One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Colorful, Beachy Bathroom Redo Features a $100 DIY Vanity

published Jun 19, 2023
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About this before & after
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Bathroom with pink shower curtain and light colored vanity before renovation.

If you’ve ever been out shopping and seen one home decor piece that sparks inspiration for the rest of your room — or even your whole home — you’re in good company. Apartment Therapy readers have shared this experience several times over! A wallpaper inspires an entire dining room, a thrifted painting locks in the color scheme for a bathroom, the flowers on a hutch inspire an entire furniture flip — the list goes on and on. 

This time, in the case of designer Cecilia Symanski (@hawaiihomeagain) and her guest bathroom, a mirror was the catalyst for an entire room transformation. That, and “despite having undergone a recent renovation, this particular space noticeably lacked the charm and personality it deserved,” Cecilia says. Cecilia and her family live in Hawaii and their bathroom had a bit of a tropical theme going, but “the prevailing color scheme was predominantly composed of white and off-white hues, resulting in a rather uninspiring ambiance,” she says. The other complaint she had was that the sink was too low, which made it more difficult to use.

The room wasn’t the top priority on Cecilia’s to-DIY list until she came across the wood-framed, green diamond-pattern mirror at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore and had a vision for the entire vanity. That in turn fueled a redo of the whole room, which she took on as part of the One Room Challenge.

To transform her existing vanity, Cecilia used a car jack and 2×4 some wood blocks to raise the base about 2 1/2 inches higher, and then she used a $60 sheet of plywood and edge banding to re-face the whole thing. That included creating faux inset drawers (with real drawer pulls!) out of the plywood. Cecilia hung the ReStore mirror above it to complete the look. “The entire project cost me close to $100, a stark contrast to the $1,000 price tag I often see associated with wooden vanities,” Cecilia says.

Much of the rest of the room was transformed using Cecilia’s DIY skills, like the new shiplap paneling on the walls, the new baseboards, the new curtain track, and the fresh paint. The only thing Cecilia hired help for was the plumbing task associated with raising the vanity. 

But even with that long list of to-dos, “surprisingly, one of the most challenging aspects of the project turned out to be hanging the peel-and-stick wallpaper,” Cecilia says. Ensuring that the patterns lined up and keeping the ultra-sticky material from sticking to itself was “almost impossible” she says, and she’s definitely proud of the perseverance it took to get it done. Plus, the wallpaper’s tropical print adds a luxe feel in keeping with the beachy vibe she was after.

The other minor setback Cecilia encountered was in her paint choice. She originally bought a more blue-toned paint, but she didn’t like the way it looked on the walls. “The initial choice I had made was too vibrant,” she says. 

But it wasn’t a big problem, thanks to a clever workaround by Cecilia. “By custom mixing various old paints that I had on hand, I was able to create the perfect shade,” she says. She mixed her aqua blue with some white and a bit of yellow to create a more seafoam green. Cecilia loves the shade she landed on, but her only regret is not mixing enough of the paint “for potential touch-up needs,” she says. (That’s a hot tip for anyone mixing their own paint shades at home!)

On the flip side, Cecilia’s favorite details are the new vanity and how much more elongated the room now feels thanks to the vertical paneling on the walls, and the shower upgrade. One genius guest bathroom tip to steal from this bathroom upgrade, thanks to Cecilia’s Instagram? She used her decor as storage. That small woven bin holds a toilet paper roll, and the woven tote hanging from the new knob rail holds a hair dryer. “I found this cute woven bag in Mexico, and now it’s a storage superstar,” she writes on Instagram. “No more dust collecting in the closet. It’s stylish and functional now.”

Cecilia’s fresh “after” is beachy, just the right amount of colorful, and trendy, too!

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.