How to Update a Half-Bath for under $200!

Not all renovation projects should break the bank or involve a ton of work. Some need only a couple of inexpensive changes, such as paint and new fixtures or decor. Our downstairs half bath was one of these projects. It desperately needed updating, but considering the multitude of other projects we wanted to accomplish in this house, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a full renovation.

The only other rooms downstairs are the man cave (yes, my husband is a lucky man), laundry room, the foyer area leading to the upstairs main floor and a bonus room; which right now is just extra storage space and the cat’s room (she’s a spoiled little fur-baby).

Half-bath Before:

Our home was built in the mid-seventies and unfortunately this bathroom, along with much of the rest of the house, was still stuck there.

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The plumbing fixtures were in good condition and considering we didn’t need a vanity with storage since this was only a half bath, we kept the pedestal sink and toilet.

I had some paint left over from earlier projects, a darker blue gray and taupe. This allowed us to save some money and the colors worked well together, a win-win in my opinion. We needed more trim paint to use on the paneling and base trim, so this was an item we had to purchase (approximately $50 for 1 gal.). Since we were painting trim throughout the rest of the house I didn’t count it as such a huge hit to the budget on this project. We used Behr Marquee Cameo White for all the trim in our house. This has become my favorite white because it’s a soft off white without any yellow undertones. Plus it contrasts gorgeously with our dark walnut floors throughout the main floor of the house.

Wallpaper Removal:

The first task was to begin removing the wallpaper. I had already removed wallpaper in the upstairs hallway using a steamer that a friend was nice enough to lend us and it came off like a dream. So, of course I was feeling cocky, assuming that this would be just as easy. Especially since only half of the walls were covered with wallpaper. The bottom half had faux wood paneling that ran up to the chair railing. My cockiness soon disappeared. This wallpaper was nothing like the wallpaper upstairs. It was more like the thinnest, slickest wrapping paper I’d ever used. I could get the actual wallpaper off in small sections but the backing and glue was another story.


Wallpaper Removal

I used the steamer to get the paper off and after some research; decided that the best way to tackle the glue was with a hot soapy water mixture and an old spackling knife. This didn’t cost any money since we had the tools and materials. Not to mention there were no harsh chemicals to breathe in in such a small space. I wanted to preserve the drywall so we wouldn’t have to replace any. This meant being careful not to get it too wet or press too hard with the knife so as not to create any gauge marks. I used an old paintbrush with stiff bristles to wet an area with the warm to mixture. This softened up the glue and helped it to separate from the wall. Using the spackling knife, I scraped away the glue and backing. I will not lie; this process was extremely tedious and very messy! I would highly recommend a drop cloth for this part to catch some of the mess and a shop-vac to clean up.

Wall Prep:

We also had a medicine cabinet mirror that we planned on replacing with a regular hanging mirror. I personally don’t like medicine cabinets. This one was not only incredibly outdated but also was placed so high that anyone under 5’8″ would have a hard time seeing more than just their head in the mirror. My husband had to hang a section of drywall over the hole and mud the seams in order to prep it for paint. Thank goodness he’s good at doing that type of stuff!


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Now it was time to paint! In order to save us some money we kept the faux paneling and decided to paint it along with the existing trim in the same Cameo White. We figured that this would not only provide us some cost savings but would also brighten up the space. I had just done a small accent wall in my dining room and wanted to do the same thing here to give the space more character.  The wall behind the toilet would be my accent wall and I chose Behr Marquee Hampton Surf for the color. The remaining three walls would be in Behr Marquee Park Avenue.

DIY Accessories:

In keeping with the tone set by the man cave, I opted for a rustic/industrial vibe. I found a Pin on Pinterest to create a towel bar and toilet paper dispenser out of cast iron pipe. I bought the pipe in black cast iron so that all I had to do was spray it with clear Minwax ($8) to seal and protect it. The total cost of the project was approximately $25 and definitely one that I would recommend. You can check out the how to using the links below. If you don’t want to go through the process of making them you can also purchase them using the links below.

DIY Towel Bar

DIY Toilet Paper Dispenser

Affiliate link —> Pipe Towel Bar

Affiliate link —> Pipe Toilet Paper Dispenser

Mirror and Lighting:

My parents got a new mirror for their master bathroom so they gave us their old one and it matched perfectly! The last piece was getting new light fixtures and some decor. I loved the idea of Edison bulbs to go with the industrial theme. I ended up finding some Edison bulb fixtures from Lowes for approximately $40 each (this was our most expensive purchase but definitely well worth it). Check out the link below to find light fixtures similar to the ones we used.

Affiliate link —> Edison Bulb Wall Sconces

Wall Decor:

For artwork I wanted something that would be meaningful to my husband. If you’ve read the “About Me” page, you know that my husband works in commercial construction. I ended up finding an amazing print of an architectural drawing at TJ Maxx Home Goods for about $25. It tied in perfectly! I am still planning on adding a set of rustic wooden shelves with cast iron railings to go on one of the walls, but other than that I’m very pleased with how far it has come. In case you would like to find similar industrial shelving units check out the link below.

Affiliate link –> Industrial Open Shelving

Half-bath After:

Check out the finished product below and let me know your thoughts! I hope that this encourages you to attempt to reuse and refurbish when completing your next home project.

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  1. What a great job you’ve done and such a good result for all your labour! If you keep on with these projects, you may one day take on even bigger project to DIY. Well done you.

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