When you rent and don’t own your place, there’s a lot you can’t change. You can’t really change fixtures, or appliances (unless you’re really sneaky), or rip down any walls and move them. You can’t change the tile in the bathroom or the linoleum in the kitchen, and you can’t really change the fact that the people on the other side of the courtyard are a bunch of rude college assholes who think 3am on a Tuesday night is the PERFECT time to shout “WOOOOOOO! WOOOOOOO!” under your window. You can, however, do cosmetic things to make a place your own, and though I’ve been renting my whole adult life, I think I’ve gotten good at working with the space I have and the decor I’ve acquired. That said, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the bathroom. And it’s not the problem you are thinking of. Don’t be gross.
My senior year of college, I lived with three awesome ladies, including my best friend Anna. Tex was the first to place any decoration in the suite, and she chose to adorn the commode with a large Harry Potter towel that she’d found at the summer camp she’d worked that summer. Harry spent the whole year on the floor in front of the toilet and shower, forever gliding along on his broom in an eternal game of Quidditch. Many were the jokes I made to myself about Harry reaching for the golden snitch. Once, Anna came out of the bathroom and said, ”I just realized that Harry has the same haircut I got in France last semester.” It’s sad to admit, but my bathrooms in all the places I’ve lived have not quite matured past those days with Harry Potter. That is, until my current landlord gave me the a-ok to repaint the rooms in my apartment.
Before I painted it, my bathroom was the worst. Well, no, there are worse bathrooms, I suppose. But it was not an enjoyable room. The walls were kind of a creamy yellow that looked sick against the white tiles. There was an enormous patch in the wall, applied by yours truly, from the time the towel rack that the previous renters installed (poorly) crashed down in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, taking half the wall with it. And, of course, there was the ugly-ass shower curtain, which I put up two years ago as only a temporary curtain. Dilapidated is a word you could use for it. So, this was the first room I decided to paint.
I firmly believe that you should have at least one friend who you can text the words, “Painting my bathroom, wanna help?” Meg is that friend for me. A few years ago, Meg and her husband Blair bought a house in western Wisconsin, and while Blair has been working his way through grad school, Meg has been working weekends in the ER and weeks remodeling the crap out of that place. Last year, Meghan submitted her completed research for her DNP and, while she was waiting, proceeded to rip apart her own bathroom and redecorate it. One day, I drove out there to help her rip down her wall-paper so she could start painting (well, to rip down the wallpaper and cry — this was around the time we found out that Maggie was terminal). She gets along really well with my father, and I think it’s because both of them are the type to look in a room and wonder how they could tear it down and make it better.
So Meghan and the ever-patient Blair came out on Thursday, after I got off of work, and helped me navigate the world of purchasing paint. Then, while Blair studied for his prelims on my couch, Meg and I played eighties music and got the first coat done. All told, it took us two hours from leaving my apartment to buy paint to finishing the first coat. After they left and I let it dry a bit, I applied the second coat and did touch ups. Last night, I removed the tape, cleaned the floor, and put up the new shower curtain, and today I added the finishing touches. I went for a green color called “Sancutary” (which made all three of us think of the Hunchback of Notre Dame), with accents of teal, forest green, and eggplant.
Total cost of renovation: $62.
This is going to sound corny, but this bathroom is so peaceful now. It really does feel like a sanctuary, and considering this is the room where I more or less start my day, I’m thankful that it only took a few small, cosmetic changes to make it feel that way. This morning, after I showered and while I was brushing my hair, Hermes hopped up on the sink and demanded that I pay him some attention. So I stood for a full five minutes in my pretty, peaceful new bathroom and pet my lordly and luxurious cat. And it was the best way to start my day.