One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Stuffy ‘80s Powder Room Gets a Glam-Meets-Rock-n-Roll Redo

published Jun 28, 2023
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Green-ish grey bathroom before renovation with black vintage vanity and gold round mirror above.
Credit: Jen McDonald

Even though powder rooms are one of the smallest rooms at home, they can still pack a big style punch — and they can also be a big style letdown if they don’t quite mesh with your own vibe. That’s where Jen McDonald, a home stylist and co-founder of gardening design firm Garden Girls, found herself when it came to the powder room she inherited in her 1972 home.

While originally built in the groovy ‘70s, this powder room was renovated in the opulent ‘80s, and it showed. “This powder room was straight out of 1987,” Jen says. “It felt heavy and ornate.” The dark green wallpaper, beige-colored toilet, scrolling sconces, and gilded chandelier were all on the chopping block.

Credit: Jen McDonald

With a quick and affordable renovation in mind, Jen kicked off the project by selling the old vanity, mirror, and sconces in a local Facebook group. Then, she got to work transforming this dark and dated space into a bright and modern powder room as part of the One Room Challenge.

Credit: Jen McDonald

For the floors, Jen chose a classic (but still contemporary) black-and-white checkerboard pattern that used 12-inch-square marble tiles. She saved money by pulling from leftover supplies she already had. Jen paired that bold floor with a fresh new wallpaper with an abstract face print from West Elm. “This was my first time using a big bold wallpaper with a checkered tile and the results made me SO happy!” Jen says. “Using a busy wallpaper actually made the room feel larger.”

Jen has DIYed wallpaper on previous projects, but this time around, that was one area she was willing to splurge. “With this particular pattern, I knew that I would be in over my head. Hiring a pro saved me time and money,” she explains.

A pro also helped install the new vanity, which is from IKEA. It’s a big upgrade from the clunky one that was there before. “The floating vanity, while large in scale, also made the room feel more spacious,” Jen says. “There’s something to be said for lifting things off the floor!”

Credit: Jen McDonald

Gone are the old, elaborate sconces; in their place, Jen chose industrial-style ones she got on Amazon. She also replaced the heavy mirror with a simpler one from Target (though still in gold!). There are personal touches in this bathroom, too, like the artwork, which is a signed and numbered print by Kenton Nelson, a favorite artist of Jen’s.

At the end of the project, Jen was able to stay within her budget by mining what she already had (hello, leftover tiles), shopping bargain sources, and recouping some costs in selling the old fixtures.

While powder rooms aren’t always the rooms that get the most artistic attention, Jen’s “after” is a masterpiece that’s still 100 percent functional. “I love the overall vibe,” she says. “It feels a little bit glam and a little rock ‘n roll.” And what higher compliment can you give a powder room?

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.