Several years ago, when I laid down the deposit on my little hermit box, the management at the time was in the process of making the place rentable after several years of it having been uninhabited. The bathroom had a large hole in the wall. Well, not a hole like someone bunched through it or a hole that exposed the adjacent room or the outside world. But, as you can see from the photo, a hole in the first layer of paneling revealing the studs within. In addition to the hole in the wall over the sinks there was a hole in the wall near the door that exposed the water taps and drain pipe where a clothes washer might sit (not pictured). Also, there were no lights in the bathroom.

On the floor in front of the sink counter was an old, large dresser top with a mirror. It was heavy and bulky, and stained a very dark color. The managers at the time asked if I wanted them to toss it. Well, it did have a mirror and a bathroom needs a mirror, so I told them to leave it. I took it outside and painted it white, and then hefted it up on the counter behind the sinks. I got one small florescent light strip and mounted it above the mirror, under the crown. I put an electric socket in one of the empty light fixture utility boxes and lo and behold I had a mirror and a light that came on when the light switch was flipped.

Bath 2I found out quickly that the crown, with the light being up under it, blocked a lot of light. No light got to the ceiling at all so there was no reflected light in the room. That made taking showers a rather dark proposition. So I added another light and placed it on top of the crown. That worked well enough, and that is how my bathroom has been since my second week in this quaint little home.

However, from the beginning I wasn’t happy with it. It was serviceable, but not comfortable. The hole near the door that exposed the inner plumbing was covered up about a year later when I purchased a clothes washer. But I also trimmed up some of the yawning gap to make things nicer. The linoleum flooring is stained and torn, but I have covered it with two nice bath rugs. There is a lack of storage space, but I have added a free standing modular shelf unit right next to the washer, between the washer and the thrown, so that problem has been more or less resolved. There wasn’t a toilet paper roll holder and no real place to put one. That was resolved with a free standing toilet paper holder stand. I would prefer something nicer, but one step at a time.

But still, I haven’t been really happy with the bathroom. The lighting is poor. The dresser top sat so close to the sinks, and leaned forward creating a weird angle in the mirror. All the little additives I have done around the room had been a great help. But the poor lighting and the weird layout around the sinks bothered me. It did its job, but over these several years I had grown tired of just getting by.

I thought about this for several days. This past Saturday (01/05/13) I decided I would do something about it. This may be a rental place, but I may be here for years. I might as well enjoy it. As long as I don’t spend too much money, then I will get the enjoyment of the money I do spend.

On Sunday (01/06/13) I took down the dresser top and took some measurements. Then I went out and bought some paint, a mirror, and some light fixtures. The mirror was tricky. The hole in the wall was an unusual size. In terms of standard mirrors, I had to either get a mirror a bit smaller than the hole and build some framing around it to cover up the hole, or I had to get an oversized mirror. In the end I opted for the larger mirror, especially since I could not find the smaller mirror closest to the actual hole size.

The light fixtures were also tricky. I wanted something stylish. I also wanted something that takes standard bulbs. I do not like odd bulb sizes, like B-sizes and halogens and the like. Standard bulbs all around is my rule. While I was looking for wall mounted light fixtures, what I finally found were some ceiling mounted fixtures that I felt I could turn into wall mounts.

After making my purchases on Sunday, I jumped into the project. I pulled out some of the metal molding around the sink counter, and sanded a bit, and then painted. I allowed things to dry and put on a second coat. I was covering an off-white, almost almond, with a pure glossy white enamel. But due to a host of irregularities, a second coat was needed and even a third in some spots. I did not paint the entire bathroom, just the sink area including the ceiling over it. Given the layout of the bathroom, it works out well. I may paint a few other areas in the coming days. But I got the area done that I wanted.

I got all the molding back in place along with some caulking underneath, and I caulked some gaps around the sinks. I mounted the mirror, and though it is large I think it worked out well. The light fixtures went up as I hoped. Which led me to Monday morning (01/07/13).

I needed, or should I say I wanted some shelves, places to put my Waterpic, my toothbrush, razor and other needed toiletries. The space available on either side of the mirror allowed for shelves eleven inches long at most. On the right-hand side, though you cannot see it, there is a little cabinet with a door that opens toward the mirror. Considering that door, the shelves could not be more than eight inches deep. So Monday I drove around and looked at looked. Twelve inch shelves were no problem, but I could not find anything shorter. I got and idea and hopped over to Hobby Lobby.

Advocate Alert! After Hobby Lobby’s little stunt announcing that they do not want to participate with insurers who provide contraception and other hormone therapy treatments to women, I had stopped shopping there. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do. So I went to Hobby Lobby, and sure enough I found something that would work, two shadow boxes, ten inches by ten inches by five inches. Each box would act as two shelves, one inside and one on top. Their square shape and size fit perfectly in the space available, and were a wonderful counterbalance for the round light fixtures I had selected. They were bare wood, so after getting them I spent Monday afternoon and evening sanding, painting, sanding and second-coating them.
Bath 3
So there you have it, for not too much money and a few days of work, a new bathroom. There are a few other spots I will paint and patch. But finally I have a bathroom I can be more proud of.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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