Before and After: A $500 Boho Bathroom Refresh with Ideas Starting at Just $5

published Dec 13, 2020
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About this before & after
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Rental Friendly
Before: brown vanity with travertine tile background

Living in a rental doesn’t mean you have to settle for an outdated bathroom. Case in point: While Sara Abdul Majid of Sara’s Home Haven was told that she wasn’t allowed to paint the walls or stencil the floors of the master bathroom in her rental home, she was still able to give the space a creative transformation.

“It was outdated and was screaming for a face lift,” Sara says. “Though all changes had to be reversible.” Sara’s home was part of a large compound, and the residential manager wanted to the units to maintain a uniform look. That meant she had to work with what she had, which was a mid-2000s designed bathroom covered from floor to ceiling in travertine tiles, a natural limestone with a Tuscan feel.

Her strategy was to dress things up, one layer at a time. “I went for a warm neutral color palette resembling the color of travertine–rust, beige and ivory,” Sara says.

Over the next six weeks, she tackled each element individually. First, she swapped out the generic light fixture for one with a more boho vibe, then she changed out the door handles with ones from IKEA and replaced the towel rack with hooks near the bathtub.

The vanity was a DIY project. While it wasn’t exactly reversible, Sara says the piece was in poor shape, so she was willing to risk the redo. She transformed the espresso-colored doors by cutting out rectangles with a handsaw; then, she added cane to the opening using a staple gun before reattaching the doors and painting the rest of the vanity a creamy gray color.

Next was the plain, builder-grade mirror, which spanned the entire bathroom wall. “It looked somewhat outdated and unoriginal, so I filled it with art and a rattan outline from IKEA to mimic a mirror over the wash basin,” Sara says. She purchased art as digital prints from Etsy for just $5 each and printed them from home.

Finally, she added finishing touches that include tons of plants, a fringe-detailed shower curtain, and layered rug to add texture and warmth to the floor.

“I love the spa feel of the bathroom,” Sara says. “It smells like soothing essential oils and is so easy on the eyes. It is seriously my oasis and my escape when my boys get too crazy.”

For less than $500, Sara was able to turn her drab rental master bathroom into a spa-like sanctuary. “If you live in a rental, do not feel restricted,” she says. “You can definitely update your space with reversible changes and make it feel more personal, functional, and serene.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.