Accentuate the Positives

Does your bath have an outstanding feature that's a focal point? An unusual window, vintage plumbing fittings or interesting cabinetry? Consider keeping this element as is, and direct your attention to bringing other parts of the room up to par. In her bath redo, Julie Roffa Barkin capitalized on the classic 1920s tile work. The renovation stemmed from a need to update . . . the plumbing. Galvanized water pipes had collected so much scale they couldn't deliver enough hot water to the shower. To replace them, the basket-weave tile floor had to be broken up. "Things mushroomed," says Barkin, "and we decided to remodel the entire room." While the project is modest in scope — new sink and vanity top, medicine cabinet, light fixture and wallcovering — it's big on impact. "I like drama," Barkin says. "Normally, to make a small room seem bigger, you use a light color scheme. But I had seen a bathroom with a dark wallpaper that was really exciting." The flashy black-on-black striped wallcovering she selected was hung by a professional because of the challenges posed by papering over the tile and the tight quarters. (She describes the room as "2 by nothing," but it's actually 5x5.) For the border, Barkin chose a diamond pattern that picks up on the new tile floor pattern. "Because I was putting vinyl on vinyl, the border tended to pop up," she says. A special paste solved the problem, along with plenty of burnishing with a seam roller. The border was the source of further frustration. "I hadn't measured exactly, so there wasn't much room to play around. I did lots of fudging and fixing. By the time I finished, I had less than a foot of the border left over. I should have bought an extra roll." In her quest for the dramatic, Barkin even painted the door and window frame black. But her husband found that a bit too much. "I used a thick primer to block out the color. I put on two coats over the black, then two coats of white paint. And it covered just fine." What It Cost
Julie made thrifty purchases, allocating more of her budget for outside help.
Flooring $300
Cabinetry $120
Sink $50
Counter $50
Mirror/medicine cabinet $30
Plumbing fittings $125
Tub n/a
Toilet n/a
Toilet seat $20
Light fixtures $50
Paint/wallcovering $125
electrician: install light fixture $60
paperhanger $100
plumber: replace corroded $300
pipes and install sink
demolish old floor
pipes and install sink
demolish old floor
and install new floor
TOTAL: $1,830
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