2 Days 200 Dollars Challenge - The Plan

We are serious fan girls of Cynthia Harper. She’s a stylist/influencer/social media guru guide (that’s an industry term…) and she recently launched a lifestyle website. We’ve been following her since foreva and earlier this year we had the pleasure of interviewing her on this blog. She shared so many pearls of home design wisdom, including the two genius questions you should ask yourself before buying any item for your home: “1) Are there are least 3 places in my home that I could put this? and 2) Would I still consider buying this if I had to pay twice as much for it?" So, so smart. Check out the full interview here.

When she announced a “2 Days 200 Dollars” challenge at the beginning of the month, we were immediately intrigued. The idea of her challenge is sort of self explanatory - taking 2 days and $200 dollars to transform a space (any space!). We’ve always wanted to join the One Room Challenge (more on what that is here) and thought this might be a nice way to ease ourselves into the room transformation challenge world. So, after a tiny bit of contemplation - we high fived, fist pumped and announced to each other: we’re in.

We decided to conquer a sad, sad bathroom. That happens to be mine. It’s a bathroom that hasn't been updated in several decades and needs a FULL gut renovation. But, that takes a lot of consideration (still honing in on what my dream bathroom looks like) and a lot of dough (big dreams = big budget). So, I’ve been in the never ending phase of dreaming and saving. I’ve also never been great (or interested) in designing intermittent spaces because, again, I dream big. Doing anything less feels frustrating.

In comes a little motivation from Cynthia Harper and my whole attitude changed. First, I love a good challenge. I’ve always been an adventurous “Truth or Dare” player. Second, the needed overhaul for this bathroom is still years away and I don’t know if I can bare brushing my teeth in the situation any longer. Third, 2 days and $200 is so low key that I knew I wouldn’t feel like I was spending an inordinate amount of time or money on a short term design. And just like that I was instantly ready to create a beautiful bandaid! Sometimes a little random, outside motivation is the perfect push.

Now, let’s get into the project. Here are some before photos.

Gray Oak Studio - 2 Days 200 Dollars Challenge - BEFORE photo

Feist your eyes on that orange-y stained oak vanity. And those blinds. They may legitimately blind you.

Gray Oak Studio - 2 Days 200 Dollars Challenge - BEFORE photo
Gray Oak Studio - 2 Days 200 Dollar Challenge - Day 1

Clearly there was nowhere to go but up - which is an awesome starting point for a transformation.

First thing’s first, we needed a big picture plan - what was I going to change…with only $200? Designing a quick, low cost refresh is a really different process than undertaking a full budget, thoughtfully paced design. You need high impact at minimal cost, which means some of the biggest pain points of the room will be left untouched. For example, the shower in this bathroom is a true nightmare. It’s a corner shower unit - a plastic, triangular stall with just barely enough room to swing the plexiglass door open/closed. It’s not ok.

With that being said, there was nothing I was going to be able to do to improve the shower with $200 or in 2 days. But there was plenty, as you can see, that I could tackle. The old, cracked tile floor. The orange-stained 1970’s vanity. The truly awful blinds. The warping, cheap mirror. The barely-hanging-on-the-wall-super-dated vanity lights. The framed art above the toilet that is too high because the art that was once below it came down a long time ago and I never adjusted the height. The list goes on. So, the question became, where to start?

For a quick, low cost refresh, how do you focus your efforts to get the best result?

Here is where we’re going to let you in on our little Gray Oak secret formula. The “high impact transformation” formula. We have many poorly named formulas around here. Our entryway formula (aka mirror + texture + storage) got a whole blog post to itself and we talked about our “areas of function” guide in our Pilgrim Project dining room and our Homestead Project living room.

But, back to the “high impact transformation” formula - there are 3 things in every room that create the biggest impact. These three things are what will instantly date a room. Or, instantly create both interest and polish.

You ready?

1. Window Treatments

2. Light Fixtures

3. Rugs

Say it with me: window treatments, light fixtures and rugs. These three elements create the design trinity of any and all rooms.

And so, as much as I hate the tile floor, I wasn’t going to address it. And the warping, cheap mirror will stay warped and cheap and on my wall (for now). Instead, we planned to spend almost my entire budget on the window treatment and the vanity lights. And whatever was left would go toward a bonus something.

With the big picture in mind, here is the moodboard we came up with:

Gray Oak Studio - 2 Days 200 Challenge Moodboard

And here’s the breakdown:

Wall Color - This will stay the same, it’s Silver Cloud by Benjamin Moore (pale gray/blue) and I like it!

Window Treatment - The blinds will be replaced with a woven bamboo shade. They’re semi-custom in that Lowes will cut them to size in store and they’re cordless (I have a thing with cords and kids, I don’t like them together). This guy will do miles bringing the entire room up to 2018 and it will add warmth and texture. One check for form and another for function.

Vanity - The vanity will be painted Mysterious by Benjamin Moore (I had some extra paint from another project). The deep, saturated blue/charcoal will bring interest by contrasting the existing cooler palette.

Vanity Hardware - The curvy, brass pulls will be replaced by more modern, nickel pulls.

Vanity Lights - This was tricky. The existing light fixture had a large backplate and once it was removed there were two issues. First, the wall behind the backplate was not painted and I didn’t have any touch up paint for Silver Cloud (and I didn’t have extra money in the budget to get some!). Second, the wiring for the light fixture was off center, which is just odd. We think the bathroom must have been updated at some point and the size of the light fixture was changed, but the wiring wasn’t properly reentered to the larger size fixture. Again, weird. {Design Tip: be sure to do legwork before buying replacement light fixtures. You never know what you’re gonna find!} All this meant, we needed to choose a light fixture with a backplate, which was limiting…but we did it.

Mirror - It is what it is. Whomp, whomp.

Decor - I won’t have any extra money to buy something new, so it’ll be a matter of shopping my house!

There’s the plan. You can catch up on Day 1 progress on Instagram highlights.

- Leah

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