Before and After: This Blah Bathroom’s $93 Redo Uses Paint in an Unexpected Way

published Apr 11, 2023
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Sconce over mirror in bathroom with art on walls before renovation.

If you’re someone who likes to frequently change up the look of your home, you know one of the biggest hurdles is budget. It’s expensive to redesign a whole room! But there are lots of ways to update a space without blowing your entire paycheck. “Shopping” your home for decor you can repurpose is a great start; you can also check out thrift stores for low-budget furniture and furnishings that might just need a little bit of shining up (or a fresh coat of paint) to work in your space. And for more money-saving tricks, look to this bathroom redo from home stylist Lindsay Mills (@thestylistlindsaymills).

Lindsay moved into her Alberta, Canada, home in 2009, and since then, she’d updated this guest bathroom a few times — not surprising, given her line of work! The most recent version of the bathroom was pretty plain, though, with mostly white walls aside from one that featured gray-and-white botanical wallpaper. “It was just a boring builder grade bathroom,” Lindsay says. “It wasn’t necessarily exciting, inviting, or calming.”

Aside from the “meh” look, there were some practical challenges, as well. “This is a windowless bathroom in a basement, and the corner with the shower was always dark,” Lindsay says. She knew she’d need to ramp up the lighting in here to make up for the lack of windows, and any changes she made would also have to work with the funky wedge-shaped layout to keep to a tight budget.

Lindsay blocked off three days in her calendar and got to work revamping the space using mostly things she already had, spending just $125 CAD (about $93 USD) to get a new light fixture.

Lindsay started by removing the wallpaper and filling any holes and dings before priming. Then, she followed with a wall treatment she’d already used elsewhere in her home that mimics the look of limewash for much less. “The reason I came to figure out this technique was born out of a budget necessity,” Lindsay says. “In Canada, especially where I am in Alberta, it is hard to acquire the limewash paint I loved without paying so much in shipping and exchange.” At the time of her DIY hack, a gallon of the stuff was going for about $200 USD — way more than she wanted to spend. 

After some research on YouTube and some trial and error, Lindsay figured out how to get the look using a blend of latex paints (here’s more info on her technique). For the bathroom, Lindsay used a mix of off-white Benjamin Moore paints: Cloud White, Ballet White, and Stone Harbor. The result is a trendy multi-dimensional wall finish that takes advantage of paints Lindsay already had on hand.

Lindsay used paint she already had for the floor, too, making sure to prep thoroughly before applying so it would adhere. The tan-and-white checkerboard pattern makes a huge difference in the overall vibe of the room, and costs much less than completely replacing the floors. “The checkered floor was what made this bathroom feel more current and up-to- date,” Lindsay says.

But the biggest practical change came in the form of new lighting. “Track lighting was the perfect solution to aim light to the right spaces and bounce it off of the right areas,” Lindsay says. The once-dim shower area is much brighter now. Lindsay finished off the space with a couple pieces of decor she pulled from other areas of her home, which all fit the warm but minimalist vibes of the bathroom.

“If I could do things differently, it would be a complete demolition and remodel of the space to create better function,” she says. But for now, her low-cost redo reinvigorated the bathroom. “I am proud of so many aspects of this space, like the low budget, the reusing of items and paint I already had in my home, and achieving this through hard work,” she says, all while creating a bathroom that feels 100 percent her.