Real Life Rental Challenge: A Genius Update For A Bad '80s Bathroom Light

Real Life Rental Challenge: A Genius Update For A Bad '80s Bathroom Light

Diana Liang
Nov 9, 2017
(Image credit: Diana Liang )

There's nothing worse than those builder grade vanity strips in bathrooms, the ones that absolutely scream "HI, I'M CHROME AND WAS SENT FROM THE '80s TO DATE YOU!!" As a renter your options are limited, but I came up with a smart way to deal with these common eyesores.

(Image credit: Diana Liang )

Instead of swapping it out with a new light fixture, I decided to instead embrace the challenge and work with what I had. I couldn't paint it, because that was permanent. And I didn't want to spend a lot on just a new light fixture.

(Image credit: Spoonflower)

Enter removable wallpaper, specifically this Isobar pattern from Spoonflower, which I loved and thought would look great in the space. According to the website, it's a PVC-free, FSC Certified wallpaper that's mold, mildew and water resistant —all of which is great for bathrooms.

Here's what my small bathroom looks like now:

(Image credit: Diana Liang )

Not only does the light fixture recede into the background, but I now have a much more fun, personal bathroom that looks less like a boring rental. My eye goes to the patterned wall first, and I no longer cringe at the chrome. While I was at it, I removed and stored the former medicine cabinet, which was really too small for the space. The hole was covered first by wallpaper and then a larger, more modern mirror. When I move out, I'll simply take it all down, and slide the old cabinet back into place. Easy peasy.


First, I removed the strip of lights and the mirrored medicine cabinet, then wiped the walls. I recruited my husband to help me peel the back of the wallpaper, a.k.a the giant sticker, which was a big help.

For a second after I installed the first roll of paper I thought: "Have I lost my mind? How in the world am I ever going to align the second roll so the pattern matches???" But, there was no going back, so I did my best and installed the second roll. This wallpaper project turned out to be a lot easier than I expected, and there's a lot of forgiveness in matching up the pattern exactly. Lastly, I took an excess piece of wallpaper and covered the strip completely, then reinstalled the light fixture.

To be honest, my eyes are still trying to adjust to the pattern, but I think it makes the powder room a happier place and the focal point is no longer the chrome vanity strip. Also, since this is a rental, I can easily go back to the '80s whenever I want to!

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