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Groovin’ on a Sunday


Welcome to our second bathroom – my joy, and also the bain of my existence. Why? Because it’s up to me to decorate it and I have had absolutely no idea what to do with it. How do you decorate a bathroom? What constitutes bathroom decorations? And worse, how do you decorate a bathroom in a rental?

The painting reflected in the bathroom mirror was painted by my mom, and it reminds me of a sunset on Maui. It brightened up our bathroom in Harlem, where it looked great with our cheery yellow shower curtain. The blue and green bath towels were purchased specifically to coordinate with the painting, so it only seemed natural to put them all together here. But then what? This shower has sliding doors, so no need for a cheerful curtain. My mom suggested bright yellow hand towels and wash cloths and I’m really happy with how they bring a little sunshine into this tiny windowless room. She also suggested I ditch the white frame that hangs above the towels for something more colorful. As soon as she said that I thought, why don’t I take a cue from Young House Love and paint the frame?

We’ve been a little too spendy these last few months, so I’m making an effort to curb my home-improvement costs. Especially since this home is a rental and in the long run, we really want to be putting our money into something we own, so it made sense to paint something I already have, rather than go out and buy something new. Luckily for me, my husband stockpiles DIY materials, which meant the entire cost of this project was $0. Sweet, sweet $0!

First, I had to sand the frame. I used a 220 (super fine) grit sand paper to roughen up the surface and remove the glossy finish.


Once I was done sanding the frame, I washed it with a little dish soap and water, to get rid of any clinging plastic dust. When it was completely dry, I sprayed the whole thing with Rust-Oleum primer. We didn’t have white primer on hand, only gray, and I’ll tell you right now I would’ve saved myself a lot of work if I’d sprung for a new can of white primer. C’est la vie – live and learn!


The directions on the can said to paint the primed object within one hour of priming, or after twenty-four hours. I have no idea why the instructions read that way, but I said SCREW EM! and  applied my first coat of paint after only four hours. But first, I had to choose a color.

Michael suggested I use acrylic artists paint, since we have so much of it laying around. Unfortantely, most of the colors we have are shades of blue and green and what I wanted was hot pink. But I managed to scrounge up a tube of red and a tube of yellow, and so I set to mixing a shade of orange that would pull some of the orange out of the sunset painting. Once I mixed a color I liked, I held it up to the painting to see how it looked.

testing 1

Love it! But how does it look against the towels on the other wall?

testing 2

Perfect! So I started painting. And painting. And painting. After two coats, the gray primer was still showing through and the orange was not nearly as bright as it was on my palette. I was not pleased.

second coat

Pardon my incredibly wasteful use of paper towels. We didn’t have any old magazines, newspaper, or plastic bags laying around.

Michael suggested I add a little more yellow to my paint to brighten the color before applying the next coat. Here it is with a third coat of yellow-er orange paint, applied to the top, bottom, and right sides. The left side only has two coats of the original darker orange. That gray is STILL showing through, even after three coats! (Grumble, grumble.)

color variant

After four coats of paint, the stubborn gray was nearly completely covered. If you stare at it hard enough, I’m sure you’ll be able to tell I used a gray primer, but who’s gonna look that close, right? (Don’t look that close.) As a final touch, I sprayed the whole thing over with one coat of Verathane, let it dry, slapped a peice of white cardstock behind the picture as a sort of fake matting, and voila!


Much improved!

Here’s the before and afters side by side:


I am so pleased with the results, and had so much fun with the project, that I’m going to paint a few more frames for the wall across from the shower, which is currently blank save for a scrubby old towel-bar sans towels. I mean, how many towels does one bathroom need?

And finally – a close-up of the contents displayed by my new tangerine frame:


It’s a newspaper clipping from the L.A. Times, featuring me and two friends. I’m the one all the way in the back with my arm slung over my head, and the caption below the photo reads: “David Yarovesky, 18, left, and Clark Carpenter, 15, of Calabasas rattle the skins while enjoying a Sunday on Malibu’s Zuma Beach.” I’m not mentioned, but then again, there’s nothing newspaper-worthy about a teenage girl sunning herself on the beach. Anyway, if this isn’t proof of an idyllic teenage-hood, I don’t know what is.