Before and After: A Luxe Powder Room Redo Proves Neutrals Don’t Have to Be Boring

published Mar 13, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: Tan bathroom

There’s lots of Apartment Therapy renovation inspo out there where big projects are tackled in a month, a week, or even just a weekend — take, for example, this IKEA BILLY hack that was done in just two days. And while instant gratification sure is nice, the reality is that in many cases, home transformations are gradual and happen in stages. This bathroom redo, from DIYer Olivia Schaffer in her 2012 home, is a prime example.

Back in 2020, Olivia and her boyfriend replaced the bathroom’s old floors with wood — “the builder-grade linoleum needed an update!” she says. Next, they added beadboard wainscoting to give the walls some texture and some color (she used Benjamin Moore’s Weimaraner). But in those early stages, the bathroom was still “a bland space overall,” Olivia says, adding that the room had basic finishes and no life to it.

So in 2023, Olivia finished decorating and added some character. Above the beadboard, she hung botanical wallpaper with a subtle neutral color palette. Over the pedestal sink, she added a Wayfair sconce and an antique-inspired mirror.

The mirror, which Olivia found on Facebook Marketplace, is Olivia’s favorite DIY. To give it the glam vintage look you see here, she painted it black and then brushed gold leafing over top. The frame on the lefthand side of the room is another secondhand find she scored at the thrift store. All the pieces work together to elevate the space, creating a sophisticated style that’s still neutral and calming.

If she could do the project over again, Olivia says she’d spend a little more time getting the wallpaper seams just right — “this was my first ever time installing wallpaper myself,” she says, but she contends that “adding texture, color, and pattern brought so much life to such a small space.”

For a little bit of personality, Olivia added rattan canister from Target and a bottle from IKEA, which she uses to display dried botanicals. By perching them on the narrow top rail of the wainscoting, she kept precious deck space on the pedestal sink clear.

Olivia’s best DIY advice for those looking to take on a similar project? “Just start!” she says. “You’ll never be a wallpaper pro without actually doing a project. Do your research, but eventually you have to just give it a go! You learn by doing. Don’t doubt yourself.”