Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Our powder room makeover was a long time coming. It is the first room you see as you come into our front entry and it was an eyesore. Dated oak cabinets, builder beige walls, old toilet and an ugly light fixture made for a poor first impression.

It HAD to change, but having just gotten married, we were on a tight budget. We salvaged everything that was usable and upcycled some second hand finds (one found in our very own basement), making this a budget friendly makeover – and a fairly sustainable one too!

Powder Room Makeover Demolition

We started by stripping everything away that we would either replace or update. That turned out to be everything except the cabinet doors!

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After taking down the sheet of mirror over the old vanity, patch the walls. Wanting to add a hanging mirror there instead, I couldn’t find anything that really caught my fancy. Until one day we found something fantastic in a pile of old junk in our very own basement!

Prime the walls and then paint the entire room. We chose a dark charcoal grey.  You might think that a dark colour will make the room look smaller, but it doesn’t. I think it’s because there’s a lot of contrast by way of artwork, fixtures and trim paint, which are all light in colour.

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Patching the walls before priming

Powder Room Makeover – Rebuilding the Vanity

Hubs ended up rebuilding the vanity cabinet because it wasn’t very sturdy, but kept the doors so I could add a very special feature: some iridescent grey water glass.

We cut the centre panel out of each door, then spray painted the frames with a charcoal grey car paint. Car paint is great to use in the bathroom in case there’s any splashes!

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After the paint was dry, I inserted the glass into the doors, hung them on the cabinet and added new hardware.

Because this particular glass isn’t tempered, I don’t recommend putting water glass in the lower part of any cabinet if you have young children.  For us that isn’t a problem because we don’t have kids in the house (and I want the powder room to have some sparkle!).


Water glass is beautiful, but it isn’t tempered so beware!

After the cabinet was done, we popped on the countertop. The counter was actually the inspiration for the colour scheme of the entire bathroom. It happened to be a left over piece from the renovation of a previous house I fixed up. I knew I’d have a use for it one day, so I held onto it – for a few years 🙂 It was the perfect size – and essentially free!

Powder Room Makeover Backsplash

I installed a glass tile backsplash before we cut the hole for the sink. The counter gave me somewhere to work and rest my tools and adhesive/bucket of grout while I was installing the tile. Because it was such a tiny area (and we were trying to save money), I used a dollar store rubber kitchen spatula instead of a more expensive float to apply the grout! It worked great.

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Once the tile is done, we’re ready to install a new ceramic sink that we found on clearance. Before installing it we use putty to seal around the hole cut for the sink. The putty adds an extra measure of water proofing that I think is better than caulking for sealing. It also provides a cushion to bed the sink into.

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Putty is rolled into ropes before applying to sink area

Here, you can see the dramatic charcoal grey on all the walls contrasts with the while trim, towels and flooring. We also installed a new matching toilet paper and towel holder in a chrome finish to add more sparkle.

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We decided we needed extra storage because my husband was going to be using the powder room in the morning to shave and brush his teeth so he wouldn’t wake me up. We found an old wooden medicine cabinet door at the Habitat for Humanity Re Store – I think it cost a mere $2 – and built a box for it with some shelves! We measured the perimeter of the cabinet, then cut a hole in the drywall between the studs so we could recess it into the wall.  We added some 2 x 4’s along the top and bottom in between the studs to reinforce the structure to accept the cabinet.

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We spray painted the cabinet frame and door the same colour as the walls so it would blend in seamlessly.

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But then I decided to do THIS to the centre of the door:

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Testing out the spacing on the wall

I literally just decoupaged on prints from an old calendar – again, another freebie ! I added an additional decorative raised effect using venetian plaster that I troweled through a variety of botanical and nautical stencils. The next step was to crackle the surface and rub in a bit of stain to age it and highlight the cracks. Finally, I added some thin strips of wood to separate each image and added a high gloss Varathane to protect the whole surface from splashes.

The decoupaged door adds just the right pop of colour to the monochromtic space, don’t you think?

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A plain wooden cabinet get a fun decoupage finish to add a POP of colour!

Once the cabinet was done, I needed a mirror that would counterbalance it and also reflect the burst of colour coming from the ‘artwork’. Here is what we found in the aforementioned junk pile in our basement:

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It wasn’t a thing of beauty – yet, but it had potential! It clearly needed a cosmetic overhaul so, in keeping with the monochromatic colour theme, we stripped it down to bare wood and then primed and gave it a fresh coat of the same charcoal paint we used on our wall.

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I absolutely love that the mirror used to belong to my husband’s great grandmother; it adds a vintage touch to the space. I also love the authentic antique quality of the mirror glass itself. It’s see-through in spots; to me, the fact that the silver backing isn’t perfect makes it so much more beautiful!

Here’s the reveal once the mirror was in place. Doesn’t the mirror balance and reflect the medicine cabinet beautifully?

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You’d think we might have stopped there, but we really wanted to go all out with the glamour so we splurged a little and added some crown moulding at the ceiling.

First, we installed some wooden corner blocks to help us position the moulding and then we pin-nailed it in place. We caulked any gaps at the ceiling and walls with paintable caulk.

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As you can see above, we still didn’t have a light fixture in place at this point. I was taking a stained glass fusing course at the time and decided to make my own light fixture. It’s subtle, but you can see that there are starfish in the glass that play off the ceramic ones I attached to the wall above the toilet. The white in the crown mouding, light fixture and star fish are a nice contrast against the deep colour of the walls.

Here’s how the light fixture looked before and after.

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Light fixture before and after

Here are a few more afters. I added some light, airy artwork and ceramic starfish on the walls.



And a final before and after comparison:

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The makeover was a big improvement; now we’re no longer embarrassed to have guests use the power room and my husband has a nice place to get ready in the morning. At first, he thought it was too nice and thought we should reserve it for guests only. However, I truly believe that the real secret to a long and a happy marriage is never having to share a bathroom, so I didn’t see any reason to start 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to pin and share.

Have a look at some of our other bathroom renos:

Maximizing Bathroom Space:

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Reclaim and Maximize Space in the Bathroom:

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Bathroom Vanity Makeover:


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