| By Chelsea Swart |
My husband and I just recently purchased our first home. Yay!
One of the best parts of being a homeowner is adding our own personal touches to turn a “builder’s house” into your own home sweet home.
Our house is your typical 3/2 starter family split ranch, built in 2004 and definitely in need of some upgrades – both to better fit our style and to add some much-needed equity into the space.
As a newlywed couple just starting out, we weren’t interested in spending thousands of dollars on upgrades, so finding budget-friendly solutions we could do ourselves to spruce up our nest was important to both of us.
We decided to first tackle the guest bathroom with some cost-effective DIY upgrades, as this is one of the most used rooms in the house by guests. (Seriously, think about it.)
Here, I’ve outlined all of the steps that we took to upgrade our guest bathroom for under $500!
Here’s a quick list of everything done to upgrade the space and the money spent:
- Update the counter-tops: $50
- Paint the cabinets and add new door handles: $40
- Paint the walls: free! (We had the paint already.)
- Replace fixtures (towel rack, toilet paper holder, faucet and light fixture): $75
- Replace the toilet: $100
- Add the finishing touches with decor: $100
To help, I’ll elaborate on the more involved steps (1, 2 and 6) below:
1. Update the countertops: $50
First things first, we spray-painted the counter-tops for a fresh-new stone-like look.
With our small budget of $500, replacing the existing counter-tops to a stone product like granite or quartz was just not feasible, but those counter-tops, with all of their burnt orange patterned glory, had to go! So, to the Internet I went to try to find a DIY solution that would last and give the look I was looking to achieve.
After hours of research and reading several other awesome blog tutorials, I found that the spray-paint counter-top idea was the right choice for this project.
Here’s a step-by-step of how we tackled spray-painting our plastic counter-tops so you can do this in your home, too:
Things You’ll Need
- 2 cans of spray-paint (Rust-Oleum Stone Creations Spray)
- Waterproof polycrylic finish (Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish)
- Painters tape (FrogTape Multi-Surface Painting Tape)
- Paper drop cloth (Paper Drop Cloth)
- High-quality paint brush (Purdy White Bristle 3 inch Paint Brush)
Now that you have everything you need, (Bonus! Most of the product links I’ve provided are prime products on Amazon so if you’ve got a prime account these will ship to you right away!) it’s time to start prepping the space.
- Start with removing the sink from the counter-top. The sink was super heavy, so I asked the hubs to help with this part. He razor-bladed off the original caulk/glue from the sink, unhooked all of the plumbing, and popped the sink out of the hole. To protect the walls, cabinets, inside of the cabinets now exposed from the sink’s hole, and mirror from the spray, I used the paper drop cloth and painter’s tape to cover all of the areas that could potentially be in the spray can’s range.
This is what the prepped counter-top space looked like after I had it all taped off. Even if you are planning to re-paint the walls, you will want to still cover the space from the spray can because the stone spray has a texture that you won’t be able to cover up with a layer of wall paint. We weren’t planning to keep the toilet in the guest bath (it was really old and tiny) so I wasn’t too concerned with covering that up, but if you are planning to keep yours, make sure to cover it. I had speckled paint from the can’s range of spray on almost the entire surface of the old toilet.
2. Next up was taking out the can of stone spray-paint and going to town. You will have to do about 2-3 coats, depending on how you like the coverage and the original color of your countertops. Since we were going from burnt-orange to dark gray, I ended up doing a full 3 coats (about 2 full cans) on the counter-tops and back splash. We chose the Rust-Oleum Stone Creations Spray in Gray Stone because of the speckled colors (gray, black, white) as I thought this gave off a more natural look.
Overall time was a few hours for the entire process because of the one-hour wait time in between each layer of paint, but the time to actually spray the counters was less than five minutes.
3. Once I was happy with the overall look, I let the countertops completely dry overnight to make sure the paint fully set before moving on to the protective finish.
4. After a full nights worth of settling and paint-drying, it was time for the protective finish process. I originally planned to add a layer of EnviroTex Lite for a high-gloss finish, but read while doing my research that adding a layer of polycrylic finish in between the spray-paint and the EnviroTex pour-on finish will keep the color – EnviroTex has a reputation of darkening the color when poured on directly to the painted product. Since the counters were already pretty dark, I didn’t want to risk darkening them anymore.
Following the same process as I did with the spray-paint, one layer of paint/finish – one hour of dry time, and repeat, I added five layers in total of the finish. After doing a few layers of the Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, I really liked the subtle texture (to me, it looked more realistic of stone) and still felt the counter-top had a thick enough layer of protection to keep the spray-paint from any significant damage.
You can see a little bit of the texture that the stone spray-paint + Minwax finish looks like in this photo. I definitely plan to use EnviroTex Lite on our kitchen counter-tops, as the product is known to offer a much harder finish with more protective qualities than the polycrylic finish only. Since our guest bathroom is only really ever used for a potty-break and the counters are not used daily, the Minwax layer worked for us. If you prefer a more glossy look or are re-doing counter-tops that are more prone to spills and heavy wear-n-tear, then I highly recommend using the EnviroTex pour-on finish to seal the painted surface.
5. So, after the last layer of the polycrylic finish was almost dry, I quickly removed the tape and paper drop cloth to make sure the tape didn’t cure to the protective finish and peel off all of my hard work. Even with my quick action, there were a few spots that I had to patch, but overall the tape removal was seamless.
6. Then, the hubs helped again with putting in the sink, hooking up the plumbing and installing our new faucet. For best results, take it easy for 5-7 days on the counter-tops to make sure the counters fully dry.
2. Paint the cabinets and add new door handles: $40
Now that the counter-tops looked refreshed and fabulous, it was time to lighten the cabinets to achieve the contemporary/farmhouse look we are going for in our home. Paint was really important to me for this project, as I had heard of horror stories of streak marks and uneven finishes when it came to refinishing cabinets. I was afraid of ruining the cabinets or having to start all over from square-one. This was my first time re-painting cabinets, so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, but overall I do love the finished look.
Things You’ll Need
- 1 can high-quality, furniture-specific paint (Valspar Furniture paint, in polar white satin from Lowe’s)
- Small cabinet paint rollers (Shur-Line foam Roller pack)
- Polycrylic waterproof finish (Re-used Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish)
- High-quality paint brush (Re-used Purdy White Bristle 3 inch Paint Brush)
- New door handles (DELTA Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pull)
- To prep the cabinets, go ahead and remove all of the doors and drawers, along with their hardware.
- To keep everything straight, I Ziploc-bagged the hardware pieces and taped them to each of the doors so when re-install came around, we knew which pieces went to which.
- Also, our cabinets have “fake drawers” where the sink sits, and I left those in place and painted around them; no sense in prying those off if they’re stationary.
- To protect the floors, I re-used the paper drop cloth and painter’s-taped it down to the floor around the cabinets in case of spills or drips.
- Once, everything was prepped, I started in with the paint. I ended up not sanding down the cabinets because the paint I chose technically didn’t require a sanded prepped area. Looking back, I wish I would have sanded the cabinets some, and when I go to refinish our kitchen and master bath cabinets, I plan to sand everything down to ensure a smooth surface. Once I started painting, I found little areas where the old finish wasn’t even, which made for a harder time painting.
Again, the paint job included a layer-by-layer process and took much longer to dry in between layers. Overall, the painting step took me 8 full hours and 3 coats of paint to achieve the solid-white finish I wanted. Using a high-quality brush and furniture-specific foam rollers make a world of difference in the overall finish achieved on the cabinets. I used a mix between the foam roller for the larger areas and the Purdy paint brush to really get into all of the nooks and crannies. I also layered the paint on pretty thick to help cover the fake oak wood finish from the original cabinet.
6. After the paint completely dried, it was time for the waterproof polycrylic finish. I used the same finish as the counters, so it helped us keep within budget. The cabinets only required 1 thin coat of the finish.
7. Then, I allowed the doors to dry overnight before installing the new door handles and re-installing the doors to the cabinet base. The finish added a slight glossiness to the furniture paint, which I felt helped make the cabinets seem even more high-quality.
6. Add the finishing touches with decor: $100
Finishing the space with all the extras was the final step in our mini guest bathroom remodel. We painted the walls with existing paint that we had on hand from when we painted the garage. We used Sherwin Williams brand and chose a light-gray color. We also chose a new faucet, toilet paper holder, and towel rack in brushed nickel. (You can check out the set we purchased here: DELTA Satin Nickel Crestfield Collection. Delta brand offers a ton of variety, from chrome to oil rubbed bronze, and from modern to traditional. You can browse all of Delta’s products available through Amazon, here!)
We also decided to replace the existing toilet, and I am so happy that we did! The previous toilet was definitely original to the home and had 10-plus years of stains and uncleanliness; we were both so tired of fighting the layers of crud that the $100 spent on a new toilet was well worth the money. We decided on a cost-friendly toilet from American Standard, which we originally purchased from Home Depot when they were having a crazy sale. (You know you are a homeowner when you were excited that your new toilet had a push button flusher with both a “No. 1” and “No. 2” flushing option.)
Take a look at the finished product! I love the high contrast between the dark gray counters and the bright white cabinets with the light gray walls. I definitely feel that, overall, I achieved the look I was going for, and I call our first DIY bathroom remodel a success! Like with any project, there are things I know now that I plan to do differently our next go-around. For example, if I could go back, I would’ve chosen different door handles, but the holes are drilled and they are still pretty enough for the space.
Eventually, we plan to update the flooring to a dark gray tile and if I know myself, I’ll end up changing up the decor every once in a while to keep things interesting. Speaking of decor, the vases and flowers came from a trip to our local Michael’s during their 50-percent-off sale, and the towels, shower curtain and new rugs were from our wedding registry through Kohl’s.
Overall, it’s amazing what a bit of TLC and paint can accomplish! This DIY project was so easy and budget-friendly; if we could make this drastic of a transformation on our $500 budget, so could you! Share your bathroom DIYs in the comments below. I’d love to know how you tackled your own #DIYBathRed0.
This blog contains affiliate links, which means I get compensation when you purchase products using the links listed within the article at no additional cost to you, so its a win-win for the both of us!
Chelsea Swart runs the blog The Millennial Mrs, where this blog post originally appeared. The longtime Lake County resident offers tips, stories and personal lessons on her journey as a millennial wife.