Powder Room Reno Pt. 1: My biggest DIY fail ever!

Monday, June 24, 2019

We are hosting a party for some friends in July, and in preparation, there were a couple house projects we really wanted to prioritize before then:

1. Fixing up our downstairs powder room 
2. Red-doing our pack patio 

I have a post coming about our patio soon, but our bathroom is *almooooost* finished! This project started out as my "strict budget" renovation and slowly creeped into the "more expensive than I planned" category.

This project all started because the toilet in this bathroom is broken. I've had it repaired 3 times, and just keeps randomly running  (all. the. time.) and has a reaaaally hard time flushing anything solid (if you catch ma drift). Every time I have him out, the plumber says "You just need to replace it. It's cheaper to replace it than to keep calling me out." When he put it that way, I knew we needed to go ahead and do it. With this impending party, we didn't want anyone to accidentally clog it and then have to deal with that throughout the night.

Since we were going to make a big change with a new toilet, I figured it was a good opportunity to do some cosmetic improvements along the way. I'm going to share these in separate posts, because each one deserves it's own time in the spotlight, so here's the outline of how I'll be sharing these reno:

Pt. 1: My biggest fail ever, painting our DIY cabinets
Pt. 2: Painting our vanity with chalk paint
Pt. 3: Installing wallpaper
Pt. 4: Painting the tile floor
Pt. 5: The finished room reveal

When we bought this house, we inherited these sandy quartz counters that just really aren't our style. I'm a huge dummy and didn't snag a photo (I thought I had one) until I had primed the counters, but here's a selfie of my old hair cut where you can see what they looked like:

We were glad they were relatively new, but they just weren't our style. Plus, they match our kitchen and other two bathrooms (the previous owner must have bought them in bulk) so there was really no escaping it. The cherry colored cabinets are also new (they also match our kitchen and our two baths), so that is a nice perk, but again.... not my style. I knew I'd want to tweak them with some paint. My hope was with some creativity and paint cans I could make over this room, but it led to my biggest. fail. ever. To be honest, I'm not even going to share the process of how you paint granite, because I don't think you should do it. Ever.

Let me caveat by saying I knew painting the countertops was a risk. We discussed going in it would be worth trying, and if we hated it, at least we were starting with the smallest bathroom and could replace it if necessary.

Well, it was necessary.

Here's the thing about painted counter tops: they actually photograph really well! From a distance through a camera they really do pull off the overall look. I saw so many well edited examples in Pinterest. These were two success stories that had me thinking it might be possible to try! They look pretty good right?

Mine didn't come out that way. Honestly, here's where I'll own up and say I'm not the most artistic person. I think if I had better dexterity skills it may have worked better. I probably rushed, but it was also just dabbing a sponge around... not that detailed work. From a distance, mine didn't look *that* bad.

But up close they were so, so splotchy. Someone said it looked like 90s sponge paint and they were so right! Can you see the black line along the crease to the left? There was the tiniest bit of silicone deep in the crease that no matter what I did I couldn't get out. The counter paint doesn't adhere to silicone, so along the entire border was this small sliver of black that really ruined any chance I had of this looking remotely legit. 

There was also just so much bumpy texture, not enough sheen in the top coat, and if your counter tops have any creases or backsplash like mine did, it's nearly impossible to apply the sponge paint the right way. Like I said, maybe if I was a better artist it would have worked better, but for me the overall look was just off. I didn't realize that the paint would not adhere to the sink basin, either, so once I had painted the counter, the sink was way more noticeably beige than it was before.

So, I started weighing my options. Live with it? Replace the whole vanity? Replace the counter top? Spenser voted full gut, but I was hopeful we could find something to fit on top for a good price. This is a small powder room under our stairs, and it doubles as my cleaning supplies storage.

A new vanity would cost around $300-500 depending on what we bought. We checked a few out, and then realized... the vanity in this space is a non-standard depth. Standard depth is 22 inches. Ours is 19 inches. If we bought a standard vanity it would sit in the door frame. Same rules applied if we bought stock counter top.... we were either looking at a pedestal sink for $150ish or replacing the counter with a custom cut.

We took our measurements to Lowes and had them work up an estimate for me.... with solid surface (AKA not stone or quartz... it's basically plastic) the estimate came in close to $1000.... for our small vanity! I was so stunned I couldn't believe it. I knew I could find a better price, so I started calling around. The benefit of having a fixer upper and being a Realtor is that I have worked with a lot of awesome vendors- I texted all my favorite people and one of them came through! He had a friend who cuts stone and could come give me an estimate. He came over the next day, took his measurements and brought a small supply of samples.

Want to guess what his estimate was for a granite slab... with a sink.... with installation?


No joke. My original budget for this project was $150, so this was only going to set me back a little bit above my original plan, and get me closer to what I wanted in the first place! He installed everything the next day.

I am so, so happy with how it turned out. It's better than I ever hoped it could be and just goes to show.... sometimes mistakes lead you to a better place than you would have been.

Here's what it looked like once I applied the primer for the paint: 

And the mostly finished product again: 

The lessons I would take away from this experience are: If you're going to take a risk on a "cheap" fix for a problem, make sure you vet it really, really, thoroughly. And, always be prepared for a Plan B if it doesn't go the way you want. In this case, it was a challenge that didn't work out, but I'm thrilled with the end result so I guess it's all worth it, right? 

One more thing... Can we all have a moment of praise for decorative mirrors too? Like DANG! That mirror was $35 on clearance at Target. I ended up selling the wall to wall builder mirror that was in here for $25.... so that improvement cost me $10 and makes such a big splash! #Iloveyoufacebookmarketplace

Later this week I'll be working on a post about painting the vanity cabinets with chalk paint. It went super well and I'm really happy with the outcome! After this, I promised Spenser I wouldn't start any more projects this summer, but having seen how well these turned out, now I can't wait to paint the upstairs cabinets when I'm set free! ;)

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