Before and After: A Beige Bath’s $1,800 Redo Plays Up Some of Its Retro Glory

published Feb 7, 2021
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Before: Dimly lit bathroom with green towel hanging on rod
Credit: Ryan Wong

The bathroom might not be your home’s prime hangout spot, but it’s still worth giving it some personality. And whether you decide to paint, re-decorate, or deck your bathroom out with plants, a new look is totally possible with a budget that won’t break the bank.

This bathroom redo from Ryan Wong (House Zhu) is a prime example. When Ryan and his family moved into their home in 2015, they knew from day one that this space would need an upgrade.

The bathroom wasn’t in terrible shape, but most of its charm had been covered up with layers of beige. While the mid-century tub and tile remained, the rest — the result of a “low cost ‘facelift’ by the previous owner,” Ryan says — was all builder-grade. Think: beige walls, beige vinyl tile, and an off-white painted vanity. 

For years, Ryan didn’t change a single thing in this bathroom. But since it’s the main bathroom shared by three boys and used by guests, it needed to be stylish, spacious, and functional. “We tend to not ‘touch’ any space in the house that we know we intend to renovate so this room has been a beigey blank slate since we moved in over six years ago,” Ryan says.

Credit: Ryan Wong

Ryan finally decided to make a change in the bathroom, starting with the old, peeling vinyl flooring. Surprise: After tearing up the existing vinyl, Ryan revealed the stylish original blue mosaic tile underneath. “We loved the retro look and decided to keep the tile,” he says. To balance out the blue, he went with a neutral palette in the rest of the bathroom. 

Credit: Ryan Wong

In place of the old white vanity, Ryan installed a modern walnut wood vanity  with storage space for essentials. Most of Ryan’s work in this bathroom reno involved relocating plumbing and electrical to accommodate the new vanity height.

Ryan replaced the vanity light, as well, and also added LED can lights to provide more overhead lighting.

Credit: Ryan Wong

Ryan finished by painting the walls a soothing light gray and hanging black-and-white artwork scanned from one of his favorite childhood books, Castle by David Macaulay.

The project took about three days of mostly DIY work from start to finish, and cost Ryan about $1,800. And since Ryan was able to feature the original floors, it’s a perfect blend of modern and retro — a little old, a lot of new, and way more stylish than the old white-on-white space.