Home Projects

Before and After: This Dingy Bathroom Went From Drab to Absolutely Fab for Less Than $200

published Oct 16, 2021
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Bathroom before renovation brown tile
Credit: Geri Alessi

Of all the spaces in your home, there should be at least one place where you can unwind and relax. For lots of people, that’s the bathroom. Whether it’s practicing your skincare routine or laying back for a bubble bath, you deserve some R&R. Sometimes, though, enjoying your “me time” can be tough due to your surroundings. For Geri Alessi, relaxing felt nearly impossible in her dark and dreary bathroom, and that’s why a makeover was on her to-do list.

When Alessi bought this home eight years ago, the bathroom fixtures and finishes weren’t doing the space any favors. “The builders put in the brown tiles, which I have always found so oppressing,” she says. Compounding that, the bathroom only has one tiny window above the toilet, so the room doesn’t get much natural light. Any sunlight that found its way into the bathroom “was automatically sapped by the dark tile,” Alessi says.

Credit: Geri Alessi

Over the years, she tried to inject some color into the space by doing things like painting the wall teal and adding a pink vanity above the sink. Still, it was lacking the color and character Geri was desperately seeking. “It was always one of my least favorite spaces in the house,” she says. “I normally love having a bath but couldn’t relax in this space.”

Completely fed up with how her bathroom looked, Alessi finally made a plan to renovate. “I thought about what I could do to make the biggest impact and started there,” she says. First on the list? Painting the tiles on the walls white, which made the biggest difference in this space and was the tallest task. First, she scrubbed the tiles to ensure they were free of dirt and oil before painting. It took three coats of paint and three days to completely cover the brown tiles; she let each coat dry a full 24 hours to get optimal, streak-free coverage.

Credit: Geri Alessi

She used a foam roller to apply most of the paint and reached for an angled brush for the corners and the hard-to-reach spots. Around the tub, Alessi chose to add a bold pop of color with bright pink accent “tiles” painted in geometric shapes. “I took a risk on the pink paint, as it was ceramic paint rather than tile paint but it’s holding up nicely,” she says. She used frog tape to get straight lines on her triangle pattern on the shower surround and vinyl tape on the shower door to create a factory-style window pane look. To make cleaning easier, she only applied tape on the outside of the shower door.

Old beige floor tiles were replaced with a new, bold black-and-white pattern that really makes the floor pop. “The floor tiles are just vinyl stick-on tiles, which I just adhered to the floor after cleaning and drying it,” she says. Opting for vinyl instead of traditional floor tile saved Geri a lot of money and time in the end. The total cost of this project came out to £125.98, which is roughly $170, and Alessi tackled it completely on her own. “The whole renovation took less than two weeks, and I probably could have done it in less time but I wasn’t in a rush,” she says.

Credit: Geri Alessi

Now the bathroom looks completely different, even though the transformation was fairly simple and inexpensive. “I can’t get over how much I’ve managed to achieve for so little,” she says. The entire bathroom was overpowered by all the dark tile, so painting the walls and replacing the floor tiles was all Alessi really needed to set off the space and literally make it more reflective. “The light just bounces off the walls now, and it always feels happy and bright in there, even on a gloomy day,” Alessi says.