October 21, 2017

Beautifully Budgeted Bathroom Redo – Before and After


In my mind, my home decorating skills are living large with HGTV quality, but in reality, I have put many household renovations on the back burner for years. If I spent half of the time doing, rather  than just dreaming about all the dramatic redos I can accomplish in such a short time, my list of projects would be nearly completed.

For many years, I have been chiding myself that this small room, especially my half bath with no natural lighting, CAN NOT be painted a dark color.

Do you remember when the three tone sponge painted look was all the rage? I won’t ask you to guess what year that was, but I was SO excited when I executed the exact look  in our small downstairs bath.

Yes, it was about that same year when fake foliage of all colors were on my wish list, and brass accented multiple surfaces in our home.

So here is the before look of our small bathroom…and yes, it has screamed “update me” for years. The reality of how much change could accur in such a small time with such a small amount of money, astounds me.

It’s the Power of Paint!

sponge painting

redo the bathroom

(Please don’t tell me that it looks like your grandma’s bathroom. Looking at this pic, I am certainly thinking it myself.

The scary thing is that I was really pleased with this look for many years circa 1990’s. :))

laundry before

And now, “The AFTER” of our bathroom.

It’s such a small space, so unfortunately, there’s no way for me to get a better camera angle to show you the dramatic transformation (unless I invest in a special $1000 wide angle lens).

It kills me to know that for under $20, and only four hours of work, this bathroom has been completely transformed for only –

TWENTY DOLLARS…that is it!

My lesson to share – Do not procrastinate any longer. Trust me! I walk in this room every day and just sigh with contentment. The soft blue not only offers a completely fresh and clean look, but it’s soothing. I can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier.

Last week, many of you asked what color paint I used in our laundry room redo. I’ll  have to hunt it down for you, but please don’t ask about this color. I had a gallon of blue “oops” paint (the already mixed mistakes at Lowes/Home Depot) that ended up being much too close in shade to our laundry room hue, so I started mixing and matching about 3 shades of blue, white, and I even ended up with a squirt of my craft paint.

The color is supposed to be a complementary shade to the laundry room color since the bathroom is off the laundry room, but it is still too similar for my liking. Due to the fact that there is no natural light in this room, it was VERY difficult to achieve the correct color. I painted three shades in strips first, just to see how it would look at different times of the day. I went much lighter and it still looks darker than I anticipated.

yard sale hutch

The determining fact to finally start procrastinating on this redo and get painting, was this $5 Yard Sale Find. When I saw this “over the commode” storage shelf at the yard sale, I knew that it would be perfect for this downstairs bath.

I could NOT believe when I asked the owner how much she wanted and she said, “Five Dollars.” This is one of those yard sales that people passed by because it looked really junky, but it had one hidden jewel. I still need to finish accessorizing, but I pulled this in a few minutes.

I painted the insert of this silver tray with chalkboard paint, and purchased the aqua container for $1 at a yard sale. If you haven’t had the fun of chalkboard paint yet, give it a try. One quart will last for multiple projects, and it’s a perfect way to add a home-y touch.

thrift store find

See the small white vase on the bottom shelf?  It’s from Southern Living at Home – purchased for $1 (yard sale).

spray paint metal vase

Scroll back up to refresh your memory on how this brass tin vase looked in the before pics. (Yes, sunglasses recommended.)

Initially, I was going to just give the whole thing to Goodwill, but I decided to just donate the silk flowers and salvage the brass piece. I quickly spray painted it with Heirloom White, and then after it dried, I took sandpaper to antique it a bit. I swapped out some flowers (yard sale) and now I love it! I see those kind of vases for $1 all the time. They typically look horrible because the brass is tarnished, but if there’s one thing I know it is how easy it is to spray paint brass.

silver mirror from yard sale

I did not have plans to swap out the mirror, but I knew that a slightly larger one would pack a bigger punch. When I saw this mirror for $3 at a yard sale, I snagged it, and held on to it for the perfect time…now. I contemplated painting it white, but I actually love the soft look this gives. I think I will keep it this way for now.

(Peak in the mirror above and you can see the iron work piece I spray painted in lieu of the sassy silky, dusty flowers. 🙂

paint burgandy bathroomlaundry room redo (2)

What still needs to be completed? THIS ABOVE WALL! UGH!

My one nemesis is the main wall people see when they walk into the bath. This wall hook feature now looks dirty, instead of tan. I can paint it white, but until I figure out what I want on this wall, I am waiting patiently. Quite frankly, I have spent only $20 on this whole bathroom redo ($5 on paint, $5 on hutch, $6 on basket, $4 on accessories), so I am giving myself permission to check out some of my local discount stores -like TJ Maxx, or Home Goods. Our  ceilings are 9 1/2 feet tall, so picking out the right thing for this wall is a challenge. I’m thinking some great big open frames with plates?? Right now, I am just closing my eyes and wishing it away.

Any ideas? You all help me brainstorm. 🙂

white rug

My last little find for my bathroom redo was this fun white rug. I love it and it was only $2. The basket was a “splurge” a few years ago. I remember the woman saying she wanted $6 and thinking….that is crazy high, but she would not go lower when I negotiated, and I am glad I bought it. It has seen many years of free magazines.

I have one more surprise on the agenda for this room and I can’t wait to get at it. I had to order something on line, and when it came, it was flawed…such a bummer, so I need to take it back and wait patiently for a new one.

Often, the reward from Before and After Redo’s done on a beautiful budget require patience. It’s hard because I love instant gratification, but I can wait.

So what’s stopping you?

Do you have a room you’ve been procrastinating on like me? Get at it…four hours and a few dollars will make all the difference.

Posted at: Rhoda’s DIY Round up

Sarah’s Before/After party


  1. You have inspired me! Our master 1/2 bath had some OLD 90’s paper on the walls that I started ripping off one day…and then stopped. So, it’s been in a state of sad limbo for about a year, if not more. I want to do a soft blue like yours (don’t worry, I won’t ask! HA!). Now where did I put that steamer? : )


  2. cfwilfert says:

    You did a beautiful job! I love the mirror the way it is. This is definitely the nudge I need to stop procrastinating. 🙂


  3. That bath re-do looks amazing!! Love how budget friendly it is!!



  4. Wow. ur redo looks amazing. Ur inspiring me to get busy on a million things i’ve put off!


  5. That is gorgeous. So fresh and modern. LOVE.


  6. Love, love the $5 etagere! You did a great job! I’ve been wanting to repaint our downstairs bathroom for the longest time. Guess I should get started!

    Mary Ellen


  7. Adrienne says:

    Wow, now you have inspired me! My husband and I have been living between college student & married couple status in our home since we moved in. We’ve been telling ourselves that we’ll get around to updating our drab 90’s rancher, but we’ve shied away due to budget constraints… which is especially frustrating since I’m a designer in an architecture firm and design beautiful living spaces for people every day! While I give people beautiful high end fixtures / finishes from catalogues, there is nothing stopping me form DIY’ing on a budget in my own space. With my husband an artist, and me a designer, we need to get our act together and start problem solving to fit our budget… thanks for some great ideas to get us started!


  8. looks amazing!!


  9. Ha, ha. Fashions do change, don’t they? I so admired the powder room of a girlfriend who had that same paint treatment, circa 1996. Lucky for us paint is so easy to change, so we can do adventurous things like that from time to time.

    Something I did in my daughters’ bedroom was find a lot of interesting frames/mirrors of different sizes and paint them all the same color (fuschia) and hang them on the wall. Some of the frames are empty, and the wall color (turquoise) shows through. I have a friend who did something similar, except she grouped interesting vintage hand mirrors on the wall above her tub. It is sort of unexpected and whimsical to see a bunch of hand mirrors “floating” on the wall, and she had fun collecting them.


  10. Love it! I broke your rule, though – I painted a small-but-not-tiny bathroom deep navy blue and love it. Lots of fluffy white towels keep it from feeling oppressive. And, we only stopped the navy at few inches below the ceiling to give it a little “height” – a technique that’s served us well in a couple of rooms!


    Jens Reply:

    @Carrie Isaac, go ahead and break my rule…I obviously broke it for many years myself and loved my dark look. I was just going off of “real designers” but what do they know. 🙂


  11. It looks great!! Such an improvement over the burgandy sponge look!

    However, Jen, I just painted my small half bath a dark color and I LOVE IT! So just throw your rules out the window cause I will probably break them! LOL! I balanced my dark walls out with crisp white accessories and I just love it. Perfect for my guests to feel pampered. It is still a work in progress but I am so glad I took the plunge and worked on it!

    Yay for powder room makeovers!


    Jens Reply:

    @melissa @ the inspired room, Ok, now I am going back to edit it (which I did the first time around and added the “don’t paint small areas dark) based on a HGTV show I just watched…lol. If you say it’s Ok, it must be. And now I feel better about all the years I liked my sponged 90’s look…ahahah.


    melissa @ the inspired room Reply:


    I’m a rule breaker and don’t follow every trend, so you have to be a rebel to listen to me. 🙂 But the sponge painting, yeah, you were READY to let that go. We all are! 🙂


  12. Oh, Dude! I have a lot to say on this!

    Jen, you are doing a terrific job. Your projects turn out well, and you bring a lot of creativity to the process. I even spent one evening sulking around the house because I was envious of your projects. (I’m not proud of that.)

    But, with all respect, I will NEVER copy your method.

    Because …. I am married to a perfectionist engineer. Fortunately, he is ENTHUSIASTIC about doing house repairs and upgrades. Unfortunately, his schedule doesn’t give him the TIME to do as much as he’d like.

    For a while, I was jealous of Jen and other creative house bloggers:
    * I knew that I’d never hear the end of it if I went ahead and painted a bathroom or a kitchen island, without getting DH involved.
    * And I’d enjoy getting a project DONE all in one day, instead of having tools laying around for weeks.
    * And wouldn’t it be nice to experiment with, say, turquoise walls?
    * And to have things look the way I want them, without having to consider another adult’s taste?

    But then I reconsidered. For me, these are small frustrations compared to the benefits of having DH involved.

    For example, we need to pick out handles for our kitchen and dining room cabinets. This past weekend, we went to Lowe’s twice and Home Depot once. We counted, measured, and debated. Hubby BUILT A SPREADSHEET. We surfed the net, and, this morning before work, DH placed a sample order. When the sample arrives, we’ll debate the merits of our choices. Finally — probably next weekend — we’ll place the order.

    For my husband, this kind of thoroughness is necessary. For me, the decision would be a lot more slapdash.

    But through 2 decades of marriage, I’ve learned a few things:

    * DH is mechanically-minded. When he does an upgrade, it turns out well.
    * This is DH’s creative outlet.
    * The ‘boring’ upgrades are often necessary for structural soundness. For example, we spent big bucks hiring a contractor for electrical work. As a result, I can now use the cooktop and the microwave at the same time without tripping a breaker.
    * Deciding on remodeling decisions really IS quality time together. And, sometimes, after a trip to Home Depot, we get even MORE quality time because we go out to dinner.
    * I’m fortunate that DH doesn’t mind our hard-earned cash going into these upgrades.
    * We are setting an excellent example for the kids: They’re learning to fix things; they’re getting familiar with Hardware Stores; and they’re sure learning how to negotiate with their spouse!

    So, a final bit of advice: Before you do your upgrades, please consider family dynamics!


    Jens Reply:

    @Jora, Oh my goodness, Jora – you are so right. If I had a hubby that would have any desire to get involved with the interior projects, I would COVET your problem. My husband is amazing in so many areas, but he could care less about any home decor projects and so leaves it in my hands, and just says, “what ever you like….”. Therefore, nothings gets done and if I do want it to get done, I have to do it myself.
    In fact, one of his regrets is that his dad didn’t teach him more “Do it yourself” skills. Your hubby is obviously modeling this well for your kids. 🙂


    Jora Reply:


    Oh, good. You took my comments in the spirit they were intended.

    I thought it was amusing that DH made a spreadsheet to figure out drawer pulls. He wants an optimum grip and proportional handles, despite different-sized cabinets. Between computer work and hardware stores, he’s probably invested 6 hours in figuring out cabinet hardware!

    And it was amusing when DD took Drivers’ Ed as a freshman. Her teacher said, “Of all the girls I’ve had in class, you’re the only one who knew that you have to change the oil FILTER when you change oil.”

    We have to credit that to DH as well; I have NO mechanical skills.


  13. It looks beautiful!

    Great minds think alike. I had just painted my laundry room the same shade of blue and then my bathroom also. Then, I saw that you were doing the same!
    It’s kind of fun to think that we are enjoying the same decorating. 🙂


    Jens Reply:

    @Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home, So fun, Laryssa. 🙂 It’s so happy, isn’t it?


  14. WOW I love it, it looks great and you can’t beat the price!


  15. Yay, Jen! So glad that sponge painting is gone. I just cringe when I see it now & I remember how I loved faux finishes 10 years ago. It looks SO updated & fresh now, good for you for just going for it. Those soft blues are fun to work with and I’ve done it in 2 rooms now.

    I just painted my office nook lime green on all the walls & loving it too!


  16. OH, and yes, I agree with Melissa that you can definitely paint a small bathroom a dark color. Just depends what you are going for, but the dark color with contrasting white does give a high impact look and makes that small space feel like a jewelbox. As long as you add some pretty things in there too.


  17. Great job! I helped my mom redo our main bath last year. It was originally a deep coral color, but we painted it a sandy brown. The sink is a deep red, so it works. It’s one of her favorite rooms in the house now!


  18. I am glad I am not the only one with multiple projects started and others waiting in the wings. I am very good about getting the ideas and really have great intentions about finishing them, but often have to stop to let life go by. Currently, I am painting our outdoor bench (we repaired it and painted it last year but the paint failed – arg!!), repairing a headboard to paint (found on the side of the street), and stripping a chair to be painted (found on the side of the street). I won’t tell you how many I have waiting !!! But the joy comes in the journey, as well as, the destination.


  19. Okay, is it weird that I am really excited about this makeover??!! And it’s not even MY bathroom! haha

    Bravo Jen! It looks fab! SO MUCH BETTER! I have been working out my powder room redo in my head since last week. I think I’m going to head to Lowe’s and Home Depot and check out their OOPS paint section since I cringe every time I think of spending $25-$30 on paint right now. But my bathroom is pretty much dated as much as yours was. Mine has burgundy patterned wallpaper and brass accents. It does have bead board though which I am definitely leaving up.

    Can’t wait to see what else you do.


  20. Excellent! I love it! I love looking at before and after pictures, thanks!


  21. You can come do my guest bedroom! I’m trying to find an inexpensive queen size bed. I keep watching Freecycle, but they go so fast!! I may have to break down and buy one out of the classifieds. The only problem is I need a dresser and night stand as well. I guess there is always a finish or paint!


  22. Three years ago, there was no housing crisis, and in our area housing were selling as quickly as you could make an offer. We snagged a 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath brick house in a fabulous school district. Our home is a tiny starter home… It was built in the 1960’s, so it needed a lot of cosmetic work, however the home was sound structurally. It offered a fairly decent sized back yard and a quiet neighborhood street, two things that were very important for us. Since the economy has made it’s changes for the worse, my husband and I have been finding ways to update our home creatively without breaking the bank. It is absolutely amazing what some fresh paint and a few new-to-me decorations will do! I absolutely LOVE these types of posts and I look forward to seeing more about this beautiful room! Great job on the color choice and I love the updated look! Oh, and by the way, I remember when it was cool to have that paint and those flowers! Ha Ha Ha Ha You are not alone! 🙂


  23. wow, the redo looks great! Our main bath needs serious updating – I need to find a $5 cabinet bc that is exactly what I want – a nice cabinet over the toilet vs the ugly dust collecting rack I have now.


  24. Take a beautiful close-up picture of some of your favorite flowers and have Snapfish or some such website make it into a black and white (or sepia tone) poster size to frame. If you are like me you keep old frames to be painted. I have about 20 old Home Interiors frames that I buy at yard sales for a dollar. I just pop out the picture and sometimes the glass, too. You could definitely design a frame to compliment your Southern Living vase.


  25. Dog gone it! I’m always jumping the gun. I could have saved a bundle had I read this article first. My husband would have a hissy fit if he saw this story. I just had the family bathroom completely remodeled this past week and it cost me $6400 and I thought I was saving money with all the deal making I did. I do like the whirlpool bath though. And the contractors fell in love with the Kohler toilet lid that has the gentle close feature (no they didn’t use the toilet), they just stood there and kept opening the seat and then letting close on its own. One kept saying to the other “I’ll be, that’s got to be the fanciest cr**per I ever did see.” Ah schucks sweetie I love it when you talk dirty! Anyway not to steal the show, I think you did a bang up job.


  26. It looks beautiful! I am in the process of remodeling my bathrooms as well. You gave me some great ideas. I do go to Goodwill and look for things that I could paint or reuse in some way. I never that about garage sales before so maybe I will check into that.


  27. Yard Sale junkie says:

    For the bathroom redo, how about painting the mirror a silver color, and on the wall with the towel hanger, put THREE round or triangle shaped objects.

    that way, it will match the hardware on the sink, and you can get cute silver knobs at Ikea for about $2/6 knobs. You can use the same knobs on the chest.

    Blue, white and silver are luxurious and calming colors.

    By the way, I have DARK brown and white in my powder room.
    and I put gold frames with pictures over the toilet..VERY elegant!


  28. Thank you for your inspirational pictures. I think that the white color help a lot to lighten the room. In the past I had the same problem with ongoing dreaming of remodeling some rooms of my house. These days I try to save some time to put my ideas to action.


  29. Ila kaiser says:

    This is a very nice makeover. An idea for your blank wall might be an empty window frame with a nick nack or two on the window ledge. I might give the illusion of looking outside.


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