Master Bathroom Redo: before & after

Hi all!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. You know what I am ever so thankful for? My master bathroom is done! And its 1980s wallpaper is history.  Yes, it is time to share the big reveal of my big master bathroom redo project.  Some projects are smooth sailing from start to finish. This one ... was not. Suffice it to say, as soon as I got started, I knew it was going to have to get really ugly before it got better.   Before I get into the nitty gritty details, here is a money shot right up front:

The plan was thus:  (1) remove the wallpaper, (2) make any necessary repairs and preparations to the walls, (3) paint, (4) accessorize, and (5) rejoice.  Steps 1 and 2 were a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  Using my parents' wallpaper steamer, I have removed wallpaper from about 5 rooms in the past and it has always gone well.  It's messy, but not difficult. Unfortunately, this room was different.  As soon as I started removing the paper, I knew I was in for it.  It appears that the people who put up the wallpaper did not use a coat of primer in between the drywall and the paper ... this makes removal of the paper extremely difficult.  I used the steamer to get alllllll that paper off the wall. Once all of the paper was off, I used a huge sponge and alternated between vinegar & water and commercial wallpaper glue remover to clean the walls. This part was *the worst* - such a mess.

Once the walls were clean, it was time to patch and repair.  There were several spots on the wall that needed attention.  Some spots were where the paper was stubborn and when I removed it, the putty knife went down to the drywall.  I used some thick spackle on these spots and a couple of wall repair patch kits (where the old towel bar used to be) and then sanded it down and cleaned off the dust.  Removing the wallpaper and glue and cleaning the walls took me about 10 hours over two days to complete.  But when it was done and once I cleaned up, the room looked like this:

So now the walls were all ready for paint!  A few weeks ago, I took advantage of a Sherwin Williams 40% off sale and picked up a gallon of one of my favorites, Super Paint, which has primer built in.  I already had 3/4 of a gallon of this paint left over from my powder room redo, but I worried I'd run out of paint mid-way through this project and there is *nothing* worse than having to stop painting half way through and go grab more paint. The color was Mindful Gray cut by 50%, and I have more plans for this color in other spaces in my house.  As it turns out, I used only half a gallon, so I didn't actually need to buy paint.  Ah well.

The room took just two coats of paint and about 2 hours to paint.  Bathrooms, while small, are so tricky because it is all cutting in and obstacles, like painting around and under the toilet or around the mirror or behind the sink.  But I got it done.

Finally, it was time to accessorize.  I added my white switch plate and outlet covers, new hooks on the back of the door, a cabinet over the toilet (etagere) (purchased at Lowes for $90) for more storage over the toilet and some art.  So without further ado,  here are the before and afters!

Before - this was the scene that greeted you when you walked in the bathroom.  Great fixtures and tile but horrible wallpaper that looked like someone went nuts with 1980s sponge paint in shades of grey, black and white.

After - Much better.  From crazy and cluttered to soft and soothing.

Before - You can get a better feel for the wallpaper in this shot of the area above my tub.  Can you see why every time I looked in, went in or thought about that room I cringed?

After - my how pretty!  The Mindful Gray works perfectly with the room and makes you focus on the gorgeous tile work.  I just love this color.  In some lights it's a true grey.  In others, it's almost a silvery sage (note: the silvery sage color is only due to my having Sherwin Williams cut the color by 50% - if I had gone with the darker, original formula, it would be a perfectly true grey).  I hung art that I already had and I think it looks ok in here.  I don't like a lot of "stuff" in bathrooms, so the sweet simplicity of this picture suits me perfectly. It's a little too small, but I will replace it with something larger in scale at some point.  

Before - the area around the toilet did not make sense.  Taking aside how awful that floor to ceiling wallpaper looked, the towel bar above the toilet drove me crazy.  It was too low to be functional and not centered.  Out it came.  

After - I removed the towel bar, patched up the holes that were left and brought in an inexpensive wall cabinet for more storage.  It's functional and pretty.

Before - I took those ugly hooks off the door and replaced them with a nice brushed nickel towel bar.  I also replaced the ugly rusted switch plate cover and wallpapered outlet cover with basic white ones.

After - little details make a big impact, don't you think? By the way, I made do with what I could with the built in soap dish and toothbrush holder.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.   That project is off my list.  I cannot believe how much bigger and more modern my bathroom feels.  I'm so pleased with the result, even if it was a bit of a total bear to get there.

I wanted to keep the cost around $100.  I went a little over budget due to the (ultimately unnecessary) paint.  Here is the breakdown:

* $90 - wall cabinet
* $30 - gallon of paint
* $17 - hooks for door
* $3 - switch plate and outlet covers
Total $140.00

All told, not bad for such a huge transformation, no?  So what about you?  Have you ever removed a room full of 1980s wallpaper and lived to tell the tale? I always forget how messy of a job it is to steam wallpaper until I'm knee-deep in it.  That is why there are no "in progress" shots from me on this project: I wanted it d-o-n-e and did not want to stop for a moment.

See you swoon,


  1. Great job! So clean and simple. I love the tile work in there but you could hardly notice it before with that horrible wall paper!

  2. Cogratulations on all that hard work! Do you feel like your blood pressure has been lowered, now that you don't have to look at that atrocious paper every day?

  3. That wall paper was pretty bad. I love the new and improved bathroom! Good job!

  4. Wow, truly incredible work, Shanna! Amazeballs!

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