This Bland Bathroom Got the Swankiest Transformation (For Just $170!)

published May 24, 2024
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A few words come to mind when designer, renter, and DIYer Nnedy Obiwuru (@everylastlayer) pictures the dreamiest rooms and most special spaces she’s been in: “Jazz club vibes,” speakeasy, and boutique. 

“I am my happiest at a boutique hotel or a charming restaurant,” Nnedy expands. “The feelings of intentionality in their design — built for others to experience — is a special kind of magic that is hard to put into words. I wanted to bring that magic into my home.”

And she brought this moodiness and ambience into her guest bathroom, which was once a very plain bathroom built in 2022. “While it was a clean new-build, it lacked character,” she says. “It was builder-grade beige with yellow undertones.” 

There wasn’t much she liked about the bathroom before, but she did like that it had tall ceilings and long, blank canvas walls, and she took advantage of that in a $170 makeover.

Credit: Nnedy Obiwuru

A gallery wall project makes the most of the wall space.

Nnedy decided to hang black-and-white vintage photos from floor to ceiling along the walls in the bathroom, which elongates the space and especially makes a difference in the “awkward corner,” as Needy describes, where “a large section of the countertop is unusable.”

Nnedy found the frames at Goodwill, and Jon helped her clean them and hang them. “Buying secondhand frames is truly what made this an affordable project,” she says. (She bought 40 frames for under $50!)  Next, Nnedy filled the frames with photos. She “scoured the internet for photos from prohibition and Harlem Renaissance and other decades,” as she says in this Instagram recap, and printed them from her pharmacy using a discount code.

Because they were secondhand finds, the frames were a bit harder to hang than expected. “We had to get creative, using Command strips and adding hooks to some of them, which made the process take longer,” Nnedy says. “It was still cheaper than buying new frames.” 

The part of the project that was easier than expected? Determining a layout for the frames. “Once I placed the first frame, I could immediately envision where the next one should go,” she says — and she loves the gallery wall she curated.

“While the bathroom is, yes, a bathroom, it’s often a quiet place for reflection,” she says of the gallery wall on Instagram. “Centering Black joy in our guest bathroom offers an opportunity for reflection to everyone who comes to visit us.”

Credit: Nnedy Obiwuru

Layered lighting created a swanky vibe.

Nnedy and Jon also ordered some sconces from Amazon for the project and used rechargeable lightbulbs to keep them renter-friendly. 

“The renter-friendly mood lighting worked wonders, completely transforming the space,” Nnedy says. “The addition of two sconces and the absence of harsh overhead lighting instantly set the ‘Jazz Club’ vibe.”

Credit: Nnedy Obiwuru

Black peel-and-stick tiles replace the beige ones.

After Nnedy and Jon got done hanging everything on the wall, they turned to the builder-grade tile floors. “This is an apartment, and I cannot make permanent changes, so I got this renter-friendly tile from Amazon,” Nnedy says on Instagram. She chose a slate-like peel-and-stick option.

Credit: Nnedy Obiwuru
Credit: Nnedy Obiwuru

A quick shower curtain upgrade adds a touch of glam. 

Lastly, Nnedy replaced her shower curtain hooks with gold ones and hung two shower curtains instead of one. “Not only does it elongate the room, [but] I feel it adds a touch of unexpected charm,” she says on Instagram. 

Her favorite other little details that add charm to the bathroom are the record player and the accordion mirror (another thrifted find!). “While I wouldn’t do anything differently, I do want to take it a bit further by adding monogrammed bath towels, shower curtains, and matchboxes,” Nnedy says. 

She’s really proud of the new look she created for under $200 — and in just about 72 hours. “It feels like my little secret speakeasy, hidden away from the workday,” she says. “I’ve had this idea in my head for years, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.”