Home Projects

Before and After: A Dingy Brown Bathroom Gets a Bright and Cheerful Transformation

published May 28, 2021
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Before: brown bathroom with brown and white vanity and plain mirror

Cleaning a bathroom is hard work — and for most people, not very fun work. So when you put in all the effort and your bathroom still looks dirty? That’s when you know it’s time to make a change.

Take it from Kelsie Bryson, who rents her home with her husband Jordan. Their bathroom hadn’t been updated since the house was built 16 years ago, and the finishes weren’t flattering. “The terracotta (not the good kind) floor tile looked perpetually dirty, and the vanity was peeling,” Kelsie says. “The bathroom even had a urinal, which not only took up a lot of space, but was annoying to clean.”

The look, she says, was “dark and gloomy.” Fortunately, the owner of the house — who’s also a friend of theirs — was on board for a renovation, so the couple got to work turning the dreary space into their dream bathroom.

The project took a little over a month, with Kelsie and Jordan working mostly evenings and weekends. A plumber friend helped with the shower dial install, but other than that, Kelsie and Jordan DIYed everything themselves.

In place of the old terrcotta floors, the couple installed white penny tile, which proved to be more difficult than they expected. “We were surprised at how ruthless penny tile was,” Kelsie says. “Light tile and dark grout was a pretty wild move for first-time penny tilers.” While the floor came out pretty good in the end, Kelsie says if she had a do-over she’d hire a pro to take on the tile work.

An easier project was the vanity, which got a total makeover that has it looking completely new. Kelsie and Jordan painted it a pretty green, replaced the hardware, then swapped out the old peeling top for a remnant piece they scored for cheap at their local stone supplier. A new sink and sleek black faucet complete the look. “It elevates the space but didn’t blow the budget,” Kelsie says of their smart redo.

Above the vanity, the couple also added a new mirror and light fixture, plus white paint on all the walls that makes a huge impact in the feel of the room. And on the other wall, where the toilet was, they tore out the dreaded urinal. Listing it for sale on Craigslist helped them make $50 CAD back.

As for the shower, they swapped out the fixtures but kept everything else the same. “We left the old tub surround in, and just added a new shower head and hardware,” Kelsie says. “The shower curtain steals the show anyway, and it saved us about $2,500 CAD.”

Now, the bathroom is nearly unrecognizable. “We love how bright it is,” Kelsie says. “The bathroom is at the end of the hall, so it’s literally a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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