Rescuing My Master Bath from the 1980s – Reno, Part 4 (Final? We Hope!)

Today’s boho home decor inspiration comes by way of my ever-evolving master bath. When last I shared about my master bath renovation, the contractor had finished the new shower, but not returned to widen the doorway. Chris and I also had some work to do with the mirror, vanity and, of course, décor tweaks. But now, everything is done, finally! (Well, maybe not everything. We’ll see.) @bohosusan

It’s actually been done almost two weeks, but I’ve haven’t got around to taking pictures until now. It’s tough photographing your own house, you know? EVERYTHING shows up in a way you’re not expecting.

And given that this bathroom is not all that large and has three mirrors—well, be thankful I managed to keep myself out of the reflections. I also tried to keep the toilet out of sight as much as possible and—oh yeah—hide our laundry hamper behind the new door. I mean, this is quite possibly the most used room in the house.
The cleaning lady came yesterday, and that helped with the big stuff, like smudges and water spots on those mirrors. So ready or not, here goes….

First, remember how it used to look? @bohosusan
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The new shower tile is definitely an improvement. It’s so beautiful and comfy in there that some days I consider not coming out. Ever. But having the shower upgraded made the rest of the bathroom look a bit forlorn. @bohosusan
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These other “before” photos give you a great view of the toilet and the laundry hamper (in reflection, left, in case you’re mesmerized by the room’s stunning beauty-ha!).

Take a closer look at the mirror (above right) and vanity (below right). A contractor’s special mirror spans wall to wall and, on the bottom, meets the backsplash. Consequently, through the years, water has infiltrated (and probably ammonia-based mirror cleaners) and eroded the silvering on the mirror back.

The condo was built in the late 1980s when pickled oak had an understandably brief heyday. Unfortunately for us, it was just long enough for the original owners to obsess over it and put it in all three bathrooms. I can only thank God they stopped short of the kitchen and laundry room. Funny thing is, I remember liking it then, too, but no more. To say I HATE it is an understatement.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, there’s this, too: @bohosusan
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Our bad.

In October 2013 I had reconstructive foot surgery and was off my feet for nearly three months. My left knee, which was halfway ready for joint replacement and headed south fast, was delighted to get a rest while my previously okay right knee did all the work. Somewhere along the line I developed a muscle tear just below my right knee from the extra strain and had to stay off of it as well.

During that time my husband Chris wheeled me around in a wheelchair, and I slid on and off the bed, toilet, chair—wherever I needed to be. Only the wheelchair wouldn’t go through this door, which was only 28 inches wide. Our other bathroom doors are narrower still. We live in a 55-and-over community, so I’m still puzzling over why so narrow.

Anyway, I had been using a walker to hobble from the doorway on in until I tore the muscle and couldn’t put weight on my right leg either. So Chris forced the wheelchair to fit through the door. Seems a little extreme now, but it “got me to the church on time,” if you know what I mean.

Back to the more recent past: The contractor who did the tile was supposed to widen the doorway, hang a 30-inch door, and replace all the trim, but we couldn’t get him to come back to do it. And honestly, after he strung out a four-day tile job over two weeks, I was glad to see the last of him (and his son) and let the dust settle.

Here’s how we resolved all open issues…

Issue #1: Mirror, mirror

At first I wanted to replace our one big, plain mirror with two decorative mirrors, one over each sink. However, to do this, we’d have to remove the existing mirror and paint the wall behind it. Sounds simple, right?

But at our previous house we removed a smaller contractor’s special mirror in a half-bath and found a big hole in the drywall. It wasn’t a hole with a purpose; it was just a hole the workers figured we’d never see because they covered it with a mirror. And even though the new decorative mirror would go over it, we felt like we had to patch it because of the potential for air or critter infiltration now that the new mirror was hung rather than clipped tightly in place. @bohosusan
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Chris worried we’d uncover a similar problem this time around. But his biggest concern was the size of the old mirror and its likely weight. It would be awkward at best to remove, and if it broke it could be dangerous, too.

Our dining nook was completedly mirrored on two walls when we moved in (yes, really, and yes, it was hideous). We hired a glass company to remove the mirrored panels, but even then it wasn’t a simple procedure. Whoever installed them glued them to the drywall haphazardly, and so they broke apart during disassembly. Even with the tools and expertise these glass handlers had, one of them still cut his arm severely. It was a little scary. What if the same lackadaisical adhesive techniques had been used with the bathroom mirror? @bohosusan
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I’ve no wish to see blood spurting out of any of Chris’ limbs. That’s when we turned to Mirrormate. You use their simple worksheet to jot down your mirror’s measurements and spacing requirements. Then you plug that info into the ordering system on the website, pick out your frame style, and they make a custom frame for you.

Samples are only $1 each and ship free, so I ordered three I liked to compare. In the end we stuck with our early-on favorite, “Broadway Brushed Chrome.” It’s three-inches deep, which would more than cover the damage on the bottom of our mirror. The finish also looked more durable than the other two (an espresso woodtone and a black-and-gray faux marble mosaic-tile look).

How do you think it turned out? @bohosusan
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All I could say as it went up was WOW!! It looked and still looks spectacular to me. It has such presence.

Total time from ordering to arrival was less than a week. The mirror arrives disassembled, so you do have to glue corners together, and it will take two people. But wood glue and other installation materials are included. The frame itself installs over your existing mirror and adheres with heavy-duty, pre-applied peel-and-stick strips. It’s guaranteed to fit or your money back.

The only problem we encountered with installation involved the mirrored medicine cabinets installed on the two walls perpendicular to the large mirror. You can see one of them in the above photo. Because the large mirror goes wall-to-wall, we could not install the frame without removing the medicine cabinets. But it wasn’t a big deal—just a couple screws for each one—and they went back in easily after the frame was up.

Our mirror is about 4 by 6 feet, so the frame cost around $200, which reflects a 15-percent off coupon I received with the samples. Two new decorative mirrors would have cost at least that. I know because I looked at a lot of them. AND we would’ve had to risk life and limb removing the old one then paint behind it (if we still had our arms and all fingers left). So the custom frame kit was really the way to go.

Which brings me to our next fix…

Issue #2: Dated vanity cupboard

We priced new vanities with and without sink tops and came to the conclusion we were better off keeping what we had and painting it. Structurally it’s in good condition, and all the face pieces, doors and drawer fronts are solid oak. Most everything we looked at was veneered and made of cheaper-grade composite materials.

I had a little trouble talking Chris into painting it black, but he eventually came around. And now he agrees, it was the right choice. What do you think? @bohosusan
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Chris used to make furniture for a hobby, so once convinced we needed to paint this cupboard, he researched out the wazoo to make sure we chose the right paint and did the prep just so to end up with the most durable finish. And I’m glad he’s like that (most of the time anyway) because it paid off.

We like Valspar paints, and they make a latex enamel especially for furniture, available in gloss, satin and matte. Paint directions say to clean the surfaces you plan to paint thoroughlywith TSP (trisodium phosphate). This removes hairspray, grease and gummy residues. @bohosusan

Be sure to follow all directions when using TSP. Wear rubber gloves and protect your arms and other surfaces. We removed all cabinet doors and drawers, and cleaned and painted them in our garage. Chris used a Scotchbrite sponge, both rough and soft sides. Inside he laid cardboard under the cabinet frame to keep any drips off the floor.

Existing drawer and door pulls matched the pickled oak of the cabinet (more YECH!). We planned to change them out anyway, so had already removed them. These pulls were an odd size, and I couldn’t find ANY to replace them that fit existing holes. So we filled all the holes with dowel rod of the same diameter coated in wood glue, sanded the plug smooth, and drilled holes for the new pulls before painting. We also scuff-sanded all the surfaces we intended to paint and cleaned sanding dust off with a tack cloth.

High humidity kept us from completing this job as quickly as we would have liked. We actually had to wait for a few less humid days back-to-back, and then paint our little hearts out. It made a huge difference in how the paint went on. The first coat didn’t look so great, but the second coat made everything perfect. The paint says to let dry overnight before applying a second coat, which will result in a more durable and brush-stoke-free finish. So we did, and it did.

Here’s a closer look: @bohosusan
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We chose brushed nickel pulls for the drawers and coordinating knobs for the doors. Yeah-yeah, I know brass is all the rage, but this is what I like. And it matches the other bathroom fixtures.

Originally I wanted one of these two pulls for the drawers: @bohosusan

I liked the modern look of both, and in particular, that the curves mimicked the curve in the overhead light fixture. Chris didn’t think either of these were good choices, and in the end I agreed with him. He liked the looks of both but pointed out that there wasn’t a lot of room for the hand to fit into them. My hands worked fine, but his are larger. He explained that the pulls on our kitchen cabinets are too small for his hands, and hence, his fingernails leave scratches, as do my rings.

Stained cabinets may conceal scratches pretty well, but a painted cabinet is another story. So in the end we bought these beefier pulls in brushed nickel: @bohosusan
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Knobs that matched the pulls were either square or rectangular, and though we both liked the looks of them, I nixed them. Why? Because it was my turn to have my way? No, because as they loosen, as all knobs do, anything other than a round knob will look off-kilter. We (meaning “I,” since men don’t care about such things) would be forever straightening them. Whereas a round knob will always look the same, tight or loose. So we found a round knob that blended with the classic style of the pull and was large enough to prevent cabinet contact with fingernails and rings.

I certainly could have used pulls on the doors as well, but I like to mix things up a bit. That’s my boho aesthetic at work.

Which brings us to…

Issue #3: Damaged doorway

We simply got tired of waiting for the contractor to come back and decided NOT to widen the door. We returned the 30-inch door to Menard’s and bought a 28-inch one. Since the repair now did not involve tearing into the wall and patching carpet and tile edges, Chris hung the new door himself and replaced all the trim. @bohosusan
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Voila! Back to beautiful! So as long as I don’t ever need to be wheeled into the bathroom again, we’re set.

Issue #4: Tweaks

Ever notice how you replace one thing in your home and suddenly everything around it looks a little shabby? Well, that happened here, too.

Then there was this:

Somewhere along the line, one of the snazzy, modern-looking hooks we’d been using to hang towels for four years decided to pull out of the drywall and take a big chunk with it. Chris repaired it, and we opted for the satin nickel hooks mounted on a decorative black board you see in the above photos. A bigger mounting surface allowed him to install them into the stud, which means they shouldn’t budge.

Next up: Remember that picture I originally bought for my office gallery wall? Knuba by Alex Kostinskyi? I mentioned in that post I repurposed it to the bathroom, and there it is in the upper right photo above. It picks up on the black in the cabinet. Here’s a closer look: @bohosusan

Perfect for a bathroom, right? Especially ours…

Okay, that was TMI. But this is, after all, BoHO Home, right? Ho-ho and ha-ha!

The grouping that now hangs over the toilet (thoughtfully cropped out) brings in more boho with its natural, animal and exotic leanings. @bohosusan
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The painting is a reproduction of frescoes in the Pompeiian “House of the Golden Bracelet.” The floating heads in it are thought to be theater masks, so the sculptural jackalope head fit in rather nicely overhead. Below the painting is a platter from Tracy Porter’s “Magpie” collection that matches the cute little bowl I added to the counter with a plant…

This little guy is so sweet I’m sure you’ll want to take a closer look… @bohosusan
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…which is where we started.

What’s left?

Well, I’m not sure I like the Magpie platter in the bathroom, so I may move it to the living room coffee table when I find a replacement. I’m also not totally satisfied with my shower curtain. I want to dress it up a bit, with something boho, of course.

The patterned one I originally planned to use wasn’t long enough. And my existing one matches the wall color but is blah. So I’m thinking of going with a white liner, then making some sort of stationary custom fabric treatment to fit over it.

But that’s a subject for another post.

Want more?

You’ll find sources for products used in this renovation in “The 80s Called and Wants my Master Bathroom Back,” Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Sources for items new to the series with this post follow… @bohosusan
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