, and an exhaust fan (Currently, all of the lights must be turned on with a pull chain or knob directly on the sconce.)
  • Build a large tile shower where the tub is now.
  • Redo and update the plumbing as necessary to accommodate the new shower and tub placement.
  • Reglaze the tub
  • Incorporate more storage
  • General cosmetic updates including light fixtures, heated tile floor, and paint

The Budget Re-do Plan

The master plan that I outlined above includes many expensive upgrades that we probably will not be able to afford for a couple of years or more. We are especially leery of the snowball effect of opening up the walls to fuss with the electricity. When we hire an electrician for that work, we anticipate the additional expense of electrical upgrades to the adjacent rooms. At this time, ignorance is bliss. The lights turn on and off. That’s all we need to know.

Even though we cannot move forward with the master plan, we can make the bathroom more family-friendly and cosmetically appealing by

  • Removing the peeling wallpaper and painting the walls
  • Removing the pink paneling
  • Replacing the light fixtures
  • Cleaning and restoring the marble on the sink.
  • Painting the clawfoot tub
  • Adding large mirrors and possibly lighting near the outlets. Currently, our daughter is not tall enough to see anything other than her forehead in the mirrors.  (#shortgirlproblems)
  • Dealing with the vinyl floor – First, we need to peek under that lifted portion to see what is underneath. My current plan is to glue down the lifted portion and paint the whole thing. I will adjust the plan if necessary.
  • Adding shelving and storage
  • Changing the decor as the budget allows

The Time Table

Unlike the One Room Challenge, we will move along with this bathroom refresh at a more leisurely pace. I will rush the projects that affect our daily use of the bathroom, but that’s it. For everything else, I will work as time and money allow.

The first step will be a bit of demo, and I cannot wait to find out what is behind that pink paneling. I suspect it is original wainscoting, but it could even be tile. Oh, the possibilities. I will have to do a demo/reveal party on Instagram. That would be fun.

What are your thoughts on short-term refreshes vs. long-term master plans? Feel free to weigh-in on our ideas to improve the form and function of this bathroom.

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