10 January 2012

DIY: striped guest bathroom remodel

Before we move out of this house in six short months, I’m hoping I can create a then-and-now house-tour post. I have most of the before photos, so the challenge is getting each room nice-looking in its “final” state, even if it is one at a time. But I really need to get my act together, because we have done a lot of work on this house that deserves recording.

And one room that we totally transformed is the guest bath. Yes, friends from facebook, you’ve seen some of this – but it’s worth repeating, because it was one heck of a transformation. And I’ve already told you dear readers about part of it in-depth, which was staining the orangey-oak vanity a nice deep espresso. But that’s just part of it – other than changing the plumbing or floors, the entire room got a makeover for the better.

When I walked through the house before closing, the downstairs guest bathroom looked like this decorated with the sellers’ things:

I am 99% sure the immediate previous owners were responsible for the bright red walls with vertical gold fleur-de-lis wallpaper-equse paint treatment. They were also responsible, after all, for the artwork in the laundry room (remember she signed her name). And this is totally in the same camp. I admit that I thought it was quite pretty when I bought the house – it was a lot of work, and it was well-done. They decorated the room well and the stained glass window inset is a nice touch.

However. Ultimately it was a little too frou-frou for my style, and I was reluctant to decorate too much for the style of the room. Case in point: my blue, green, and silver shower curtain I hung in the red and gold room. Avert your eyes lest the gold shower curtain rod and nickel shower curtain hooks become seared upon your retinas.

I did accessorize a tiny bit. I spraypainted that shelf gold and threw any gold accessories in there. I also bought this red candle and soap dispenser. And I put that little lamp on the counter as a nightlight. I guess back then I had lower standards such that the piled-up cord and askew lampshade didn’t bother me.

The bathroom stayed like that for a very, very long time, mostly because I was afraid to paint over the wall treatment (like I said, it was well-done). But ultimately I had to, because for whatever bizarre reason, they used a flat finish for the walls. I guess they did that so the shiny gold fleur-de-lis design would pop, but you should never, ever use a flat finish in a room where water can splatter! There were water spots everywhere around the shower and sink. So, it needed to be repainted (in eggshell this time) to hide the spots. And anyway, while it was pretty, a bold color and vertical stripes in such a small room was really, from a design sense, a bad idea.

So, to fix the feeling of being stuck at the bottom of a bright red well, I decided to steal YHL’s neutral horizontal stripes for this room. They have an excellent tutorial that doesn’t need repeating; I used all their suggestions. But I also learned a few things they didn’t mention along the way, so if you’re thinking stripes, here are some tips for you!

First, to keep the stripes from being too circus-tenty, I chose my colors very carefully. The darker beige is the same color as the adjacent hallway and guest room, for continuity. The lighter beige is from the same color family, though they weren’t on the same paint chip. See, Olympic sorts its colors both by color family and by tone. So, I chose colors from the same family (number), but the chip with the darker beige has “shaded” colors, while the lighter color is in the “muted” tones. In general, though, you can just go up one notch on the paint chip to ensure the colors aren’t too contrast-y. You don’t want to feel like you’re auditioning for the circus while using the loo. (More info on our paint colors here.)

With these colors, the stripes are obvious, but not particularly memorable. A friend of mine who stayed with us for an extended period routinely used this bathroom for weeks, but when I mentioned the stripes to her later, she’d honestly forgotten that the walls were striped. And that’s what I’d hoped for: the stripes are noticeable and pretty, but subtle enough to fade into the background (as walls ultimately should).

Once I had the colors, I had to figure out where they went. John and Sherry do a great job explaining how to measure and tape off your walls (it is a little confusing that the tape isn’t equally spaced). However: don’t assume every wall is the same height! After I marked off and taped one side of the room, I discovered while trying to mark off the opposite wall that it was actually a half-inch shorter, floor to ceiling. Crazy, I know. So, I adjusted all my stripes accordingly so they were each 1/32” thinner on the shorter wall. Meticulous, yes, but worth it to me. I wanted my stripes to be all the same width, and I would have noticed if one stripe was 1/2" thinner. But even my picky eyes can’t discern a 1/32” difference.

Finally, for perfectly straight lines, I did the following:

1) Use Frog Tape. More expensive than blue tape, but worth it (especially if you don’t really use tape because you’re cutting-in like a pro). I was able to paint a bunch of stripes in this tiny bathroom with one roll. Pro tip: I couldn’t find Frog Tape at Lowe’s or Home Depot, but Wal-Mart did have it.

2) Seal the “inside edge” of the tape (where the contrasting stripe goes) by painting over it with the BASE wall color. This way, if paint seeps under the tape on that first coat, it’s the same color. Make sense? For instance, I painted the whole room with the darker beige, taped the walls, painted the inside edges of the tape with the darker beige again, then filled in the spaces with lighter beige. Don’t completely cover the tape with paint, though. You don't want to create weird edge of paint on the other side of the tape, and you definitely don’t want to make your tape disappear by painting over it completely!

3) As YHL emphasized, remove the tape as soon as you’re done painting. If you wait for it to dry, it could peel and ruin all your clean-line work.

I followed all of these tips, and I gotta say, my stripes have freakishly clean edges. They turned out great!

Note, in that last photo, that I had to make an executive decision regarding ceiling color. Originally, both the high ceiling and the drop ceiling were white. With the horizontal stripes, though, the drop ceiling had three colors going on in close proximity. I’m iffy on painted ceilings, but I decided to try painting the drop ceiling with the lighter beige color to match the adjacent stripe, while the high ceiling stayed white. And despite my misgivings, it totally worked! Before, the bright white drop ceiling drew the eye, but now the colors flow and just fit together better.

I love the stripes, but if you go for it, be warned that planning out the space took almost as long as painting. The marking-off took as long as the taping, and together those took longer than painting. But in the end, it was worth it:

It’s like a totally different room! It feels so much bigger in person... although, the horizontal stripes aren’t the only reason why. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on the other details that made this room feel so much bigger, plus the other little touches that made this room one of my favorite remodels in our house!


Miles said...

How beautiful! I love it! Our guest bath has horizontal striping but the previous owners were very messy and even painted over the wallpaper.. Sigh. Not even sure where to begin with that!

Sarah said...

Shhh, I have a secret.... the previous owners also painted over wallpaper in this room, too. So, I did also - in this room, and I think also maybe our master suite (there are some weird seams in a few places, but I'm not sure). If it's your forever home, then maybe it's a good idea to take down the wallpaper. Otherwise... well, this was not my forever home ;)

Tina said...

Confession - I've painted over wallpaper, too, and I don't see what the big deal is. Really. It simply looks like a solid color wallpaper now to me. The vinyl in our bathroom has a texture to it and the walls had not been "sized?" prior to putting it up. I was advised if I took to tearing it down, the drywall might very well come down with it. The latex paint did wonderful work covering up the hideous vertical orange and brown stripes. It has held up so well that with the next paint job done in there the underlying wallpaper will be of no concern at all.
The wallpaper in our bedroom is going to be treated the same way - by pretending it's not there because it was glued to bare drywall as well. But to cover up the black flowery (just imagine!) chair-rail border around the room, I'm first going to paper the whole room with the textured paintable wallpaper and paint over all of it. I've used the paintable wallpaper twice before in this house and it is marvelous in covering up a multitude of sins such as different wall textures existing in the same room and previously done botched patchwork. In essence, that's what painting over the textured vinyl bathroom wallpaper was like - painting paintable wallpaper.
I guess I'm fine with people knowing all this now - and can laugh at the shocked expression on their faces when I reveal what I've done because it-is-really-no-big-deal to me - and this is most definitely my forever home as long as Ron C. is alive... he's not leaving - seemingly no matter what I do to it. Heh.

Christal said...

I think you're officially a professional. :-) Beautiful!

Miles said...

Thanks for sharing y'all's secrets! It's good to know there's hope for our guest barhroom!