Before and After: Paint Is the Star in This Under-$1,000 Bathroom Redo

published Oct 5, 2023
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This teal, orange, and pink bathroom started out bold, but its toned-down redo still includes plenty of color.

The perfect playground for an interior designer who loves to experiment with new design styles? Their own house, where they can take design risks without restriction. That’s exactly what Rika Subandhi (@rikainteriors) does in her own home, so she regularly — about every six months, she says! — finds herself taking on .

Five years ago, Rika let her 4-year-old daughter pick the color scheme for her bathroom (teal-green, orange, and pink) and now, her daughter is 9 (almost a bona fide tween), so Rika thought it was time for an update, but her daughter still loves color.

“We thought it would be nice for her to have a big-kid or pre-teen bathroom that has a classic-yet-timeless color scheme,” she says. “As parents, we want her to be more organized and declutter the bathroom on her own.”

A hand-painted mural creates a serene scene.

Rika started by setting up a mood board and designing the bathroom virtually so her daughter could visualize what the final plan would look like IRL. From that, the two decided to paint a mural on the wall inspired by the nearby San Bernardino Valley in the fall; this is Rika’s second mural, and she says she always starts with sketching an outline on the wall, and she usually creates her color scheme in Photoshop. 

Rika used Behr’s Beta Fish, Regal View, Malted, Watery, Frontier Brown, Pacific Bluffs, Yoga Daze, and Tuscan Herbs for her landscape-inspired mural, and she says she saved money by using sample-sized pots for the project.

“The reason I do murals … instead of wallpaper is because it’s easier to remove or repaint as my daughter grows up, and more affordable than wallpaper,” Rika says, adding that this mural is the detail she loves most in the space.

Painted PVC beadboard provides an expensive millwork look for less.

Across all of the walls, Rika decided to use PVC beadboard from The Home Depot. Rika says it was much cheaper than tiling the walls, and it mimics expensive millwork in an easier-to-install-and-maintain way. She also installed the beadboard inside the niche next to the vanity for a cohesive look. 

As for the sage green paint over top, finding one that wouldn’t chip off the vinyl material was the most difficult part of the project. 

“The surprise was that the first layer of paint started to peel off, and from that moment, I tried to dig more about paint on the internet,” she says. “I finally found the solution to the problem, which was cleaning with acetone, priming it with shellac, and finally painting three layers of cabinet paint.” (Rika ended up choosing Behr’s Mossy Cavern for the beadboard and Behr’s Windmill for the wall.)

Rika added shoe molding — which she spray painted black — around the beadboard’s top edge for a crisp border. “The main reason I did the trim pieces with spray paint was because it was neat and less messy,” she says. “I tried to paint them with regular paint and a brush, but I didn’t like the outcome.”

A few changes helped the old vanity feel new again. 

After finding the right paint and paint methods, Rika says the project went smoothly. She was able to sneak in a few budget-friendly upgrades, too. Keeping the vanity from before was a big budget saver, for example. (That was spray painted gray before the rest of the project started.) Making old furniture new again also allows you to keep old memories while keeping the space fresh, says Rika.

Because her daughter helped her pick out paint colors, everyone loved how it turned out in the end — especially with some added organization and a cost of just $700. “The space feels serene, neat, and organized, as we moved out some of the unnecessary bathroom shelves,” Rika says.

For anyone else wanting to attempt a similar bathroom redo, Rika’s advice is to “do whatever makes everybody around the space happy” — and this is a happy redo indeed.