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  • The Ruthless Maker

How to Take Your Powder Room from Grunge to Glamorous



When my seven year old son, Noah, asked me why our powder room didn't look very nice, I took that as my cue to do something about it. He wasn't wrong. We had done absolutely nothing to that bathroom since we moved into our house last year. As the only bathroom on the main floor, our powder room was easily the the most used room in the house. Also, with three young boys, lets just say the walls had seen a better day.


On to Pinterest I went, looking for inspiration. The inspiration that stood out to me was a beautiful black and white wallpaper atop picture trim moulding. What I loved about this wallpaper was how it was bold, classy, sophisticated, yet fun. What I didn't love was the price, holy moly was this wallpaper expensive. Having never put up wallpaper in my life, I wasn't about to experiment with $165/yard wallpaper. Feeling slightly bummed, wondering how I would achieve this look, I checked out instagram and came across an account @mygrandparentschair. Tamara painted her whole staircase and foyer with a paint brush, making it look like wallpaper and I thought to myself, hey I can do that!


Every project starts with planning. Good planning helps keep your projects costs down. This is the approach I took to planning and then finally execution! Start to finish, this project took around three weeks. I worked mostly during baby Sam's nap time and after the kids went to bed. If you have less distractions, then this project could easily be completed in a weekend.


1. Sketch out your design plan and create a mood board. I have a notebook I used to hand sketch out my design and then I created a mood board in Google slides. The mood board was useful to help me visualize the elements in the powder room and how they would work together.

2. Tape out your design in your space and take measurements. Using masking tape, I taped out the elements of my design in the powder room. I did this to check the height of the chair rail and the placement of the picture trim boxes. Once I was happy with the placement, I used a measuring tape to take down measurement for the chair rail and picture trim.



3. Choose your trim. I'm embarrassed to say I had a hard time finding trim, mostly because I didn't know what the picture box trim was called. I was searching panel or picture moulding on the Home Depot website and was not coming up with anything I liked. I got a tip from another blogger on Instagram to search for decorative moulding and had way better luck. Since the powder room is quite small, I opted for a 5/16" x 3/4" pine trim which came in 8' lengths from Home Depot Canada, and for the chair rail I went with a 11/16" x 1 3/4" pine moulding. Click on the hyperlinks to be taken to the exact trim I used. Things to think about when buying trim is the thickness and profile of the trim. For the thickness, consider the size of your room. If your room is small, like my powder room, consider getting a narrower trim. For the profile, consider getting something that will match the style of your baseboard. These are pictures of the trim I used to jazz up the walls.


4. Plan out your cuts. By laying out your cuts and cutting pieces that maximize the length of the wood, you can save money by reducing the waste. I usually do this in excel. I list out all my cut lengths, add them up and then divide this sum by the length I can buy the piece of wood from the store. I round up by one length and then play around with how I can best sequence my cuts if they are varying lengths to reduce the amount of wood leftover.


5. Choose your paint. Using some sample white paints I had on hand and a couple black paint samples I purchased I painted some pieces of cardboard and put them up in the powder room. Doing this made it easy for me to see how the colors looked in the space and made it easy to narrow down and ultimately choose my colors Benjamin Moore Midnight Dream (black) and Benjamin Moore Oxford White (white).

After all the planning, it was time to get to work. I started with painting. First, I painted the ceiling Benjamin Moore Midnight Dream (matte finish), then primed all the walls and painted the space above the chair rail Benjamin Moore Oxford White (eggshells finish).


Next I installed the chair rail. As this was my first time installing a chair rail, I did a lot of research on the best way to do it. I learned that for inside corners on a chair rail, you don't want to use a mitre joint, where you cut the corner piece angle at a 45deg angle and meet them together. This is because the curved profile on many chair rails may not line up perfectly with a 45degree mitre cut. Instead you want to use a cope joint, where you cut one piece at 90 deg and the hand carve the other piece with a coping saw so the profile matches the profile of the other chair rail like a puzzle. To attach the chair rail to the wall, I used 2.25" brad nails only. Some people use glue and nails, but I chose not too in case I decide to remove the chair rail in the future.



Once the chair rail was attached, I switched back to doing the brushstroke painting of the pattern on the wall using a 1" craft brush from Michaels Canada. The brush I used came in a pack of 50 miscellaneous brushes for $14.99, check out hyperlink above. I would recommend practicing the brushstroke you want to make on some scrap paper or cardboard to find the design you like best. Once you have the design you like, start in the least obvious section of your wall. This way, as you get used to painting your pattern on the wall, any mistakes will be in a less obvious spot.


After the brushstroke painting was complete, I tackled the picture box trim. I planned my cuts so each trim piece was 4" from the chair rail, wall edges and baseboard. I cut each piece with a 45degree mitred cut, measuring the length from tip to tip. I used a laser level and a spirit level to ensure my trim pieces were straight and nailed in the pieces with a 1 1/4" brad nails from my Ryobi brad nailer, ensuring corners were lined up. Once the trim pieces were nailed in, I filled the holes with DAP wood putty and sanded it down until smooth.

Then I caulked all the seams where ever trim meets the dry wall on both the chair rail and picture box trim. I wish I watched this you tube video before I started caulking because it would have made my caulking job go way smoother. If this is your first time caulking I'd highly recommend watching this video.

Last step before adding back fixtures is painting the lower half of the wall. I used Benjamin Moore Midnight Dream paint in Pearl finish (Regal line). The Pearl finish gives you the shiny sheen which you typically see on trim and in my mind is easier to clean.


With painting complete, the last step was to change the light fixture and mirror. I ended up purchasing both pieces from The Home Depot and did curtsied pickup for both. They were also way cheaper than similar looking pieces I saw on Wayfair. Click on the hyperlink above for the exact fixture I purchased.


Finally, it was clean up time. If I may say so myself, this powder room sure cleaned up nice!


I should add that this was all done for under $500 too!

I hope you enjoyed the behind the scenes on how to take a power room from grunge to gorgeous and I hope this helps motivate you to tackle a project in your home! If it does, please drop me a note here or tag me @theruthlessmaker or #theruthlessmaker on Instagram to show me your projects!


~The Ruthless Maker


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