Before and After: A Maximalist Bathroom Makeover’s Wallpaper is a Must-See

published Nov 26, 2023
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Bathrooms might be necessary spaces, but they’re definitely not always the prettiest. When renovating a home, bathrooms might not be the first priority if they’re otherwise functional. But dedicating a little time and energy to this space — especially a highly trafficked powder room — can help a home feel personalized.

Not only can a powder room redo impress your guests, but it’s also a place where you have the freedom to be a bit quirkier and more creative than in spaces you might feel less comfortable doing so. 

No one knows this better than Sarah Blumer (@saynihay), who surely did not forget about the bathrooms when renovating her Pittsburgh home with her husband, Joel. She knew she wanted to renovate the powder room for a few reasons: “The bathroom before was functional, but not cute,” she says. “It had a leaky toilet and a weirdly low vanity where we’d have to bend way over to wash our hands. It also always felt dirty no matter how many times I cleaned it.” 

Credit: Tom Donovan

The wallpaper went from flower baskets, jewelry boxes, and rabbits to bright pink alligators.

With numerous technical issues, Sarah had an opportunity to make a massive aesthetic upgrade in a very small space. She decided on a vision and started on a plan to execute it, along with fixing all the ways the bathroom was hard to use. “The design goal here was to make a really cool, whimsical powder room,” she says.

One of the hardest parts about the entire process was removing the wallpaper, which is something Sarah had to do in many other rooms in the house. This room, however, gave her a lot more trouble than the others. “I thought it was peeling off pretty easily, only to find out there was a second layer of wallpaper and glue that I had to remove,” she says. “It sucked, but we eventually got it all down and had a blank canvas of a room to completely customize.”

With a fresh space, she chose to go big. “I picked the wildest, brightest wallpaper print that my in-laws installed on the top half of the walls,” she says. 

A new toilet and a vanity finish the job.

Underneath the funky pink, black, white, and blue alligator paper, Sarah and Joel added a chair rail and trim. That was painted a vibrant, custom teal color that tied into the blue in the wallpaper. 

To finish off the bathroom, Sarah added a “fancy” toilet (with a bidet!) that made up a good chunk of their $2,000 budget, a new floating wood vanity, and a couple of picture ledges with artwork. 

“The pièce de résistance of the room is the alligator statue toilet paper holder,” Sarah says. “It all makes me so happy.”