DIY Home

Builder-Grade to Zen Retreat: A DIY Bathroom Makeover

Limewashed walls, upcycled furniture, brass fixtures—the works.

July 19, 2021
Photo by Jenny Flynn

In the spring of 2020, avid DIYer Jenny Flynn and her husband, Bryson, moved into a 1970s fixer-upper in American Fork, UT and have since made swift work of bringing it up to date. Think: monochrome paintings, seating that swerves, and a crisp neutral color palette. There isn’t a room that hasn’t been altered: “My main goal was to create a space that I felt myself in,” says Flynn. Her latest undertaking? The main bathroom which, prior to a two-month long renovation, was chockablock with dated and poorly made fixtures, including an impractically tiny sink and toilet. “[They] felt like they belonged in a dollhouse,” Flynn jokes.

By doing the work herself and keeping the plumbing in place, Flynn was able to recast the uninviting room as a luxurious and calming retreat for just $1,600, the bulk of which she spent on fixtures–a brushed brass faucet joins a sinuous Gio Ponti inspired mirror, non-slip tile, and, of course, a human-sized sink and commode. Even more impressive than the savings is how Earth-first some of the fresh additions are, notably the vanity and paint. “Being environmentally friendly is important to me because little changes I make to be more sustainable can reduce my carbon footprint,” Flynn explains.

“I opted for a vanity with slightly less counter space to allow for more room between the vanity and the toilet,” Flynn tells us. Photo by , Jenny Flynn

Furniture production sucks up natural resources and spits out a massive amount of pollution. With that in mind, the handywoman opted out of a brand new vanity. Instead, she replaced the existing one with an old dresser she scored for $40 at a thrift shop. All it took was new hardware, plywood interior shelving, a hole for a sink, and a fresh coat of espresso-colored stain to make it gleam. Bonus: It’s spindle legs give it buoyancy and in turn, make the petite 70-square-foot bathroom feel a tad bigger.

The piece rubs shoulders with enveloping walls wearing taupe limewash from Color Atelier. “You simply cannot achieve that billowy texture with any other type of paint,” Flynn gushes. “The walls are a work of art.”

She isn’t alone in her adoration. Limewash, a mixture of lime putty and water that gives surfaces a chalky appearance, has become increasingly popular not only because of the visual interest it adds to a room but because it's much better for the environment—and your health—than acrylic or latex paint. Flynn explains: “Limewash has zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and is non-toxic, with no synthetic chemicals or odors. It only consists of lime putty or hydrated lime. These entirely natural ingredients make it environmentally safe and certainly a ‘green’ choice.”

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It’s also much easier to work with and faster to apply than mainstream options because the goal isn’t complete coverage; its application is more freewheeling. To achieve the look, Flynn first doused the walls in water-based primer. After it was dry, she dipped a wide masonry brush into the limewash and swept it on using overlapping V and X-shaped brushstrokes, the key to achieving a wonderfully erratic design. “Go very easy on the paint,” she adds. “The thinner your layers, the better. This will give you that classic velvet look only limewash can achieve.”

“If I could do it all over again, I would redo the shower. My husband and I figured the shower was functional and the design wasn't terrible, so we opted to keep it original to the house, but it really would've elevated the space. C'est la vie!” says Flynn Photo by Jenny Flynn

After letting the first coat dry for two hours, Flynn repeated the process. Then she used a lint-free cloth to apply a matte sealer (its lack of sheen lets the surface texture shine) over her work to guard the limewash from rogue drops of water. Skip this step, and your walls are sure to collect stains as limewash is quite absorbent. “When I notice heavy water running down the walls, I lightly dab any excess with a bath towel. That's pretty much the extent of the maintenance on my end. The sealer really does what it's supposed to do,” the homeowner notes.

Photo by Jenny Flynn
Photo by Jenny Flynn

Four months after completing the renovation, Flynn says she’s still “obsessed” with the tranquil results: “I enjoy taking baths now more than ever. My mood is totally elevated in the space, which is really all I could ever want.” She now has her sights set on an even bigger project: her old-school kitchen. A lick of paint, new fixtures, and, unsurprisingly, a handmade range hood (!) are on the menu. “I can’t wait to get started,” the do-it-yourselfer says with a smile.


Get The Look

Renwil Tufa Wall Mirror | Shop on Houzz, $173 Photo by Houzz
ECOBRT Glass Wall Light Fixture | Shop on Amazon, $58.79+ Photo by Amazon
Avillano Botticino Marble Tile | Shop on Floor & Decor, $0.49/piece Photo by Floor & Decor
TRUSTMI Brushed Gold Bathroom Faucet | Shop on Amazon, $101.90 Photo by Amazon

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Garrett Fleming

Written by: Garrett Fleming

Interiors Editor & Art Director

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