Primary Bath Makeover Reveal

I finally finished. It took me longer than expected to makeover the primary bathroom in my house to fit my personal style of decor.

A few weeks ago I created what I thought was a well-thought out bathroom makeover plan. I then changed it after stumbling upon a pair of mirrors when out shopping for supplies.

While doing the work needed to makeover the room, I also ran into unexpected problems from the wall paint color, the light fixtures and two more hold ups that I will detail in this post.

Primary Bathroom BEFORE

Grey master bathroom color scheme

First, let me tell you why I wanted to makeover this bathroom that the previous owners of the house did. As bathroom decor goes, this bathroom looks current, but there were a few things about it I just didn’t like. The biggest one, the color and fixtures were just not my style.

The next is the mirrors, they are very nice mirrors. (They are now hanging in my clothes closet.) The narrow size of the mirrors left a big space between them on the wall. I like minimal decor on walls and didn’t want to have to add something just to fill the space.

The next reason I wanted to make changes was the room was dark and gloomy at times. It is a north facing room full of shadows. It is the only room, besides the foyer in the house where the windows don’t face the lake. I often had to put the lights on, even during the day to see my reflection clearly in the mirror.

Granite countertop colors choices

The faucets had squared off bases and handles that never matched up, plus I like polished chrome, not brushed nickel. The lights hung over the top of the mirrors which I will explain more about further down in the post.

Oh! and we can’t forget the color and pattern of the granite countertop paired with the dark grey. As I mentioned in my post about my bathroom plans, the counter had to stay. I needed to challenge myself to keep the makeover budget-friendly.

painting a bathroom in progress

So I got to work. I started off by painting the vanity cabinet white, using chalk paint and wax. Then I painted the walls and that is where the biggest delay in my progress began.

Before I go into the details, let me show you the after.

Primary Bathroom Makeover: AFTER

white flowers on bathroom counter

Totally different from my original plan, but one that I love and so does Ed. It fits the house as a whole and my White & Woodsy style.

Diane Henkler, blogger happy with bright and refreshed primary bath

The best part though is the room is now light and bright all day long.

I can see myself easily in the mirror now.

master/primary bath after getting a makeover to make it brighter.

I even like the granite counter, it has taken on a “beachy” look. The whole room is fresh and bright with lots of light.

The Bathroom Makeover Details

rustic wood framed large mirror

The change in my makeover plan all started when I stumbled upon a pair of mirrors while getting a few supplies at Hobby Lobby for another project.

wood framed mirrors being treated with a plaster finish

I initially wasn’t going to get new mirrors, but the style, wider size and thickness of these wood frame mirrors were better suited for the wall space than the existing narrower mirrors.

I was hesitant at first as I didn’t like the dark brown rustic finish. I wished it were lighter, then I remembered a furniture finishing trick I learned from Amy Howard at a DIY blogger’s conference using plaster that I could use to lighten the finish, which I did.

I have an upcoming post on how I did this. The mirrors were also half price, so I grabbed them and brought them home and started a new decor plan.

I chose to paint the vanity cabinet with chalk paint since I love the way the finish on chalk painted pieces never gets gunked up on the surface over the years as most water-based latex paint can over time.

If a section on a chalk painted finish gets damaged, you just sand, paint and add clear soft wax over it with no sign of a fix. You can’t do this with other paints.

When people think of painting with chalk paint, they presume that the paint has to be distressed to look old, it doesn’t. I didn’t distress the finish.

To get the smoothest factory-like finish possible, I removed the drawers and doors and set them up in my studioffice on saw horses to get them painted production-line style. I rolled the paint on using a flocked foam roller and an angled paint brush to do the indent around the recessed areas.

I used Magnolia Chalk paint in the color True White. I sealed the finish with Annie Sloan Soft Wax in clear and buffed it until a subtle sheen came up.


What I like more than anything about using the color white as a color scheme is that I can use decor accents in almost any color. Here I have white hydrangeas on the counter.

master/primary bath after getting a makeover to make it brighter.

When I need a fresh look, a pop of pink looks just as nice.

sky blue towels in towel ring in neutral color bathroom.

Sky blue works well also, the color coordinates with my bedroom color scheme of white and blue. :-)

4 Problems That Delayed Finishing the Makeover

As a reader of my blog you are witness to all the projects I DIY around my house. Most go smoothly. Sometimes a problem may arise and I note that for readers so if they run into the same problem they have a fix.

For the bathroom, I didn’t have one problem, but four. Just to keep it real I thought I would share a bit of what went on behind the scenes to get to “the after” of this bathroom makeover.

The first problem that arose was when the polished chrome faucets I ordered online were delivered. I didn’t like them. They were cheaply made and the finish was off, so I sent them back. I had to shop around again to find something better.

polished chrome bathroom faucet installed on granite sink vanity.

I found this style that looks similar to the ones I sent back. These are made of real brass with a chrome finish.

Ed has replaced at least a dozen faucets over the years in the houses we have lived in and never had a problem. Well, that streak ended, when the hot water hose burst under the sink where he was installing the first new faucet. Water started spraying out into the cabinet.

We couldn’t turn it off under the sink since the turn off valve also broke off. So I ran to the garage to turn the water off to the house via our water filtration system, it didn’t stop!!! I grabbed a few buckets and towels and ran back into the house to catch the water.

To turn the water off at the main, Ed had to first find the water key and run all the way at the top of our long driveway and open the hatch in the ground to access the water control. You need what is called a water key to turn the water off. It is long piece of metal in the shape of a T with a fork at the end that we keep in the garage.

To grab the key and run to the water main took time as the water was spewing out of the bottom of the sink where I was placing buckets and dumping them into the other sink.

After about 10 minutes, Ed got the water shut off and I mopped up the mess. He then replaced the hose and got the valve working again. The second faucet installation went smoothly. :-)

painting a bathroom in progress

The next problem that arose was after I chose the white paint color to roll on the walls. I had a few white swatches and chose a warmer white to take away the grey north light shadows. The color that looked best was Sherwin Williams paint in the color Alabaster. One coat and the walls still looked very grey. I wanted bright white. So I went back to taping swatches on the wall.

So many of the warmer whites to offset the grey looked too yellow. I ended up using the color Extra White. I rolled on a coat and when it dried the wall color was brighter, but the wall look spotchy. After it was dry, I rolled on another coat and another until the 5th coat did the trick.

bathroom sink area in newly redecorated primary bathroom in a home.

The next problem I thought I was ready to deal with. It is where the existing electrical boxes for the lights were placed over the mirrors. They are a bit too low and when a light fixture is mounted, the globes overlap most of the mirror sizes available to buy. I thought the new wood framed mirrors being shorter would alleviate the problem.

We did try turning the fixtures so the globes went up. It did solve them going over the mirrors, but the light hit the ceiling too harshly. Plus the light around the mirrors darkened a bit. Ed likes it bright so he can see well when shaving, so we turned them back around.

I also didn’t want Ed to have to have to redo the electrical on the wall, so I brought home a few different light fixtures to try. None were perfect as when the globes on these were placed on with the new shorter wood framed mirror under them, they still overlapped the mirrors.

I thought about using round mirrors. This sounded like a good idea until I measured it out and found that if I wanted a round mirror centered over the sink, the outer side was going to touch the adjacent wall. Not a very balanced look.

I thought buying shorter globes for the fixture would solve the problem. They did look better, but they were clear glass and a new problem came to light… literally.

crackle glass and polished chrome bathroom light fixture.

Lightbulbs!!! I am not a fan of the newfangled bulbs sold nowadays. Most do not look nice when a clear globe is used on a light fixture.

The only 100 watt clear light bulb sold at Lowes and Home Depot these days that are clear have a bright yellow filament in them that looks awful when the lightbulb is not on. I wish we could still buy clear incandescent light bulbs.

So eventually I will change these bulbs or frost the glass on the globes. I have to live with them for awhile until I come up with an idea. If you know where they still sell 100 watt clear light bulbs without the yellow filament, please let me know.

The final problem came when I opened up the box of polished chrome drawer pulls to attach them to the newly painted drawers. I ordered them in a 4″ wide size to fit the existing the holes drilled in the drawer fronts.

When I went to put them on they were 1/4″ too long. To use them I would have had to drill two new holes, then fill, sand and repaint the old holes in my newly smooth and painted drawer fronts. No way was I going to to that.

I sent them back and found pulls that were exactly 4″ wide that I like just as much.

Handy DIY Tip:

When making over a room, keep the old fixtures, especially the cabinet knobs or pulls as the new ones may not come with the length screws needed to fit through the thickness of your drawer and door fronts.

It will save you a trip to the hardware store to get the length screws you need as you can just use the screws from the old hardware. Once the room is done, then you can discard all the old fixtures.

The Decorative Details

Once I got the problems solved I added the finishing touches to the room. (All the resources for the decor I used is listed at the end of the post.)

polished chrome and lucite cabinet drawer pull on vanity

I found these polished chrome and lucite pulls at Home Depot that were the standard 4″ wide. They are also sold on Amazon.

glass and polished chrome cabinet knobs on white bathroom cabinets.

The glass cabinet knobs are the same style I have in my kitchen.

white hydrangeas in a white pitcher on a bathroom counter.

The sinks are white. To create a balance of the color on the counter, I use a white ceramic tray to corral a few items so the counter doesn’t look busy or cluttered. The granite does that all by itself. :-)

glass soap dispenser and cut crystal jar on bathroom cabinet.

Shiny glass soap dispenser and cotton pad holder.

polished chrome towel ring on white wall.

Simple towel rings…

nubbly white cotton bath mat

…and spa style mats finish the space.

white flowers in white tray on bathroom sink vanity counter.

This room is all done. I know I will enjoy placing different colors of flowers in the room, especially now that my hydrangeas are started to come to life. I never know each year what color they will be.

I do know that no matter what color, I can place them in the bathroom. Seeing them will make me smile everytime I enter and that is what a home’s decor should do, make you feel good.

You may be thinking what did I do to the other side of the room where the shower and toilet are. Well, not much except the walls are now white.

white walls and toilet in a bathroom

I would like to find the perfect piece of art to go above the toilet, but am not in any hurry to buy just anything. I will wait until I find something that truly speaks to me. I may have to create it myself. :-)

It took more time than I thought to give this room a fresh new look, but step-by-step I got it done. If you are thinking about giving a new look to a room in your home that seems too daunting to take on, take note that it doesn’t have to be done in a day. Take your time and work one step at a time until you make all the changes and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Product Resources

On a budget Bathroom makeover DIY white/neutral after with a color pop of sky blue.

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  1. Love the re-done bathroom. I have 2 north facing window bathrooms and bedrooms so I know how tough it is to get the right paint color. I knew you would do a great job of getting the granite to look good. I also love your selfie, you look great.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Elsie XO.

  2. I enjoyed reading about and seeing the changes in your bathroom. It turned out beautifully! I must tell you that I thought about you at 2 a.m. this morning regarding the burst water hose. I got up to visit the bathroom at 2 a.m. and heard the loud sound of water running. I first thought it was the toilet but realized it was not…so where is that noise coming from? I turned on the flashlight on my phone and quietly made my way downstairs in order not to wake my husband or dogs. When I turned on the kitchen light, we had a lake in the floor with our own spraying fountain! Workmen had begun installing new kitchen cabinets yesterday and when they removed the sink, they capped off one leaking pipe and just turned off the others. Well, the “turned off” one had loosened during the night and water was everywhere. We finally got it all mopped up with loads of old towels and set up 3 fans to blow on the new, now wet cabinets then went to the basement to see if there was any water down there. The concrete floor workroom below the kitchen was flooded and water was dripping heavily from the ceiling and heating ductwork. Today my husband bought new parts and fixed the kitchen pipes. He opened the ductwork in the basement and about 2 gal. of water poured from them! All is well now, though, and it could have been so much worse. My husband said my voice didn’t have any panic in it when I called up the stairs to tell him we had a flood. :-) Even the dogs didn’t bark!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – Oh no!!! So sorry that you had this happen in your kitchen and basement. Thank goodness you woke up when you did as it could have been so much worse! Sounds like you stayed calm which is a good thing when disaster happens. What did the workmen say when they came to work on your kitchen in the morning since they were the ones who turned off the pipes?

  3. Barbara Pilcher says:

    Diane — I applaud your patience and perseverance to get your bath exactly how you wanted it. Plenty of lessons there for us, such as, always know where your water key is. Not sure what the lesson is for painting the walls. I know that grey-ish whites will cover other colors well, so maybe that makes them hard to cover. I love, love, love your knobs and handles. I know you both will enjoy that room now. Congrats on a job well done.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barbara – thank you. I did hear from another reader that her painter told her the SW HGTV paint sold at Lowes that I used is awful and he refused to use it when painting her house. It is not same as the regular SW line of paints. Lesson learned to only use the big brand names of paint. :-)

  4. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    I your new look on this post!!
    What is the source for the blouse?

    You are too much with these dyi.
    Lovely job.
    Consider seasonal pics from Etsy
    for the other wall. Or wordings to match your many flowers or towels.
    Waiting to see your selections.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Nan – I bought the chambray blouse from Macy’s about 5 years ago. It is made by Ce Ce. It is probably no longer made. I will check out Etsy for art, hadn’t thought of that – thanks. :-)

  5. Your bathroom looks fabulous! You are so talented. In your original mood board, you showed rattan caning for the vanity. What made you change your mind on that?
    I was looking forward to seeing how you apply that haha!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stacy – Thanks. :-). The reason I opted not to do the rattan insets on the cabinet doors was that I would have had to lay the rattan over the center of the door on top of the wood and then use molding to hide the cut ends. On many cabinet doors the cane is stapled on the backs side of a cabinet with the middle of the door cut out. It also required a lot of glue and I wasn’t sure I wanted to add that much to the door in case I wanted to remove it in the future. If you want to see hoe I was going to do it, check out this YouTube video:

  6. Bravo! A job well-done, as usual!

  7. Gorgeous!! Well worth the time and trouble….your color choices really neutralized the very busy granite….terrific!!

  8. Such a beautiful make over of your bathroom. Love the simplistic style and the white walls! Can you tell me the finish of the bathroom wall paint?
    Can’t wait for your next makeover!

  9. Your hair style and glasses are so adorable, happy & youthful! Keep that look & enjoy!
    Your bathroom looks great. Good job keeping your patience while tackling the obstacles. Thank you for sharing your tips & story!
    There is one minor detail that I must critique. I’m not loving the spa floor mats. They look like white towels. Perhaps in front of the sinks, a stylish runner/throw rug(?). But if you love it the way it is, that’s all that matters.
    Thank you!

    1. You are not getting older……you are getting better. Your hair, skin, and glasses are rocking!!! Your bathroom update also looks nice. You did a great job updating without changing the overall room.

  10. The bathroom turned out great! And by the way, that is the cutest picture of you! It makes me want to wear a barrette in my hair like you have on! Darling!

  11. Your bathroom looks great! Budget-friendly remodels are challenging. I also used white chalk paint and clear wax on the vanity in my hall bath. I wanted it to look like a repurposed furniture piece so I used drywall mud and a stencil to add “carvings” to the door fronts and, put curvy legs under the toe kick. My bathroom doesn’t have a window so using the right light bulbs is key to good lighting. I also replaced the old wall-to-wall mirror with a framed mirror.

  12. Michele M. says:

    WOW!!! It looks fantastic, Diane!!! Thanks for sharing the “real” part too. Oh my golly I cringed about the hot water line bursting. Holy Toledo. Glad that all got settled and righted. Whew. What a traumatizing ordeal. The bathroom re-do is fabulous – but I must say something here. That adorable pic of you doing a selfie? You soooooo need to make that your blog pic. You look so cute and 15 years younger in it. It’s a really great pic of you.

    Well done, ma’am.

  13. Your bathroom makeover is terrific. I love how you worked with the granite. It is a bit busy, and you seemed to have tamed it. Love the faucets, too. Enjoy your day! ;)

  14. Looks so nice and bright. And fits your style so well. I felt bad for you and Ed with all the plumbing problems–made me think where do we turn off the water for our house??? Not sure. I had similar light/mirror issues in our apartment above the garage so I feel your pain. Enjoy all your hard work.

  15. Oh, looks so much better. Great job!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Ann – It feels so good when walking in the room now. My husband walked in the other day and thought the lights were left on. :-).

  16. Absolutely beautiful. I like how you keep it real by telling us about your setbacks.
    I have two north facing bathrooms with small windows and both are in need of updating. I think I am finally convinced to paint them white. I love the stencil you used on your other bathroom and might try that idea, too.
    How does the chalk paint hold up on the cabinets?
    Thank you for all your inspiration.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patti – Thanks – Go for the white, but tape a lot of different white paint chips on all the walls as the color will look differnt on all of them. Look at them all through the day to pick the winner. Also make sure to get a quality paint. The one I used, HGTV by Sherwin Williams sold at Lowes selling point was One Coat Coverage. Ha! More like 5 coats. :-)

      1. When we downsized to a different house last year we hired painters to paint our entire house. We purchased extra white by Sherwin Williams but purchased a five gallon bucket from Lowe’s. Our painter told us he didn’t like Lowe’s Sherwin Williams paint and didn’t want to use it. Our painter said there is a difference in the formula they use for Lowe’s paint and it is different than buying it from Sherwin Williams. He said it doesn’t cover as well. We ended up buying all of our paint from Sherwin Williams. I had never heard this before and was just wondering if that was one of the problems since you had to use several coats. I am just repeating what our painter told us. Since he was doing the painting we tried to do what he said. Your bathroom is beautiful.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Betty – Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about the SW Lowes paint. It makes so much sense. I agree 100% with your painter. I will never use the paint again. I am a fam of SW paint and thought it would be the same. Not! The paint is awful and definitely not one coat coverage that is says on the label of the formula I got. I will always go to the SW store and get their true paint from now on. Your painter is smart and so are you for listening to him. :-).

  17. Looks lovely Diane. Just a thought….did you try hanging the light fixture up? I have done this several times, and it can look better! I also like clear bulbs and I will often use clear appliance bulbs, which you can still buy, or clear chandelier bulbs (with regular base), available in 60 watt.
    We just moved to a new house and I am also wanting to redo 2 bathrooms, thanks for the heads up on the chalk paint for vanities.
    Enjoy your new bathroom.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Charisse – I didn’t mention it in the post, but we did try turning the fixture so the globes went up. It did solve them going over the mirrors, but the light around the mirrors darkened a bit. My husband likes it bright so he can see well when shaving, so we turned them back around. How exciting to have just moved into a new home. Enjoy making it your own. :-)

  18. GREAT job! The bathroom looks beautiful! Your haircut is cute too!
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Ellen – Since I have to wear a hat all the time when outdoors, my styled hair always looked a mess and got flattened. Growing the front out into a short angled bob is lessening hat head for me. :-)

  19. Another wonderful makeover. I agree about the light bulbs too, I dislike some of the newer bulbs and the color of the light they give off. I am not a fan of the clear bulbs either, they seem harsh. But like a lot of things light bulbs are changing. I so enjoy your posts and creativity.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Sherry – The color of the light some of the new bulbs give off is horrible. They are getting better, but I miss how a good ole soft white lightbulb did to make a home look cozy and liveable.

  20. Love the brightness of the room now. Great job. Sorry about the water situation. Hope the water didn’t ruin your cabinets. May I offer a suggestion with your lights? I have turned the lights upside down so that the light will reflect off the ceiling and it is just as bright. The globes won’t touch the mirror. It might work and you won’t have to worry about changing the globes. Just a thought.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mira – Thanks – Luckily the cabinet was not ruined. I did have towels in the room and a paint bucket in the room when it first happened so that helped. Thank you for the idea about the light fixtures. I forgot to mention in the post that we did try turning the fixtures so the globes went up. It did solve them going over the mirrors, but the light glared on the ceiling and then around the mirrors darkened a bit. My husband likes it bright so he can see well when shaving, so we turned them back around. The way they are I will just have to get used to. :-)

  21. Maureen Kapala says:

    Looks beautiful! Did you know you are able to refinish the counter even though it’s granite or whatever the product is. Maybe you enjoy it as is. Just a thought. A lighter vibe.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Maureen – Thanks and thanks for the counter painting idea. I did paint my Formica kitchen counters to look like Carrara marble. They have held up well, but I don’t think I would do it in the bathroom since it is only Ed and I who use the room. It does take time and you have to be careful about water sitting on it – which is hard to control in a bath. :-).

  22. I am a light and bright girl myself, so I think it looks beautiful! You have such a great eye for decor! Suzane

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Suzane – My friends and family who have been in the room and read the post all say the room looks so much better now that the darkness is gone. I just wish I had not waited 9 years to finally make over the room.

  23. It looks beautiful, you did a great job!