Easy/Affordable Bathroom DIY

*This is NOT a sponsored posts but features a gifted item (Frenchic Paint) I will be including an AD/AFF link when it is referred to.

To be honest until I was in the position to have my own bathroom, in my own home, I hadn’t had that much of an interest. As long as I had hot water and a decent mirror that was well lit to do my make up in, I was hunky dorey (does anyone still use that expression?). I did work out from the choice of two locations I had in my family home for the last three decades that I always favoured the upstairs loo over the downstairs one. It was purely because the seat was always alarmingly cold downstairs and as a regular visitor this became a quality of life issue (I’m only half joking). 

During our house-hunt we were shown quite the assortment of styles, colours, shapes and sizes. The sleek modern ones with lots of sharp angles and stark grey hues. The 80’s creamy white suites which lacked personality but were neutral enough to be okay with. In some of the flats we were even given the luxury of two bathrooms…which although fabulous felt excessive, particularly when some of them had second bedrooms with barely enough room to swing an ant. 

One thing that became clear is that within our budget it was quite tough to find flats that had bathrooms equipped with windows and natural light. As many of the flats were in high rise blocks they had more of that hotel vibe, with noisy fans and artificial light. And as a said in the my ‘Perfectly Imperfect Home’ blog post having a bath was a must-have, and a couple new build flats only had showers which was a dealbreaker unless there was room to put one in. 

So despite the lacklustre nature of the bathroom in the maisonette we ended up buying, we saw it in a relatively positive light thanks to the benefit of comparison and priorities. 

It had a window! Who knew that would be such a rare and wondrous find. It was light and airy. Again who knew dingy would be the vibe of 9/10 affordable Surrey flats . It had a bath – and even better one that was positioned in such a way I could put my laptop on the loo and watching TV/Movies while pruning. It was also white throughout (aside from a tiny slither of blue tiles) which would make it a blank canvas and completely tolerable. Also….prime for a bit of a makeover.

The first job I undertook I think I did in the first few days of having the keys – way before we actually moved in properly. Si had just started a new full time job and I desperately wanted us to get properly moved in before Summer arrived, so I cracked on straight away. 

The Wall Tiles

• For process video click here

First up I got rid of the aqua themed tiles in the bathroom. There wasn’t anything wrong with them, in fact they were very nice. However I’d already been a bit eager on the towel front and had bought some beautiful yellow herringbone patterned towels from HM Home which I felt would benefit from a monochrome theme backdrop.

I went to my local hardware store and bought some One Coat Tile Paint from Ronseal and found one of my old art brushes so I could attempt to do a neat job.

This was my first go with Frog Tape too, I didn’t know then that it’d become such a life staple. I don’t have the most steady hand so there were a few wobbly moments, not helped by the fact the surface of the tiles is uneven and bumpy which made my hand go off course even more, but if you acted fast you were able to wipe away any huge errors without too much issue. I ended up doing 2 coats and in hindsight it was a fairly full-on first job to undertake as the tiles went all the way round the room, including behind the bath. It wasn’t too shoddy a job considering it was my first DIY job in the flat, but I did buy a white grout pen from Amazon just to neaten it all up.

Floor Grouting

•For process video click here

I haven’t convinced Si to let me do a stencil (yet) so in the meantime I wanted to do something to brighten up the flooring. The grout between the large white tiles was a murky grey/brown shade. A bit neither here nor there, so I thought’ let’s make it look more intentional’. I ordered another grout pen, this time in black, and outlined all of the tiles. A pretty straightforward job. Do try and avoid stepping on the grout for a bit until it dries, and think about the nib size of the grout pen you purchase, next time I would get a smaller one to make my job a bit easier. 

Hand Rail

After just a few days of living in the flat I realised how much I had taken the bath rail for granted at my family home. I was a bit concerned that in considering my problematic body I’d sacrifice style but I’m actually  chuffed to bits with how it looks, and so glad I decided to make a statement of it by going for this bold black Wayfair number. Thankfully the tiles didn’t shatter during installation too, which was a huge relief!

Bamboo/Wood Accessories 

I am a firm believe that texture brings a room alive. You don’t want everything to have to same feel or look or it’ll look flat and uninviting. I decided to put some bamboo accents in because I knew it’d add warmth and texture but also maintain its’ neutral quality that won’t limit me in terms of the towel I want to buy. I bought a Bamboo bath tray and toilet brush on Amazon, some lovely little Japanese inspired boxes from Flying Tiger and just recently a woven jute bath mat/pedestal mat from Ebay. Just so it wasn’t too matchy matchy I bought a concrete look toilet brush holder from HM home.

The Bath Makeover

• If you want to see the process video click here

We lived with the existing bath for 6 months, it’s not something that hugely irked us, but it did make the bathroom look a little bit run down and in need of attention. It’s plastic side had succumbed to age so instead of it’s original sparkling white it was now anyellow. Over the last few months I’ve had such a wonderful experience using Frenchic paint (AD/AFF LINK) on various products that I knew it would be my go-to for this particular DIY job. Their Alfresco paint has great coverage, waterproof and extremely durable, so I decided to order Dazzle me (a bright white) and Black Jack for the flaking wooden trim, which is located where the bath meets the floor tiles. 

I started by sanding down the plastic surface (and the wood trim). With very smooth and shiny surfaces this process creates a texture that’s easier for the paint to grab to. I then did a thorough clean with sugar soap and made sure it was completely dry before applying the first coat. 

After the first coat I was a bit worried that the scratches I created by sanding would be visible, but I needn’t have worried. After coat three I had the smooth matt finish I have gotten to expect from Frenchic. 

The finished bath

I was trying to get the whole process done in the day which would mean that I didn’t leave the trim to dry as long as I ideally would before applying frog tape on top. I figured I’d rather have to touch up the small black trim that the large white plastic area. A few bits did come off with the tape, but it only took about 5 minutes to touch up with a small brush. 

The Radiator

The radiator was off white, patchy and bobbly. I think the previous owners had done a few very rushed jobs to freshen up the flat before putting it on the market, because there’s a number of things we thought were in great condition during our viewing but when we got the keys and had more time to inspect we noticed they were very slapdash.

There’s nothing you could do to make this existing radiator beautiful, but I thought rather than try and blend it in to the white walls we’d embrace it and create a statement by using the trusty Alfresco paint from Frenchic again – using BlackJack leftover from the bath makeover. 

I sanded it down and used a knife to try and cut off some of the big bubbles of white paint, but I had no intention of getting it perfect as I would have been there all week. I did the usual sugar soap wash (and dry) then applied the first coat thinly with a brush. I ended up doing 4 coats leaving at least 2 hours between each coat. 

I also painted the caps because let’s face it they always look a bit gross. I’m so happy with the outcome – even though a few people were skeptical and tried to put me off saying it’d just look like a big solid block in the bathroom. 

It will be interesting to see how the paint copes with the heat. But either way an experiment worth doing! 

The Bin

Yes, it’s an addiction. You don’t need to tell me. Let’s move on. We got this little bathroom bin on one of those unplanned IKEA trips where you just end up chucking loads in your trolley without much thought. I guess our thinking was that it would go with the silver taps/shower in the bathroom and be functional and visually inoffensive. But it very rarely looks nice because its often marked with smears and finger prints.

Before Frenchic makeover

After 

It’s very hard to keep metal homeware looking nice in general, same goes for glass and any mirrored surface. So I decided for my sanity to make it black which would also mean it matches the radiator and the hand rail, and eventually all the other fitting once we get round to changing those.

The Loo Flush

The Flush was looking past it’s best too. I hoped that limescale remover might smarten it up, but no joy there. So I decided why not Frenchic that up too! You have to be careful of using paints in high traffic areas because there is a chance to don’t give them enough chance to dry and cure properly. Luckily very little pressure is needed to make the toilet flush so we are able to handle it with a very light touch, so it should be fine in this case.

 

Plants

A dose of Foliage, green and nature can do so much to transform a room. The injection of bright colour, the texture of the leaves and the comforting nature of plants just makes it a much nicer place to be. The plants are a mixture of real and fake from Matalan, Homebase, and Ikea. 

What’s next???

We are looking to get some wire storage shelves for the wall. We can’t have anything that projects too far from the wall or we will have no room to walk in, so it has to be a unit lacking in depth. I think I’ve spotted a good one on Anthropologie. That will give us a bit more storage for bath products and another opportunity to add some personality to the space. 

The current storage mirror above the sink isn’t at all practical. It’s so shallow very few bottles actually fit in it and they tumble out whenever we open the door. It’s been the cause of many expletives from DIY SI.  It’s just not a good use of the space at all, and visually I think the room would benefit from a circular mirror as everything is a bit rectangle right now. That said, I have no idea how to remove something like that from a tiled wall, so I will have to investigate before I make any decisions. In an ideal world we’d get new taps and shower, but it’s not essential so therefore may not happen before we move on to the next home. I’d like to change the handle on the door (and every door in the flat if I’m honest) but again not exactly urgent. We have ordered a matt black towel holder and loo roll holder which should be with us soon. 

So there’s just a few quick, easy and affordable things any DIY novice can have a go at in an attempt to improve their less than wow bathrooms. If you’re not looking to spend anyone real money because it’s not the forever home, or you’re on a tight budget they’re really working just to make the space brighter and fresher. Let me know if you give any of these a go yourselves – I’d love to see the results.

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