This humble bathroom as part of a rental property, needed some TLC on a budget. While it had received a bathroom vanity unit upgrade some time in the past few years, aside from the basin the rest of the bathroom remained original. Presumably painted in the ’90s, an intense purple-blue, this south facing room looked small and dark. The colour scheme was dated, the ceiling paint was peeling, water had seeped around the bath causing the caulk to turn black. The shower head while being delightfully retro, only provided a calcifyed dribble to wash under, the shower curtain had seen better days.

Before and After – stylish bathroom makeover under $250

Aside from the tired aesthetic, this bathroom had some serious dangers: an original pull cord for the main exposed light bulb located close to the bath, and live wiring sticking out of the wall from a tenant’s previously removed heater. Both of these electrical hazards are particularly unsafe in a wet room so it was a priority to fix these issues right away, before working on the cosmetic transformation.

Healthy homes bathroom fan installation in Hawkes Bay NZ bathroom electrical via Big Spark Electrical and interior design via Interiors with Personality
ventilation fan and lighting upgrade

I work alongside my husband Shay Russell who is a Registered Electrician with our electrical and heat pump installation company called Big Spark Electrical. Before this makeover the bathroom was also without a ventilation fan – bathroom ventilation is now an important requirement of the New Zealand Healthy Homes standard for rental properties – being that this bathroom is a part of a shared flat, it needed to comply with these regulations. For anyone curious, the fan unit was additional to the $250 interior design budget that I have mentioned here.

Bathroom Makeover Brief
A refreshed bathroom, retaining the vintage feeling

Bathroom makeover Resene Gum Leaf paint with leafy botanical pink shower curtain and art deco door design via Interiors with Personality NZ
chrome Art Deco door handle with mottled glass door

After the electrical hazards had been made safe, it was time for the refreshed interior design to take shape. Ensuring that the bathroom flowed well with the rest of this 1940s Art Deco property was an important consideration.

The existing features I wanted to enhance with the new colour scheme were the wooden casement window, the plaster ceiling and vertical panelling on the side of the bath, the dainty mirrored medicine cabinet, vintage wall hooks, and the mottled glass door with art deco door handle (these might be my favourite door handles of all time).

Interior Design Tip
While it’s not possible to add a chandelier in a bathroom (for H&S reasons), this doesn’t mean LED down lights
are the only option available for bathrooms. Consider ceiling shades, wall lamps and even mirrored lighting to suit your style

Bathroom interior design makeover under 250 dollars with Art Deco inspired bathroom light shade via Interiors with Personality

First up, a new (safe!) light shade. I found this Art Deco inspired glass ceiling shade from the local Mitre 10. As it was part of the store’s lighting display it was discounted to $30. This is the type of DIY light shade that you can easily install yourself, no electrician is usually required (in this project however an electrician was needed to make the pull cord wiring safe first). This light gives a lovely vintage look with the ribbed glass, and radiates a soft glow – perfect for a stylish bathroom.
Lighting: $30

Interior Design Tip
When on a tight budget, consider buying a ‘display’ lighting fixture at a reduced price, usually they are in brand new condition (though without the original packaging). As lighting displays are often high out of public reach they do not get as damaged as other floor display models

As this bathroom is south facing and under deep eaves, there is not much natural light to play with. While it could be tempting to use white paint in a dark room, this usually has the opposite effect, making the white look dull and drab instead of fresh and clean. I am a big advocate for colour in low-light bathrooms. Colour provides a presence that white, beige and grey cannot.

Interior Design Tip
Stay away from clinical white walls –
A bathroom should be somewhere that you want to get naked!

The colour I chose for the bathroom walls is Resene Gum Leaf. It has just the right amount of vintage nostalgia, while being very flattering to skin tone. This was coupled with Resene Alabaster on the ceiling window frame and door, a bright and clean white that works great on trims.

Interior Design Tip
Use ‘Kitchen and Bathroom’ paint specially formulated to reduce mould and mildew

Some like to paint themselves, and others prefer to hire a professional painter. There are pros and cons to each. Doing the painting yourself, especially if you have painted before and have some of the gear already, will surely save you money. If you have never painted before, it might be more of a challenge, don’t underestimate the prep work involved. We initially contacted several highly recommended painters to see if they had availability for this project but all were fully booked for many months, so rather than wait, the painting was DIYed and turned out great!
Paint: $140

Vintage bathtub with mint green Resene Gum Leaf painted walls and white window over bath via Interiors with Personality
Resene Gum Leaf is an aromatic soft green with a pastel vintage vibe

Rather than add a towel rail (the tight bathroom layout would not accomodate one), the vintage double robe hooks were stripped of their peeling purply-blue paint to reveal the lovely aged brass underneath.
Refurbished Hooks: Free

The blackened caulking around the bath and vanity was chipped out and replaced for a clean look and feel.
Re-caulking: $14

A replacement shower mixer to fit the existing shower-over-tub (fondly called a ‘shub’, great for families as it is a shower and bath in one) was a welcome addition. With the new fitting installed the water flows freely.
Replacement Shower Mixer: $55

Interior Design Tip
Don’t miss your chance to make a statement with your shower curtain!

A shower curtain can be changed on a whim, this botanical design is a welcome contrast against the green.
Replacement Shower Curtain: $9

Bathroom makeover for rental property with light green wall paint - Resene Gum Leaf - with jungle shower curtain via Interiors with Personality
Vintage bathtub with Resene Gum Leaf walls and Resene Alabaster window frame

…All up the total for this bathroom make over project came to $248. Some additional costs to consider could be a colour consultation from an interior designer like myself, painter, electrician, plumber, builder, tiler, depending of course on the scope of your project. I’m delighted with how this simple bathroom refresh turned out.

If you have any questions about paint colours and interior design to suit your home (or an interior refresh for a rental property, hotel or air bnb property), please feel free to send me a message, I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly xx

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