Before and After: A Modern $1,100 Redo Gives This “Sad” Bathroom a Custom Mural and Way More Storage

published Oct 20, 2021
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About this before & after
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Rental Friendly
Before: Pedestal sink in bathroom
Credit: Elara Mari

Sometimes, a bathroom looks fine at first glance, and you don’t realize how bad it is until you’re actually living in the space for a while. Low water pressure, a lack of storage, and lighting that leaves something to be desired are three common bathroom problems that become more of a frustration over time, as are water-damaged tiles and ones that are cracked, rusting, molding, or sloping.

Renter Elara Mari’s bathroom had two major problems that became more and more annoying as time went on — the back wall and the vanity — but thankfully, they were easy to fix with DIYs.

“From the staggered towel rods (why??) to the weirdly large pedestal sink that offered no way to store anything and no counter space,” Elara says, she was definitely ready to make a change. “I was sick of things falling off the narrow sink ledge into the sink when trying to get ready in the morning. The room always looked messy and dirty no matter what I did to tidy it.”

Credit: Elara Mari

She wanted to keep costs low because she was in a rental, and for the same reason, she had to get the changes approved by her landlord. Her changes were straightforward and (somewhat) simple, but made a major difference.

First, she and her husband, Neal, painted the room white (Behr’s White 52.) “It’s been my favorite shade for about five years now,” Elara says. “It’s very bright but has a subtle warm gray undertone that never looks yellow or dingy.”

Credit: Elara Mari

Then Elara painted the black and white wavy “selfie/mural wall.” Elara is an illustrator, so she felt comfortable diving right in without sketching first. “This part was fun and went very quickly, she says. “The key to a pattern like this is to be bold and brave.”

She used Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface High Gloss Acrylic Craft Paint in Beetle Black to create the pattern. “This paint is a dream to work with. Smooth, opaque, and durable,” she says. Over the mural, she hung a singular sturdy towel rod. (No more random placement!)

Neal worked on the sink/vanity reno, an IKEA GODMORGON cabinet with a TÖRNVIKEN sink. They tried five faucets before landing on one they liked, a dark modern vessel option that matches their new hardware. The hardest part of adding the new vanity was just obtaining the IKEA items, Elara says, because of stock issues. “We had to change our design a few times to use what was in stock in the stores near us,” she says. “The whole process took about two months due to store shortages.”

Credit: Elara Mari

Her advice for completing a home renovation in 2021? Either be prepared for backorders, thanks to supply chain issues across the board, or plan your reno based on materials that are readily available. “Don’t get your heart set on something that may be out of stock for weeks or months,” she says.

But the wait was worth it. “There’s now plenty of under-sink storage, and it’s a dream to get ready in the morning with all the counter space we now have,” she says.

Elara and Neal’s total costs were around $1,100, and her favorite part of her redo is the mural because “it adds such a fun and exuberant vibe to the room,” and she’s proud of the one-of-a-kind look she and Neal created for their new bathroom. “I can now say I love this bathroom!” she says.