Winnie’s Bathroom // Before + After


Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you we were going down to Portland to work on a bathroom at my sister’s house? Well it’s done! It took a little bit longer than expected (that sunshine and those Portland breweries were calling) but it turned out beautifully!

I wish I could take credit for the finishes in here, but alas, most everything was picked by the homeowners and a talented local¬†designer. You see this bathroom was part of a much larger renovation of the entire second floor of my sister’s home including 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a laundry room. It was such a big project that they enlisted an architect, designer, and contractor with the renovation lasting the better part of a year. When it was all said and done they had an absolutely beautiful second floor except for this bathroom, which was left for my sister and her husband to wrap up.


Here’s what the space looked like back in 2016 when my sister and her husband bought the house.

When we came down in early March, the wallpaper had been replaced (professionally…phew!), a new toilet installed, the tub removed, electrical updated, and the ceiling light replaced. The big question was what to do with the floors (that didn’t match the rest of the second floor) and how to get it done.

My sister and her husband decided to paint the floors, a decision I wasn’t 100% sure about because the wood was in decent condition. But I’m so glad they did it because these floors make this bathroom! During our first work weekend, we removed the plumbing fixtures and helped get the floors prepped and primed for paint (3 coats primer, 3 coats paint in all). And then last weekend, we helped find a few long lost items (aka we went shopping ūüėČ and put the bathroom back together. Obviously, I was super bummed to hang out with my sister over the two work weekends but we managed…;-)

I have to say, I loved all the “OMG are you twins?!” comments on Instagram! While my sister and I used to hear that daily, it’s been years since we lived close enough to each other for that. And I sure miss it. My sister and I are super close (like¬†super super) and we miss each other. Our husbands think we’re funny but we still talk every day, usually a few times. And thankfully our 6 children love hanging out so they’re an easy excuse for frequent visits. Being a twin is awesome!

Now about that bathroom…

Isn’t that doorknob beautiful? Apparently it’s called a crystal ball knob. Something about the tapered shape of the glass made them hard to produce in the early 1900s. My sister and I found two sets at Hippo Hardware while we were looking for a cabinet latch, and a couple employees filled us in on how rare and cool these door knobs are. This bathroom originally had a brass doorknob when my sister and her husband bought the house, but this doorknob came from one of the many closets that were removed during the second floor renovation.

This old bathroom was full of old, worn brass.  All of it was tarnished with water stains and calcium gunk.  Honestly, this hanging soap dish looked like a goner when I first saw it, but a little warm vinegar bath and a lot of elbow grease brought it back to its cute and charming self again!

The original details add so much charm to this light and bright bathroom.  The claw foot tub. Chunk moldings.  Brass accents.  And this push-button light switch.  Be still my old home loving heart!

This bathroom is just so beautiful.  Winnie is one lucky girl!


floor paint color: BM Kennebunkport Green // trim paint color: BM Frostine // wallpaper // mirror // towels // shower curtain // brass shower riser // ceiling light // bath mat

Related Posts:

wallpaper for bathrooms // Porch House powder bathroom // Porch House master bathroom 


Real Renovation Budgets // 3 Bathrooms Under $3000 from our Archives

Over the past handful of years, Garrett and I have renovated (and added) quite a¬†few bathrooms in our old homes.¬† Not surprisingly, all of these bathrooms have been completed¬†on a budget.¬†Budget is a driving factor in everything we do because like most people, we have limited funds (duh), and because unlike most people, our homes are investments (as in they provide us with rental income). We rely on these homes for our livelihood – you can read more about that here¬†– so the money we invest in them needs to¬†equate to returns. And I should note that for us ‘returns’ means both higher rents and less maintenance/repairs/design-changes in the long run. So we’re not looking for the cheapest finishes, but we’re investing in good-quality, long-lasting, age-appropriate materials and beefing up the structure and systems of the home. And doing it all as inexpensively as possible.

With all of these bathroom remodels under our belts, I thought it would be fun to showcase a few and talk about what they cost us.

Dexter Bathroom

Budget: under $1000

Description: I don’t think you’ve seen this bathroom on the blog before, but it’s the main bathroom at the Dexter House. When we first bought the property, this room was the nicest space in the whole house, so we didn’t touch it during the renovation. But once everything else was renovated, this space felt kind of lackluster, so we did a budget-friendly refresh. We swapped out the sink and faucet, installed new wainscot, replaced the sconce, brought in a cabinet from elsewhere in the house, and painted everything. Then we gave the existing floors, tub, and tiles a good scrubbing and called it good.

Read more: money savings lessons from renovating old homes (on Apartment Therapy),

Porch House Powder Bathroom

Budget: $1,220

Description: this bathroom was a brand new addition to the Porch House. We stole 34sf from an adjacent bedroom and framed in this rectangular bathroom. We added paneling and wallpaper on the walls and installed a pedestal sink, faucet, sconce, and toilet.

Read more: Porch House powder bathroom, design, wallpaper ideas, reveal and sources, budget

Dexter Master Bathroom

Budget: $2,995

Description: this 36sf master bathroom at the Dexter House was originally the dining nook. We walled it off and added an entrance into the bedroom and then created this tiny, cute bathroom. We brought in a salvaged tub and sink, painted the floors and walls, and repurposed the existing storage.

Read more: master bathroom construction, reveal, budget


Porch House // A Beautiful and Budget-Friendly Powder Bathroom


This is part¬†4 of our Porch House powder bath series. You can read¬†more here:¬†design,¬†why we added a powder bathroom, 8 great wallpapers. We’ll share the budget next week.¬†

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom GW print 2

Today’s the day I get to show you the finished Porch House powder bathroom! This room is one of my all time favorite renovations we’ve done, but before we get¬†into it let’s take a look back at where we came from. A true ‘before’ is tough for this¬†space since¬†this is a brand new bathroom in the Porch House, carved out from 34sf of an old¬†bedroom.¬†You can see how we altered the original floor plan to gain this powder bathroom¬†here.

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Framing 2

The old bedroom had one window, which we left on the other side of the wall (in the space we¬†converted into the master bathroom), leaving this¬†powder bathroom with zero natural light. With such a dark, small room on my hands, I was excited to create a jewel box of a space within this simple, historic home.¬† And after many months of work, I’m happy to say this bathroom is¬†just that: a beautiful jewel box.

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom sink 3 CLEAN

We stuck with classic finishes in here: board and batten painted in C2 Vex,¬†beautiful¬†wallpaper (but only 2 rolls…because hello budget), a brass faucet, delicate sconce, and a simple white pedestal sink. And believe it or not,¬†this renovation¬†was completed on a tight budget, which I’ll share next week.

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom sink low CLEAN

Let’s address the biggest issue with this room: the lack of mirror above the sink.¬† Goodness did we try to put one there! But that ledge at the top of the board and batten is 5′ high and 10″ deep (the lower wall is that thick to house plumbing) making mirror placement super difficult. My mother-in-law ended up setting¬†a stand mirror¬†on the adjacent shelf, which works perfectly, and then I propped this whimsical George Washington¬†print above the sink. I love that George Washington is silently watching you (through Warby Parkers) like he’s appraising your hand washing abilities and not-so-secretly judging you. Nothing like a little whimsy to keep a room from feeling too serious. By the way, this print is¬†a free download from Melissa, and I printed it at Costco for a couple bucks and framed it in an inexpensive Target frame.¬† Budget art at it’s best!

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom GW Print CLEANThe Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom mirrorThe Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom wallpaper

I can’t say enough good things about this beautiful wallpaper from Farrow and Ball – it’s textured and thick and beautifully colored –¬†although I would say that¬†wallpaper install¬†is tough.¬†Garrett and I decided to tackle this¬†wallpaper one night at about 10pm because the boys were at Nana’s so why not?! Famous last words. I was cursing that decision all the way until 2am, when we¬†called it quits¬†at about half way done. I’m certain that I¬†swore we’d never wallpaper again, but alas, it’s too darn pretty to make that kind of promise.

This is the view from the bathroom door, which is just off of the front entry (see the floor plan here).

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom wainscot

The toilet is located across from the sink in this rectangular-shaped room. And we placed a cabinet (original to the house, but from a different room) above it for some storage.  Excuse the odd angles of these photographs Рthis small, window-less bathroom is hard to shoot!

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom toilet CLEANThe Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom cabinet

Goodness, I really do love this room! But we’d love to hear what you think. Would you ever do dark wallpaper like this in a window-less room?

Porch House Powder Bathroom Sources

wallpaper / paint (C2 Vex) / floors / sconce / pedestal sink / faucet (similar style) / toilet / George Washington print (free download from / picture frame / cabinet hardware /

Related Posts

Powder bath design / Why we added a powder bathroom / 8 great powder bathroom wallpapers / Porch House floor plan / Porch House master suite / Ideas for Inexpensive art / A 36sf master bathroom / A 36sf master bathroom budget


8 Great Wallpapers for a Powder Bathroom

This is part 2 of our powder bath series. You can read more here: design, why we added a powder bathroom.

One of my favorite parts about¬†designing the Porch House powder bathroom was that it was dark and small.¬†I know, I know! Those are not exactly the words that come to mind when you’re thinking about favorite architectural features, but here’s the thing. Small rooms can handle¬†bolder patterns. They¬†excel with darker, cozier colors. And small bathrooms are the perfect place for experimentation in design because¬†it’s not a room that you’re looking at all day long¬†(unless you’re potty training a toddler ;).

The Grit and Polish - Porch Powder Bathroom from doorway

Our Porch House renovation, powder bathroom

At the Porch House, I selected this wallpaper from Farrow and Ball as the main focal point of the design. I went with navy because it was one of the three colors I used in that house Рyes, just 3 colors for 2000sf Рand the pattern felt traditional yet interesting. The traditional bit was key because the house was earmarked for resell so we wanted to make sure our finishes had wide appeal.

While I love (LOVE!)¬†the wallpaper we used, if this had been a bathroom at¬†our Farmhouse I¬†would have probably looked at more options. Shopping for ourselves instead of some unknown buyer would have¬†meant we could look¬†at¬†whimsical, busy,¬†and¬†quirky prints.¬†But even with more options available, I have to admit that it’s really hard for me to commit to wallpaper. It’s expensive and difficult to install, plus my tastes change. But when I do commit to a wallpaper, it’s always¬†super interesting to look at.¬† And¬†that leads me to¬†my number one tip for wallpaper selection:

Tip: when picking out wallpaper, make sure you love to stare at the pattern. Tape a sample next to your computer or above your kitchen sink. If you find yourself getting lost in the print, staring at it for unknown lengths of time, than it’s a good¬†option for your home. Loving a wallpaper pattern is good too, but love fades and taste changes. Whether or not you¬†find a pattern interesting¬†has more staying power. Plus, if the wallpaper isn’t interesting to look at, just save yourself a whole bunch of time and money and paint the room.

With that sentiment in mind, I’ve rounded up¬†eight great¬†wallpaper patterns that could live large in the small confines of a powder bathroom.

The Grit and Polish - 8 Wallpapers for a small bathroom

Top // 1 / 2 / 3/ 4 / green paint / navy paint

Bottom // 1 (room via My Scandinavian Home) / 2 / 3 (room designed by Jersey Ice Cream Co at Magic Egg Farmhouse) / 4 / neutral paint / white paint

For the record, I haven’t ordered from all of these companies, so don’t have any feedback on that. But I love that some of these¬†prints are reproductions from folks like William Morris. And one note about coordinating paint colors: white is always a great option, but I paired a warm neutral trim color with our navy wallpaper at the Porch House and it looks so much better than white ever could have. So don’t be afraid to step away from white (ahem, Cathy!) and try something new once in a while.


Porch House // Why we added A Powder Bathroom + Tips for Adding Your Own


This is part 2 of our Porch House powder bath renovation series. You can read part 1 here. 

We’re going to¬†return to the powder bathroom renovation here on the blog, so I thought I’d begin with why we decided to add a powder bathroom in the first place.

The Porch House, built in 1900, had 2 bathrooms when we bought it (and I suspect it had only one when it was built), one upstairs and one on the main floor. The upstairs bathroom serves the 3 bedrooms up there, and the main floor bathroom was a jack-and-jill style between two bedrooms. We knew right away that we wanted to turn those main floor rooms into a master suite, which we did that as part of the Fall One Room Challenge.

The Grit and Polish - Porch Master Bathroom and Vanity

our Porch House master bathroom renovation (rug, bench)

You can see the floor plan changes here, but the one problem with adding the master suite is that it left us without a main floor bathroom for¬†visitors and what not. This is not an uncommon problem in old homes. I’ve often had to trek up narrow squeaky staircases to use a bathroom in an old home and there’s something really nostalgic and lovely about that (also¬†a *bit* tiring too). But with the Porch House¬†earmarked for resale, we didn’t want to have this particular issue looming over our heads. So the natural choice¬†was to add a small powder bathroom (aka a half bathroom) on the main floor.

Finding space for a powder bathroom in this house took a little thinking, but ended up being pretty easy since we were already rearranging walls and extending plumbing for the master suite. We carved out about 32sf from the front bedroom (now master bathroom), which is located just off of the front entry. At 32sf, it turned out to be a fairly spacious powder bathroom and is only 4sf shy of the entire master bathroom we added at the Dexter House. Ha!

Finding space for a powder bathroom is not always¬†that easy so we’ve put together¬†a few tips for creating your own powder bathroom in case you too are¬†tired of trekking up narrow¬†squeaky staircases in search of the bathroom.

Tips for creating a powder bathroom in a small space 

One // Powder bathrooms can¬†fit almost¬†anywhere! With only about 18 square¬†feet needed (depending on the layout, of course), think about¬†transforming a closet, the space under stairs, or an unused pantry into a powder bathroom. If you can get plumbing there, it’s a possibility!

Two // Think pocket door. Efficiency is key in small spaces and a pocket door removes the need to plan for a door swing.

Three // Pedestal or wall-mounted sinks are great space savers.

Four // Rounded-front toilets are an inch or two shorter than elongated ones and those extra inches could make all the difference.

Five // Use vertical space wisely. Think about adding storage above the toilet or place a medicine cabinet above the sink.

Jessica Helgerson Powder Bathroom big

design Jessica Helgerson

Have any more tips about finding space for a powder bathroom? Share them with us in the comments!

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