Modern and Playful Budget Bathroom Makeover

Building on the theme from my post a couple of weeks ago on small changes, big impact, I thought I'd share a favorite small-budget project of mine from our home: the bathroom. (Some of y'all saw a shot of it on Instagram, and that reminded me that I haven't talked about the story behind it on here!) My goal is to show you that you can completely change the look and feel of a room without doing an ounce of major renovating or emptying your bank account - sometimes all it takes is a little thought and creativity (and sometimes a lot of elbow grease, but we'll get to that in a second!). 

When we bought our 1930s row house in Philadelphia a little over a year ago, we inherited a bright purple bathroom from the previous owners. Now, purple isn't inherently terrible, but this room was painted not one, but two shades of purple from top to bottom. It made our already small bathroom feel really tight and dark. Since it's our only (yep! only) bathroom in the house, it needed an update ASAP, and it was a top priority once we finished our other major updates in other parts of the house.

Here's one of the real estate photos of the bathroom to give you an idea of what we were dealing with:

And here's what it looked like the day we closed:

Forgive the crazy lighting in that one!

The two shades of poorly painted purple aren't doing this bathroom any favors, but if you can see past that, this space actually has good bones and features like beadboard, a pedestal sink, and that classic floor tile pattern. Gutting the bathroom and starting from scratch wasn't in the cards for the foreseeable future, so we chose to give the whole room a simple refresh with paint, update the sconces, and remove some of the clutter on the walls that was making it feel smaller than it is.

Side note: if I was designing a bathroom from scratch, would I choose what's currently in there? Probably not - it's certainly not the bathroom of my dreams, but there are/were higher priority projects that we chose to invest in over a totally new bathroom, and I'm totally fine with that!

The first step in this makeover was to get rid of all that purple. After priming, I used Behr Ultra Pure White on the beadboard and Benjamin Moore Winter White on the walls, which are the same wall and trim colors in the rest of in our house. I also took down the glass shelf by the mirror, the small accordion vanity mirror and the two towel rings on the linen closet doors to give the small space a more open feel.


At that point, it was basically a blank canvas - time to bring some color and interest back in! Since the white mirror/medicine cabinet practically disappeared into the wall, I decided to paint it matte metallic brass from Modern Masters. This paint is amazing for projects like this. I love their colors and finish, and the metallic pigment is stellar.


Next, I knew that the upper half of the walls needed something amazing to make them really pop. I hemmed and hawed about doing wallpaper, but ultimately, I decided to throw caution to the wind and freehand a pattern all the way across the wall. I sketched out some patterns on a piece of poster board and ended up with a simple repeating hash pattern (is that what you'd call it?). It's almost like a basketweave. It took a couple of afternoons to finish, but was surprisingly therapeutic. It turned out really well, and I consider it the highest compliment when someone asks if it's wallpaper! #winning


The color is Valspar's Gotham Gray. Depending on the light, it looks like a charcoal gray with some blue in it or nearly black. I love love the color. It ties into the small blue floor tiles really nicely without being a perfect match. 

One other minor change I made was with the sconces. If you look at the before photos, you'll notice that they point up and have more of a fluted glass shade. They looked a little dated and their placement was too high for you to see yourself well in the mirror. Instead of replacing them completely and moving the electrical boxes, I simply turned them 180 degrees so they pointed down, and replaced the fluted glass shades with some more streamlined, modern looking ones. It was a small update (all it took was time and about $15) that made a huge difference both functionally and stylistically. 

All in, I think we spent about $50 for this makeover - I'd definitely file that into the "small change, big impact" category! Ahh, the power of paint. :)

What small budget projects have made a big difference in your home?

Catch a glimpse of my bathroom featured on Shutterfly's bathroom ideas page!


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