Boho inspired makeover

Exercise a little creativity with your budget and you won’t have to empty your bank account to update your bathroom.

by Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault, photography by Larry Arnal

I’m always up for a design challenge, especially one that pushes budget boundaries. And hey: achieving high style with a low spend just happens to be my forte. Occasionally, though, a project comes along that drives my creativity to a whole new level of DIY ambition.

Which was certainly the case as I prepared to transform this tired mauve bathroom with a modest makeover budget of just $500.

I truly believe that creating style has little to do with how much money you spend, rather how creative you can be with your budget when it comes to saving cash. For me, it’s all about rolling up my sleeves and exerting a spot of good old-fashioned elbow grease. Here’s my three-point guide that explains how I transformed this throwback Cottage Country bathroom into a chic boho retreat. All while staying under budget!

Outdated bathtub or tile? Paint it!

Although mauve bathtubs and floral wall tiles were all the rage in decades past, my clients craved a fresh new look. This observed, removing and replacing old finishes and fixtures simply wasn’t in the budget. So, after doing some DIY research, I discovered an affordable epoxy acrylic product appropriately called Tub & Tile. The refinishing kit by Rust-Oleum allowed me to (quite literally) brush on a smooth, exceeded my own expectations.

First up? Preparation: it’s always key. As with any successful DIY project, I took the necessary steps to prepare surfaces before painting, using the recommended Tub & Tile etching solution to dull the original glossy finish. Next, I removed all caulking and thoroughly cleaned the tiles and tub before following the instructions to carefully apply new white paint. When totally dry, I re-caulked the surround and, within a few short days, the tub was back in use.

Cabinets get a splash of personality

If your existing cabinets are in good condition, why bother with the expense of complete replacement when you can affordably update proceedings with a few DIY ingredients?

I reused the existing flat-panel laminate doors but applied shaker-style moldings to create instant detail. This done, I painted the entire door, including the existing handrails, using Chalked paint in a fresh hue called Tidal Pond.

Finally, I layered in a spot of extra detail with pre-loved brass knobs scored at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. After revamping (with Universal metallic brushed nickel spray paint), I attached them to the door fronts.

If planning to tackle a DIY cabinet overhaul, it’s crucial you invest in the right products. Chalked paint is a great option because it doesn’t generally require primer, it can be easily brushed or sprayed on, and the two-coat application dries very quickly, leaving a smooth, velvety finish. The most important step, however, is applying a clear protective matte coat to surfaces, after painting, to ensure their durability and longevity.

Custom shelving without the custom price

Adding bathroom shelving is a great way to pepper in additional storage and make use of vertical space. If you dream of a customized look, head to your local home improvement store for stock lumber and stain. I wanted to add teak shelves in the boho bathroom, but I didn’t want to pay the price. Undeterred, I had pine boards custom cut at the store and, using Early American Varathane stain, created my own luxe-for-less finish. Lastly, I affixed the boards to inexpensive brackets, et voilà! A custom vibe without the custom price tag.

If you’re planning a budget-friendly bathroom makeover, all you truly need is the right products for the project. Oh, and a little sweat equity, plus a splash of creativity to turn your design dreams into an affordable reno reality.

Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault – a self-proclaimed DIY ninja whose design philosophy fuses ingenuity, quirky ideas and high quality on a strict budget – is the owner of design firm Hue La La and a regular contributor to Cityline.