Wednesday, June 27, 2012

a bathroom facelift {part 1}

A while back (ok, a long while back) I alluded to some planned "renovations" to our hallway bathroom.  I've been waiting until I had something exciting to share.  I've decided that moment is now.  

I know you're so excited to know what paint color we picked, but you get so much more!  Patching holes in walls!  Painting the walls!  Installing a sconce!  Putting in new plumbing!  Designing & installing a custom vanity top!  Finding storage baskets!

The vision was to have a clean, contemporary look that's a little masculine (mostly Adam uses this bathroom) and a bit of a contrast from the rest of the apartment.  I had been feeling inspired by some photos of dark, high-contrast bathrooms and decided to go that route. 

I'll walk through the whole process to date, but let's start with the end.  Very proudly, I present our progress as of last week:

And here's a before photo:

Yep, that's the same bathroom - and we're not even done!  From zoomed out it's hard to see all the beautiful new details, but we'll get there along the way.  

Update: OK I tried to put this all in one post, but it's too overwhelming.  So it will come broken up into pieces..

1// Picking a paint color

Yes, we have a black bathroom!  Back in mid-May, we narrowed things down to a few ambiguous shades of almost-black and picked up a few samples.  We very quickly decided the one on the right was right for us. 

The plan was to paint the walls on the left, straight ahead, and on the right above the sink the new "black" color.  The walls around the shower and the wall with the door into the bathroom would be white.  The idea was to achieve a nice balance of light and dark, and to keep the shower area bright.

The next decision was whether to also paint the ceiling black (which I had seen and loved in inspiration photos) but we decided white was needed on the ceiling for balance.

I went ahead and started painting the white areas...

...but had some prep work to complete before getting to the walls.  Most notably, there were some holes to patch up.

2// Patching large holes

Drywall repairs had to be done in a few spots, mostly due to the old and extraordinarily long towel rods, as well as the in-wall tp holder.  

Patching holes from the towel rod were fairly straightforward, but the 6" square hole in the drywall from the old toilet paper holder was looking a bit trickier.  
(You can see the metal studs in there!)

After looking up potential solutions, I bought an 8" drywall patch, which I knew would sufficiently cover the hole.  

I decided to trim the patch down a little, to achieve decent adhesion to the solid parts of the wall without being too oversized.  After trimming, I traced the outline of where the patch would lay and used a box cutter to cut into the top layer of the drywall, which I peeled off to create a recessed space for the patch.
I stuck the patch to the wall and it was time to spackle!

This close-up shows how nicely recessing the patch worked out.  After several coats of spackling with some sanding in between, the hole was virtually undetectable.  Success!

3// Removing side splashes

The last major area to tackle before we could paint was around the vanity.  I knew the new vanity top and side splashes could end up sitting a bit differently from the old ones, potentially exposing more wall, so I wanted to remove the old ones before painting.  First I did my best to remove all caulking and sealant around the edges

I had read the next step was to "just pull it off!" but it didn't seem that easy in reality.  It took a bit of prying with various tools and use of some man muscles, but we finally got them off (a spackle knife hammered in between the side splash and drywall seemed to work best, then pried away from the wall with the hammer claw).

A good bit of wall came off or was damaged in the process, so I got all my spackling and sanding done at once.

4// Choosing a sconce

Just like last time, this was such a difficult decision.  Part of the reason was that we were also trying to pick a new faucet, new cabinet handles, new towel rod, and new tp holder.  We wanted all these metal elements to be coordinated, but not matchy-matchy. 

There was also the decision of 2 sconces vs. 1 - unlike the other bathroom, in here the junction boxes were evenly spaced above the vanity, which made 2 separate lights a possibility.

As we looked at options, the single light look was more what we were going for. But the problem was that most single-light fixtures didn't have a back plate long enough to cover both junction boxes.  So of course I enlisted my dad's help.  He had something in stock which would work (with a replacement extended back plate) and he made these mock-ups for me.

The question became 3-light version or 4-light version?  Of course I turned to Photoshop to make the ultimate decision.  Here's the before:

And the after "after" (while I was at it, I "painted" the walls and added a mirror frame since we weren't there yet in the process)

Ultimately we went with the 4-light version, which seemed better balanced against the extended back plate.  Plus with the dark walls, we thought the extra light would be welcome.

5// Painting the walls
Feeling better about the color decision after my Photoshop fun, we finally got to painting.  It took over a week since we ran out of paint after 2 coats and wanted to do a third, but our progress was interrupted by my work travel.  And then once I thought we were actually done, we weren't.  I spent an additional day meticulously touching up the black/white edges with a small artist's paintbrush, since messy edges are very obvious with this kind of contrast.

And that's it for now. Next up is installing the sconce and choosing and installing a custom vanity top!

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