I Remodeled My Bathroom in A Weekend

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

About a month ago, I decided I was really sick of my bathroom. This came in the context of larger BIG LIFE UPHEAVAL, which I won’t get into now, but it boiled down to craving a tangible change in my living space. I quickly focused on my downstairs bathroom, which was admittedly not horrible, but was feeling extremely drab and depressing lately. In short, it wasn’t making me happy. So, I oh so casually said to myself, as only a Projects Editor for Apartment Therapy will do, why don’t I remodel it next weekend?

It’s a tiny bathroom tucked under a stairway, so there’s no windows or natural light. Which, in my mind, makes it a great place to experiment and try something fun and unexpected.

Here are all the before pics:

Before we dive in, you readers should know that I mentally don my suit of armor each time one of these makeovers goes live, because you, dear readers, have thoughts and opinions, which you share in the comments section with abandon (sometimes constructively, other times not so much). Sometimes you like what you see, other times you really, really don’t. And this new bathroom, to use old Project Runway-speak, has a strong point of view, and will potentially alienate a lot of you. So, as you read this, picture me smiling over my keyboard, eating popcorn, as I watch the comments come rolling in. Because —especially after Pegboardgate of 2017 — I’m so curious what your reaction will be, and what you’ll think of this reveal.

Here’s what I did:

(Image credit: Karen Palmer)

Hung Wallpaper

Full disclosure: When my wife and I renovated our house almost ten years ago, we never got around to painting the bathroom: there was still just white primer on the walls. Combined with all the grey, it was just blah and I wanted something lively and energetic in its place. I’m so in love with this temporary wallpaper, I can’t even tell you. It’s from Chasing Paper and it’s full floral fantastic. It totally makes me smile each time I look at it. And, if I sell the house down the road, or get sick of it (not likely), I won’t turn off prospective buyers or spend hours undoing my work.

Approximate Time: 6-8 hours

(Image credit: Karen Palmer)

Swapped Out The Sink

Back in the day, when we chose the original stainless steel sink, I loved how basic and unpretentious it was. Fast forward years later, and I could no longer stand the thing. You had to turn the hot water knob about four full rotations to get it to even turn on. Plus, it regularly got rust spots that needed to be scrubbed off.

The new sink is the Happy D from Duravit, and it’s an adorable little thing, and fits perfectly in its new alcove home. It’s topped with a faucet from Delta’s Trinsic line. I thought about going with their popular champagne brass option, but decided I preferred the brushed stainless and it worked better in my house.

Approximate Time: 3 Hours (plus drying time for drywall repair)

(Image credit: Karen Palmer)

Installed New Lighting

The old light fixture was an vintage sconce I bought in an architectural salvage store. It fit with the whole industrial look then, but —again — I wanted something different. One of my favorite things these days is to making DIY lighting. Once you have the basics down, you realize how easy it is to create custom sconces and fixtures. I bought all the necessary parts from Grand Brass and whipped up this new guy in no time at all. And, personally, I think he’s pretty jaunty and cute. He also makes me smile (although not has much as the wallpaper). The pendant is a new product from IKEA called NYMÅNE, and it also comes in white.

Approximate Time: 1.5 hours

(Image credit: Karen Palmer)


The last step was adding the little details. I replaced the old IKEA GRUNDTAL towel rack and toilet paper holder (which I had glued back together repeatedly each time it snapped off) with new ones, also from Delta’s Trinsic line. The mirror is from Target’s Project 62 collection, which is so great for small, modern spaces. A basic round rug from IKEA and hand towels from Target are both white, which, along with the toilet and sink, break up the pattern a little bit and give the eye a break. The artwork is by Justin Visnesky and was borrowed from my friends Bevin and Dave until I find the perfect thing for that spot. They don’t know yet that I might not ever give it back.

Approximate Time: I Lost Track

I did wind up doing one last thing, which I write about separately here.


  • Multi-floral Wallpaper from Chasing Paper
  • Happy D 20″ Wall Mount Bathroom Sink with Overflow from Wayfair
  • Delta Trinsic Bathroom Single Handle Single Hole Bathroom Faucet from Wayfair
  • Trinsic Bathroom 18″ Wall Mounted Towel Bar from Wayfair
  • Delta Trinsic Bathroom Wall Mounted Toilet Paper Holder from Wayfair
  • Project 62 Metal Framed Wall Mirror from Target
  • BADAREN Bath mat from IKEA
  • Fieldcrest Luxury Stripe Accent Hand Towel from Target