Addressing problem areas in our small bathroom


Our downstairs bathroom needed some changes. I would have loved to make big changes— redo the tile, install a pedestal sink, and change out the almond tub and toilet for white. But since I couldn’t go big, I figured any improvements to the bathroom were basically a no-go.

And then I started to breakdown the real problems with the bathroom and addressed them in small ways one-by-one.

Problem 1. Too many colors and textures in a small space.

We had an oak door, rubber baseboards, black wood casing, light green walls, and a busy black and white tile floor. It was a contrast of colors as well as materials. All of these different surfaces made this small room feel busier than it needed to be.

oak door with black trim

I removed the rubber baseboards with my hairdryer and a metal skimmer.

tools for removing rubber trim

Then I put in new white baseboards that matched what I did in the rest of the house. And I painted that wood trim white. Once we installed the new white door, it allowed what was cacophonous to feel cohesive.

New bathroom door and trim

Problem 2. Strong graphic patterns competing for attention.

The dark grout with ivory tile on the counter top broke up that space, making it feel small and busy. The floor also has a strong black and white pattern, and together they didn’t allow your eye a place to rest.

before bathroom tile grout


Once I re-grouted the vanity to match the tile, the room instantly felt more peaceful. Changing the tile floor would be a big change, and one I didn’t want to make just yet. But by calming down the countertop, the floor can be the focal point it wants to be.

black bathroom vanity houseoverhead blog


Problem 3. A black vanity that made the space feel smaller and played up the contrast with the floor.

I inherited the black vanity when we moved into the house. I didn’t think painting white over black would be very practical in an area that gets a lot of use, but I didn’t want to leave it black any longer either. Then I came across a beautiful gray vanity by Michelle of  Ten June. You should totally check our her posts of her bathroom. She made big changes to her old bathroom and completely transformed the space. These are the kinds of changes I would love to make someday, but not quite yet. Painting my vanity gray, however, was exactly the kind of change I could make right now.




I used Zinc by Martha Stewart, which I also used on my bookcase facelift project. I still had some left over, and I thought the color would be great in this room. I think the gray vanity tones the room down even more by reducing the contrast between the vanity and the walls, the door, and the floor.

The room is so small that it’s hard to get a photo that shows all the changes in the same shot. I almost didn’t publish this post for this reason, but I thought maybe some of you could relate to having smaller bathrooms without natural light. And it’s always nice to be reminded that little changes can make a big difference without costing big bucks.