Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Devil's Bathrooms (Alternatively titled "Adding Space and Character to Small Spaces")

Like most apartment dwellers, I had to make peace with the fact that built storage was limited.  We have one walk in closet in the Master bedroom, one hall closet that shares space with HVAC so it's tiny, and one standard sized closet in our spare bedroom.  Our washer and dryer are in our kitchen, so we lose cabinet space there as well.  It's frustrating having no place to put things, to have to make decisions that may require giving up beloved items to make room for functional ones.

After about a week in the new place, I decided I could no longer deal with this madness.  I would tame these devils.  This post is about the one named "Ugly White Bathrooms With No Storage Space".

The problem with taming these devils was that we had no extra money, and I'm not very crafty... but between the Dollar Tree, Goodwill, some savvy  Craigslisting, and a little dumpster diving, I managed to put together, what I feel, are two cute bathrooms.

Here's the master bath (Click on any of the pictures to enlarge):

This is our evil pedestal sink.  No storage.
No counter space.
Here is our built in medicine cabinet, over the toilet.  In the shelf at the bottom I have a picture of me with my furkids, and a couple candles.  This space could be better utilized for storage but I haven't figured out a decorative way to do it yet.  The picture frame cost $2 at walmart because it was damaged, but I just painted over it, and the candles were $1 each.  The vase that holds the flowers was found dumpster diving at my apartment complex.  The flowers at a craft store.  The boxes to the right of the flowers were gift boxes.

On the wall, as you can see, I have pink, orange, and yellow washi flowers that come right off with a little determination.  They came from the dollar store. I used about 3 sheets of them.

On the back of the toilet, I have a pink wire basket I got as a gift (it had lotions or something in it), and it holds a few books, and a decorative bottle of lotion.  Next to that, I have a mason jar with burlap and lace tied around it.  I found this dumpster diving at my apartment complex.  The faux sunflowers are also from dumpster diving at crafts store.

The basket on the floor next to the toilet used to hold a gift from my sister-in-law, and now holds extra TP.  I am all for open TP storage, especially if a guest should be using the bathroom and need some extra.

I have had these towels since I lived at home with my mother.  I have almost donated them to GoodWill a dozen times over the years because all the "Grown Up Advice" articles I read on Pinterest tell me that my linens should be white.  And maybe that's true, maybe they should be, but c'mon... Aren't these colors GLORIOUS??

Besides... the towels in the guest bathroom are white.  That counts for something.



The seven hooked rack on the door came from the Dollar Tree, where it cost, amazingly, $1.

Our bathroom is very small so it was hard to get a good picture of the other side of the room.  I was wedged between the toilet and the wall to get this one.

The shelf on the wall came from Goodwill, and cost either $2 or $4, I can't remember, so we'll call it $3.  The chalkboard was another Crafts store dumpster find, as was the cherry blossom glued to it.  The pink flower pot came from (you guessed it!) dumpster diving at my apartment complex, and the daises were from Dollar Tree, for $1.

The white towel was part of a set my mother bought us when we moved in to our first place together.

The shelf was actually a black-and-faux wood DVD stand I found for free on Craigslist, and I covered with $2 worth of contact paper.

On the top shelf, the glassware is a mix of old candle jars I cleaned the wax out of and now use to store my q-tips, cotton balls, and cotton rounds (which I use mostly to take off eye make up).  There are also three wide champagne glasses (another dumpster find!) which I super glued together and use to hold Tweezers, nail clippers, bobby pins and hair ties.   The shelves are mostly toiletries, but I do use mason jars (more dumpster finds!) to hold disposable razors, our tooth brushes, and a few other things.  Finally, the bottom shelf is the trash can that can from my old room at my parents house.

That's our master bathroom  The total cost?  Less than $15.

Now then, here's our guest bathroom:

This stand is a wonderful thing.  It's probably one of the most useful non-appliance gifts I've ever gotten.  My dear friend Chris gave this to me as an apartment- warming.  It's lived in 2 apartments with me and has served me well.  The tray on the top shelf was yet another dumpster find.  The flowers in the tray came from the dollar store, for $1 each, along with the glassware and potpourri.  The picture frame also came from the dollar store, and holds the poem "I Carry Your Heart" by E.E. Cummings.  The teddy bear was a gift from my grandparents.

The white baskets were dumpster finds and hold spare TP, tolietries and most of our spare towels (about 6, the rest are in our closet).

Because of our lack of counter space (and floor space, there's literally not room for two people to stand in this bathroom at the same time unless one of them is standing in the tub!) I nag D about keeping his toiletries in the basket when they aren't in use, but I know it's a pain to have to take the basket down every time you want your comb or your razor.

Here is the sink/counter in our master bath.  As you can see, there are about 6 inches on either side of the sink.  When you start leaving items out on the sink, it starts to look cluttered, fast.

I'm currently in the process of trying to find the most efficient way to utilize the space under the sink.  Unfortunately, the pipes/hardware/etc take up a lot of space, so most standard under sink organizers haven't fit.  I remain hopeful, however, that something will come to me, through the bowels of pinterest or perhaps in a dream.

I'm not going to show you what it looks like under there right now because it. Is. A. Hot. Mess.

Here's another shot of the sink.  I know, I know, that faux floral arrangement is horrible, taking up space and just generally not a good fit for the room.  I felt like that corner needed a pop of color and this was the only thing I had on hand... but trust me, it's getting replaced as soon as I come across something I like better.  I should probably take the teddy bear out of the bathroom and put the flowers over the toilet, but I do like how he looks there.

...Crazy lady problems.

The vase and flowers were dumpster finds at a craft store.  The soap dispenser and tooth brush holders were a gift from my mom.

My mom is a nice lady.

The bathroom is literally so small I couldn't get good pictures of the other side, but it's just the bath tub.  I'm sure you know what they look like.

So that is our guest bathroom, total cost is less that $10.

Now, as with all of my endeavors, this is a work in progress.  I am actively learning more about interior design, and how to apply it in my own style.  My biggest challenge has always been that I like STUFF and I have a tendency to have too much of it out and on display.  Moving into a smaller apartment has definitely helped curb that, because it tends to get REALLY overwhelming really quickly.

So, if you want to jazz up your rental bathroom, add some storage space, or just personalize it a bit,  but you don't want to spend a lot of (or any) money, here are my tips:

1 -- Check Craigslist.  Your local  CL has a "free" section where you can get items 100% free, minus the cost of gas.  If you're handy, crafty, or just plain determined, you can score some great stuff.

2 -- Goodwill it.  Depending on where you live, you likely have a GW or similar (Salvation Army, thift store) that you can stalk.  Our local GW sees a lot of traffic and the stock rotates pretty quickly.  I've scored some neat stuff there for just a couple bucks.

3 -- If it's your first apartment or house, you are entitled to throw yourself a housewarming party.  And that means you can have a registry.  Put small things on it, like shelves and storage items.  Your friends can help you out a bit as you find your footing.

4 -- The Dollar Tree.  When I was a kid, the Dollar Tree was the place I got cheap Barbies dolls.  As a teenager, it was the place I didn't want to be seen shopping at.  Now that I'm on my own, it's one of my favorite places.  While some stock varies widely from store-to-store (we have about 7 in my town), week to week, a lot of items seem to be steadfast merch, such as those 7-hooked door racks I have (I have one in each bathroom), along with a lot of baskets, buckets, and other storage items.

People will tell you a lot of things about how you should decorate your space, but ultimately, it's your space and it needs to be functional and pleasing to you and you alone.  Hopefully my tips and pictures have helped inspire you to create your own little slice of the world.

Have you decorated your bathroom?  Added some neat storage space?  Want to brag about it? Leave me a comment below and show me, and other readers, what wondrous things you have done!