When COVID hit, I had to get creative with my plans for a full renovation in my Vancouver condo. Gutting the bathroom – with the only toilet and shower – was no longer an option. Turning off the water to connected suites when everyone is working from home? Not a chance. Finding a temporary home (with a barky puppy) while the work was being done? Impossible. I’ve done bathroom renovations before and this time, it was out of the budget. So I decided to make it over myself. 

BEFORE: The bathroom was old, tired and completely hideous. I couldn’t put the renovation on hold so I planned a budget-savvy makeover. The biggest and most disruptive elements I really wanted – a new tub, tiled walls, new floor and a shower stall – were off the table. The plumbing couldn’t be moved. I can do all of that later, if I want, but right now, it had to be cheap, cheerful and chic. 

AFTER: I needed a functional room that also makes a splashy statement to fit the rest of my condo’s black, white and antique gold colour scheme. Wallpaper made the biggest difference – the room was big enough for more than just a new coat of paint and the whimsical toile pattern hid bumpy textures on the wall. The busy pattern also draws attention away from the dark floor. This print is from a selection by York Wallcoverings at Benjamin Moore. The designer there told me that people don’t use wallpaper much anymore. WHY?!? It’s hands-down the most dramatic statement maker. 

THE VANITY: I liked the size of my existing vanity and I was afraid to remove it in case the floor underneath was damaged. I wasn’t replacing it at this point. I used the cabinet refacing and countertop services from Home Depot. With black matte knobs, the vanity looks brand new. A simple laminate countertop is easy to clean, and a lot cheaper than a marble or stone version. A deeper white sink and black matte faucet, both from Home Depot, complete the simple streamlined look. PS – none of my project was sponsored. I shopped at big box stores that were easy to access during the first few months of the pandemic lockdown.

DETAILS: I got rid of my mis-matched cups and holders with these budget finds from IKEA. Isn’t the wallpaper stunning??

LIGHT & MIRROR: The old Hollywood style lighting and full wall mirror were overwhelming. This simple square mirror from Home Depot and vintage-inspired light bar from Vancouver Lighting Warehouse look more modern and are more functional. 

OUT WITH THE OLD: The old colour scheme was so dated and unflattering. Every drip and makeup drop showed up on the old countertop. Everything about the old bathroom was so dreary. 

THRONE ROOM: The first thing I did when I moved in was replace the old toilet. And I hated the clumsy vanity that sat above it. I didn’t need more storage space so I replaced it with a simple black shelf. The splash of silk flowers, from IKEA, add a much-needed burst of colour in the corner. 

FLOOR: I couldn’t afford to rip up the floor so I bought an indoor / outdoor area carpet from IKEA and had it cut down and re-trimmed. It’s not big enough to cover the entire space but still works with a bit of the old floor as a border. The carpet is washable and I will use white bath mats at the sink and tub to protect it from extra wear and tear. 

COVER UP: The round mirror, from Homesense, reflects the lighting above the vanity. And the checked hand towels add a graphic edge to the wallpaper. Shelves are hidden behind the polka dotted Kate Spade shower curtain. (One day I’ll put a tiled shower stall behind it.) And I covered up the beige-tiled tub enclosure with a crisp white shower curtain. 

I’m really happy with my bright romantic new bathroom. My favourite part – and the most expensive – is the wallpaper but I love how it transforms the room. And it’s behind the first door when you enter my home so I think it’s a great introduction to my style. Bathroom and kitchen renovations are the smartest investments to make in your home, and I think this cheap and chic makeover was worth every penny.