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Before and After: A Boring ’90s Powder Room Is Now Unrecognizably Chic

published Mar 19, 2022
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Before: beige bathroom
Credit: Sana Faheem

There’s nothing wrong with soft beige, but when every surface of a room is a buttery tan color, it can be a bit boring on the eyes.

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DIYer and home blogger Sana Faheem (@lively_lair)’s basement bathroom, an un-upgraded room from the year her house was built in 1993, certainly felt that way.

Credit: Sana Faheem

Not only was it boring and dated-looking, it was also falling apart. “We had linoleum flooring, the sink had all paint stains, and the toilets were not functioning correctly,” Sana explains. “We were not hosting anything in our basement because we were so embarrassed.”

Credit: Sana Faheem

Sana and her husband decided to spend $5,000 and six months to make the all-beige bathroom feel new again — all the better to entertain future guests.

Credit: Sana Faheem

First, they demoed everything and started with a blank canvas. Then came the installation of new flooring and new reeded paneling on the walls (spray painted an avocado green-gray shade), and installing a new vanity and toilet.

“Renovating the bathroom/powder room is quite stressful because you’ll deal with plumbing,” Sana says. “I would suggest watching tons of videos before you start, or hiring help.”

Credit: Sana Faheem

The vanity, an ash multi-door option from Signature Hardware with a marbled countertop, were heavy and required Sana, her husband, and her older daughter to install.

Sana and her husband worked on the redo while their youngest daughter, a six-month-old, napped. “We chipped through it slowly and steadily,” Sana says.

Credit: Sana Faheem

She’s proud that they did all of the work themselves. “I am from Pakistan, where it’s not appropriate for girls to pick a hammer,” she says. “Here, I have renovated the whole bathroom and used different kinds of tools.”

Credit: Sana Faheem

Sana says the vanity, the paneling, and the new soft-closing toilet are her favorite parts of the project.

She completed the look with brass hardware and a black oval-framed mirror. Sana writes on Instagram that she likes the mixture of the black and brass because it creates a nice balance in the small space: “I used this black oval mirror as it’s big statement, so I decided to go with brass for rest of the hardware,” she says.

Credit: Sana Faheem

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to spruce up totally beige spaces even if you can’t change the wall color — see: How to Fight the Rental Battle of Beige in Every Room in the House and Your Best Decor Bets for Battling Beige Walls for inspiration — but if your landlord will allow it or if you own the place, you can also add paint, texture, and new luxe finishes as Sana so gracefully executed here.

Sana said on Instagram that the powder room is now her favorite room in the house, and she can’t wait to have company over to show it off.