My Primary Bathroom Is Getting a Makeover

In this post I am sharing my ideas and a style board on how I plan to give the primary bathroom in my house a DIY makeover so that the room will finally fit my home decorating style.

When my husband Ed and I first moved to our house on the lake, the master bath (now it’s being called in decorating terminology the “primary bathroom”) was the only room in the house that had been gutted and remodeled before the house was put up for sale.

Bathrooms, bath decor, and color scheme inspiration

It was all brand new. Even though it looked nice, I wouldn’t have chosen the colors, fixtures and finishes. It functioned and we had other rooms that needed gutting and making over so this room took a back seat.

Until recently… when I walk into the room, it all feels off to my senses. So it’s time to remedy the situation to fit more with my design aesthetic.

Bathrooms new and old. Grey master bathroom decor and color scheme
Grey Paint Color on Vanity: Benjamin Moore – FLINT – AF-560

The first thing I am going to change is the color, fixtures and hardware on the vanity.

Granite countertop colors choices for bathroom decor

Bye-bye dark grey and square brushed chrome fixtures and hardware.

The granite counter is busy and not anything I would choose. It does make a statement, but to keep costs down, the counter is going to stay. In my design plan I will make it work. :-)

Glass surround shower enclosure

I plan to add a square panel wall treatment on the bottom 3/4’s of the wall and paint it in a shade of white I haven’t picked out yet. Then another color paint for the top half.

I am sure there was a bathtub in the room before the remodel as the house was built in the 1970’s. Now there is a walk-in shower that I like. When I want to take a bath I use the tub in the bathroom upstairs.

Bathroom window idea

The long wall has a trio of Pella windows that open with cranks. They have mini blinds inside the double glass. To close the blinds there is a roller wheel at the bottom corner of each window that opens and closes the blinds.

I have grown to like them as they function well and are minimal and clean lined. So they will be staying also.

My Vision for the Double Sink Vanity

I am starting the room refresh by making over the double sink vanity since it will make the biggest impact.

I found the inspiration for the bathroom while browsing through the spring issue of the Pottery Barn catalog and came across this image.

I like the fresh pairing of the classic caning and the crisp, white painted finish that adds a bit of coastal chic.

I am not using brass fixtures as shown in the Pottery Barn photo. I prefer shiny chrome fixtures and hardware. I have the paint ready to go and ordered the new fixturing and hardware.

Once I get the vanity done, then I will decide on the wall treatment and paint color. Lastly, I will add cheery pops of light blue, natural woven accents and a bit of pink.

I will keep you posted as I make progress… now I am off to paint. :-)

More Bathroom Decorating Ideas 

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  1. Valarie Sanford says:

    That storyboard is fantastic Diane, can’t wait to see the finished product!

  2. Hello Diane,
    I agree with you the original countertop is a bit “busy”, butI love the colour of the vanity stand! So much so that I’d like to choose something similar for my own bathroom! Any idea what colour it was?
    Thank you and keep posting, I love your ideas!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rosiale –

      I do know the color name of the grey paint. There was a touch-up kit left under the sink for it. Benjamin Moore FLINT- AF-560

  3. This is in response to your question on an earlier post “what should I read next?” After checking out your Amazon book list and seeing you enjoy mysteries, I highly recommend Louise Penney’s Armand Gamache series. The first one didn’t really grab me but they get better with each new book. There’s a story arc throughout several of the first books that you don’t even see coming. They are very well written and thought provoking.

  4. It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to see the finished product! Reading others comments, one referring to wallpaper, another about a teak bench and I realized I’m not seeing your entire post, not sure why or what to do about it. Any suggestions??

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Barb – Sorry about the old comments. I updated an old post I did on the bathroom a couple of years ago when I added some new items. I deleted most of that post to create the new one. It is better to update than to keep adding new posts when I have thousands.

  5. Oooh, good luck Diane! Look forward to seeing the changes. If you don’t want to replace the countertop, could you paint it?

  6. FYI: I have those exact soap dishes and they are really great. They keep stuff up off the surfaces and allows air flow. However, there is metal underneath that silver coating and with time, the whole thing rusts. Badly. So enjoy but keep in mind they really need to have dry feet!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janet – Thanks for the tip about the soap dish. :-). Good to know. I think maybe I will spray a sealer on the bottom or a clear enamel nail polish on the under side. Either may help as I do love the style of the soap dish.

  7. Your guest bathroom makeover is still one of my all time favorites! Just loved that blue and white stencil work. When we remodeled our old house a couple of years ago, we planned for a age in place home and made a zero barrier shower like yours. That and the heated floors make it one of my favorite rooms. Sometimes you just need to step back and look at things with new eyes for a little refresh

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – Of all the rooms I have made over, I think the blue and white guest bath is my favorite too. I like that it is so bright and cheery. Having the zero barrier shower is very nice. I was just at joint replacement class that I had to attend at the hospital. One of the things they discussed was how to manage getting over a bathtub into a shower. I smiled when I didn’t need to worry about that. :-). How nice that your floors are heated. That would be so nice to have. Maybe someday. :-)

  8. What a beautiful bathroom, I’m envious! Is primary bath replacing “en suite?”. That’s all I ever hear on HGTV. Primary bedroom and en suite. I’m guessing “master isn’t politically correct anymore?!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Susan – Yes – times have changed for sure. It is taking me a while to get used to the new phrasing – Primary bedroom. :-)

  9. What a pretty primary bathroom you have. I do love the idea of carrying the wood tomes from the doors over to underneath the windows. The doors are gorgeous. I hope my next home has crank casement windows for ease of operation.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Pamela – When I first moved into the house, I was considering painting all the doors white, since that was what I was used to having in my previous house. I am so happy that I didn’t. I love them now. The crank casement windows are so easy to use. They are in every room and sliding glass doors.

  10. I love watching yr makeovers. I would add a buffet-style lamp to middle section of vanity, art on wall by shower door or a tall plant and floor length curtains on window, maybe wispy sheers.

    1. Lorraine Ortiz says:

      Nice idea!
      Or a plant or something organic. It’s fun to toss these ideas around.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Lorraine – Yes a plant would look nice. I need to find just the right one, of course faux as I would end up killing a live one.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Rosemary for your ideas – lots of options to consider like adding art and a plant. Now I need to find just the right ones.

  11. That looks like the same Teak bench we bought a couple years ago and we still love it.

  12. I love the huge space with single level flooring for easier shower access. The cabinet color is pretty.
    The teal bench will look nice…we just got a corner one for in the shower in our guest bath. About a month ago we had the tub taken out and now it’s a nice big shower that will be safer and easier to get in and out for my parents when they visit 💜. We’ve tested the new shower out and no we want to redo ours too!! Lol
    Hang in there with your hip!🌺

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lynn – Thanks. Having the walk-in shower is going to be nice after I get my hip redone. No bathtub to step over. :-) I hope you can redo your bath so you have the same as your guest bath.

  13. Carla from Kansas says:

    I would have to get a new countertop. That one is too busy for me. The rest looks great.

  14. I like every detail you use in your bathroom very, very much :)

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Love the bathroom makeover. We did ours a few years ago and learned one thing we would have done differently. We also have one large mirror that spanned the whole vanity with two sinks, we took that down and put up two smaller mirrors, one over each sink. I wish we wouldn’t have done that but instead framed out the large mirror with matching wood. The two smaller mirrors are just too small.

    Just an FYI for those thinking of doing a remodel :-)


    1. Oh, thanks for this hint! I keep thinking about taking down the giant mirror spanning two sinks and replacing it with two mirrors, then think about adding a frame to the giant mirror. From what you say, the frame may be the better choice.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Elle – Adding a frame around your large mirror would be the easiest thing to do. Have you ever heard of Mirror Mates? It may just be what you need. Check it out here:

  16. Your redone bathroom looks beautiful and soothing.

    I have to say the shower door exploding things sounds really scary – I had never heard of something like that before.

  17. Two things I just did in my bathroom. Installed “barn board look” ceramic tile. I love it! Of course I have a bit of a country style going on. Second I installed a once piece toilet! I am happy with that choice also. It helps keep things a little cleaner.

    I had a white vanity, which was in good shape, and since I couldn’t go much larger, I put some beadboard on the side of it to make it a bit more country, and unify the bathroom. A new sink top in a square shape updated it wonderfully and I removed the old medicine cabinet and painted a wall mirror white to go in there. I am very happy with the updates.

  18. Love the updated master bath! One suggestion I would make is to install toilets at what I believe they call “comfort height”, which I think is 18″. We just moved about 8 months ago and the “new to us” home had those toilets. At first it seemed strange, but my hubby just had major back surgery and they have been a total blessing. He’s had to use a walker for 6 weeks, but with the higher toilets he didn’t have any problem sitting down or getting up (and didn’t need to have the handicap bars to do so). As we get older, it’s amazing how much that little 2-3″ difference can really help us to “age in place”. We have also found that the “lever” door handles helped him easily get in and out of rooms while having to deal with the walker, and the 18″ tile floors were easier to navigate as well. We had thought about all those things before we moved in and knew they would help us as we got older – we just didn’t think we would need them quite as soon!

  19. Rochelle had great pointers that I experienced in our remodels as well. There are new silicone toilet gaskets that allow you to set and reset the toilet as well as adjust to different depths. About the popcorn ceilings, although a relatively easy, messy job, it’s important to note that homes built pre-1980’s can have asbestos in the texture used (they banned it from production in ’78 but allowed stocks to sell through for years forward). Best to get it tested before moving forward.
    Unfortunately I’m a pro at repairing / restoring damaged walls due to wallpaper damage. Both baths, the foyer, dining room and kitchen had years of cover-remove-cover damage to the wallboards leaving nothing but kraft paper in spots. Since drywall people weren’t interested in coming to hang new drywall I learned how to properly restore them. I’m pleased with how the house has turned out.
    I know you’ll make it beautiful as you always do! Enjoy watching your progress!

    PS. Love the granite (looks like Delicatus?) the previous homeowners chose to go with the gray cabinets.

  20. Your master bathroom is really pretty! I can see what you mean about those walnut doors- they aren’t bad. Kind of a nice touch. The doors in our rental were flat panel and really dated and ugly- yours have nice detail and rich colour. Tough choice. The middle bathroom is definitely livable and though I’m sure you will eventually decorate it some more, I really can’t wait to see what you do with the last dated bathroom!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Krista – I have decided to live in the house longer before I decide if I will paint the nicer looking wood doors or not. I will be painting the ones that are in a hallway off the powder room though, along with 4 louvered bi-folds. You can see some of them in this post:

      I just got the paint sprayer to do the job. I am just waiting for the weather to get a little warmer so I can spray outside. I will be posting more photos of this area and all the doors soon.

  21. Is it bad of me to say I actually liked the polka dot wallpaper in some of the befores? It’s probably not the same when you see it in real life, but it almost looked cute! That said, I love what you have done in the afters too!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – It is not bad for you to say you liked the wallpaper, we all like different things. That is what makes life interesting. The wallpaper design does not have polka dots on it though. What looks like dots is actually images of a scallop sea shell. Cream colored shells on a peach background. There is and was a seashell wallpaper border along the top and bottom of the upstairs bath and along the top in the powder room walls.

  22. Hi there…I love how you keep it “real” in your posts!! We too have lived in older homes that need a lot of updating. A trick we used in our last house for our bathroom cabinet: my husband built a platform to raise the vanity to normal height (I can’t believe the prior homeowners could use the vanity at the height it was. It killed our backs!). I then painted everything white to make it look nice, replaced hardware, etc. It did require reworking the pipes, but it’s an inexpensive fix until you can get the vanity you like!

  23. Julie Blanner says:

    Only you, Diane! I would have a fear of glass doors as well! I love the contrast that the dark wood doors provide and am glad to see you put your glass knob collection to good use!

  24. You sure have been busy! I really enjoyed reading this post. I love your glass enclosed shower. We had a glass (no track) door installed on our shower last year. Our door swings out and it looks like yours does also. One of my complaints is the mat gets very wet after a shower even though we use a squeegee on the door to remove as much of the water as possible before we get out. Have you had the same issue? Thanks so much for the piece about Tile Guard. I need to try the grout coating in my bathrooms. Sure looks like it worked well for you in your PA home. Vikki in VA

    1. PS…we like to keep the shower door open for a while so the inside can dry out some.

  25. Katie Bowers says:

    I just love your home! I am glad you are keeping the doors the walnut color–they really are beautiful against all the white. My husband and I are fixing up our first home–it’s a 1978 small ranch, and I find your journey very inspiring and helpful for my journey too. The inexpensive update articles are wonderful for us.

  26. Sheryll $ Critters. says:

    Great bath rooms to work/start with and I read some good tips from other commenters. I am anticipating you putting frames around all those mirrors. I have wanted to do my own, but keep whimping out. I can not figure out how to do boards without a router to balance the uneven part of the mirror and the board used for the frame. I need to reread your post about how you did your previous, second floor bath.

  27. Rochelle Brinson says:

    Hi Diane,
    I love your blog, so inspiring. I’ve done a few bathroom remodels over the years, some more involved than others but I see SOOO much possibility with your powder room. And with your DIY skills, I know you can pull it off without a hitch.

    First let me address the popcorn ceiling. We own a rental property that has popcorn ceilings throughout but thankfully all but the master bath are still in good shape. There were places where it had peeled and been patched in the bathroom so a couple of years ago, while doing a bathroom makeover I decided the small space was the perfect spot to attempt removing popcorn. It worked like a charm!! Hang sheet plastic over the entire wall and let it drape your vanity, toilet and floor. Take a standard spray bottle and fill with water and spritz small areas with water till wet but not so saturated that you soak the sheet rock underneath, and use a putty knife to scrape it off. Try not to gouge the sheet rock. It will make a huge mess but with the plastic sheeting, cleanup isn’t hard (wait till you are done sanding, to remove the plastic). Once it is all removed, use spackle or joint compound to fill any uneven spots or hide seam tape, then sand lightly with a pole sander. Prime it good and paint with your favorite ceiling paint. Voila, updated ceiling!

    Now for the vanity, my house although 20 yrs newer, still had really low vanities. Thankfully the two on the main floor were raised by the seller before we bought it. The one in the basement though was not. Being cheap, and knowing it was solid wood, if not ugly, I decided to raise it myself. I removed the counter top, and pulled it away from the wall. Then with my jig saw, cut the toe kick off. I replaced the height of the toe kick with a wooden base I made out of 5/4 pre-primed and finger jointed boards. Then I attached four furniture style feet to the bottom which gave it an additional 4″ and brought it up to modern day construction standards and put some chair rail molding around it to hide the seam. Add a new integrated counter with sink, kept the existing faucet, new chrome hardware and a coat of solid color stain and it looks like a brand new custom made vanity. Other than elbow grease, a few supplies (got the counter on clearance), expenses were minimal but the difference more than words can say.

    Last but not least, if you are going to put in new flooring, I’d recommend doing it before replacing the toilet and remember the extra height will mean you need to either raise the flange OR use TWO wax rings to make sure the toilet seats. We just replaced a toilet that had been leaking ever since we moved in, only when used heavily, and thankfully into the unfinished basement. Come to find out, a new ceramic tile floor had been laid on top of the old subfloor but they didn’t raise the flange. When the toilet was reinstalled, despite a new wax seal, it didn’t even make contact. It’s a miracle the damage wasn’t more severe.

    You are lucky that the only “grooves” are on the unused center board. Use your miter saw and cut some trim for the doors and glue it on. Give it a good coat of paint along with your new toilet and other updates and it will look as good as your master bath.

    Good luck and I look forward to seeing the pictures of your finished project.

    Rochelle B.
    PS Sorry for the book! :-)

  28. Just wondering how your shower glass exploded– what caused it??!! That’s scary!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jesstron – The shower glass exploded when I opened it one morning. It exploded with such force that glass shot out all over the bathroom so forcefully that glass embedded in the metal tub faucet across the room. My ankle was right near the door and glass shot into my ankle. I found out after doing a Google search that exploding glass shower doors are common. It is because of the pressure in the tempered glass the doors are made of that can cause them to explode.

  29. You mentioned the powder room is too big/wasted space. I see holes in the wall where a safety grab bar was once installed, possibly for frequent use by someone who had mobility issues (?) Also that may be why the countertop height is so low…accessibility for someone using a walker or even wheelchair. Having a powder room right off the kitchen with those ‘features’ may have been heaven to a prior owner…or someone who came to visit them often.

    You’ll figure out how to utilize the ‘wasted’ space ;-)

    1. Those were my thoughts too.

  30. Annette Cure nee Bowers says:

    Hello Diane, just read your concerns re the dark powder room. Not sure if you plan to update or replace the vanity unit. It is very dark but good storage in a small area. I am not very experienced in this area but always think in terms of what will be most economical . As it is a powder room maybe overlook the height , change the counter and colour wise go for two tone in shades of teal or turquoise with white. Maybe, change the unit doors. As i said, i am not experienced so these are just my inexperienced ideas.
    Looking forward to seeing the transformation.


  31. Linda Rahmeyer says:

    If at all possible, think about putting in a solar tube in the small dark bath off your kitchen. I have a windowless bathroom and the solar tube added so much natural light people don’t even realize there is no window. A gigantic improvement with a fairly low cost.

    1. I “second” the suggestion about the Sola Tube ( We installed two in our new house and you cannot believe how much light these things bring into a space. If there are rooms overhead, no deal. But if there is attic space above, go for it! Not that expensive and a quick install. Our powder room has no window and faces the north side of the house. When we pass by that door I still think we left the light on – and we live in Oregon! Amazing!