DIY Bathroom Remodel: Art Deco Meets the Hamptons

heritage powder room

DIY Powder Room Makeover. This room is proof that you can create your dream home on a budget. Read on to see how we transformed this powder room from a horrible toilet into a heritage inspired powder room.

The One Room Challenge is back for another season and I have loved working through this challenge for the last few years, as motivation to get a room finished! For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically a big challenge where participants can share their room transformations. It’s a fun way that everyone can share a design project and hopefully help inspire others along the way.

After two years of renovating, we have finally finished our D.I.Y. bathroom rebuild. We had one bathroom in the original Queenslander which you could access from the kitchen and hallway, and not one but two doors from one of the bedrooms. We ended up knocking through the bathroom wall to create a hallway into the extension where we added the new bathroom. The original house is a Queenslander that was built around 1915, so we wanted to create a new, more modern family bathroom but still tie in the features of the original house.


This is the original bathroom.


Bathroom Before vintage

Bathroom design


The extension added to the original house, and included the kids’ bedrooms, their bathroom and our walk-in wardrobe. As the three kids will be sharing and growing with this bathroom, I wanted to design a space that felt open and gave them the storage they needed.


The room itself is generous in size and as it was quite a long room, so rather than build the shower niche in the wall, we decided to build out the shower wall to create a full-width shower shelf. 


This would allow plenty of room for products and I love how it gives the illusion that the room is wider than it actually is. I had already chosen the shower tile so measured the height of two full tiles as the height of the niche. We designed it as a niche rather than a shelf to allow us to add spotlights. 




We used LED recessed lights in the shower and the bathroom. We zoned them so one can be on without the other and they create an even glow in the room.

Over the mirror lights, we opted for a wall light to create a glow at eye level. 

We added shower niche lighting, which is wonderful to leave on at night as it creates a glow but also highlights one of my favourite features in the bathroom. We also wired for under-cabinet lights. however. opted not to install them at this time. 


Tip: Wire for any lights you may want now or in the future. You can always cap them off if you don’t need them now because rewiring later could be very costly. 

Bathroom tiles, vanity and shower

Walls, ceiling and floors


The original house is a Queenslander and although this bathroom is in the new extension, we want it to flow seamlessly from old to new. For that reason, we decided to add VJ panels on the walls and ceilings. We also opted for cement board. I’m not sure if you need cement board for non-wet areas but we still went with it.


We completed most of this bathroom ourselves and I would have to say this was the hardest job we did, due to the weight and height of the ceilings. We did use a hoist and without this I’m not sure it would have been possible, as I found these to be extremely heavy, especially when holding them over your head. The first hurdle was bringing all of the sheets upstairs and the second was getting them installed.


Tip: When installing VJs on both the ceiling and the floor, line up the VJs so there’s a consistent line running from one wall across the ceiling and over onto the other wall. Most people won’t notice this detail but I find it noticeable when they don’t line up, as it draws the eye.


I love to design with a neutral base. Who wants to be ripping out tiles in a few years when the trends change? But as this is our kids’ bathroom, I wanted to add some personality with these fun patterned tiles on the floor but stuck to a neutral colour on the walls. We added herringbone around the shower walls and kept the tiles in the niche linear to tie in with the VJs.



We upcycled a cabinet into a vanity and added a stone counter we found on marketplace and paired it with over-the-counter sinks.


bathroom remodel
vanity upcycle

When you’re buying off the shelf, it’s hard to create a custom or unique look and we certainly didn’t have the budget to buy custom made. We had a large bathroom and as the kids will be sharing and growing with this space, I wanted to ensure it had the space and storage needed to minimise frustrations and clutter.


I love cooler colours so blue was a natural choice for tiles but I wanted to warm it up with wood. I’m not a fan of darker woods or yellow tones and love the look of white oak so that was my inspiration. As soon as I saw this unit I knew it would be perfect for this space but really had no idea how to create the vision in my head.


After doing some research into how to lighten wood, I knew staining wouldn’t create the look I wanted to achieve so decided to try to bleach the wood instead. At this point I had decided I would paint it if it went horribly wrong and after the first layer of bleach it looked terrible, I left drip and splash marks  and was disappointed with the overall look. I decided to try to apply the bleach one more time, this time I was more careful and applied it as I would a stain and this created a more even finish. I was happy that it was lighter but still not convinced at this point it was right.


As a final effort before painting, I tried Feast Watson Liming White stain and varnish and was absolutely delighted as it didn’t necessarily change the colour, instead created a more even tone and finish which is what I was hoping for.


With such an extensive project we are always on a pretty tight budget so need to be careful where we spend our money. So I decided to make the handles myself and they worked out beautifully. I also had a hard time finding what I was looking for and similar off the shelf products were proving a little too expensive so with some plumbing items, dowel and paint they turned out perfect.




I found some fun prints and let the kids pick one each and had some hooks I bought years ago that we added under each print for their towels. 


One of the beautiful features of our original house is the fretwork over the doors, and I love this architectural detail. Derek made the new door frames using a template of the old fret work. 

We have really high ceilings, so I wanted statement mirrors that were a nod to the era of the house. When I saw these art deco style mirrors, it was a no brainer. I bought them one year before we started working on the bathroom and I’m glad I did as they stopped stocking them for a while.


My biggest piece of advice is to buy the finishes you like when you see them as they may not be available at a later date. 


Advice for bathroom renovators


I’m surprised and delighted that so many people love our bathroom as much as we do. I spent a lot of time sourcing each item to add personality and I truly believe the key to successful design is adding elements you love and will make you happy. After all, it’s your home.


Before you start renovating, consider lighting and where you may want to add it as it’s harder to make these changes when you close up the walls. Consider the overall design – light and airy, moody, mediterranean. And get creative with mirrors. You don’t need to just buy a standard shape, think outside of the box.


Add some beautiful candles and melts from The Scented Poppy.

@renowayoflife 🍺✨DIY HANDLES 🍾✨ This is what champagne taste on a beer budget looks like 😂 I searched for the handles I wanted for months, and I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted for my home renovation. Instead, I found some I ‘kind of’ like for $50 a handle. I wasn’t going to pay that, so decided to make my own and I’m sharing that process with you, this video is the first time I have made them and the process I followed. Total Materials cost me approx $135 which is roughly $15 / handle! It’s actually a little less as I didn’t use all of the limewash but I wanted to give you a rough idea. Follow @renowayoflife for more DIY projects like this one. Tiles @tilecloud Materials @bunnings Liming white Stain @feast_watson Primer and hammered bronze metal shield @duluxaus I have a full step by step tutorial on the blog and youtube if you’re interested the link is in my bio. If love what you see share and save for later. . . . . . . #homerenovation #homedesignideas #homeinspo #bunningsinspo #remodel #renovationideas #homeimprovement #diytutorial #tutorial #diy #diyhome #diyproject #renoinprogress #renovated #reno #housedesigner #modernhousedesign #bunningwarehouse #homeofinsta #designstyle #housedesign #diyprojects #neutralstyledhome #budgetdecor #neutraldecor #feastwats @Claire | DIY home Design Decor @feastwatson @Bunnings @TileCloud @Dulux Australia ♬ original sound - Claire | DIY home | Candles

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