Kelley DiGioia and her boyfriend love their new house. But they did not love its main-floor bathroom.
“It's very small, with basically just enough to room to turn around,” DiGioia said. “There is zero storage and no natural light.”
Here’s how they made the space bright and workable for under $200.
Working the walls
DiGioia didn’t hate the existing wallpaper, but it simply wasn’t to the couple’s tastes.
“It was outdated, but I lived with it for almost two years before I changed it, so it certainly wasn't the bane of my existence,” she said. “However, the fact that it was black made doing my makeup in this room almost impossible because of the fact that there is no window that lets in natural light.”
Beyond that, the old paper was peeling off the walls, and was beyond saving.
So she decided on a light color for the walls to brighten the room as much as possible (Irish Mist by Behr) — and in the process of preparing the walls to paint, she discovered some fun notes and sketches from the previous homeowner!
There is a window in the room, but it is mirrored instead of glass: It once led to the outside, but the previous owners built a sunroom on to the back of the house, and opted for the mirrored panes instead of drywall.
Black and white appeal
Once the wallpaper was gone, DiGioia said, everything else just fell into place. “Even if renovations were in our budget — they aren’t — I would have kept almost everything else as is.”
The bathroom’s existing black and white floor tiles were in great shape, and were only in need of a good cleaning. After trying many chemical cleaners, DiGioia said she found white vinegar and baking soda cleaned them best.
“They came out looking like new after a few days of me scrubbing until my hands hurt,” she said.
Working with the color theme, DiGioia removed the white country-style frame from the medicine cabinet, polished the metal underneath, and added tempered glass shelves and a striped shower curtain.
“I love that it's black and white so I can add pops of colors seasonally,” she said.
DiGioia’s goal was not to obliterate the old space, but simply to bring it back to life.
“To me, the best part about an older home is in the smaller details like the architecture and tiles,” she said. “If you can preserve [original details] and add modern touches in other ways — furniture, lighting, accessories — then I think you can have the best of both worlds. I picked what I wanted to work with, and made that the focus of the bathroom, so people can appreciate what I kept rather than it getting lost in a room full out outdated features.”
Teeny, tiny budget
By her calculations, DiGioia spent just under $194 on the remodel. That figure includes a $15 quart of paint, sconces that cost under $32 apiece from Home Depot, glass shelves for just over $20 and an $18 shower curtain from Target — plus $12 spent on new toothbrushes!
A sense of accomplishment
After about a week’s worth of DIY-ing during time off from her day job, the task was complete. DiGioia said the paper lifted easily without steaming or scraping, which saved a lot of time, and painting took only a few hours in such a small space.
“It’s not a big project at all since it was such a small room.”
Her favorite part: knowing that she did it all herself!
“I get a rush of pride when I walk in or by the room because I know I struggled putting in the sconces, and I was on my knees behind the toilet cleaning the floor. If I can do something myself I'm going to do it, so not only do I get to enjoy the ‘after,’ but I get to enjoy the pride of having completed it.”