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Before and After: A $1500 Redo Makes This “Builder Basic” Bathroom Totally Glam and Maximalist

published Feb 24, 2024
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Before: Builder-grade bathroom
Credit: Chloe Powell

There’s a reason why bathroom makeovers are featured so frequently on our sister site, Apartment Therapy. It’s because they’re a popular choice for beginning DIYers!

Powder rooms and secondary bathrooms aren’t that big in terms of their square footage, which means materials won’t be too costly, and their small size makes them approachable in terms of manual labor. (Of course, if a bathroom redo involves rearranging plumbing, that’s a whole different story.)

Credit: Chloe Powell

Homeowner Chloe Powell (@rococo_realestate_design)’s bathroom redo, which she worked on with her husband, Romie, was a good opportunity for the duo to try out some DIY firsts.

“We decided to try tile and wallpaper installation in this bathroom because it was a small space, and if anything went drastically wrong, then no one would see it on a regular basis,” Chloe explains.

The couple wanted to change the bathroom because it “was builder basic,” Chloe says. “Think base grade cabinetry, vinyl flooring, 4 x 4 white tile. It was very simple and not to our taste.”

Credit: Chloe Powell

In her One Room Challenge redo, she and Romie upgraded the tile, added wallpaper, upgraded the countertop, replaced or painted hardware throughout, and added a board and batten wall behind the door — another DIY first for them.

The “after” is bold and glam, but getting there was hard work.

Credit: Chloe Powell

Chloe has three definite takeaways from the project. First, she’ll never install hex tile again. “I will only be sticking to tile that has four sides,” she says. “It was really difficult to make sure all sides were level and spaced correctly.”

Plus, cutting the perimeter and corner pieces was also difficult, Chloe and Romie shared on Instagram. Still, they’re proud of the final look of the six-sided matte gray porcelain tile and says “it was definitely worth it.”

Second, Chloe says if she were doing the board and batten again, she’d paint the wood trim pieces before nailing them to the wall. (The full process for the architectural detail on the on the wall entailed cutting the wood with a miter box, nailing it to the wall with a brad nailer, filling in seams with wood glue and caulk, priming, and painting. )

Credit: Chloe Powell

Chloe’s final takeaway is that bold wallpapers are best for accent walls only, in her book. “I love the crane wallpaper,” she says. (Hers is from Milton & King.) But “it was definitely challenging to install,” she says. It was actually like installing two wallpapers at once because the pattern came in a Part A and Part B.

Because it was such a bold pattern, it took meticulous effort to get everything straight and lined up. “A bathroom is particularly difficult because you have to remove the toilet, and it has more corners,” Chloe adds. Because bathroom walls can get wet, Chloe and Romie opted to protect theirs with a coat of varnish. But now that the avian-inspired paper on the wall, it’s her favorite part of her new space.

Credit: Chloe Powell

Another point of pride for Chloe is that her redo was relatively easy on the wallet. Although she and Romie originally budgeted $1,000 for the project and went a bit over with an all-in budget of $1,500, they managed to keep costs low by leaving the white shower tile as-is and budget finds: a $37 shower head that they spray-painted black, a $64 light fixture, $25 prints, $12 cabinet pulls, and more.

Even though she and Romie had to buy a few more tools than they were expecting to complete the project, Chloe says their DIY endeavor was still “much more affordable than hiring a third party.”

Credit: Chloe Powell

“It was definitely a labor of love,” Chloe writes on her blog — and one that added much more personality to her once builder-grade space. Kudos, Chloe and Romie!

This article originally published on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A $1500 Redo Makes This “Builder Basic” Bathroom a Totally Glam, Maximalist Space