Before and After: A $0 Bath Upgrade that Uses Every Color of the Rainbow—and Then Some!

updated Apr 16, 2020
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Green Bathroom in Racheal Jackson's home

Working with what you have can be very rewarding, especially when it comes to decorating. And sometimes small tweaks can make a room really sing. Just ask blogger Racheal Jackson of Banyan Bridges. If the name sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you’ve seen her painted shapes and murals pop up on Instagram while scrolling. For the past year or so, she’s participated in something called the $0 Dollar Challenge (not to be confused with the One Room Challenge). The whole point of this particular blogger-run exercise is to redo an area for free using leftover materials and reinventing old furnishings, which is kind of the perfect way to approach decorating right now. Lucky for Racheal—as a muralist, random sample pots of paint are all over her home. So she got to work using a rainbow of colors to brighten up her kids’ bathroom, and well, get ready to behold the power of paint.

Of course, the bathroom was perfectly fine beforehand, but Jackson thought it was maybe a little too serious, especially for a kid space. “The room was so dark, but I didn’t want to repaint all the walls,” says Jackson, who was still fond of the space’s dark green shade, Behr’s Night Mission. All it took was a quick spin on Pinterest, and inspired by an art installation by Beth Harland, Jackson painted a striped zigzag wall design instead. Stripes have always been popular in homes, and multicolor murals are definitely having a moment. So it’s fun to see Jackson riffing off these two classic trends by putting them together.

According to Jackson, this design is simple to tackle, but very repetitive. You need decide on an overall zigzag shape, trace that out on the wall, outline it with painter’s tape, and then use painter’s tape to create the multicolor stripping detail inside it. Check out the full tutorial for more details. Her tip? Be patient, work in shifts, and download something entertaining to listen to while you paint. “I spent about 15 hours on this project—a few hours every night for a week, and a good book will get you through it,” she says.

Know that the more colors you want to include in your design, the longer it will take. If you mocked up a similar shape and wanted it to have just two-toned striping, for example, the whole project would go a lot quicker than custom blending a bevy of colorful shades as Jackson did. She also recommends practicing on a piece of paper first. “See what colors look good next to each other before you put them on the wall,” she says. “I do this with all my murals to solidify a color story.”

It’s also worth noting that you could focus your wall mural on a single feature wall, or you can continue it around the entire room as seen here. That’s totally up to you, and going the accent wall route is one way to save on time and materials. I also love the way Jackson painted the sides of the bathroom door red to echo a shade used throughout the room and tie it into the hall just outside the bath. Again, this isn’t required, but it’s a nice finishing touch.

The dated vanity was next on her hit list. With leftover scrap birch plywood (that she had scored 70 percent off from The Home Depot months earlier), she refaced the piece entirely. “I essentially pried the drawer faces off and took off the cabinet doors then measured, cut, and attached the new wood,” she says. “I finished it with boiled linseed oil I had on hand.” In lieu of cabinet hardware, she made simple circular and oval-shaped cut-out handles in the wood fronts before installing them.

The rest of the room benefitted from a good old rearranging session using pieces Jackson sourced elsewhere in her home. “I feel like moving art, objects, and even plants around not only gives the room new life but gives the pieces new life,” she says. “After a while you stop seeing the art on your walls. Moving it to another room lets you appreciate it all over again.” Be purposeful about the items you select—look for things that share common colors, complementary finishes, or similar motifs to the room that you are trying to restyle. In Jackson’s case here, the more colorful the item, the better for this bathroom!