One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Daring $1,075 Bathroom Redo Ditches the Lime Green and Brings the Drama

published Dec 3, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: a green bathroom with a white toilet and sink
Credit: Lia

Even if your home doesn’t have vintage character, it’s possible to add some. Replace chrome knobs and pulls for antique brass ones, add a bit of moulding, hang a gold-framed mirror, light a candle that makes you nostalgic, add a typewriter or record player or something else analog, put up a peel-and-stick printed wallpaper — the possibilities abound!

Homeowner Lia Watson of (@southernyankeediy) employed some of these techniques (plus a few others) to give her 1990s bathroom a more classic look. The lime green paint color was chosen by the previous homeowners, but it didn’t suit Lia’s taste — and this powder room was located right off the living room, so it was hard to miss.

Credit: Lia

“The space was a bit outdated and just not our style,” Lia says. “Also the exhaust fan made this bone-curdling noise every time it was turned on.”

Thankfully, those problems were fixable with a bit of know-how, and Lia was able to remedy both during her remodel of the bathroom as part of the One Room Challenge.

“I wanted to put our unique touch on it and add some vintage character,” Lia says of the bathroom. So over the course of eight weeks, she sprayed and safely removed the popcorn ceilings, added elongated board and batten, fixed up the floors, and updated the fixtures.

Credit: Lia

The flooring was the most difficult step, Lia says, because she originally tried painting over the old floors only to find that the tile was not properly installed, something she learned when adjusting plumbing. “It was just coming up basically like a tile rug,” Lia says of the old square tile. So instead, she installed all new tile, which set her back by a few days and $250.

“Always plan for the things you can’t see (like bad tile),” she advises. “It will save you a lot of heartache if you plan for the worst-case scenario. Build your budget with a little cushion for just in case.”

“It was a blessing though because after we removed the tile and went to replace one piece of subfloor, we realized the sink plumbing was never connected! Installing the new tile was a breeze though, and I’m thankful we had to do it in the end,” she adds.

Credit: Lia

Lia used a black and white mosaic tile, and her tiling advice is to make sure your mortar is thoroughly mixed (it should be the texture of peanut butter). After she added her mortar, she added a cement board on top, let it set for 24 hours, and then installed her tile. “It completely elevated the bathroom and ties in all the vintage elements,” Lia writes on her blog.

Lia’s plumbing swaps include a new sink, which was her biggest splurge, and a new toilet, which she found at an auction for $72. She also added a stamp-effect wallpaper above the black board and batten (painted in Beyond Paint’s Licorice color), hung an ornate gold mirror (a hand-me-down from her mom), and installed a beaded chandelier with a ceiling medallion and vintage-inspired sconces that were only $60 on Amazon for lighting.

“The only change I would make is choosing a sink with three holes instead of one because I didn’t get to use the sink hardware I had originally planned on,” Lia says.

Credit: Lia

Lia accessorized her newly glammed up bathroom with an old-timey soap dish, a bit of greenery, and vintage-inspired artwork in gold frames. For a unique touch, Lia hung the heron prints using chain that she spray-painted gold. “I love the entire space,” Lia says. “It feels like it’s bursting with character and charm! The entire room feels so grand.”

Total cost for this dramatic makeover: $1,075, though it looks like it cost far more. “I am most proud that we completed this entire renovation on time and within budget!” Lia says. “That rarely happens to us.”

This project was completed for the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.