Reader SOS – Budget Powder Room Design

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

Designing a Budget Powder Room

Today’s Reader SOS comes from Jamie. She has been living with a powder room on her main floor that she doesn’t love. She is eager to give it some TLC, but she is a little apprehensive about the direction of the design. Should she go for a moody space? Or more of a clean mid-century design? Jamie is up for some DIY to stay under budget and to give this room the love it deserves. Let’s take a look…

The Powder Room Before

Here are a few words from Jamie…

Reader SOS powder room before

My reader SOS is my main floor powder room. I have successfully managed to design the majority of rooms in my house, but this one I can’t seem to nail down! The space is 60×80 with orange terracotta walls and orange beige tile! I have done nothing since we moved in 16 years ago. 

The before for this budget powder room

I struggle with narrowing down a design trend I love, to use in the space. I love dark moody bathrooms, shiplap, wallpaper, etc., but also love a clean mid-century modern design. 

The orange terra cotta flooring in this powder room


I want to replace the floor tile, vanity, light, and mirror and I would DIY it myself, on a budget of $1,500. 

The Design Dilemma

I love that Jamie is finally tackling this powder room in her house, even after 16 years of living with it! It’s never too late to transform a room so it matches your current style. And even though this space is small, that $1,500 budget will be tight with a new vanity, tile, light, and mirror, plus accessories!

So here are my initial thoughts…

  • Keep the floor tile and paint it! This will save so much time and money and the budget can go to the rest of items in the room.
  • Replace the pedestal sink for something with more storage.
  • Replace the mirror and vanity light fixture with pieces that lean a bit more modern.
  • DIY a wood wall treatment and paint it a moody color.
  • Add a gallery wall, shelves above the toilet, and new accessories throughout!

Budget Powder Room – Inspiration

Photo via Azra Levine Design

moody powder room ideas

Photo via Lindsay Hill Interiors

Even though this powder room is small and windowless, I wouldn’t be afraid to go with a dark paint color. It will make it feel moody, elegant, and cozy. I would probably opt for a dark green or dark blue for this entire space. Don’t be afraid of going dark, my friends. I promise it will make a statement, especially in a small powder room.

The Floor Tile Plan

How to paint floor tile

As I mentioned, I don’t think the budget is quite big enough to remove all of the tile, replace it with new, and buy all of the supplies to get the job done. Instead, I highly recommend painting the floor. This is a project I’ve done THREE times (I know, it sounds like I’m obsessed with painting floor tile!), and I promise it works. (You can read my review of how they’ve held up right here.)

Tips to paint floor tile

The only costs associated with this would be the paint, the stencil, and a few supplies. I’d say it would cost around $80, total, to get the job done. I usually buy my stencils from this site and I really like this one for a fun pattern on the floor. For the paint, I’d start with a light warm color on the floor, and then stencil over that with a darker color. In a weekend, Jamie would have gorgeous new floors!

The DIY Wood Wall Plan

Photo via Rooms for Rent

Photo via Rooms for Rent

I love the idea of adding some interest to these walls with a wood wall treatment. I went back and forth about what exactly do to in here. Shiplap? Picture frame molding? Beadboard?

budget powder room inspiration

Photo via Hartley Home

In the end, I decided that a tall beadboard would be the best idea for this space. That way, she could go about 3/4 up the wall with the beadboard, painted a dark color, and then keep the top portion lighter. I like the idea of going a bit higher with the wood, so she could still add shelves and art over the beadboard on the lower portions.

The Vanity, Mirror, & Light

With the floors and walls done, it’s time to fill up this room. While the current pedestal sink is timeless, I think it’s always nice to have something with a bit more storage in a powder room to hold toilet paper, soap, and other supplies for guests. Because the walls will be so dark, I think a light wood vanity would work best. I’m not sure the exact sizing for this space, but my guess is a 24-inch vanity would work best. I really like this wood vanity and it comes at a great price! I would pair it with this black faucet.

I always recommend mixing two metals in a room, and for this budget powder room, I think it would be best to go with black and brass. So we’ve got the black faucet, and I would love to see it paired with this inexpensive brass mirror and this brass and black light fixture. That way, we’re incorporating each metal multiple times throughout the space.

Budget Powder Room – Design Plan

Overall, I think this design plan tackles a majority of Jamie’s requests. We’ve got a wood wall treatment, moody colors, and the vanity and shelving gives off a mid-century modern vibe! Check, check, check!

budget powder room design plan

Vanity // Floor Stencil // Black Faucet // Mirror // Vanity Light // Shelf // Rug // Basket // Wall Art // Ceramic Pot with Purple Plant

Budget Breakdown

Jamie’s original budget was $1500, for the entire bathroom. By eliminating the need to demo and replace all of the floor tile, we were able to stay under budget! While I don’t have it in the above mood board, I would encourage her to create a gallery wall of frames and art on the wall you view when you open the door. It would look amazing against the dark walls and would be a chance to make a statement. I added that line item in the budget breakdown below. And this post dives into my best tips to create a cohesive gallery wall.

  • Paint – $40
  • Floor Paint – $80
  • Beadboard & DIY Supplies – $250
  • Vanity – $370
  • Faucet – $130
  • Mirror – $50
  • Vanity Light – $190
  • Shelf – $60
  • Gallery Wall – $150
  • Plants, & Accessories – $100
  • Rug – $50

Total = $1,240

Future Reader SOS Posts

Choosing paint swatches for a room

I love helping readers tackle their spaces. Unfortunately, I’m all filled up for 2021 but I’m accepting submissions for the beginning of 2022. Send your design dilemma to [email protected] along with photos, dimensions, and a budget for your space. Can’t wait to see…

Casey