Before and After: Dated master bathroom becomes ‘jewel box’ space

If you like DIY and have an entire house ready for renovation, it’s all too easy to focus on every other space or project, leaving the bathroom to the last! But as one of the most used places in the house, it’s worth giving it an upgrade.

If you are looking for a bathroom renovation, there is a lot of inspiration to be found. But as someone who likes to be hands-on with all my home improvements, I think taking your own approach to your design is an absolute must.

As you’ll probably realize if you’ve read my past articles or followed my social media accounts, I can’t get enough of wallpapers… in all areas of my home! When we bought our farmhouse and started renovating, I knew I wanted it to have a traditional, somewhat cottage feel. I wanted all bathrooms and small spaces to feel like a ‘jewel box’ where you walk in and discover a new color or playful pattern that is completely unique. But first we started here with this outdated bathroom.

The dated bathroom in front of it

For Brooke Waite's dated bathroom space with wood details, carpet, and white drab walls

Credit: Brooke Waite

Before we got to the wallpaper, a lot of time and planning now went into this luxurious master bathroom space. This is what we did.

Do-it-yourself half and half

We gutted the whole room and took out the tiled built-in tub, shower and vanity and tile floor. About half of the space was homemade, including the renovation. The spaces we rented out included plumbing and tiling. We had a contractor tile the shower in a herringbone pattern with this beautiful cerulean blue Zelige tile (opens in new tab)from Floor & Decor. We repeated the herringbone pattern on the floor with a marble tile. Our plumber installed the shower fixtures, the freestanding bathtub and the faucets for the sink. We had a glass shower door measured and placed by a local glass company.

Modern farmhouse remodel with wallpaper

Credit: Brooke Waite

Working with what we had

If you remember a few months ago, I wrote a piece on how I upcycled a vintage dresser into a vanity unit and it turned out better than I could have hoped! The vanity is unique in that we can use all of the dresser drawers functionally, except two, as we had to make room for the undercounter sinks.

White bathroom with bath and wooden sink with recycle top

Credit: Brooke Waite

We were able to fabricate a piece of leftover quartz left over from our kitchen remodel for the new vanity top. To maximize space around the vanity, I installed brass hooks on each side of the vanity to hang towels.

Wooden bathroom cabinet with brass towel hook installed

Credit: Brooke Waite

Smart use of lighting

As a rule of thumb, bathrooms should have two light sources. This tiny bathroom has a small window that lets in much-needed natural light. We have also installed recessed spots and this stylish Linea di Liara Forma Gold Wall Sconces with White Fabric (opens in new tab) that I found on Amazon, on both sides of the wall mirrors I also found online (opens in new tab). The attached water closet has a recessed ceiling fixture which I actually have found at Overstock (opens in new tab) and that helped perfect the bathroom lighting scheme.

Bathroom ceiling lamp in white

Credit: Brooke Waite

Achieving a tailored look

To achieve my desired “jewel box” look, I really wanted to play with color in this space. The shower tiles already add so much character, but I wanted to add a complementary color to the walls and find a way to reuse wallpaper. I ended up using two types of bathroom wallpaper for the walls.

Bathroom with patterned wallpaper, white fabric sconces and wall mirror over white sink

Credit: Brooke Waite

I wanted a beadboard look for the lower half of the walls without using mdf beadboard panels. First, medium density fiberboard (MDF) should not be used in areas likely to contain moisture. The wood swells and bends when wet and can cause mold to form. Second, beadboard panels would be very difficult to install in this small space, around a bathtub and vanity. (I installed beadboard panels in my laundry room behind the washer and dryer, but I used smaller vinyl panels to avoid using MDF.)

White beadboard wallpaper installed in the bathroom next to the blue tile wall

Credit: Brooke Waite

This beadboard wallpaper I bought on Amazon (opens in new tab) was just the ticket! Looks exactly like beadboard, but comes in rolls as wallpaper. The texture almost feels like a foam product. I have to say in all my experience installing wallpaper, this was by far the easiest product to use. I simply cut panels to my wall size (no need to align a droplet pattern here) and dipped the panels in water for a few seconds to activate the adhesive on the back of the paper. Once on the wall it was easy to move. The only setback was that the paper tore once or twice, but I’ve learned to be a little softer. The same wallpaper installation tools were used here. Such a win win! A beadboard look without the hassle of installing beadboard.

Bathroom with half-painted beaded wallpaper in Behr 'Nature's gift'

Credit: Brooke Waite

Once all the beadboard wallpaper was installed I installed a 1×4 above it and cove molding to make it a bit more sophisticated. Above the upholstery I have a beautiful colorful fig leaf vine wallpaper (opens in new tab). This was a traditional paper that required wallpaper paste.

Another advantage of using the beadboard wallpaper is that it is paintable! I choose “Nature’s Gift” by Behr (opens in new tab) before that and all cladding and doors in the room. I chose to spray paint, but using a paint roller would work just fine here too.

The finishing touches are the art and the vintage brass hooks and vintage carpet.

Brass Hooks With Waffle White Towel And Pattern Wallpaper

Credit: Brooke Waite

The results

Modern farmhouse remodel with wallpaper

Credit: Brooke Waite

I like this colorful room. Keeping the floors and vanity neutral allowed me to add a bold color to the shower and complement it with the greenery of the wall treatment and vine wallpaper.

Modern farmhouse remodel with wallpaper

Credit: Brooke Waite

I feel like I’ve achieved the jewelry box look I went for here… guess what? Would you ever use beadboard wallpaper?

Project cost breakdown:

  • Labor (plumbing, electrical, tile) $7,500
  • Plumbing fixtures $570
  • Shower glass $600
  • Vintage sideboard $100
  • Vanity quart $1000
  • Bathtub $800
  • Lighting $210
  • Mirrors $200
  • Background $266
  • Trim $75
  • Paint $90

The cost for the full bathroom renovation came in at $11,511, but we compared what we could have afforded had we not decided to do most of the work!

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