Before and After: A Small, Drab Bathroom Gets an $800, Hotel-Worthy Upgrade

published Nov 18, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: Bathroom with light blue walls and a dark wood vanity with a white sink and black faucet

A powder room isn’t exactly a room you spend a ton of time in, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a throwaway space. A well-styled half bath can make a serious style statement, and the small square footage means you don’t have to sink in a ton of time or effort to get there.

For homeowner Stacey Hartman, designing a more attractive powder room was one of the first items on her long list of planned home projects. “The old powder room was by far the most bleak room in the house and had some structural issues that needed to be fixed,” she says. “There was a bit of damage at the base of the drywall, and the texture on the wall was so uneven and poorly done. Additionally, when we’d originally moved in, the sink was a pedestal sink that was installed off-center and they had tiled around the base, so I had a hole in the tile that I couldn’t fill in.”

Stacey wanted a small room that she could try to renovate by herself, and the bathroom’s size and existing issues made it a prime candidate. “My husband is very handy, so he usually handles the big projects while I do the smaller, fiddly stuff,” Stacey says, “but this time, I wanted to do it mostly myself.”

She kicked off the monthlong project the demo. Stacey removed the old fixtures and ripped the baseboards off the wall, then repaired the room’s drywall damage. Next, she began to prep the space for a wall-mounted sink. That’s when she encountered a problem. “Unfortunately, we realized that the wall was really bowed and the sink was going to need extra support, so drywall had to be cut out to put extra reinforcement into the wall,” Stacey says.

Once the fix was made, Stacey was able to get back on track with her plan. She ripped the beige tile floors out, skim-coated the walls to even out the texture, and then painted the ceiling in a fresh white color. Once that was dry, Stacey installed the new bathroom floor, choosing a classic hex tile in white with contrasting gray grout. Her husband stepped in to install the new baseboards and shoe moulding overtop.

Finally, the room was ready for its star: that gorgeous tropical bird wallpaper. “It took two days, because I’ve never wallpapered before, and I was super nervous about it,” says Stacey of the installation process. “The wallpaper was the most expensive part about the renovation, so I would have cried if I messed it up.”

To finish out the project, Stacey’s husband installed the sink, new outlets and switches, and a new brass vanity light. (The glam gold tone is echoed in a new toilet paper holder and towel bar.) The total cost for the redo came in at $800.

“I love the vibe in the bathroom now,” says Stacey. “It went from blah and dingy to something that feels like a fancy hotel restroom.”

Looks aren’t the only part of this project that Stacey loves, though. “I’m proud that I managed to execute my renovation largely on my own,” she says. “It’s given me the confidence to try bigger projects.” And really, what more can you ask for in a DIY?