Antique Powder Room Refresh: A One Day Challenge

This post required me to not only leave my house, but to leave my state. My sister had requested help with her powder room, and so I bought paint and accessories to do a (somewhat) surprise make-over in one day. With limited time and budget, I wasn’t able to do all of the things I would have liked to do, but we definitely improved the room.

My sister and her husband live in a beautiful old house in a historic part of Grand Rapids called Heritage Hill.  It was built in 1875 and is around 4500 square feet. 

This picture does not do it justice.
It’s a small room down a few steps. This was the view as you walk down into the room.
They were working with some weird old house stuff — like this radiator and pipes.
One small window, but they are lucky to have it!
An unused space
Look at this light switch!

If there’s a room where you can go a little bit bold, I think it’s a powder room. My sister had originally talked about wallpaper, but I was a little nervous about committing to that and thought a paint technique might give just the same effect without the semi-permanency (as someone who has had to remove wall paper before…I just couldn’t do it). Due to the age of the house I went with a traditional design and color scheme.

The paint colors I chose

I chose Cave Pearl (a red-based white) on the upper parts of the wall and ceiling. Sugar Beet was used for the stenciling. At the last minute (the day before I left!) I had to pick a gray paint color for below the chair rail-height trim and chose Grey Haven. Because I only had one day to do the work, my dad had graciously offered to go and prep the walls. As you can imagine, in an old house like that there were LOTS of cracks and repairs to spackle.

Unfortunately, we didn’t discuss what NOT to do….and he didn’t realize I wasn’t planning on changing the paint color under the trim. Oops! So it added to my work load to have to paint the whole room, but it definitely needed it so I’m glad it got done.

One important lesson I learned was:

I.  Will.  Never.  Stencil.  Again.

Yup. It was that bad. I was so worried about making a mistake, and since I had never done it before and needed to finish in one day, the pressure was high. In addition, there are steps down to the bathroom so I had to stencil while on a crazy ladder. On steps. Not my favorite thing in the world. I just had to go for it, and in hindsight, would have perhaps done some things differently. The end result is good, though, and I guess that’s all that matters.

Still needing to fill in those pesky partials
Working my way up this tricky wall
Could not have done it without this ladder!

The trickiest part was doing the partial stencils on the edges.  That was agonizing because if any paint got on the backside of the stencil you had to try and clean it or let it dry before moving on to the next one.  And those partials got really messy. 

I’m sure experienced stencilers have tricks for doing this — I did not.
I put a fresh coat of black paint on the chair rail, and switched the shelf above the radiator to a matching black.

One disappointing thing was the window treatment. I made a custom Roman shade for the window out of nice ($40/yard) fabric. I was pretty proud of it too. Bad news….the measurements were off. Somehow we miscommunicated and she gave me measurements that included all of the window trim, instead of just the size of the window. This is what happens when you plan a room remodel from another state! Lesson learned.

New towel bar, toilet paper holder and towels. I removed the gross old blinds from the windows and that alone was an improvement.
How much do we LOVE this tile floor? I wish I could have done something with the mirror and lighting, but getting an electrician in here would have cost me too much time (and money!)

For this one I kept close track of the expenses since it wasn’t my house. Some of these items were “gifts” to my sister from my mom and I, and the rest she paid for. Here’s a breakdown of the budget:

Paint: $53.39

Hardware: $31.68

Towels: $19.96

Accessories: $30.00

Stencil: $16.98

So the grand total is around $150 for the bathroom refresh. Do you think it was worth it?

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