I’m going to go ahead and blame my gorgeous friend/former roommate/supermodelish object of envy Maha for this one. See, upon seeing the vast mountain of disarray that was my makeup collection, she suggested that I sort everything into a set of plastic drawers so I could keep track of what I had and find it easily. And when this girl gives you beauty advice–however tangentially related to actual beauty it is–you take it:

I mean, really. People aren't supposed to look like this in real life.

 So off I scurried to Target and returned with a set of pretty standard-issue plastic drawers. I sorted my makeup, dutifully cleaned all my makeup bags out, swore never to buy another nail polish, broke that vow the very next day, and let the drawers sit around, awkwardly but functionally wedged between the toilet and the vanity. They became so comfortable there, they began to accumulate…friends.

ugh, ugly

Hrm. I became less and less pleased with the solution, both because of the difficulty of changing the toilet paper roll and because of their general utilitarian ugliness. Still, they were useful, and I didn’t want to spring for a more expensive solution.

Then the same thing happened that always happens with me. My displeasure with one aspect of the room expanded and consumed other aspects. Like our severely ugly 80s linoleum (and for that matter, the dirty white bath mat on top of it):

ugh oh ouchAnd the blandness of our walls, and my general tendency to clutter spaces I don’t find pretty:

soooooooooo unfortunateYeah, I know. It’s hardly the fault of some plastic drawers that I let the bathroom get messy. But my discontent grew even after I’d cleaned the place, and I decided (after two years of dealing with it, naturally) that a room I spend around an hour in each day getting ready should have some better ambience. Jimmy wasn’t super keen on the idea, so I promised to keep the budget as tiny as possible. The plan was to do something about the floor, and something about the drawers. End of story.

But when do things ever go according to plan?

The first thing I did was purchase some lumber and have it cut to size, to create a wooden top for the drawers. I assembled the pieces with some finishing nails (and Jimmy helped, boy loves to swing a hammer):

swing away!

the assembled product

Easy peasy. With the top assembled, I decided to set that aside for the moment and tackle the floor. I envisioned a simple solution using woodgrain contact paper in a lighter shade than the cabinets. However, when I tried it I found two problems. One, contact paper is hella difficult to adhere to a floor without getting any bubbles or wrinkles. Two, the woodgrain was almost EXACTLY the same color as our cabinets–making it a whole lotta maple. It was awful and busy, exactly the opposite of the relaxing spa-like look I was going for. So this happened:

nice try

Well…so much for that. I hated to waste a roll of contact paper, but it just wasn’t going to work. Then, as I was rooting through my closet looking for stain and filler putty for the new drawer top, it hit me…why not take the easy route? And so I cut myself another nice piece of contact paper, and did this:


It was easy, it took a minute and a half to do, and it didn’t involve any sanding. Sold. Plus, the color made it look like an extension of our cabinets. Not bad for a bit of leftover contact paper. The next step was to move that aggravating toilet paper roll:

my trusty smartdriver hard at work

Removing it was easy enough, but it left some majorly visible holes, which was kinda tacky. I puzzled for a minute over what to do…

aw, crap

…then my old friend contact paper rejoined the party.

much better

I edited the photo a bit so you could see what I was talking about, but in person, it’s almost impossible to see the holes, even if you’re looking for them. Score! And I snipped those pieces from the big wadded up failed floor attempt, so it wasn’t a total waste. The roll is much happier in its new spot, where it isn’t in the way.

roll on, little buddyno more swearing

While I was at Lowe’s scoping out new flooring options, I made the mistake of glancing at the table of mis-tinted paint. And there, in the middle of it, was a quart of a beautiful taupey grey, in eggshell Valspar Ultra Premium. It was originally $15 but had been marked down to $3. I shed a little tear for the extra work (both painting and convincing the husband) I knew was coming, and then I picked it up and brought it home with me. And after the aforementioned Long Talk with Jimmy about how I should know better than to make this into such a big project, he sighed and got out the laser level, and we started taping off wide horizontal stripes on our weirdly angular walls.

ooh, lasersI’m pretty sure being able to use the laser was what clinched it, actually. He loves that thing. So after about two hours of lasering and taping and making unnecessary “pew pew” noises, we had this:

maybe we'll just keep it this way

Having been promised that I (just visible in my incredibly sexy oil-stained shorts that got stuck in a bike chain, and basically see-through Truman Spirit? Got It! t-shirt) would do all the painting myself, Jimmy wandered away to play Harvest Moon and think about his life choices. I set to rolling, despite my worries that a single quart of paint wouldn’t cover three big fat stripes running around the perimeter of the room. Three coats later, the stripes were done and I hadn’t even gone through half a quart. Note to self: Valspar Ultra Premium is called Ultra Premium for a reason. It’s like rolling your walls with colorful pancake batter. Super thick and nice.

paint that sucka

With Frog Tape (or any painter’s tape, really) you’ve got two choices: try to get it off the wall before the paint dries, or wait ’til it’s dry and score it with a knife so you don’t pull off paint. Owing to my general laziness and impatience, I like to pull it off before it’s dry. It worked just fine in this case.

ooh, eggshell

And thus, the painting was finished. We called it a night and I slept soundly, carried away on gentle waves of dizzying paint fumes.

The next morning, it was time to tackle…the floor. While browsing Lowe’s, I discovered these awesome self-stick vinyl tiles for $17.60 per case of 20. Since the bathroom is so small, and so much of it is occupied by the vanity, I only needed a case plus three extras. They seemed like they’d be easy to pull up if our landpeople wanted us to, and they looked pretty convincing–they even have fake “grout” around the edges, and they’re a little rough like slate. So with a razor knife, gridded ruler, old scissors I didn’t mind gumming up, and some paper, I dove in.

one row down, some other rows to go

In general, they’re insanely easy to put in. You just peel and stick them. (In a big room, I’d start from the center like they recommend, but this room is tiny and I wanted to do as little cutting as possible.) When you get to an edge, you just measure how big of a piece you need, score the tile with your razor knife or box cutter, and snap off the excess. The glue is forgiving, and the tiles can be moved around a little after you stick them down–or removed and replaced entirely, as I needed to do a few times. But in some areas, like around the doorframe and toilet, a little more finesse is needed. That’s where the paper comes in handy. Here’s what I did:

makin' that paper

First, take a piece of plain paper and position the edge of it where the edge of the tile will be. Then, carefully use your fingers to push the paper down around the area you need to cut out, creasing it where the floor meets the molding. When you have a good crease, cut along the fold line and lay it back down to see if it fits.

paper cuts

If it does–or it’s pretty darn close, like it is here (it’s tough to get this 100% perfect), lay the paper on your tile and trace along the cut line with a pencil. At this point you can use the razor knife or scissors to cut it out (I found the scissors to be much easier for all but long straight cuts).

oh la la

See? Nothing to it! All the measuring and cutting took a while–maybe about 3 hours–but nothing awful, and I actually don’t think a big room would take much longer to do, since the majority of the tiles would just be strictly peel-and-stick. And here’s the finished product, along with the bath mat I picked up at Target for $12.99 and was too impatient not to put down:


So much better, right? Other than the slight softness, it’s a pretty convincing substitute for real tile, and much less permanent (although I think the odds of our condo’s owners preferring the 80s lino are slim).

After that, it was smooth sailing. I picked up a few gallery shelves and tossed them up on the wall, along with a few fall-smelling candles that were on sale (also at Target), a basket strangely marked as Halloween decor in the dollar bins at the front, some plain white washcloths, and a few tiny copper frames from Michael’s we already had, newly adorned with silhouettes left over from our wedding invitations.

i want to eat that candle

at our wedding someone put these out facing away from each other so it looked like we were starting our marriage angry

You might, if you’re as anal-retentive as I am, notice that the shelves are aligned along the edges of stripes. Not only does this look good, it serves my aforementioned laziness, as I knew the stripes were level and I didn’t have to bust out the level again to do the shelves. Yep, sloth is apparently the mother of invention.

After all that, the only thing left to finish was the drawer top that started this whole shindig. When I put the top on the drawer, I found that the trim was too long and prevented the top drawer from opening. Well, crap! I found a very sophisticated and complex solution:

so clever, right

Yep, I Tacky Glued some little wooden blocks I had lying around onto the drawers to boost up the top a little. No idea why I had these, but they came in handy. Then I just sewed a simple curtain from plain white Kona cotton and thumbtacked it to the inside of the wooden top.

I snagged a few little knickknacks along the way, like a soap pump (to curb my unfortunate habit of purchasing soap based on the attractiveness of the bottle) and a teeny ceramic vase I had in another room, complete with a sprig of our rapidly-dying fern.

soap pump soap pump soapy soapy soap pump

I also bought two cool striped towels to tie in our walls, a reed diffuser filled with natural lavender oil to keep things smelling good, and a nice little mercury glass-looking jar to keep my makeup brushes presentable. Oh, and a little peace lily-ish plant that was on clearance for $0.25 (!) at Lowe’s because it was sort of wilted; I felt sorry for it and brought it home and watered it, at which point it perked up and tried its damnedest to pretend it wasn’t a 25-cent plant.

Are you ready for the aftermath afters? Here we go…

clean and tidy

you can see the sink!

sterilite never looked so good

go plant go

And because everyone loves a good side-by-side comparison…

side by siiiiiide

(if something isn’t mentioned, we already owned it)
Vinyl floor tiles: about $20 from Lowe’s
Paint: $3 (on sale from $15) from Lowe’s
Roller & tray: $4 from Lowe’s
Lumber for drawer top: $8 from Lowe’s
Fabric for curtain: $3.99 (on sale from $5.99) from Hobby Lobby 
Plant: $0.25 (on sale from $9) from Lowe’s
Reed diffuser: $5.99 from Marshall’s 
Candles: $6 total from Target
Brush jar: $1.50 (on sale from $3) at Hobby Lobby
Striped towels: $5 total from Target
Contact paper: $3.99 from Ace Hardware
Wire basket: $2.50 from Target 
Washcloths: $2.50 total (on sale from $8) from Target
Soap pump: $12.99 from Target
Bath mat: $12.99 from Target
TOTAL: $92.70 
Time spent: approximately 2 days 

Not too bad, all things considered. And aside from the paint and the tile, we can take it all with us when we move. (Actually, the paint too, since we still have more than half of it left. Score!) So what do you think, dear readers? Was it worth slogging through 2000+ words for?