Before and After: A Cluttered Bathroom Gets an $800 Overhaul with Budget-Friendly Finds Throughout

published Jun 4, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: Cluttered, dated bathroom

Often, home projects have a sort of domino effect: Once you complete one, you’re motivated to do another. Or, in some cases, an absolutely necessary home renovation provides the perfect opportunity to revamp the space design-wise, too, like this roof repair that resulted in a skylight installation, or Akira Collins’s shower repair-turned full-fledged bathroom redo.

“The shower didn’t work and needed to be totally replaced,” Akira says of her son’s hall bathroom. “The valves needed to be replaced and updated. Since I had to rip the walls down for that, why not go ahead and do a whole makeover?!”

After all, the rest of the space was also in need of a bit of sprucing up: “It had a trifold mirror with Hollywood lights, the wall tile was green originally before it was painted white … and the vanity was teeny tiny, to the point where I, a 5′ 4″ person, had to hunch over to wash my face and hands,” Akira says.

In a three-month, $800 project, she made the bathroom functional — and stylish — with the help of a contractor. “The plumbing was first, which was what the contractor did,” Akira says. “Lesson learned about dealing with older homes: [There were] so many hidden issues!”

Akira says that both the sink and shower needed major repairs, and that slowed down the project quite a bit. Her contractor installed the new vanity (a $50 find from ReStore), they used the existing faucet from before to save money, and Akira painted the cabinetry black (Sherwin-Williams’ Tricorn Black).

Akira also installed the new shower tile herself. “Learning how to tile was easier than I thought,” she says, and she adds that it made a huge difference in the space. The white subway tiles — and the white paint (Sherwin-Williams’ Snowbound) where the old tile once was really brighten the room.

Although she wanted to update the retro tile floors, it was actually easier to leave them. “It’s solid and would have been more work to pull it up, so I designed around it instead,” she says. She chose a green Spoonflower wallpaper ($46 for a 2′ x 6′ roll) to complement the floors and, in retrospect, she loves that the floors give a hint of “mid-century vibes.”

She loves the way it turned out, but Akira’s advice to other first-time wallpaper-ers is to go with peel-and-stick instead of pre-pasted; you’ll need fewer tools and the project is a little less messy.

In terms of decor, Akira added black and white accents — including a clearance shower curtain and shelving from Amazon — throughout, and she took down the trifold mirror with dated bulbs and installed a rectangular mirror and Edison bulb sconce instead.

“I love that I could be creative,” Akira says. “This is my first home, and I wanted to do something that felt like me… I love the way it turned out!”