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From 90’s to Now: Guest Bathroom Makeover Before + After

    bathroom with floral wallpaper

    Before and afters are the very best, aren’t they?!

    Our little guest bathroom has undergone a great transformation that I can’t wait to show you.

    Here’s a sneak peek of the after (because I just can’t handle leading the post with one of the before pictures!).

    Isn’t it pretty?

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    Our house was built in the early 90’s and we think underwent a few updates throughout the years – tile floors in the kitchen and mud room, a full master bathroom remodel in the early 2000’s, possibly a few light fixtures over the years and we’re guessing the bead board and vanity in the small main floor guest bathroom we not original when the house was built. Even with those updates over the last 25 years, most of the house still feels a bit dated. We’ve spent the past year slowly making changes to bring a more modern, current feel to our home. The little bathroom was next on the list.

    This little windowless bathroom sits right off the kitchen and is the only bathroom on the main floor.

    Here’s a random photo to help you get a feel for where it is located (that doorway on the left):

    The location of the bathroom is not our very favorite as it lacks privacy and feels sort of weird having it open right into the kitchen. One of the first things we did when we moved in was add an automatic closing hinge to the door so that while sitting at the kitchen table, you don’t have to peer right into the bathroom (then we added a magnetic door stop so that you can make the door stay open if needed). Eventually, we’d like to move the door around the corner in the entry hallway to offer a bit more privacy and close off the bathroom from the kitchen.

    Here’s another shot to show you how the bathroom fits in the floor plan. To the right is the front door and entry hall, to the left is the family room and behind us is the kitchen table and kitchen.

    So, when we first saw the house, this is what the bathroom looked like:

    And when we moved in, it looked like this:

    The first order of business was painting over those red walls.

    Red was a very popular color – especially for dining rooms – in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, but it is perhaps my least tolerable color and felt particularly painful to my neutral-loving-eyes in this tiny bathroom. One afternoon after the boys’ football game, I pulled out a leftover can of paint from our old house and painted right over that red.

    After painting the walls white and the door and trim charcoal, we replaced the chunky black framed mirror with a thin round brass mirror and installed modern brass towel and toilet paper holders (no longer available, but this and this are very similar).

    Those little updates did a lot to just neutralize the space and make it a little more updated.

    The thing about this little bathroom, though, is that it is right in the middle of the house where we see it and use it often and yet it had no unique style. It was also feeling super dark and heavy with that black vanity.

    So this summer, I’ve been making a few additional easy changes to inject a bit of style and special-ness to the otherwise blah bathroom.

    The first step was painting that vanity. I ordered a sample pot of paint during a Sherwin Williams paint sale in one of my favorite gray-blues called Rushing River (it’s the same color as Audrey’s bed, seen here). I think the sample was $4.50-ish. I lightly sanded the vanity and then just brushed on three coats of satin paint and let it dry for a few days before adding knobs I had leftover from our old house.

    Lightening up the vanity did a lot to tone down the size and starkness of the previously black vanity.

    Next, I installed a striking (and slightly dizzying!) removable wallpaper called Vintage Poppy in a deep navy color. In case you missed it, here is the post all about the installation process.

    With the brass mirror back up on the wall and a few accessories added for color and detail, here is that little bathroom all updated for today.

    The best part is that now when the door is left open, the bathroom is actually charming to look at!

    These little changes have made a big impact in turning our 90’s bathroom into a modern and updated space.


    mirror | wallpaper | vanity paint | towel bar (similar) | hand towel | striped tray | white vase (similar) | brass vase (vintage)

    27 thoughts on “From 90’s to Now: Guest Bathroom Makeover Before + After”

    1. This is beautiful, I love how the updates are subtle but cause such a dramatic impact. I mean that wallpaper is just stunning! The way you have paired with pale green/grey with the navy is just lovely!

      I struggle with inspiration for bathrooms sometimes but this went straight on my Pinterest board!

      Claire xx

    2. Was the vanity wood or laminate? I have a large white laminate vanity and would love to paint it, can you paint laminate?? Help! Gorgeous makeover!

      1. It is wood with a shiny finish on it. You can paint lamintate – you’ll just want to make sure you have the right formula of paint to make sure it adheres.

    3. Emily this is so helpful thank you! We have a similar sized bathroom that opens into the kitchen, and I dislike it but not many options to change it. I didn’t think about the closing door hinge! I will have to get one.

      It turned out beautifully!!

    4. Its so beautiful and classic. How do you think the beadboard would hold up in a bathroom with a shower? Our kids bath does not have a window and I want to lighten it up, and thought about adding beadboard on the bottom of the room. I just worry about the moisture.

    5. So beautiful! What light fixture are you using over the mirror? I’m in the middle of a DIY in our guest bathroom (which incidentally is inspired by your white paint over the red walls post a while back – even using the same mirror!) and can’t decide on light fixture! Won’t you be my neighbor?

      1. We are just sticking to the ceiling light for now. There is a spot for a light above the mirror, but the hole is not centered. We just capped it and put wallpaper right over it. When we do a remodel, we’ll add a light back in.

    6. I LOVE it. I like the details on the vanity (they pop with the new color). I really like the wallpaper and the uniqueness it brings. Great job!

    7. Love the bathroom update! You always inspire me. :) Random question, but can you tell me the name of the candle in the bathroom? I remember that Anthropologie used to sell it and I love the scent and the look of the tin! They no longer carry it at my local store and I am on the hunt to find it. Thanks so much.

    8. I love following your blog. Wow, the new bathroom is beautiful, love the vanity color and style. Amazing wha a little paint will do. I’d love to know if the vanity is still for sale somewhere. Does it have a brand stamp inside? Maybe a pretty satin nickel hanging light fixture would be a nice addition too. Will you have any artwork? I love art in the bathroom it take your mind to another place of beauty.
      We have been renovation our 1960 home for 3 years now – a very long process. Your home is turning out lovely.

    9. Is there something wrong with me? I liked the black vanity the way it was. The new knobs are very cute and I do love the wall paper. But couldn’t the vanity stay?

    10. So I recently purchased that round mirror, having seen it in a sweet little local coffee shop’s bathroom. When I excitedly sent my sister a photo, she realized she has the same mirror hanging over her bed. She just sent me a text message with a screen shot of your post because she knows we both follow you…”Bathroom makeover!! Is that the mirror!?!?!?” Sure enough. Great minds think alike. :)

    11. Love the gray on the vanity–it makes such a difference (and this is from someone who’d do a black&white house if she could, so I’m rarely against black furnishings.)

    12. Emily you did a great job! Love the wallpaper & the colour of the vanity is so much better. It looks like a totally different unit somehow.

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