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Bathroom Before + After

We have not yet moved from our Ottawa townhouse to our lakehouse (long story), so the lakehouse bathroom is empty and in need of accessories, artwork and even basics like soap and towels!  Frankly, I didn’t even have a chance to scrub the floors or shower before snapping some photos of its makeover, but after showing you bits and pieces of its transformation last week, I was eager to show you the whole room.  Because it’s a temporary fix until we renovate, I haven’t actually replaced anything but the ceiling light fixture.  We’ll be installing a new towel bar as well, but otherwise the cabinetry, flooring, counter, tile backsplash, vanity light fixture – even the cabinet hardware – have all been given a simple facelift.

The cabinetry was the first to be updated, with Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations System, which you saw a sneak peek of on Friday.  The existing counter is a pale, mint-ish green with flecks of dark grey and creamy-white, so it pairs wells with the cabinetry (which is Rustoleum’s Castle Grey, unglazed).

While I was removing the doors to refinish them, I removed the molding at the top of the cabinet for a cleaner look.  It was barely held on with finishing nails,
so it didn’t need much encouragement – just a little nudge.  I know other people add molding to finish off cabinetry, but I much prefer a simpler look.  Nothing I can do about the cathedral door fronts, but there’s only the two so I’ll just ignore them and invite you to do the same.

After I tackled the cabinetry, but before the doors were re-installed, the salmon pink walls and oak trim disappeared with a coat of Zinsser primer and three coats of Glidden Easy Flow paint, courtesy of Canadian Tire and our paint-the-lakehouse partnership.  In the townhouse I shied away from white walls in the only bathroom that still has a beige toilet because I worried it would make the beige “pop,” but the creamier colour I originally chose only made the toilet look beiger.  This time I said beige toilet (and sink and shower) be damned, I want white walls.  I especially love white walls in a bathroom because it looks so clean and so much brighter.  I’ll love the white even more once we get some bright art up on the walls.  We also removed the oddly placed towel bars and grab handles, plus the blinds and valence, so the walls are much less busy now.  I’ll figure out a window treatment soon, but we live in the country so it’s not super pressing.

Next I refinished the tile, which was arduous but turned out alright.

I decided not to buy new hardware for the cabinetry because I wanted this makeover to be cheap and even if I spent a few bucks per knob, that adds up to about $30.  Instead I used the leftover Rustoleum high heat spray paint that was rattling around in the can after I painted the fireplace doors and vents.  I just made sure to give the knobs a really good sand with a fine grit sandpaper (which resulted in a cool finish I was tempted to leave as-is), and gave the knobs a few thin coats of spray paint.  I love the matte black finish, especially against the grey cupboards.

Emboldened, I painted the vanity light too.  I hate this style of light but I don’t know what kind of lighting I want for the renovation, and I didn’t want to buy something I may not re-use.  I originally discarded the chrome plate it came with, but when Hubby scrubbed the paint a little during install, back on it went.  Hubby reasons that it ties together the matte black knobs and all of the chrome.  Okay, I’ll buy it.

The overhead light is the one thing I did change, for the same inexpensive Ikea fixture that is now in the hallway, bedrooms and will eventually be in the kitchen, laundry room and half bathroom.  The cohesion makes me dopey-eyed happy.

Last up, we nailed in some white quarter round where the vinyl floor was curling up.  Not a pin-worthy change, but a tiny fix like this, that cost pennies and solved (okay, hid) a wear-and-tear problem, just made the bathroom look newer.

I still can’t wait to renovate, but for now the space looks brighter, fresher and more modern.  

It really needs some art.  Soon, I think, soon.

I’m planning something with really saturated colour, like a painting I just recently made for a friend’s living room.

A huge thanks to Canadian Tire for providing the Zinsser primer and Glidden Easy Flow paint, and to Rustoleum for providing the Tile Transformations and Cabinet Transformations kits. 



  1. Dora
    November 4, 2013 / 5:23 pm

    I am so impressed with this transformation! I I love the grey cabinets

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 4, 2013 / 6:00 pm

      Thanks!! I love the grey too, and it ties in nicely with the fireplace.

  2. Brigitte
    November 4, 2013 / 5:50 pm

    Your short term solution is lovely and I'm sure it will look wonderful once you add more personal touches. Glad to see that the Zinsser primer is coming in handy! I have yet to cover the raspberry wall in my house – it may have to wait until midwinter when I'm not doing anything else. 😉

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 4, 2013 / 10:11 pm

      I'm looking forward to accessorizing, for sure. Midwinter is a good time to tackle a large project like painting because there aren't other distractions like the holidays and, I find anyway, I am itching for a change once cabin fever sets in.

  3. Dana@Mid2Mod
    November 4, 2013 / 10:56 pm

    I love the gray cabinets! You did a great job on them. I'm loving my frosted glass without any window treatment at all. I wonder how well that spray glass frosting works. I've always wanted to try this too:

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 1:39 am

      I've wondered about spray glass frosting – or that film stuff. I'd love to keep it unadorned because blinds and curtains will get in the way of the crank opening. Maybe I'll try the film out, thanks for the link!

  4. Rebecca Gonzalez
    November 4, 2013 / 11:07 pm

    Honestly, very nice job. Just elbow grease, creativity and some paint. It instantly de-aged 40 years. It made me kind of love the counter too.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 1:40 am

      Thanks!! I am lucky the counter is mint and not something truly awful. I just couldn't justify replacing it. What's funny is the house is only 13 years old, but looked much more dated.

  5. Jordana @WhiteCabana
    November 5, 2013 / 2:21 am

    Paint works magic! You did a fab job sprucing up the space and making it modern. You must be proud of all the work that you did. Congrats!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 1:48 pm

      Thanks!! I'm really happy I could do it without replacing anything but a light and towel bar!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 1:52 pm

      I pondered the counter kits but there wasn't a kit I liked better. With all of the watery blues and greens the warehouse will have, the mint counters will make more sense. At least, to me 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 8, 2013 / 10:31 pm

      *lakehouse, not warehouse. Darn auto-correct.

  6. cred
    November 5, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    Wow, looks great- gives me hope for our next house. Starting to get a bit antsy here- still looking for the right place but have now sold our current house. We may be homeless by the end of Dec 😉 But of the houses we've seen and considered, they would need their bathrooms refreshed, for sure.I love how well yours have turned out.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 7:27 pm

      I am so jealous you have sold your place! Congrats. I have the opposite problem – our deal is dragging on and our townhouse is not yet sold. I hope you are able to de-stress a little and enjoy the house-hunting process. A bathroom, even a full reno, is not such a bad undertaking in my experience, as long as there are no structural problems (like a subfloor that's been soaked through). Good luck with the house hunt – I hope you find the perfect gem.

  7. Unknown
    November 5, 2013 / 7:33 pm

    Needless to say, the transformation is awesome. However, my question is about that fantastic painting you did! Is there a special brush you need for that kind of thing? I'm trying to teach myself to paint abstract (with acrylics) but I can't seem to blend colors like that without having obvious brush strokes. What type of paint did you use?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 5, 2013 / 8:07 pm

      Hi, thanks so much for your kinds words!I've done a few tutorials for paintings where I've photographed the process, hopefully one helps (see here: this painting I used acrylic paints and a few brushes of varying sizes (1" to 3" inches). The painting actually has some (intentional) brush strokes and textures in real life. For this painting, like many others I have done, I worked in layers. I applied some large sections of brightly coloured paint, let it dry, then applied a second, third, fourth, etc., layer until my friend liked the look. Each layer was a bit more mellow, so the brightest colours were behind. Then I went back in and added a few thin strokes of bright colour as a last layer. Essentially, previously layers "peak" through. To avoid brush strokes, use a wet brush to help thin the paint. The thinner it is, the more easily it will blend. And you might find working in layers like I do is helpful, instead of trying to create a pleasing composition in one shot. With a large enough canvas, just working around it is enough time for a previous section to dry. We stopped and drank wine and chatted between layers. Truthfully, the wine might have helped me step out of my comfort zone and pick brighter colours. Have fun with your painting!!

    • Unknown
      November 8, 2013 / 5:36 pm

      Thank you so much for leaving me such a detailed reply! I tend to be pretty impatient when I paint (I just want it to be a masterpiece already!) so I think painting in layers is a great idea. I bought a few canvases on sale so now I just need the time to do some painting. I will definitely check out your tutorials as well. Thank again and have a nice weekend!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 8, 2013 / 10:32 pm

      I'm happy to!! I'm definitely still learning how to paint myself, so I'm happy to pass on whatever I've learned (although it's not much!). I'd love to see your finished paintings ([email protected]) if you're in the mood to share. Happy painting!!

  8. Laura LeClair
    April 13, 2014 / 10:47 pm

    glorious! I have almost the exact same bathroom, oak, and mint counter and all. My plan is to strip wallpaper this summer and paint it the walls white. And now I am going to transform my cabinets the way you did yours. Question- I can coat all the oak cabinets and trim, but what would your opinion be of what I should do with the oak door? Should I paint the inside of the door gray? or white? It would look silly to leave it in the oak finish with everything around it gray and white, yes? I'd love to know what you think.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 14, 2014 / 3:56 pm

      We had a wood door too and I painted it white, to blend in with the trim and the walls. That's my favorite option. However, my Mom has beautiful wood doors in her home, along with wood trim, but in her bathroom the trim and walls are white, so she only painted the interior side of her door white, which looks nice, without necessitating the painting out of the trim and doors elsewhere in the house. I don't think a wood door necessarily looks bad, even if the bathroom vanity and walls and trim are painted. I think it depends on the quality of the wood and whether you're keeping the wood unpainted for other doors in your home.

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