Before & After: A ’90s-Era Powder Room Gets a High/Low Patterned Makeover

updated May 26, 2020
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“I’ve always loved wallpaper. It’s a taste I must have inherited from my mother because she wallpapered our entire home growing up,” admits Catherine Leavitt, co-founder of Friday & Co. Design. “When I came upon this Strawberry Thief wallpaper designed by William Morris back in 1883, I was struck by how timeless it felt.  It was just the thing I needed to transform our small windowless powder room into something special.”  

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I first got an introduction to Catherine’s design style when she submitted her home office makeover. She took a pretty plain beige box and turned it into a beautiful space with lots of character, so I had a feeling she’d make magic with this dark, 25-square-foot powder room that came with heavy finishes and ’90s-style textured walls. It took stripping the walls, replastering them, and then adding wallpaper, molding, and a mix of high and low decor pieces.

“We started by removing a coat of sand textured walls—you know the kind that was the rage in the ’90s,” Catherine explains. “It was a long day and we had to patch the drywall in a lot of places to get a clean smooth wall. Next up was adding in some wainscotting to the room. I wanted to make sure there was a weightiness to offset the delicate floral wallpaper.  To create the wainscotting, we used MDF for the panels with picture frame moulding to give it a more refined look.” 

“It was definitely a high-low job with the vanity from Lowes and the sconces and mirror from One Kings Lane,” Catherine says. “The last step was the one that made me the most nervous. Wallpaper installation has definitely gotten easier with the new technology over the years but there is still a lot of pressure to line panels up correctly and make sure everything is wrinkle free. It was a stressful installation but ended up looking lovely. It’s remarkable how might lighter and larger the bathroom now feels. And it was a great way to bring in pattern into a small space to make a big impact.”


This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.