One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Neutral 2000s Bathroom Gets a Glam, Gray-Free Glow-Up for $700

published May 31, 2023
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bathroom before makeover: gray walls, gray tile, brushed stainless steel hardware finishes

Some trends are completely inextricable from the decades they sprang from. It’s hard to see avocado green and not think of the 1960s, for instance. And when you think “2010s builder-grade bathroom,” you’re likely to think of chrome hardware, a chocolate brown vanity, and gray paint. That describes Juliette (@the_shady_gal) and Scott Dellavia’s last-updated-in-2013 powder room to a T. “This basic room was in need of a fresh look after 10 years of not being touched,” Juliette says.

She wanted to freshen up the colorless room on a budget, so she saved many of the old elements, like the vanity and accessories, and spent her $700 budget “on new style,” as she puts it — or on low-lift but high-impact DIYs: wallpaper and board and batten. Juliette participated in the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, an eight-week, one-room revamp community challenge, to complete her project.

It was easy to add her floral peel-and-stick choice from Amazon to three of the four walls, but the tile accent wall was a bit trickier, Juliette recalls. Before she could finish that wall, she had to remove tile and then add new drywall.

Juliette also spent a lot of time sticking and re-sticking her wallpaper trying to get the floral placement and cut-off points just right before actually snipping anything with scissors or a utility knife. 

Another tricky part of the project was working around the light switch on the left side of the room. “I should have designed the entire wall feature around the light switch,” Juliette says. “In the end, the light switch was right where the top of the board and batten landed, which meant I had to work a mounted panel into the design.” It took her a few tries to pull that off without any gapping or cracking. If Juliette could have done anything differently in the project, she says, it would be to raise the wall treatment up just a little higher so this could have been avoided altogether — but in the end, she’s glad she took the time to seamlessly incorporate the light switch.

For the board-and-batten treatment, Juliette used trim pieces, MDF boards, a blue-green-gray paint (Behr’s Coney Island), and, of course, a tape measure and nail gun. Other than the light switch portion, installing it went quickly, she says. 

One of Juliette’s proudest accomplishments in the space is making the old dark brown vanity look new. “Adding the design elements on the front and sides was really a stunning makeover of a piece that my husband originally thought we should just replace,” she says. “I’m always up for a challenge, and it’s empowering to give items a second chance of design life.” Even though it looks like the vanity got a pole wrap covering (a DIYer favorite), it actually got something even more budget-savvy: a bamboo mat treatment.

Juliette used a bamboo mat from Amazon, which she cut up to add to the drawer and door fronts. Then, she added texture to the sides of the piece, too. “The trim was a challenge on the sides … I had to use a very inexpensive lattice wood, which meant a lot of sanding.” To finish off the vanity, she painted it in a taupe-ish brown (Behr’s Wild Truffle), and her spendings on that part of the project were about $170. “Refinishing this vanity meant I had money to spend on the wallpaper, which can get expensive,” Juliette says. 

Another budget-savvy move from Juliette? She spray painted the existing toilet paper holder, trash can, and vase gold. She finished off the room with a round wooden mirror from Target, a champagne gold and white vanity light, a more modern brushed gold faucet, and additional decor from around her house. 

“This space is an absolute dream,” she says. “It’s bold and full of peaceful energy at the same time. The colors are a true complement to each other. I’m thrilled that the vision I started with came through in the final design.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.