By April 7, 2017Bathrooms, Our Home

In my mind, a good before and after post has lots of nice photos, not too many words, and a very satisfying difference between the yucky before and the fabulous after. So….I’m thinking this is probably a MEDIUM-good before and after post. I don’t have any great pics of the true before, the after isn’t CRAZY different than the before, and I’m very likely to say way too much. So I’m sorry in advance. That said, let’s take a peek at what we had to start off with, yes? Yes. And by yes, I mean – here’s a super blurry shot of just a peek into the bathroom, showing the existing green wallpaper (which was honestly pretty fab in my mind, kind of a taffeta-ish fabric situation with some textural marbling which is almost impossible to see here – you’re welcome), a nice medley of whites and creams fighting each other via the mirror frame, countertop, wall tiles, AND floor tiles, and a classic builder-grade vanity base in a nice oak-vomit stain.

We lived with things like this for several years, I spruced it up a bit with a little artwork and contrasting linens, but then I started dreaming about painting things on the existing wallpaper, and that’s when we started getting things moving a bit. I enlisted the help of my friend Rachel, told her I was hoping for some kind of botanical wallpaper effect, and she took it from there.

Here you can see on the left how she started – drawing outlines with chalk, then painting the big monstera leaves first – and on the right is the finished product with paint still drying and her painting paraphernalia still hanging out on the toilet.

I was SO incredibly happy with how things turned out that I promptly forgot anything else existed in that bathroom, and I had tunnel vision for that gorgeous pink and green pattern whenever I looked at it. I mean, come on, right??

BUT, as you can see below, we still had the same meh vanity plus the same annoying mirror that was just off-center-to-the-right enough to drive me bonkers whenever I looked at it. Now don’t get me wrong – with wallpaper like that, I was this close to just leaving it as-is, knowing that most of us don’t even notice the oddities of the plain stuff when there’s something so pretty to look at. But I was curious to see if I could give it a little extra pizzazz with minimal effort/money/time…so I started hatching a few ideas.

My main goal was just to spruce things up to tie it all together, giving the poor mirror a little help and dressing up the vanity a bit to look more intentional. A coat of paint and some fun hardware was the obvious choice for the vanity – and for the mirror, I made a list of the attributes I was looking for and started brainstorming about what could pull those elements in. I knew if I painted the vanity green to coordinate with the walls, I’d probably be looking for more of a natural/brown/wood type of color family to contrast. I wanted texture, too, and something that wouldn’t fight with the floral pattern. Oh AND it would have to be the exact size (plus a little wider) as the existing mirror since the wallpaper stops at the current mirror frame. Bamboo seemed like a good choice, and I was hoping for something with simple lines, so I started hunting around for EXACTLY the right size and EXACTLY the clean simple lines I wanted – and of course came up with zero options. The closest I got was this round sunburst mirror (below left) that didn’t really look anything like what I had in my head, but got me thinking about short bamboo pieces and the super cheap bamboo garden stakes I’d seen at Home Depot (below right) which could be very easily cut into shorter pieces. I thought maybe I could just glue bamboo onto the existing mirror frame (which, BTW, is glued firmly to the wall), but the lovely decorative molding that makes up the frame was way too uneven to swing that. SO, I moved on to the idea of hanging a frame in front of the existing mirror, then started scavenging around the garage to see if I had anything in the general size that would work – and found this old window screen we were getting rid of (below center).

It’s metal, so nice and sturdy, I could easily remove the screen, and it’s super lightweight so ideal for hanging in front of the existing mirror. AND, just my luck – it was the perfect size! I hung the frame temporarily so I could figure out exactly how long I’d need the bamboo pieces to be in order to fully cover the existing frame – and took my time measuring things out so I could not just cover the frame, but cover it in such a way that it would “move” the entire mirror to the right, solving the off-center issue.

Then it was just a matter of getting a BUNCH of these little bamboo pieces cut to size (THANK YOU SCOTT BROWN), and carefully gluing them to the frame. I absolutely love the way it turned out, and at the moment it’s just hanging securely on 2 little nails and pretending like it’s all perfect and meant to be. WHICH IT IS.

Once I had the vanity painted and the mirror frame up, I pondered the fixtures and hardware for 2.3 seconds, decided I’d take the shiny brass elements that were already there and just play them up a little with accessories and vanity hardware (thrifted brass globe candleholder, brass frame, brass base to the Target succulent planter, and the brass door pulls I found at Ace Hardware for like $1.50 apiece). Still debating whether I want to find a good brass paint and spruce up the heating vent along the base of the left wall, but for now I’m just happily ignoring it.

To break up the large expanse of LIGHTNESS that takes up the toilet space and wall above it, I thought some artwork might be nice, and I’d stumbled upon this perfect frame/mat combo at the thrift store for $2 – so I swapped out the old photo it came with, added a Cheerily postcard (that they include with all product shipments, SO cute), found a nice command strip wall hook that stuck nicely to the tile, and that was that.*

*”That was that” – UNTIL the hook came unstuck one day recently, the picture crashed down and the glass shattered, and now it’s hanging back up sans glass and nobody cares cuz you can see the postcard just that much more clearly.

And now, as I’ve mentioned on IG several times, it’s just about the happiest place to be in the house – and as if certain people weren’t already tempted to LINGER here, this definitely makes it that much harder to leave your perch!!

As I mentioned before, I realize this is just a medium-quality before and after, so if I missed anything obvious or if you have any questions on my process, execution, mental state, ETC – hit me up in the comments and I’ll fill in whatever I can!


  • emily jane says:

    Hi! This is my first time visiting your blog (via an Emily Henderson Instagram repost : ) and I just have to say -I think this is a fantastic transformation! I am at the tail end of transforming what already existed in my own bathroom and yours is making me wistful about some of my choices… I love how you upgraded the wallpaper with the gorgeous hand painted wall mural (non-sequitur: which totally reminds me of Hawaii!). The color you choose for the vanity is sublime with the botanical wall ‘paper’. Your fix for the glued-on-off-center mirror (whaaat.!?) was inspired and brings the warmth of wood into the room beautifully (so much more balanced and intentional than if you had simply left the vanity -good eye! Mine is coated in some kind of plastic making painting it impossible -plus my bathroom also needs the warmth of wood so I am on the hunt for a vintage record cabinet to serve as my vanity instead : ).
    Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

    • Susie says:

      Thanks so much, Emily! Every single thing you pointed out was a result of lots of contemplation and frustration, so to hear that it gave you inspiration definitely makes it all worth it! 🙂 I completely agree that the warmth of wood makes things feel so much more “complete” and authentic and homey. Do you have pictures of your reno anywhere? I’d love to take a peek!


  • emily jane says:

    Hi Susie : ) The process you describe -although tough while experiencing it- is my favorite kind of success! All day long I’ve kept going back to your reveal picture -each time my eye is pleased as it naturally travels around the room (image). My bathroom transformation isn’t quite ready to share (I’m going to either paint or install peel & stick vinyl flooring over what was intended to be a neutral floor tile but ended up having an odd pink undertone that did not play well with others!) but, I can tell you it involved painting my tub/shower tile surround -black! Once it’s finished I’ll let you know : )
    ps. I’ve been flirting with sharing the transformations of my home (along with my corresponding thoughts of course!) somewhere on social media but haven’t felt particularly confident. Your blog post (a house with wall to wall carpet…) was particularly helpful to me. Thanks!

  • Ventura IT says:

    I am an email subscriber! Thanks, Cindi

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