Modern Bathroom Mural

A few years ago we were on HGTV’s My House Is Worth What? The comment I remember most is that though we’ve updated most of our townhouse, the half bath felt like you’d stepped back into the 70’s. That wasn’t a compliment.

The bathroom’s most notable attributes were a light fixture that nearly had the power to make you gag, a counter that ran all the way across the wall (why? please tell me why) that effectively blocked the lid to our new (free!) low-flow toilet, and a toilet paper inset cut into the side of the cabinet.

Not anymore!

Here’s what we did:

Paint! Light gray with teal accents. (Glidden Totally Teal in high gloss.) I’ll get to the inspiration behind the stem and leaf design in a bit. (And you may recognize my favorite bowl on the toilet tank.)

New light fixture. Found this for $10 at the Habitat ReStore. We actually turned it around so it hangs up-side down. Right-side up, it looked like Gaston’s lodge to me.

New faucet. I love the white porcelain knobs… they feel very vintage to me. Rare stroke of retail luck: this was a) my favorite option, and b) one of the bottom-of-the-line models at Home Depot, so it only cost $25!

New vanity/countertop. Found this on Craigslist for $75. Had to drive 40 minutes out to a lovely country home to get it, where it was new in the (decomposing) box in a shed. Thankfully the gal who sold it to me wasn’t afraid of flexing her muscles to help me get it in the car. That beast was heavy!

The vanity came with plain, brushed silver knobs, but I swapped them out with knobs from an upstairs cabinet we ripped out. I love how they match the faucet handles.

New towel/toilet paper hardware. From TJ Maxx. Installed them myself. Who loves a power drill??

New mirror. Well, different mirror. I actually salvaged this from an alley in Chicago years ago when I was a nanny there. I love all its antiqued imperfections against the modern graphic wall mural.

Did I mention paint? I even painted and poly’d the back of the door, which is a fun surprise when you use the lou.

We did all the work ourselves (with profuse thanks to Dennis’ handy-man padre!), so total we spent about $300.

Can you guess which of the above is my favorite feature? I drooled over the graphic mural in this bathroom on Apartment Therapy, and toyed with doing the same design, same color. But I kept running into this design:

It was on a card I got in the mail from a friend, on wallpaper in a magazine I was flipping through, on the tree branches outside a client’s house, on this storefront I passed while lunching with a friend. By george, I’m doing it! So I did, in what appears to be my favorite color (unintentionally dotted my living room with it, too): teal.

I’m pretty happy with my rendition.

And just because you deserve one more angle:

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  1. Alissa says:

    Nice work, Amy! I think my favorite part is the teal door — how neat is that idea?

    • Amy says:

      That was such a an impulse move! The idea popped into my head, and not five minutes later, I had roller in hand. I think the back of bathroom doors are ideal for painting… low-risk, high-fun factor! Now I’m trying to figure out what other doors I can get away with.

  2. Paul says:

    Great job! I’m impressed.

    But one very important question – where’d the toilet paper go?

    • Amy says:

      Haha… wondered if that question would pop up. It’s on the wall on the other side of la toilette now. Took a pic, but didn’t know how much people would want to see my roll.

  3. Kristina W says:

    That came out Great! I love that I got to see the before first-The teal is perfect! That design is so sleek and modern, looks so good with the brushed silver. Nanny? I swear you learn something new all the time…….

  4. sarah says:

    Lookin’ good, but… I miss that cardboard tank lid.

  5. Gail Ow says:

    I love it!

    It even matches your website! By the way, thanks for the lampshades! They are totally perfectly the right size!

  6. Momma says:

    WOW! I can hardly wait to come see it “live & in person!” The graphic is fab! Teal must be THE color. I like aqua/turquoise/teal. Matter of fact, am wearing teal sandals right now! Teal and Brown, perfect together – just like you and Dennis.

  7. Marjorie says:

    i love this bathroom!! you already knew that, and my strange affinity for awesome bathrooms… now come do mine! =)

  8. Love this a lot! It’s fantastic. Question…Why did you poly over the paint on the door? Does poly work well over paint?? I guess maybe that’s dumb question, because I think poly works well on everything. Anyway, just curious. I’m thinking about putting a coat of polly on some tables I painted to make the finish last.


    • Amy says:

      Actually, that’s a great question. Basically… don’t do it! I was going for even more sheen on the door, but when I was shooting these pics (with 100-watt daylight bulbs), I noticed it kind of yellowed the paint. I’m sure there’s a better option to get a lacquered look. Wish I knew what it was, b/c I’d like to do my credenza, too!

    • Amy says:

      FringeGirl — Just found a great post on painting tips, and she says skip the poly. Go with polyacrylic… it doesn’t smell, yellow, or bubble, and doesn’t require mineral spirits for your brush. Sign me up!

  9. Great job. Did you do the artwork freehand or use a stencil?

    • Amy says:

      Tru – I cut the leaf shape out of 8.5×11 card stock then drew them on the wall where I wanted them. There was much ruling and leveling involved.

  10. Kim says:

    LOVE it all, however I’m completely drooling over those hand towels! Where did you snag those? 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Kim — Aren’t they fun? They’re actually kitchen towels – Orla Kiely for Target… unfortunately from last year. (Here’s an Apartment Therapy feature on the collection.) The good news is Orla’s still going strong, and all of her stuff is great!