Before and After: A Beige Bathroom’s Dramatic $800 Redo Has “Swanky Lounge” Vibes

published May 1, 2023
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White and grey bathroom before renovation.
Credit: Dionne Gray

One nice thing about builder-grade bathrooms? If the home was built in the 2010s, they’re in fairly updated condition. But they’re also often on the plain side, as builders tend to opt for neutral finishes that will appeal to the mass market. 

In homeowner Dionne Gray’s 2019-built home, “the builder opted for neutral, standardized color palettes and fixtures” in the bathroom, she says. “I didn’t like that my powder room looked like my neighbor’s, and my neighbor’s neighbor.” 

Dionne’s $800 redo infuses some personality into the 6-foot-by-3-foot space, and she pulled it off in three weekends with the help of some friends and some pros.

“The powder room is just outside my dining room and deck, which meant that it would be regularly used by guests when I was entertaining, but the boring powder room was such an anti-climax from the already-spruced-up dining room,” Dionne says. “I also wanted guests to be surprised and to feel like they had stepped into another world when they used the restroom.” Her first priority was to give the walls a wow factor, and second, to incorporate black and gold into the color scheme to match the hardware throughout the rest of her home.

Credit: Dionne Gray

To start, Dionne hired pros to replace the greige vinyl flooring with a faux black marble, and then she got to work making over the walls. “At first, I thought about painting, but I didn’t feel I could commit to a bold, strong color in such a small space,” Dionne says. “I knew I wanted to use peel-and-stick wallpaper.”

Credit: Dionne Gray

Dionne isn’t new to peel-and-stick, but she’d never covered all four walls of a room with it, and it was especially difficult when some of those walls had a pedestal sink with plumbing to work around. “I called a professional wallpaper installation company for advice, and they told me the ONLY solution was to detach the sink, install the wallpaper, and then mount everything back,” Dionne recalls. “Nuh uh, no budget for that!”

Instead, Dionne used a measuring tape to calculate the distances between the hole cutouts for each pipe, then she drew a template on a plain sheet of paper that represented the sink’s pipe layouts. She traced the template pattern onto her tropical wallpaper, cut the pattern out using a cutting knife, checked the fit, and then installed the peel-and-stick. “It took a few tries to get it right because some of my measurements were a little off, but it worked!” Dionne says. “My two friends, Roxanne and Candice, kept me company while I measured and hung the wallpaper.”

Credit: Dionne Gray

Candice also helped Dionne paint the ceiling an inky blue (Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy), which was a DIY first for both of them. “I purchased ceiling paint because the store clerk told me that it doesn’t drip as much as wall paint, but that paint started dripping everywhere,” Dionne says. “I had to cover the walls, floor, toilet, and sink with ceiling-to-floor plastic. It looked like a scene from ‘Dexter,’ but it worked.”

Lastly, a plumber installed the black faucet, and a general contractor installed the vanity lighting, mirror, towel bar, toilet paper holder, and wall shelf. When all that was done, Dionne added accessories. (Her favorite is the faux movie poster artwork — advertising the movie “The Restroom” — that she custom-designed.) 

Credit: Dionne Gray

Dionne says with the wallpaper and painted ceiling, the room was feeling a bit too dark to notice all the details, so she added magnetic, rechargeable, and dimmable motion-sensored lights below each shelf and under the mirror. “Now, whenever someone walks into the room, the lights illuminate it just enough to see everything,” Dionne says. And, she adds, “when someone steps in, they are really surprised, entertained, and feel transported to a swanky lounge.”

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