Transforming your powder room on a limited budget does not mean it should look cheap. You just have to be wise where you are spending your money and the final result will surprise you.
Follow me on my continuous journey to bring my house to this century, one project at a time.
Today, I will be showing you how I managed to transform my powder room from the 60s into a modern farmhouse chic design for around $350 bucks.
But first, I want you to savor the “before” images as they will give you a pretty good idea how bad things were.
The powder room before transformation
The top left image is the overall look of the bathroom. The image on the right is the “fabulous” (yuk) light fixture from the 80’s.
The bottom left image is the old metal sink covered in rust and chipped paint and the faucet. Don’t get me started on that faucet!
The bottom right image is the opposite wall from the sink. As you can see, pretty dated.
Let me tell you a secret. It used to be worse!
When I moved into this house, the wallpaper was this ugly purple ribbon print with pink flowers. It was so ugly I never even took any pictures.
Anyway, to protect my eyes from any damage (the wall was that ugly!), I slapped on a new wallpaper over the old. I had found this wallpaper at a thrift store for less than $3 bucks for 5 rolls. So for a temporary measure, it wasn’t too bad.
It was enough to cover the entire room and at least make it look semi-acceptable until I had the money to really transform that room.
Taking the wallpaper out
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Now that I finally could work in the powder room, the first thing I had to to do was remove the newspaper.
Let me tell you, it was pretty tedious work.
The lifesaver was using a wallpaper remover. At least the wallpaper would come out like “butta” once you applied the remover.
But it still took about 2 days to get it all out. Remember, I had two layers of wallpaper to remove.
Here’s the powder room without the wallpaper.
Notice the lovely 1965 Pepto pink walls?
Refinishing the walls – materials
After the wallpaper was removed, the walls were in pretty rough shape. To refinish the walls you will need the following materials:
- Finishing Trowel (to apply the compound)
- Squeegee Trowel (to smooth the compound)
- Pre-mixed Joint Compound (to refinish the wall)
- Sand paper both 60-80 grit and 220 for finishing)
- Hand Sander (by hand it takes longer)
- Paint with primer (your color choice- Mine was white)
- small bucket for the compound
After pulling all the wallpaper you will see that there are parts that are scratched, dinged or that need smoothing.
In my powder room, the walls were uneven because the top wall had the wallpaper but the bottom wall had paneling at some point in its life. So over the years with paint and wallpaper, the wall had some issues.
You may not need to do all this if your house is newer or the walls are in better shape than mine.
Applying the compound
Simply pick up a small amount of joint compound and smooth it over the wall. Like applying icing to a cake, or butter to a piece of bread (it’s not hard to learn this).
Apply the compound as needed and make sure to keep the amount even to cover all the details and defects. You will need to let it dry overnight and then apply a second coat.
Then it’s time to sand the wall. If you have “raised” areas with the compound, use the rougher grit sand paper (60 or 80) to “level” the raised spot. If the wall is mostly smooth then use the 220 for a smooth baby skin finish.
After your walls are dry, you can paint them.
The vanity transformation
Since I needed this project to meet a certain budget, I decided to save some money and restore my vanity.
There were many reasons I needed to do that. One, this vanity fit perfectly in the space. There was also a weird thing the builder did for the sink to fit in the space (see image below) so I didn’t want to risk having to restructure a new vanity just to fit in the weird space.
If you prefer a new vanity, below I gathered some ideas I found when searching for a vanity that could work in that space
Here is the vanity “before” restoring it:
To see how I transformed this vanity, check out my post about my vanity transformation from another bathroom project I worked on.
The techniques are the same and even the color and materials are the same. I wanted them to have the same style since these bathrooms are both downstairs. The only difference here is the size of the vanity.
Here are the “after” pics for this vanity:
And here, after cutting the sink and the butcher block to size:
After installing the sink and butcher block, it was time to install the wall feature. Since it was a very small room I wanted to add some “wow” factor to it.
So I chose a mosaic glass tile backsplash. I decided that I was going to apply it in a vertical line instead of the typical horizontal backsplash.
There are several ways to apply a backsplash if you are not comfortable with tiling. I am old school and just tiled with thin-set like any other tiling job.
But there are easier options like peel and stick tiles, or tile mats if you want to use your option of tiles but you don’t want to work with thin set. These are not the cheapest options but they are an option.
The materials for my wall feature:
I won’t be teaching you how to tile today, but there are some good videos on Youtube on how to tile a wall. It’s not that difficult.
The tricky part is cutting the tile. If you are using glass tiles it is easier to cut them with a manual saw.
If you are skilled with the wet saw it goes much quicker for sure. Be prepared to have 200 cuts on your fingers by the time you are done. If you can use gloves then do it. I just can’t work with gloves.
Once the tiles are on the wall, then apply grout. Clean up the grout with the sponges and rags. Be sure to cover your butcher block with plastic before working with water and grout.
It’s pretty messy. Plus you don’t want the grout getting on to the surface even if you seal your butcher block really well.
The tiled wall
Here’s the wall after tiling:
The lighting is not the best at this point because the only light (over the sink) was not installed yet.
And here’s the light fixture I selected:
Some similar styles that were my inspiration:
After installing the light fixtures I added some Edison lights to give it a “vintage” industrial farmhouse look to the powder room.
Here they are installed:
Finalizing the room:
After installing the lights, I added an oval mirror I found for about $25 bucks. Even though the room was white and gray, I wanted the mirror to have a silvery gold frame just like my other bathroom.
Finally, it was time to add the sink with plumbing (not my favorite part) and new faucets. I did splurge on the faucets ($99) because this room gets a lot of traffic when guests are over and a cheapie would not last.
I also wanted it to match with the other bathroom faucet.
The final product
It’s hard to believe this is the same room. Here is the final product. I’m so happy with the result:
My favorite part was decorating the powder room. The mirror was the first piece.
Then I wanted to add some storage over the toilet bowl for TP, an extra hand towel and a splash of color with an orange flower bouquet since the room was so white and gray.
For added style, I found this wooden star (left image) for sale for less than $10 bucks.
It serves a dual purpose: It’s a great looking wall piece but it also serves as a night light so guests can find the light switch when they enter the room. Even the towel ring was less than $5 bucks!
Here’s another angle. You can see the mirror a little better (the circle in the middle is actually a mirror on the opposite wall):
Pardon the lighting. It’s a very small and dark room.
Here’s yet another angle:
For the opposite wall, I just chose these round framed mirrors (also dirt cheap) and hung them with command strips to make sure people didn’t knock them out when they used the powder room (yes, the room is that narrow).
Total cost for this project was around $350 (mostly because of the butcher block, about $80 and the faucet about $99). The rest was the tiles (about 9 pieces at about $9 bucks each). I already had thin set, tools and paint from other projects.
The decor pieces were about $40 bucks total.
I hope this post inspired you to start your own powder room project.
Until next time,