Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.
Reciting the specs of my Astoria, Queens apartment never fails to elicit gasps from people familiar with the New York City housing market. 1,000+ square feet? Yup. Hardwood floors? Thank god. Natural light? Need it. A dishwasher? I know, it’s a gem. And it doesn’t cost 70 percent of your monthly earnings? No way.
So, what’s the catch, you ask? Well, I do live with two roommates, so the square footage is split between us. And sure, we could be a little closer to Manhattan for a shorter commute. But the real catch, the one that kept me up at night? The. Bathroom. Multiple shades of brown and yellow tile from floor to ceiling, an outdated textured glass shower door, and budget lighting fixtures. Shudder.
From the minute we signed the lease, I began brainstorming temporary fixes to make the bathroom palatable to the human eye. I found this photo on Pinterest, which offered a glimmer of hope that I might be able to turn this eyesore around, so I got to work moodboarding and online shopping—between lying awake at night plagued by brown-and-yellow colored nightmares. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it did consume a lot of my headspace!
Some of my solutions might not work for everyone—it mostly depends on your level of patience for projects and willingness to revert to the original when your lease is over. If you’re game—the results are worth it, I promise—here’s how to drastically improve an 80s nightmare…all for less than $150.
The two options I debated for the bathroom ceiling were to either coat the tile with white epoxy paint or cover it with contact paper. Since epoxy paint is a pretty serious project requiring a lot of ventilation, days of drying time, and is generally a more permanent fix (would need a landlord’s permission), I decided to try my hand with this contact paper, which is essentially vinyl, not paper. I must say, it’s held up exceedingly well in the humid environment of the bathroom, and after four months I haven’t had to replace any of it.
How to do it:
- Measure the tiles, and cut pieces of contact paper the size of each tile.
- Wipe down the entire surface with rubbing alcohol to ensure the best stick.
- Stick down the corner first and peel the back off while you smooth it down. It's fairly easy to peel it back off and restick, so don't get too precious with it.
- If there are any unavoidable bubbles, stick a pin in them and they should flatten out.
If there was anything worse than the ceiling, it was the floor. Originally, I wanted to lay down black-and-white geometric tiles, but I had a sneaking suspicion they wouldn’t line up correctly and they’d haunt me every time I looked down. I ended up going with these inexpensive vinyl peel-and-stick tiles, which have also held up better than I thought they would. My best advice here is to measure, and measure twice. I ended up lugging two sets of these home on the subway because I measured incorrectly in my frenzy to get the floor covered. They’re not really intended to cover bumpy, grouted tile, but they’re the perfect interim solution for my bathroom. I’m all about a hack job, clearly.
Here’s how to do it:
- Measure the space you need to cover, but get about 4-5 extra tiles to account for mishaps.
- Use paper and painter’s tape to map out the hard-to-fit sections of the floor (like around the toilet), then trace them onto the tile and cut them out. While I needed a utility knife for some pieces, good scissors worked wonders on these.
- Make sure the floor is totally clean of stray particles and dust, then wipe down with rubbing alcohol to ensure the best stick.
- Stick, stick, stick! It might not be perfect, but it’s far better than it was.
At a loss for what to do with decades-old sliding shower doors, I posted on Instagram asking for suggestions. I had a few people suggest hanging a shower curtain in front of the glass door, and at first, I thought it seemed redundant (double shower coverings?), but once my vision for the rest of the bathroom was coming together, I knew that sucker had to be hidden. This shower curtain adds subtle texture and hides the brass and textured glass. Thank god.
Okay, I probably should have consulted my landlord on this one…but I’m an ask-for-forgiveness-not-permission kinda gal. The door is pretty standard-issue wood veneer, but years of wear and tear and a healthy dose of water damage rendered it, well…unsightly. I committed to painting it, and away I went!
- Give the whole door a quick sand with 220 grit paper, then wipe it clean of any dust.
- Add two coats of paint, I used this eggshell white with a paint brush because I didn’t have a roller on hand, and it worked just fine. Make sure each coat dries completely before adding more.
Be warned: electrical work is not for the impatient or instructions-averse, but it is a game-changer for rentals (au revoir, boob lights!). I followed this tutorial that aided me in replacing the ceiling fixture in my bedroom, and while I was struggling on my tip toes for an hour, it was well worth it. The fixtures in the bathroom aren't totally heinous, so I let them be, but it's totally possible to swap 'em out. Plus, you can just reinstall the old fixture when it’s time to move out.
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