How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom

How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom

The second step to upgrading my builder grade house was to re-do the master bathroom.  This took a little more effort and a little more money than the bedroom update (which you can see here).  Fortunately, I generally liked the layout of the bathroom so I didn’t have to spend the money to change plumbing.  And I did all of the work myself (with help from my mother) so that saved a lot of money on installation costs.

Click Next to see the builder grade bathroom that I started with.

Builder Grade Bathroom – Before

Builder grade master bathroom - Before | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder grade master bathroom – Before

This is what I started with.  When I bought the house, I did pay for the bathroom upgrade package to get the separate tub and shower, and I am so glad that I did!

Builder grade master bathroom - Before | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder grade master bathroom – Before

But the rest of the bathroom needed some help…standard builder-grade cabinets, really ugly fixtures, vinyl flooring and beige paint.

Here was my wish list for the bathroom:

  • a blue and white color scheme to match the master bedroom
  • tile floors
  • some way to break up the boring wall space
  • a better-looking cabinet without the faux-marble countertop
  • more drawer space
  • prettier lighting (you can’t see that in the pictures, but it was the standard light bar over the sink and round white fixtures over the tub, shower and toilet)
  • a different mirror over the vanity
  • a towel warmer (okay, this was really not necessary, but after having one in a hotel in Paris, I decided I had to have one at home, too!)

Click Next to see a preview of the updated builder grade bathroom.

Builder Grade Bathroom – After

Builder Grade Bathroom - After | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder Grade Bathroom – After

Afterwards, the blue and white color scheme is complete!  And it looks completely different than it did when I started!

Click Next to see the steps I took to make this builder grade bathroom look so much better.

Step 1:  Paint the Walls and Ceiling

Master Bathroom Ceiling and Wall Paint | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Master Bathroom Ceiling and Wall Paint

I started by painting the walls with a dark blue color in a semi-gloss finish (mostly because it’s a bathroom so the semi-gloss stands up to the heat and humidity better than a non-gloss paint would).

I also painted the same gingham pattern on the ceiling that is in the master bathroom.

Step 2:  Add a Wallpaper Panel

Wallpaper Panel | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Wallpaper Panel

Since this bathroom is attached to my bedroom that has blue and white toile everywhere, I decided to add a little of the same toile pattern in the bathroom to tie the two rooms together.

This is the same kind of panel that I had installed in the bedroom…basically some very inexpensive molding nailed onto the wall to make a frame, and then wallpaper applied in the middle.

Step 3:  Tile the Floor

Blue and white ceramic tile floor | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Blue and white ceramic tile floor

I took up the vinyl flooring and went with blue and white ceramic tiles on the floor.  Generally, ceramic tiles are less expensive, and we installed them ourselves to save on the installation costs.

The pattern on the floor mimics the pattern on the ceiling and helps to tie the room together.

Step 4:  Add Wainscot

Master Bathroom Wainscot | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Master Bathroom Wainscot

I added beadboard wainscoting to the bottom half of the walls to break up the wall space.  Painting it white added some more light into the room.

This comes in panels that are already cut to the right height so no cutting was required…it just had to be nailed to the wall.  A chair rail molding was added to the top to finish the top edge.

Step 5: Upgrade the Countertop and Mirror

Upgraded countertops and sinks | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Upgrade countertop, sinks and mirrors

I changed out the faux marble countertop for a wood one.  This is finished with a boat-builder’s urethane so it is completely water proof.

Upgrade Fixtures and Mirrors | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Upgrade Fixtures and Mirrors

The one big mirror was replaced by two individual mirrors that can be tilted to the angle that suits the person using them.

Step 6:  Add More Storage

Use Bedside Tables For Extra Storage | How To Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Use Bedside Tables For Extra Storage

I didn’t want to spend the money to change out the original cabinets, so I painted them white.

Then I bought 2 unfinished bed side tables, removed the tops and painted them white as well to add the extra drawer storage.  Running a piece of countertop all the way across the top of them gives lots of room to spread out.

Step 7: Upgrade the Fixtures

Upgrade faucets and sinks | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Upgrade faucets and sinks

I was able to get new sink and tub faucets on clearance, which helped to save some money.

Master Bathroom Tub Fixture | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Master Bathroom Tub Fixture

I love the “telephone” tub faucet that makes it easy to rinse off when you are taking a bath…and it’s also perfect for washing the dog 🙂

Step 8: Upgrade the Lighting

Chandelier and candles | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Chandelier and candles

I love chandeliers in general (they always add a little sparkle to the room), so I had to add one to the bathroom over the tub.  (If you are doing this, make sure that it is high enough that it isn’t a safety issue).

I think candles also add to the atmosphere.

Crystal Light Fixture | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Crystal Light Fixture

Then I also added the crystal fixtures on either side of the mirror.  I think having light on the sides of the mirror is more flattering than the overhead lights that are installed over the mirrors (better for putting on makeup!)

Step 9:  Sew Window Treatments

Window Treatment
Window Treatment

My mother sewed a window treatment that pulled in the toile from the bedroom again.  The top part is a simple valance that is stapled to a 2×4 which is nailed to the ceiling.

The pull-down part of the shade is a roller blind covered with a plain blue fabric.

Step 10:  Add Accessories

Candles and Vases| How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Candles and Vases

Finally, I added some accessories (like candles and vases) that add interest to the space.

Paris Picture | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Paris Picture

I like hanging pictures in the bathroom.  If you are going to do this, it’s probably best not to use an expensive print since the extra humidity can cause issues with the paper or canvas.

Add a blue and white garden stool | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Add a blue and white garden stool

A blue and white garden stool gives a place to seat without taking up a lot of floor space.

The Finished Bathroom

Builder Grade Bathroom - After | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder Grade Bathroom – After

The finished bathroom checks all of the boxes on my “want to have” list.  And looks a lot better than it did when I started.

Builder grade master bathroom - Before | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder grade master bathroom – Before

Just as a reminder…here’s the before picture of the tub.

Builder Grade Bathroom - After | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder Grade Bathroom – After

The upgraded countertop, sinks, faucets and light fixtures get rid of the builder grade feel.

Builder grade master bathroom - Before | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder grade master bathroom – Before

Especially when compared to the original builder-grade fixtures and cabinets.

Builder Grade Bathroom - After | How to Beautify a Boring Builder Grade Bathroom
Builder Grade Bathroom – After

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8 Responses

  • Nice job!! Planning to upgrade our bathroom and looked into replacing the vanity…YIKES!! $1180??? No way. How did you remove the sink and countertop without damaging the cabinetry? Ours is covered with 4×4″ tiles and the sink is under counter mounted. I’m afraid I will ruin the cabinets by taking off the tiles! The cabinet is dated, 1977 but with fresh paint and handles it could be updated.

    • Thanks, Judy. My counter top was attached underneath with screws and some caulking, so it wasn’t that difficult to remove once I figured out where all of the screws were. In your case, hopefully they installed the tiles over a backer board so that they aren’t attached directly to the cabinets…otherwise you might have a bit of a challenge. I have had pretty good luck removing tiles with a reciprocating saw and a scraper blade (but you do need to be careful not to gauge the underneath material). And I agree that a coat of fresh paint and some new knobs makes everything look better!

  • I am stunned with your incredible transformation. I had no idea just how far you could get from a basic builder-grade bathroom. Most bathrooms that I’ve seen with a beautiful blue like that end up looking like a cave, but the white wainscoting balances it out. I hope you have given yourself some pretty good pats on the back for this. Did you have some sort of pattern for the ceiling? I’m going to go spelunking on your website to see if you have that on the master bedroom pages. Thank you for making my day a little brighter.

    • Hi Terry…I agree it would have been a bit of a cave without the white wainscoting! There is a post on how to paint a plaid ceiling, which my mother did in her house after seeing my bathroom (and she got even more creative with it!) However, I have had quite a few requests to get a tutorial for this specific ceiling, so I will be posting that “how-to” within the next couple of weeks. Thanks for visiting!

  • Just beautiful. My favorite color and some of it I could do. My vanity is white. Hate the white crappy top. Could not extend with the night stands but possibly just go from wall to wall with top. What I need is the storage tho. My bathroom is big and ugh, yellow. I cringe when I walk in. Thank you for the ceiling. It is so cute. And the telephone tub faucet is the bomb. Washing the dog. I love your mom’s curtains and will defineatly be doing these for bathroom and family room. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks, Jordan! I’m glad that you could get some inspiration from my room….and that tub faucet really does make washing the dog a lot easier 🙂

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