Before and After: A Boring Builder-Grade Bathroom Becomes a Colorful, Eclectic Retreat

published Jun 28, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Rental Friendly
Before: Dark bathroom with traditional wood vanity
Credit: Emily May

Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a space—it’s just… blah. That can seem especially true in a new-to-you home, when you haven’t had the time to make a room feel like yours. For Emily May of @gohausgo, one of the final rooms in her house that hadn’t yet gotten some love was the bathroom. “It stuck out like a sore thumb!” Emily says. “The space lacked interest and character—it was really just a mash-up of builder grade materials that came with the house.” But it did have some good qualities, including lots of natural light and a nice view into the backyard. Emily wanted to maximize the room’s potential without having to move any walls, and without having to blow her $1500 budget.

Credit: Emily May

Emily took on the whole project herself, using many materials she already had on hand. “Because I’m a decorator by trade, I wanted to experiment a little,” she says. One big change? The vanity, which Emily painted a bold teal (Sherwin-Williams’ Green Bay) and outfitted with minimalist leather pulls. “The vanity cabinet hardware was not standard sizing, but I also didn’t want the added complication of measuring and drilling new holes and hardware,” Emily says. Ordering pulls made from leather gave her a lot more flexibility in sizing.

Emily wanted to hang two large new mirrors, but the cost was higher than she could justify. So, she had a clever solution: Create a shelf for mirrors to rest on, and casually display three mirrors instead of just two. The result looks offbeat and a little glamorous.

Credit: Emily May

Emily hung a mural from Limitless Walls behind the vanity, which she says was the hardest part of the project. “It’s definitely a two-person, four-hands project,” she says. She also swapped out the old vanity lighting for more modern globe lights from Shades of Light, and covered the old floors in geometric adhesive floor tile.

Another highlight is the bookcases. They look like styled decor, but each shelf has a purpose and helps to keep all toiletries and accessories organized.

Credit: Emily May

Although the shower mostly stayed the same, Emily did add a flowy white curtain to give it some airiness, and painted over the dated glass mosaic accent tile with green paint to help the shower blend in with the rest of the bathroom. “I love the calm of the space,” Emily says. “It feels very beach-like—the wall mural, the soft white curtains—it all feels really peaceful.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.