Bathroom Renovation: Demo Day

It was winter in MN and I’d had a full pot of coffee to keep warm on that January morning. I had no intentions of doing anything that day other than surfing Pinterest and having a Netflix marathon. That’s a perfect recipe for what was about to happen…


I had given my bathroom an updo last summer, but it wasn’t really me and still felt dated. If I were going to flip my home, which I’m always thinking about, this bathroom would not pass as having been truly updated. The floor to ceiling tile had to go. I didn’t have a plan, other than getting rid of everything so that I had a fresh canvas to work with. I had to get down to the studs.


I had to get the closet, the vanity, and the mirror all out of there…

I swung my hammer over and over. I unhooked the plumbing and was left sitting on the toilet (as a chair) staring at a huge mess. I was also staring into my bedroom through the 2nd doorway. By the end of the day, I was wondering what the hell I had just done. I was so exhausted, but not too exhausted to have a brilliant idea! I had to move that doorway.

Top 3 reasons to move a doorway:

  1. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re sitting on the toilet.
  2. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re stepping out of the shower.
  3. The door swings open, into the bathroom space, leaving just 1 inch between the door and the toilet.


This is what the pass-through door from my bedroom into the bathroom looked like from inside my bedroom. The brown door was where the doorway was. Note: that door was a curbside find. I tried to make it a sliding barn door with plumbers pipe. It was fine, but made an awful screeching noise when you would slide it open or closed. The new doorway is going to be over to the other side of my bathroom and will make so much more sense!


Remember the part about me not having a plan when I all of a sudden demolished my bathroom? I was beginning to realize that I needed one, and electrical was going to be where I needed to start.



Orange Wood-Cave Goes Polar Bear White

I could see the potential for this space when I was first looking at the house. It was obvious that the prior owners made updates, once upon a time. The woodwork was extensive and included the entire perimeter of the basement. You can see there is also crown molding and built-ins. The TV built-in has been redone, but the mini-fridge built-in is something that is still on my to-do list.

You can see, it was like an orange wood 80’s showroom down there. Easy fix, that I knew was going to take a long time. I wasn’t going to be able to use a roller for most of it because of all of the grooves, trim work and cutting in.

I used liquid sand paper to wipe it all down with before painting. I’d used it before on my banisters, railings and kitchen cabinets and it works really well. It’s the consistency of water. I use a wash cloth to apply it and then wipe back over the areas with mild soapy water to remove the white film that it leaves after it dries. Wear gloves. I’m not sure, but I think this would eat your skin off.


Once the glossyness was removed from the woodwork, I used Behr paint with primer. Even with that, I needed to go back and do 3 full coats of paint to cover up all of the wood.


Around the same time that I was painting the basement, I also found out that my Amazon Prime membership has music that I can listen to! I found an 80’s station, cranked the Billy Joel and Michael Jackson and got to work. Time was flying until it was 9 hours later and I still wasn’t done. I knew this was going to be a big job, but I’d estimated 1 day and it was definitely going to take longer than that.

I don’t know if the fumes started to get to me or what, but I decided to try a faux finish to make it look like grey barn wood. Holy crap. That was a big NOPE! You can see in this picture that I was also dealing with how to paint the bottom trim without getting paint on the carpet. I ended up pulling the carpet up and then tacking it back down when I was done painting.


Similar to when I was painting my kitchen, I started to wonder if I should also be painting the window trim. I didn’t want to add another day to this project, but decided that I had to do the window trim, too…


I spent a total of 400 years painting the basement. It included the panels, the windows, the crown molding and all of those wooden light fixture plates. Thank goodness I learned about the 80’s station on Amazon to help get me through it!


Bifold Closet Door Updo

Bifold doors hate me…and the feeling is mutual. They never glide nicely and they take up a lot of space when they’re open. I’ve also had my fair share of struggles getting them jammed and having to try to get them back on their rails.

I lived without my closet doors on for nearly a year, but the task of putting them on was something that I knew was going to test my patience. I had to take them off when I replaced my flooring. The hardware that holds the bottom of the bifold door on had to be removed for me to lay the wood planks.

It took me several weekends to get the doors rehung. I had to keep walking away because my patience was exhausted. Just when I’d think that they were hung correctly, I would hop down off of the chair, test the opening and closing of the door and it would pop back off. So many f-words.

Finally, the shitty, hollow core bifold doors were hung – and secure. They added absolutely nothing good to the room other than the fact that there were doors on my closet.

I headed to Pinterest for ideas of what to do. I bought inexpensive full length mirrors, screwed them to the doors and painted it all white.


The doors took layer after layer after layer of paint, I had to come back to it at least 4 different times. When it was done, the white and the mirrors really made the room feel bigger.


I was standing back looking at it and started thinking about dressing rooms in stores. They always have hooks that you can hang clothes on outside of the doors. I went to Hobby Lobby to look at hardware and found some hooks that I added to the space above the mirrors.


This project was really not a big deal as far as DIY goes and cost less than $50. Anybody can do it!

The best thing is that I hate my bifold doors a lot less now and like that when the doors are opened, I’m able to see the back of myself – like when you’re in a dressing room.


Before and After Bifold Doors

Pinterest Fail: PVC Pipe Pergola

What the hell was I thinking? Summer temperatures had hit and I had ants in my pants to create a backyard oasis. I didn’t have any yard furniture, my deck was in shabby shape and desperately needed stain, and my pool was green. As always, I was on Pinterest looking for fun DIY projects that I could do on my own to spiff it all up for as little cash as possible.

I found a ton of pins with PVC used to build pergola-types of enclosures. You use plumbers pipe attachments to screw it down. It all seemed so easy and looked great in the pictures! I’d even found a way to make the PVC look like wood!

I headed to get my materials, in my tiny car. I had the PVC cut at Home Depot because my car can only fit things that are 9 feet long or less from dash to hatch. 😀


The painting and staining was really similar to what I’d already done on my garage door and front door. I literally used the same materials and it turned out okay.

So far, I was still pleased with the project. I got all of the poles up and headed to the fabric store. I sewed a top hem on each of the panels to hang them up. The fabric was WAY more expensive than I had planned at $400.00! The price for the fabric is when I started to realize that I should probably have done something different than this Pinterest PVC Pergola thing, but I was in too far with the project at this point. I got the curtains hung and added string lights.


OMG. What had I built? It wasn’t good. It looked like I was either hosting a wedding or a witch gathering. It was even worse when I’d come home from work after a rainy and windy day and found it had come apart, leaving $400 of wet fabric on the deck, mixed in mud from plants that it had knocked down.

By then I’d also gotten a glimpse of what this looked like from the street as I drove up to my house. This thing was embarrassing from every angle and I had to take it down…kind of.

I really loved the string lights on at night, so I left 3 poles up. They held the string lights up and it didn’t look *that* bad (when it was dark out).

Boy Cave: Built-In Media Unit

This house came with built-ins in the basement, the homemade kind. The entire basement must have been a wonderful man cave back when TV’s weren’t flat. The bottom half of the until was built through the wall into the space behind it. That space is a storage area under the staircase. The top shelves were were just nailed to the wall and pretty easy to pull down.


I removed the backing and slimmed the built-in down. Put a new plank back on it and painted it white.


Someday I’ll add an electric fireplace in the large open space so that it looks more like my inspiration picture below.

Bathroom Updo

I call this a bathroom updo because I didn’t really tear anything apart other than the seashell tile border. The entire bathroom is tiled from floor to ceiling, and even on the ceiling in the shower. Demolition of all of that was something that I wasn’t ready for. I hadn’t even imagined that I could do something like that without having to hire someone.

In this updo attempt of mine, the goal was to make my bathroom feel less like the Golden Girls had waved their wand in there. I removed the seashell tile border, painted the outdated cabinets white, covered up the mirror that had ‘One Day at a Time’ etched into it and replaced the shiny silver light fixture, and gold switch covers. Later on I also used granite to cover up the countertop and sink combo.

Removing the seashell border was pretty easy. I had to buy a dremel and a grout removal bit. The grout removal bits are pretty spendy and I ended up needing two of them. I think they’re $25, but without that bit the job would have taken me much longer and I would have likely ruined the surrounding tiles.

Seashell Tile Border

Updo Glass Tile Border

The old etched mirror was literally grouted up onto the wall with the tiles. Rather than create a big mess, I just covered it up. The barn wood is sold at Home Depot. The two vertical planks are screwed onto the wall. I placed screws where there were grout lines to keep from cracking the mirror and tiles behind it. See ya later, ‘One Day at a Time…’ 😀


I’d become pretty confident with concrete after having done my kitchen island. I had no idea whether it would actually bond to the slick countertop/sink material, but I didn’t think I had anything to lose by trying. I sanded the countertop before applying the concrete, but that’s the only prep I did. I applied 2 full layers and a third layer in the sink area. After doing a bunch of research on types of sealers, I ended up sealing it with the same sealer that I used on my kitchen island. It held up really well! I could use it and clean it just like any other countertop. No issues with water, heat or cleaning products.

concrete skim in progress


The new light fixture was from Menards and pretty inexpensive at $49.99. I’m using past tense. Remember, this is my Bathroom Updo. The renovation came many months later…



Bathroom Before and After the ‘Updo’


Kitchen DIY: Before and After

Now that most things are complete, I thought it would be neat to take a picture from the same position as the before pictures that were posted when the house was for sale! And yes, I did *almost* everything myself. I took a few weeks off from work and had my lists. There were really long days and nights during the demo and installing the flooring, but I am super thrilled about how it turned out!


Kitchen Before


kitchen after

kitchen after 2

  1. remove flooring
  2. remove wall
  3. paint cabinets
  4. replace light fixture
  5. new appliances: fridge, dishwasher, oven
  6. build island
  7. custom fit pantry
  8. concrete kitchen island countertop
  9. granite countertops
  10. paint window
  11. new faucet
  12. glass cupboard inserts


  1. I did need an electrician to come rewire the wires that were in the wall I took down. I would have felt comfortable doing this myself, but it was January and 1 of the wires was for the furnace. There was also a wire that I couldn’t figure out. Turned out to be my doorbell.
  2. I did need a HVAC person to come re-reroute the hot water heater exhaust that was in the wall I took down. I actually ended up needing a new hot water heater that would route out of the side of the house vs. through the roof.
  3. I did have the dudes from Craigslist fabricate and install my granite countertops.