Day of the Dead Small Bathroom Renovation

My husband and I purchased this 1986 disaster of a house, complete with shag green carpet, animal stained baseboards and a floor-to-vaulted ceiling mirrored wall… Yikes! We wanted to renovate as much of the home before moving in so, we focused on the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and patio area. We felt we could live with the three (yes, three!) Ugly bathrooms and slowly renovate them ourselves. In less than 8 full weeks (and weekends) of renovating, we moved into the home of our dreams!

First up, was the Cabana bathroom. The home said, “Modern, Rustic, Nautical” to me so, I chose complimentary tiles that worked within that theme. Since most guests would be using this bathroom, we wanted to make it feel like an extension of the rest of the home.


The master bathroom is a total eyesore however, it must wait as the final room to be remodeled since, it needs plumbing rerouted, and pretty much everything torn out and reworked. Plus, this Momma wants a soaking tub and, that ain’t cheap!!! (We’re saving our pennies for this one). And, because I took a year off of Teaching (long story in another blog post, here), we had to be frugal when renovating anything this year.

Which leads me to the third bathroom… This bathroom is near my husband’s office and the laundry room. I pass it almost daily and, hated cleaning that bathroom. I wanted to take my sledgehammer to the whole thing but, refrained for just over a year before, I couldn’t stand it! 

Most guests would probably not use this bathroom since, it’s out of the way from the common areas. We decided to go with a completely different look for this bathroom. We love Day of the Dead and Dia de los Muertos artwork. We collect articulated skeletons of animals and macabre artwork. My husband and I are both artists – He works with painting, sculpture and printmaking. In the past, I painted however, in the last 15+ years, have focused my attention on home design/renovations and tile work.

Many years ago, we sought beautiful, handcrafted  day of the dead pieces on our trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I incorporated a few of those found objects into this bathroom design. We plan to go to Mexico again and will pick up more awesome finds to add to our collection.

Before the renovation: This bathroom was ugly! Laminate countertop and grey, 80’s laminate cabinet, grey toilet and an ugly grey bathtub to match. 

Completed with a nasty mirror, cracking faucet, gross medicine cabinet, cheap Hollywood style lights and the worst… The floor! Uggg. Whoever chose the floor tile must have been drinking because these tiles only belong on walls!

Super shiny floor tiles = slip and kill yourself when stepping out of the tub or shower. These belong on the walls only!!!


What sparked the whole theme for this bathroom was this awesome sink I scored on eBay:

I had my husband rent me a Tile Hammer from our local home improvement store. It took me (I did it by myself!) just about 2 hours to demo the nasty tiles on the floor. I was overly cautious around the toilet flange/hole, bathtub and marble thresholds. 

Tile: Once I removed the old toilet and sink, I fell in love with Lowes’ Mitte Grey 12X24 tiles. At $1.99 per square foot, it was just under the $2.50 I had allotted for tile. I also purchased coordinating 2X2 tile sheets and some bullnose edge tiles for around the shower, toilet and sink areas. I knew I wanted to incorporate some Mexican handpainted tiles (eBay) and possibly paint some of our own 4″X4″ tiles at our local pottery painting place.

Essentials: For the toilet, we purchased a Glacier Bay watersense toilet for $88 (on sale at the time), normally they are $98. And, for the sink base, I purchased a 30″ wide base cabinet that I had to do some major surgery on, in order to fit it into the space. I removed the drawer and reapplied the drawer face to the front. However, when we attempted to get the cabinet into the small bathroom, it would not fit through the doors! Too wide (doors are 24″ wide and, so was the cabinet!) So, I had to deconstruct the back of the cabinet and cut 3 inches off the back and sides. I was so sure I’d make a fatal mistake but, alas… I didn’t! Measure 100X and cut once.

I stained the cabinet using some of my husband’s old holey socks in Varathane’s Weathered Grey stain and gave the cabinet a matte clear polyurethane finish 24 hours after the stain was applied.

Any countertop I purchase, I head straight to my friends at Amazing Marble and Granite. The guys there hooked me up with a remnant quartz countertop piece that had been sitting in the side yard for (probably) a long time. They measured, cut and installed it for a steal! They are the best local granite installers and, I would never use anyone else! I love how the quartz ties in the grey floors, blue walls, and terracotta tiles.

For the bathtub, I originally had planned on reglazing it, either by myself using a DIY kit or, hiring a professional. However, once the floor tiles and walls were completed, the grey tub worked with the Navy blue walls and deep grey tiles.

When it came to the mirror, I used an IKEA Grundtal stainless steel mirror I already had, ($39) inwhich the stainless steel also dictated that I coordinate the shower and sink hardware to match. I opted for a Brushed Nickel finish. I scored an awesome, modern faucet set on Amazon for around $60 and I splurged on a Moen shower set (with valve included) which was close to $120. When all things are considered, the valve alone can cost between $80-100 so, I was OK with the splurge.

Non-Essentials: Since we already own many Dia De Los Muertos themed items and artwork, I didn’t purchase too many accessories. But, I could not live without buying this crazy toilet paper holder (on Amazon):

I also purchased two sugar skull rugs, H&M skull hand towels and bath towels and a magazine holder that I mounted to the side of the sink cabinet. For the medicine cabinet, I removed the old, nasty saloon-styled shutter door, saved the hardware, thoroughly scrubbed down and spray painted the inside of the wall cabinet with a matte white. Then, I built a wooden frame and mounted our friend, Scott’s awesome skeleton surf print on a canvas and, mounted the artwork, using this as the medicine cabinet door. For more of Scott’s awesome art, shop here:

Another non-essential thing I wanted to create was a built-in wall shelf. It was my first attempt at making a built in wall shelf.  I used the same wood stain for the shelves and, I think it showcases some of our favorite Dia De Los Muertos pieces (glue is still drying, therefore the masking tape remains):

Overall, I am so pleased with my budget, Day of the Dead themed bathroom! Here are a few more photos of the finished product:




Florida D.O.E. Not for Student Success or Teacher Retention

I had previously worked in the textile industry first, as a painter for several fashion houses. I found my niche and, through hard work, sweat, eating Ramon Noodles nightly


and more hard work, I climbed the ranks to became one of the youngest color and trend forecasters without a degree in that field. 9/11 happened and, I gave that career up. Fashion and the latest hot, color trend seemed unimportant. I crawled home and lived with my parents after many years of living independently. I moved back to Florida.

My rant is directed at the State of Florida… specifically, the Florida Department of Education. I loved my job. In fact, I wanted to make teaching my career. After-all, I did begin my college career in Florida Atlantic University’s Education Department, shortly after moving back to Florida.Why take out over $25k in student loans for nothing? I got married during my second college experience, found out we were having a baby and did not want to student teach while pregnant. I graduated FAU with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. I switched my major to avoid possible bodily harm to my unborn son, while attempting to student teach high schoolers. Perhaps, that seems like an unfounded fear however, just before I learned that I was pregnant, the local news155815_1634096685274_1326482_n featured a story about a Kindergarten Teacher in Palm Beach County, who was kicked in the stomach by one of her 5 year old students and, she lost her baby.  I would protect my baby, no matter what and, switching my major seemed the least I could do. I could teach later (I thought) and, my certifications were mine. I earned them.

I had my son, spent some time home being a full time Mom, wanted to work and created a writing business a few years later. Several years passed by and, I thought about teaching. Had I missed my calling? I wanted to try my hand at teaching and, a few substitute teaching days and, I wanted in! I found that I  loved it!  Attempting to get my Professional Certification proved extremely difficult WHILE teaching full time. How is a teacher supposed to take 4 college courses and 5 state exams in less than three years?  Impossible. If you have done it, I can’t imagine you had any other responsibilities and, my hat’s off to you.

Now, I loved the high school I taught for, won awards for hard work and dedication and, my students thought I was tough on them however, they thanked me for pushing them to img_20160913_124945do their best, not settling for just mediocre, and being honest with these young adults was my specialty.

When most Teachers and students have already headed back to school, this former teacher is disheartened by a system that discourages good, hard working people from pursuing teaching. As a parent, I want the best for my child. If that means that a person is not certified to teach a particular subject, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t get put through rigorous training in that field of study and, they had to have met all the criteria in order to be in a classroom with children. (Fingerprinting, Background check, blood work, etc.)

For three years, I taught under a Temporary certificate, firstly for a poorly run charter school and most recently, for a local, public high school, which won my heart over. I passed 4 of the 5 exams and completed 1 of the four college courses needed to gain a Professional

At the end of each school year, my students would voluntarily sign letters that would (eventually) spell my full name.

Certification. Essentially, attempting to keep the job I loved. All while holding down a full time teaching position, being a Mom and a wife. Cooking meals, taking care of boo-boos, helping with science fair project boards and renovating a house.

If you are a parent of a Florida public school student, you should be outraged that, a teacher that loved her job and won awards for her dedication to her career and students, is no longer in the classroom.

Ask yourself- Would I wake up at 4:30am every weekday and head to work to plan two hours in advance of actually beginning on the clock? Would I stay hours after work to sponsor a club and/or bring work home, if I didn’t get paid extra to do so? Would I lose sleep over students’ lack of progress/graduation/behavior if, I only got paid what can only be described as, minimum wage (based upon the amount of hours worked)? I did. I ENJOYED it. I would have continued to serve Saint Lucie County as a teacher happily if, it wasn’t for the ridiculous tests that the State of Florida Department of Education forces upon specialists with degrees in that field.

Shouldn’t years of writing for International businesses supersede for or, at least count for ONE college course?! Having to retake courses I already took in college to prove my worth for a pathetic, $37k-38k a year. Say what? Oh, yeah… When I switched my major in college from a Secondary (Upper-Level) English Education major to an English Literature major, I lost ALL of my credentials. ESOL endorsement, endorsements for Reading, you name it, gone.  But, I was an “A” student in those classes!?!??!?!!!

As parents, are you not outraged that this is happening to hard working, great teachers? (and, potential Teachers!) What will it take for parents to get angry enough to do something about their children’s Educators?

Perhaps, you will scoff at this. See this post as just one angry woman who couldn’t hack it/wasn’t smart enough/flexible enough/ caring enough. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I was an, “A” student throughout college. If I needed to study for a test, I studied. Worked 164803_1697177942266_4072348_nabove and beyond to get what I wanted. Hard work has always been the key to success for me. I worked harder than anyone I knew when I was a starving textile artist in NYC.  Hard work is my forte. I am equally as good with a paint brush as I am with a drill gun. I own my own. And, no. My tools are NOT pink.
-Off topic-
The State of Florida hasn’t a clue about how to properly measure students’ progress and confuses tests meant to measure future success with your student’s intelligence. If you aren’t confident that FCAT or, FSA or, whatever the next test is that is thrown at your child measures their success, don’t be surprised by how the State measures Teachers’ success in the classroom. How well are they measuring teacher success? Ha. Laughable. It’s this score metric that has no bearing on teacher success, calculated by who-knows-what. Yet, many counties in Florida already attach this score to Teachers’ salaries.
Another topic that the Florida Department of Education is lousy at is Teacher Retention. How can we expect qualified, educated, dedicated, hard working professionals to WANT to jump into an (often) thankless career for meager wages? And, while we pay them poorly, say, “Oh yeah, you have three years to take 5 tests and four college courses and, you have to pay for them yourself!” At $250 a pop per test, you are not going to throw away your money and not study!

I wonder if the State can quantify success by how many students a Teacher helped stay out of jail? Saved them from homelessness? Made a difference with a personal/social or family problem at home? No. No one can quantify that but, that is what many teachers do. That is what I did. For $21 an hour. Happily. Until, my three year, Temporary Teacher Certificate expired.

I hope that if you are angered, confused and frustrated by our broken system (as I am), you will share my post. Spread my story and, share this blog post on every social media outlet possible. My story is not exclusive. I am not alone. Many Teachers face these same tests. Other professionals and experts are currently going through similar experiences.