How to Update Your Bathroom for Under $50!

A few weeks ago my husband started an awesome new job that will require us to relocate. We are so excited! Did you know our house was only on the market for 2 days before we found a buyer?! Craziness! I’m excited to be working on a series of posts focused on getting your house updated, organized, and ready to sell (or ready to enjoy yourselves!). Staging, de-cluttering, and updating are key to getting your house sold quick for the price you want. First, I’d love to share a couple of ideas on how you can update a Plain Jane, builder grade bathroom.

Since we moved in 10 months ago we’ve worked on a steady stream of projects to make it more our style, knowing that we’d likely be selling soon. The last 3 weeks before listing we really moved into high gear to finish all of our remaining painting and organization projects, one of them being the hall bathroom.

There are no windows in the hall bathroom and it was dark. When we moved in, we knew we needed to update the light fixture. It still needed something more though. The room felt very plain and “builder grade”. I had two ideas to really give the room an upgraded feel. First, to lengthen the shower curtain in order to visually add height to the room and remove the shadow above the curtain which made the room feel dark. Second, to paint the vanity cabinet. Look at the difference!

house makeover

I found the shower curtain at Target last summer. I really like the airy linen feel of the fabric and the color. I understand that curtains are manufactured to come to the top of the prefab bath/shower fixtures probably to leave steam out the top as to not create a sauna but I wish they would make a longer option! I hoped that lengthening the curtain would have a great visual affect, and it really does make the room feel taller and larger.

The curtain measures 70″ wide. I knew I wanted to add a band of white linen at the bottom of the curtain. The linen I bought had a 42″ selvedge, meaning a yard would be 36″ x 42″. Because I didn’t want to be piecing fabric together I went ahead and bought 2 yards. I cut the entire 2 yd long piece down to 15 inches by 72 inches. That length left me enough room for the double hem around the sides and for a few small pleats to give the bottom a ruffle type flow. Adding about 14 inches of length to the curtain gave enough height that the liner on the inside still keeps the water in the tub. I’ve considered adding another layer, maybe 10-11 inches to create more of a double layered ruffle look. We’ll see! What do you think?

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For years I’ve really wanted to upgrade the oak, standard, builder grade cabinet. I hate we didn’t do it sooner because I love how it turned out! The color we chose was inspired by the Centsational Girl blog. I remembered a few years ago seeing a vanity she painted a glossy brown. There are so many shades of brown. I really didn’t want any weird red or burgundy undertones. I was thankful to find that blog post where she shared that she used Betsy Ross House Brown by Valspar. That is what we went with an I am so glad I did. I chose a semi gloss and I’m thankful for the sheen and wipe-ability. After a couple of coats I didn’t feel like it needed a poly coat. Now for the pretty close up… one of these days I’ll get a fancy camera for prettier and clearer pictures.


Don’t be intimidated by the project -it is just paint! If you decide you don’t like it can be fixed! The cabinet doors were wood but the frame of the vanity was not real wood- it was a dense composite. Because there would be no sanding, I used Zinnser Bonding Primer as a base coat. We took the doors and hardware off and primed the inside of the doors first, flipped and then primed the front. I left the drawers in but pulled them out so that I could paint the drawer front and carefully painted the cabinet frame around them with my 2″ angled Wooster brush (my favorite!). Then, I did the same with the brown. With a gloss finish, make sure you get paint flowing freely from your brush. You want it wet and you want to use uniform strokes in the same direction. No deep brush marks! If you do get some deep strokes, re-dip your brush and go over it again lightly. Some strokes really will look fine. If you are concerned, consider using a small foam cabinet roller on the flat areas.The brown had great coverage with the first coat but it did require a second coat. It cured to a nice, seemingly durable finish.


I hope this inspires you! Small changes can make a big impact! Go for it, change up that bathroom with a new curtain and rug. De-clutter and search Pinterest for creative storage solutions, if you need it. Choose clean, calming colors, and work in some earth tones for the perfect update. Here are a few pictures of a similar update I did in the master bath a while ago.

Made New Home Furnishings

Made new!



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  • This bathroom vanity and mirror is painted with French Linen and Old White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
  • The shower curtain is from Target Summer 2014.
  • The Light Fixture is here:
  • The mirror is an antique Drexel mirror that was given to me by my grandfather’s friend.

Featured hall bath details:

  • Zinsser primer (already had on hand), $10 (
  • Quart of Valspar Signature latex interior gloss paint, Betsy Ross House Brown, $15
  • 2 in angled brush, $6-$12 depending on what strikes your fancy. I choose Wooster which is $10-$12
  • Fabric to add trim panel or ruffle to bottom of shower curtain. I chose white linen. 2yds from Hancock’s with 40% off coupon = $15
  • New hardware from Lowe’s, $12
  • Basket and flower vase were relocated from other places in the house. 🙂

Earlier updates included:

You really can make a big change in a bathroom on a budget, and for under $50. The biggest impact was by far painting the vanity and changing the hardware which was $27 because I already had primer and brush on hand. Second biggest impact I think was changing the mirror which was $20. Third was lengthening the shower curtain for $15. Check out your closest Habitat ReStore for paint, hardware, or updated faucets or light fixtures. Remember, light fixtures and hardware can also be spray painted if you find a style you want but in a dated finish. Look for baskets and bins at thrift shops to organize. Plan to shop at your hardware store on holiday weekends, like Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, when they have their biggest sales. Go to your Post Office and look for change of address packets, they have loads of coupons including 10% off at Lowe’s… haha! I know from experience. Or take your favorite military friend to borrow their discount and buy them a fun tool while you’re there. 🙂



Turn Your Piano Into a Statement Piece

If you know me, you know I get sentimental about furniture. REAL furniture. The pieces that you can tell a person, or people, put creativity and effort into designing, building, assembling and finishing. Not many pieces become more sentimental to a family than a piano. There is something beautiful about an aged piano. In some cases I would never refinish them but some of them… well, they need a little love to make them the statement piece they deserve to be! See the difference?!

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If you are in the market for a piano on a tight budget, I’d consider buying a used one in great shape that just needs a tuning and a little sprucing up. You can do it! Or hire me to help! 🙂 If you have a piano with the ever so common orange shiny oak finish from the eighties and nineties or a piano that your kids have taken upon themselves to decorate (no kidding I’ve painted two pianos now with tic tac toe carved into the wood!). Then read on my friends!

Here’s a few tips on how to turn your piano a statement piece:

1. Select a paint color. I hear it all the time, “I would never paint a piece of furniture made of real wood” or “why would you paint that instead of refinish it with stain?”. I love a rich wood finish too. But sometimes paint adds just that little extra somethin’ and can serve as an accent piece while many times wood finishes can get lost in a room. Often paint can show off detail or clean lines on piece better than a wood finish can. And to be honest, in this particular situation, you would have to completely disassemble the piano to strip and sand it properly. Those keys can get very tricky! Pick a color that is complementary to the room. I once read a quote by Annie Sloan where she suggests, if you paint a piece and look at it in its space with squinty eyes and it really stands out more than anything else in the room, than it is too bright for your color palette. I love bold color and you can see an example of a pretty mustard yellow piano below that fit in perfectly with the personality and earthy palette of its space. Be brave but with this particular piece don’t pick something you will be tired of in two years.

yellow piano

2. Tape off around the keys covering them with paper. Self explanatory but this will save you a lot of clean up and you can rest easy while painting around those tricky little things. And if you do have to do any light sanding it will keep unnecessary dust out.

3. Take off any hardware. If your piano has knobs or any hardware or a music stand, I’d take them off. It can be tricky opening and closing the cover without hardware so you may want to paint that last. Patinated brass hardware can be very pretty and I typically leave it as is. If you have that bright 90’s brass, I’d consider spray painting it bronze, nickle, or an antiqued metallic color of your choice. Or you can paint it the same color as the piano with the Chalk Paint.

4. Remove any flaky old paint with a scraper or rough sand paper. Fill in any holes you want filled with wood filler or Plastic Wood and lightly sand down any scratches. Unless you want a brand new piano look, I like the natural distressed look that wear and tear gives overtime. It gives character to the painted finish. Just don’t leave any old childhood tic tac toe carvings!! 🙂

5. Degloss. Use TSP or a deglosser to remove oils built up over time from hands and dusting products so you have a clean surface ready for paint.

6. Start painting! Because we aren’t removing the old finish I HIGHLY recommend using a chalk based paint. This is NOT to be confused with chalkboard paint. A high end brand of Chalk Paint such as Annie Sloan is what I recommend. This paint adheres to anything and you can thin with water as needed (because it will thicken if you leave the lid off). It leaves very little brush strokes and any strokes can be sanded lightly to a velvety smooth finish. You may have sticker shock on the price, typically $37 a quart, but a little goes a long way and it is worth it when you figure in the time you are saving with less prep work. There are other brands of Chalk paint. In fact, Lowe’s just came out with their own version but Annie Sloan takes the cake as far as ease to use, finish, and durability. Its the original Chalk Paint and is super low VOC. I don’t get paid for this opinion though I wish I did because I LOVE this product and I tell everyone about it.

7. Distress around the edges and corners if you want! This is super easy to do with chalk paint. Use a fine sandpaper or a sanding sponge, nothing less than 120 grit, and lightly brush it along the edges or any places that would naturally become worn. This is a great disguise for pieces that may get nicked over time with kids in the house… it’s just part of the look! Many people choose to do this step after a wax finish. I do that sometimes if I want more control over the amount of paint I’m taking off. Just make sure you go back over it with a little wax.

8. Choose your finish. A “finish” is not completely necessary but for longer durability and easy cleaning I recommend a paste wax finish buffed to a matte shine. This finish is my favorite as it somehow gives depth of color to the paint. For a higher sheen you can buff with more elbow grease or use a brushed on Polycrylic with sheen of your choice.

9. Enjoy the view and maintain your hard work! To maintain the finish and all your hard work, clean with only a damp lint free cloth or dust cloth. No products here people! I recommend buffing on a new coat of wax once a year. Use coasters! If you do happen to get a water ring or defect in the finish you can buff it with wax (if it had a wax only finish) and the ring will dissappear or touch up the spot with paint and wax over it again.

Can you see the pretty, light distressed edges? Ahhh 😉

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