Before and After: A Dark, Wood-Paneled Bathroom Is Completely Transformed for $1,700

published Jun 16, 2021
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
Project Type
Rental Friendly
Before: Dark bathroom with tan floors, wood-paneled walls, and white floral shower curtain

There are some materials that just really date a bathroom. Carpeting is a big one, and wood paneling and tan linoleum also make the list. And there are some materials in older bathrooms that are worth saving, like retro tiles and vintage vanities. They instantly give a bathroom character when paired with more modern counterparts.

In Claire and Peter McNaught’s bathroom, they wanted to get rid of some of those dated things — linoleum and wood paneling, specifically — and make some modern swaps.

Their house was built in 1845, after all, and the bathroom wasn’t originally a bathroom. As such, small projects over time made the bathroom “mismatched with outdated finishes,” Claire says. One of her biggest pet peeves? “The faucet was not appropriately sized for the sink, so you had to wash your hands all the way in front.”

Overall, it wasn’t a functional or attractive bathroom, but it did have retro black and white wall tile that was worth saving, and it was spacious enough for a large new vanity.

Claire and Peter made the vanity themselves out of a dresser (hello, added drawer space!) they found on Facebook Marketplace. They cut a hole in the top, applied an epoxy layer over it to protect from water splashes, and put the sink and new chrome faucet in.

The couple also added storage with open shelving and hooks next to the door. In addition, “we wanted the bathroom to be bright, and we wanted to update the plumbing,” Claire says.

They hired an electrician to install a new outlet and fixture, but they upgraded everything else themselves, including the plumbing and the new deep green paint.

Claire’s takeaways for her next DIY? “Take your time, and be comfortable with the fact that it’s not going as planned or the way you want,” she says. Their bathroom project took three months, but they were able to keep the cost right at $1700, and they certainly created a brighter, more functional space.

Added drawers and shelves are a huge win in any bathroom, plus the chair-height bead board moulding on the lower half of the walls, and the porcelain tile floors really do make the room much brighter.

Claire says the floors are her favorite part. “I love the porcelain tile!” she says. “It has contrast that creates movement and balance.” They are indeed a dynamic, modern-but-classy choice to complete this top-to-bottom reno.