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DIY Interior Design: Bathroom Makeover

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

A drab bathroom can taint even the most luxurious of bathing experiences. At least that's how I feel. The room in which you get yourself clean, make yourself up, and do your little business is a room that should feel bright, airy, and relaxing. The first room that I undertook on my own as a DIY project was our main bathroom. Though small, this is the only full bathroom in our house and is also the only bathroom on the main floor (in other words - our guests are exposed to it regularly during get-togethers). In this post, I'll walk through how I made some inexpensive modifications to our drab, gray bathroom to turn it into bathroom where I can pretend to have a spa like experience.

The Original Look

A picture tells 1,000 words. Some of the words that come to my mind when looking at the photo below: dark, grayish, boring, and overall dumpy (pun intended). I actually redid this bathroom twice (like most other rooms in our home) and this "before" picture is the result of the first redo. I look at it and think, "What on earth was I doing??" We bought the house with a light purple bathroom and black vanity which you can see in two of the below photos, then I repainted the walls a color that I thought was white but was actually more of a grayish blue. I also painted the vanity gray and added black handles.

Without a big budget to replace the flooring, tub, and shower into a marbled paradise, I decided to make simple changes: light fixtures, fresh paint, new hardware, and I added a small textural feature in the form of wainscoting to brighten up the space to turn it into something that matches my own style and that is a bit closer to my ideal bathroom atmosphere.

Wall fixtures

The first thing I noticed (and it wasn't hard to notice) upon removing everything from the wall was a small panel behind the mirror. Instead of being a cool, secretive panel like the cupboard that leads to Narnia, this panel is a hideous cutout in the bathroom's drywall which also functions as an electrical access point to our living room wall sconces. I just left this as is, it will end up covered by the mirror.

As you can see from the above picture, the wall needed significant patching - which I accomplished using all purpose joint compound and a putty knife. This was especially necessary around the vanity after I had scored the caulk that was between the sink and the wall in order to remove the vanity in the first place.

Vanity makeover

Ideally, I'd love a double sink vanity (sharing a single sink gets old), but because our bathroom is small, and in order to save some $$, I had to make do with what I was given. I turned off the water (this is an important step), disconnected the access, and then brought the entire vanity and sink out of the bathroom. The vanity, itself, was not obviously damaged, so I slapped on one of my favorite colors of all time, Winning Ticket by PPG paints (a beautiful green). I also added new hardware (gold handles from Amazon) and a black toilet paper holder (also Amazon) to modernize the look. For the faucet, I replaced the polished nickel faucet with an oil rubbed bronze faucet from Houzz.

Walls: Wainscoting

Now for the fun part. For the wainscoting or "board and batten" look, I first removed the existing baseboards and shoe molding. I replaced this with a modern 1/2'' x 4'' primed board, and I used the same for the chair rail. Then I purchased 1/4'' MDF board and had it cut into 3'' strips, which I arranged as shown in the picture. Liquid nails was applied to all pieces then they were brad nailed into the wall. When nailing, you want to make sure to adjust the angle of entry so that they "lock" the board in place, should be like this /\/\ not like this |||.

Fill in the nail holes and where the boards meet with wood filler or joint compound and sand once dry.

Next is paint. I decided to paint the entire wall including the wainscoting the same color, I went with a clean and bright white, Simply white by Benjamin Moore. After this, everything finally gets put back together!

New light fixture from Home Depot.

I could stare at these "after" photos all day long! Of course the bathroom doesn't always look this amazing with daily use but my god is this a pretty sight! For the next week I kept exclaiming to my husband how nice and white and crisp the walls looked. He couldn't stand to hear the word "crisp" for the next month. Whatever! I will say I'm thrilled with how the bathroom turned out.

Links to products

Note that these links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase them, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Keep in mind that I'd never link to something I didn't personally use and recommend!

Soap dispenser:

Vanity handles:

Toilet paper holder:


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