upstairs bath progress

Marian ParsonsBathrooms, My House66 Comments

I finished the wall paper mural in the upstairs bath last week and I’ve been bursting to take a picture of it to share!  I’ve just been really busy and didn’t have the chance until yesterday afternoon.  The bathroom still isn’t done, but it’s far enough along that you can get the idea.

This bathroom is teeny tiny, so I decided to take some risks.  HGTV asked if I would write a tutorial on hanging wall paper in a bathroom, so that’s where the design started – the hunt for wall paper.  I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I wanted it to have a vintage feel and make a statement in the small space.  I started looking at mostly peel-n-stick wallpaper, so it would be easy to apply and easy to remove and I found a few options I liked in sort of a Swedish folk-art vein.  The search ended, though, when I tripped across this wall paper mural from Anthropologie…

anthropologie paper

I love how it looks like it was an ink print from an etching.  Vintage in feel, but bold in interpretation.


I absolutely love it.  It gives the space so much personality and depth.  It also camouflages toothpaste and soap splatters, which my boys are champs at creating.

We still have a bit more to do to finish the space – make a sink skirt and radiator cover, install quarter-round trim and replace the faucet.  We replaced the old light with a new one from Pottery Barn, that was suited to the low ceilings and vintage style of the space.  It puts out so much more light than the old 1940’s builder-grade fixture.  (Unfortunately, the box for the light is off-center from the sink and, unless we wanted to do some major reworking, it just needed to stay that way.)


I initially thought I would replace the sink and I started trolling Craig’s List for a vintage bathroom sink.  It suddenly occurred to me that I would be replacing one little vintage sink with another and that didn’t make a lot of sense.  What was really bugging me wasn’t the sink, but the faucet and messy caulk along the wall…


I scraped all of the caulk away with a utility knife and razor and then re-caulked, so it looks nice and neat.


The faucet is “hard-plumbed”, so it’s trickier than just unhooking the faucet and putting in a new one.  We’re actually going to have to cut the pipes and put on new flex hoses, so we’re working up the courage to tackle that one!


I painted the frame of the plaster mirror in a mix of MMSMP Boxwood and Lucketts Green in order to make a bright, grassy green that compliments the fabric I have to make the sink skirt.

Until I can get to work on the rest of the projects, I’m really enjoying what is finished.  My favorite part is the little bird up by the light.  There’s something sweet about it that makes me smile when I notice it.


I did install the wall paper myself and, while it was messy and a bit tedious, it was a pretty simple DIY project.  I am writing a tutorial on how to do it for HGTV, so I’ll share that link when it’s live.


Jeff said he’d reserve judgement until the mural was done and would apologize to me if “he was wrong.”  So, I asked if he was ready to say sorry…  He said, “Well, it’s not really my thing, but it does look good.”

Okay.  I’ll take that!

upstairs bath progress

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66 Comments on “upstairs bath progress”

  1. I love the wall paper – it looks amazing! Perfect for a bathroom.

    BTW- is that a new haircolor? It looks AMAZING. Seriously, you look good. 🙂

    1. Thanks! Yes, my stylist tried something new. I give her pretty much free reign with the color. It can be a little edgy, but not too crazy! As she was mixing the color this time, she popped her head out and said, “How do you feel about red?” 🙂 I think we both have fun with my hair!

  2. Your bathroom is stunning! I’ve loved watching you renovate your home over the last few years. You are so creative. We have a 1938 cape cod with many of the same details (wood interior doors, glass knobs, vintage lighting). And RADIATORS. Which brings me to a question. Do you have a secret for keeping those narrow slats clean in the bathroom where humidity likes to glue the dust ? My swiffer dusters aren’t thin or hearty enough…or maybe I’m just not hearty enough 😉

    Can’t wait to see the sink skirt. I bought material 4 years ago, but haven’t discovered a great way to attach it (sink similar, but with chrome legs and hideous underplumbing). Look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    1. I have radiators, and I’ve had radiator covers made. They are perfect. The heat still gets out but they look good and you can set things on them. If you are interested in seeing them, email me and I’ll send pics.

    1. Yeah, that would be a thrifty option. I already have the new faucet purchased and need to replace it for a freelance article. It’s a little higher, so it’ll give a bit more room in the sink, which will be nice. Also, that faucet is pretty nasty. Bugs actually get inside those plastic handles it has to go! 🙂

  3. Thank you for posting these ideas, Marian. The sink looks much better when you cleaned up the caulk. I had a plumber come to my house to fix a leaky tub, and he left a mess with the caulk, and I had to scrape it off. It was terrible. It took hours to clean. I can appreciate the clean up work involved in that. I also like the earth tone print to the wallpaper. It’s easy to clean. It’s very unique. The only thing I would change is the mirror. I don’t think the green mirror goes with everything. I think a gold mirror would go better with the black and white wallpaper — that’s just me. It’s a lot of hard work. Great job.

  4. LOVE THIS!!! Making me want to do something similar in my small bathroom.

    Do you need the storage under the sink? Because I think a skirt would hide too much of the mural. Plus, I kinda like the exposed metal.

    1. I was going to say the same thing. I like it just the way it is. I suppose you could always paint the pipes black, but I wouldn’t do a skirt. I think the room is too small.

    2. I was thinking the same thing, I like seeing the pipes. I’m assuming that when you have to rework the plumbing, it may not look as vintage? Not sure, but I vote, no skirt or radiator cover.

      1. I vote skirt. It looks good without, but I think it will look better with one and I want to see how you do it and what color you use. 🙂

  5. Marian,
    You did a great job of the wallpapering and while its a pattern that many would shy away from using in a small space you weren’t afraid to take a chance and prove that sometimes you have to challenge the decorating rules.

    Wallpaper has really been making a comeback lately but I don’t think it will in our house again. My husband spent many hours removing dated wallpaper border from our kitchen and dining areas which included having to sand the walls to prep them for painting. It was at that point he declared “No More Wallpaper Ever”!

  6. LOVE this wallpaper, the monochrome, the etched look, the old-world styling. LOVE it.

    One thing though – Do you have to put a sink skirt on? I rather like the chrome piping. It looks clean and current. I am not a fan of sink skirts, they ‘fill’ the space too much, both physically and visually. And if not careful they can look ’80s country-yuck. Without a matching green skirt, the green mirror would look a bit out of place though.
    Just my thoughts. I know you’ll do your thing anyway, and no doubt it will look amazing! 🙂 Kerry

  7. Great job on the bathroom. Wallpapering is certainly a job that is not for the faint at heart, especially with a pattern. I give you an A+ just for tackling this one. I love the vintage pattern you chose for this makeover. Is this a half or full bath? I was just wondering about your tub if it was a full bath and if you were keeping it.

    1. Yes, it is a full bath and we’re leaving it alone. I wanted to replace some of the accent tiles, but it’s apparently tough to do that without risk of damaging the backer board. I’d like to have the tub reglazed, though.

      1. After we moved in, I repainted (followed DIY instruction to the T) the dark green and flower country cottage accent tiles a neutral and the rest of the tile was neutral. SO much better, they don’t look painted and it has been 8 years without a chip or problem. These are at head height in our walk in shower, but I scrub them regularly.

  8. That wallpaper is perfect!!! I love that look. It’s also great for an older house where the walls aren’t even. There is a very irregular design and no one would ever know if the walls have irregularities. Great job!

  9. I know that Marian mentioned the etched look – and commenters have as well – but in the interests of accuracy it’s actually styled to look like an engraving and not an etching – which is an entirely different process.

    Pedantic quibbles aside – it looks glorious on the wall. I’m seriously considering it for my powder room now that I’ve actually seen it applied somewhere.

    1. Anthro call it ” Etched Arcadia Mural Wallpaper”, but I agree, it looks like an old engraving.


  10. Beautiful work! This “updated vintage” is the perfect pair in this space. I’d have to agree with some of the other ladies on the sink skirt. I initially thought the idea of a sink skirt was the perfect fit. After seeing your mural and sink set in place, I think you would leave out so much of the feel by covering the mural with a skirt.

    I think once you get a new faucet, like you stated, you definitely won’t need the skirt. Plus, it concerns me a bit about having the fabric so close to the radiator (raised as a fireman’s daughter ;). Once you get a radiator cover on, that will make the sink and it’s cool piping stand out even more.

    If not using fabric to tie in the green, what about changing the mirror frame to an icy blue/grey…ish color to tie in the marble tile ( which I love by the way!)?

    Can you squeeze a little wire basket to the left of the sink for some storage? I think you mentioned wall shelving you were going to put up for storage too. That should be plenty for boys. Girls would be a different story!

    Love your work….and love the sweet bird by the light too <3

    1. Yep, all good thoughts. 🙂 Our radiators are heated with hot water, so it isn’t a fire hazard to have fabric on or hear them as an FYI. If they were electric, that would be a concern. Yes, I am going to work in some storage in the rad cover.

      1. You always think of everything. I’m looking forward to what you finally do!

        Isn’t it sort of funny how in the blog world people’s rooms/ personal spaces are posted and then everyone chimes in with a “zillion” ideas and opinions? You are so gracious to hear us all share our thoughts! 🙂

  11. Or do a matching radiator-style cover for just the pipes under the sink? The wallpaper looks amazing! Mouse.

  12. Have to agree on the sink skirt. If it’s not needed, why cover the image? It would be different if the sink were not across from the door and you couldn’t see it as well, but I don’t mind seeing the plumbing, it really isn’t that obnoxious. The paper pulls your eyes away from it.

  13. No, no, no regarding a sink skirt. Especially with the radiator next to it; nothing you make will draw your attention away from the solid blocks that’ll be created. Your eye will initially miss seeing the beauty of the scene when walking into the room.
    As others have stated, I would paint the pipes black, and even the radiator. It’ll make the sink float off the wall.
    Or – Marian, you’re such an artist, it would be awesome to paint/pencil the paper design onto the pipes and radiator!! – MSMSP in white, then draw with a gray/black sharpie. Yes!!

    I have a very small powder room with the old grayish tiles up part of the walls and pale yellow sink (like yours) and toilet. The walls above the tile is ugly – off to check out Anthro wallpaper.
    PS – hurry and show us the how-to! As always, thanks for sharing your talents and ideas.

  14. Love the mural, tiny bathrooms/powder rooms are great places to do something out of the ordinary. I wonder why they made bathrooms so teeny, tiny, seems like they try to cram is much as possible into a small space. I think I like the sink without a skirt, kind of industrial/retro looking with the chrome pipes showing – at least they are chrome, not the ugly black plastic often found with newer plumbing. I tried a skirt on my sink, thinking to introduce some pretty pattern into the bathroom but found it was too much, better just left as what it is – a sink in a tiny bathroom.

  15. I’m absolutely gaga over your wallpaper and look of your bath! Can’t stop looking at the pictures. We’re planning on possibly updating our half bath this summer. Our half bath is approximately 5′ X 5′ also. Just wondering if you just covered two walls or all four with the mural. If just two… then what did you paint the other two? The green is a perfect accent on he mirror too.

    1. Our is a full bath, so tile was covering the back wall with the window and the walls at the front and back of the bath. That made the mural fit perfectly on all of the plastered areas of the wall that were left. Also, the door took up just enough space, so I literally had about 5″ to spare. If I did have an extra wall, I would paint it either white or black.

  16. Oh, I love how the wallpaper looks in the small bathroom! For some reason, I am now thinking that green is not a good color for the mirror frame though… I am seeing that bathroom in a combination of black, white, and soft gray. But then, once you have the sink skirt and everything else in place, I might take my comment back. 🙂

  17. FANTASTIC results with the wallpaper!!! anthropology should pay you! cute pic of you too. but i think the green detracts from seeing & feeling the walls to their fullest. it’s like their are 2 main things to look at. i like the current chrome plumbing under the sink. i hope the back side of the door is not orangey wood bit something that enhances the feeling of being in a forest that the wallpaper provides. i love watching your projects!

  18. Since you didn’t ask for opinions, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I have to echo what so many other people have already said: No sink skirt!! I like the industrial simplicity of the way it is right now, and I think it will be too busy and cramped in there with a sink skirt. I also just think they look frumpy-country in general.

    I really like what you’ve done with the bathroom so far. It’s a bit of a stretch from your “norm” but I love that about it. Totally unexpected but still, like everything you do, looks straight out of a magazine.

  19. p.s. i think covering the radiator would remove an important vintage element…and it could make the mirror look top heavy.

  20. I agree, no skirt. How about a raspberry color mirror. How abut applying wallpaper to the
    back of the door? The plastic knobs scream 1985. Krylon sells a wonderful spray paint for
    plastic and it works. Black sounds good to me. You might try that until you get around to
    changing the fixture which sounds involved to me. Looks wonderful!

  21. Hi Marian- I love the wallpaper. I, too, have a small powder room and this would look great in it. I have a dark sagey green in there now and have been thinking about changing it up. Thanks for the awesome inspiration. You’re inspiring in a lot of ways!

    Thanks for doing Saturday’s class. I learned so much! think everyone should take a class from you. 🙂


  22. Oh I just love it all. The wallpaper is so fabulous, and I applaud you for going with your gut for that space. The pop of the green mirror is like a little jewel on the wall. And your hair is fabulous, too – the color is lovely! 🙂

  23. Marian, that is a beautiful bathroom, no matter what the size! The neat thing about sink skirts and radiator boxes is, they’re temporary! If you decide you don’t like one or both, you can always remove one or both, with little trouble. The choice of green for the mirror looks updated and fresh against the wall mural, but the style of mirror and mural still fit within the “vintage” overall feel. Nice work!

  24. Love, love the wallpaper! But, I must echo others, no sink skirt, paint the orangey wood door and re-paint the mirror a raspberry color. No worries though if you don’t take suggestions offered, you’ll make it all come together!

  25. What I love the most about the wallpaper is that it takes you away! I don’t think of the batgroom size at all when I look at your photos, I look into the mural as it takes my eyes further/ deeper! Wonderful choice!

  26. Oh, dear, after reading all the thoughtful comments I have to check in with myself again to see what I really think about the bathroom decor. I, like Jeff, said I’d reserve my opinion about the wallpaper ’til it was up, so….I think it actually looks quite unique and interesting. It will be fun to look at when you are brushing your teeth! Regarding the mirror I like the splash of green a lot. To me it echos the color of the tree leaves if they weren’t rendered in black and white. And that pop of color is whimsical and gives relief from all the black and white. Initially, I tho’t the sink skirt was a good idea, but upon consideration, I find I really like the more “modern-retro” look of the bare pipes. Plus, with two little boys, I can see toothpaste, muddy hand prints and all sorts of stuff getting on that skirt. Do you really want to have to wash it every time you turn around? But if you really feel you want a skirt, put one up there; if you decide later you don’t want it, you can easily take it down. Nothing is written in stone, you know.

    As to the radiator, I LOVE the retro styling and look of the exposed pipes! What a load of character it gives that little bathroom. To me, it looks lovely white and it would also look fabulous if you painted it black. What color will the storage unit be? Will it be above the radiator? If you did the radiator in black it would anchor a white storage unit above. I can see it already!!

    Well, I’ll be waiting anxiously to see what you decide about all these issues and our many opinions! I know it will be just right for you no matter what you do.

    One last thing I wanted to mention is regarding the wallpaper above the sink. There is a sealant that you can buy, I believe, that you can paint on to make that area water and spatter-proof so you can wipe it clean. I’ve not used it, but I wish I had when my bathroom was wallpapered. I don’t know if it would change the surface of the wallpaper enough that it would be obvious or not, but it couldn’t look worse than splashes and spatters. If you check it out, let us know how it looks. You could just experiment on a scrap piece of wallpaper.

    Loving your blog. But, get some sleep! (I don’t think I ever had your energy, even when I was younger!)

  27. Marian, I looked at the photos of the bathroom again and I tho’t , How about a small green rug in front of the sink to ground the mirror?! Can you see it? I can! What do you think? I got really excited imagining it! Color and design are SO COOL!

  28. Just want to add to the “votes” here: Love the wallpaper, your skill, a new faucet coming–and your hair! 🙂 No to a skirt, no to a radiator cover!

  29. Why not WALLpaper the pipes under the sink. The room looks great. Having wallpapered many rooms in an older farmhouse with uneven ceilings, I learned the trick to paint the ceiling paint down a few inches onto the wall so I could keep the top edge of the paper straight. Did you run into any of that kind of problem or did the. Artwork of the paper help camoflage that?

  30. Hi Marian,

    You are getting your mojo back I think….This has the makings of a very sophisticated bathroom….different to your delightful country look…..I agree with many of the comments above,….paint the radiator black, leave the chrome pipes and DON’T do a skirt around the sink…that would be disastrous and ruin the look…..making it too ‘twee’….

    No one has mentioned the lighting….overhead lighting is the kiss of death for putting on make up…I would take your current new light out….and put two contemporary chrome lights on either side of the mirror….much much better… and don’t forget the dimmers….You can also have a subtle overhead light on the ceiling (much as I dislike them) but your boys may want that when they shower. Also, you did install a ceiling fan??? I hope for the sake of your wallpaper…..

    1. Nancy, All great ideas! In our master bath, we were able to install overhead lights and sconces, but that just isn’t possible in this space without ripping out a good deal of plaster walls. Our 1940’s bathrooms do not have fans. They considered the windows as adequate ventilation back then! 🙂

  31. I LOVE the wallpaper, it looks amazing with that green mirror. Looks great so far and I can’t wait to see the final reveal! That’s such a statement wallpaper but it suits your style and that space so well, great find.

    Lauren | LB Designs

  32. Hello Marion,

    The paper you chose makes the bathroom so unique and interesting! Not until you mentioned it did I notice the lighting was off center of the sink. The painted mirror in between let’s the eye “forgive” the non-symmetry.

    One day soon I’ll send you a picture of my bathroom…which is tinier than your upstairs bathroom. I’d like for you and Kristie to do some “design rambling” on this tiniest of bathrooms. It looks like a cottage from the 50’s (which it is) and I need “new eyes” to help me bring it forward without losing the charm (and my pocketbook). And, inspired by your “wall paper mural,” I’ve been online “pinning” pictures suitable for enlarging and framing it with a window frame which I’ll then affix to the bathroom wall giving the effect of a view in the distance.

    I look forward to seeing the new hardware you choose for the sink. The lighting you chose has inspired me to plan a visit to Pottery Barn.

    One can almost feel your excitement and energy across the pages of your blog as you’ve been blessed and grown leaps and bounds this past year!

  33. Hello again,

    Had to add another comment or two after reading some of the comments above.

    One, I agree with the idea of painting the radiator black (semi-glossy?). Leave the pedestal sink “naked” and use baskets to store items underneath the sink. The baskets could add more texture to the room. Or – there is always shelving you could add above above the radiator. Regarding your light fixture, while I agree that lighting on each side of the mirror is the ideal, sometimes the space we’re working with doesn’t allow for that. You made a good choice. My bathroom doesn’t allow for the ideal so the light fixture, like yours, has to go above the mirrored medicine cabinet and I’m choosing those “daylight” light bulbs plus a dimmer switch. An option, if this is where you put on your makeup, is a lighted magnifying mirror on an extension arm. You fold it flat against the wall when not in use. I’m definitely going to install one in my bathroom.

    I’m always amazed at how many gifted women there are out there as I read the comments section. You are encouraging and generous with your design information and you reap a harvest.

    Whatever you do decide as you move forward with the upstairs bathroom, you will amaze us at the final reveal!!!

  34. Since I Love everything you do, I must come up with a new word to describe this spectacular choice. An homage to “Annie Hall” – I Lurve It. I agree; no skirt, no radiator cover. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

  35. NO SINK SKIRT!! PLEASE!! As someone else stated, it will hide the incredibly amazing and astounding mural. I would skip the radiator cover as well. It just ALL works to perfection, and adding more elements is going to overwhelm the tiny space. I even love the sink (as is) as well, including the handles. The white radiator and sink against the mostly black wallpaper, the shiny pipes, plus the pop of green in the mirror–you’re DONE in this room girlfriend. Well done! By the way, I didn’t even notice the light was off center above the sink. Let it alone–it adds interest and character. 🙂

  36. Three popup ads are partially obscuring your photos and then? an audio ad for forever 21? I’ve enjoyed your blog for years, but now? I’m opting out.
    Oh wait! The same audio ad is playing again.

    1. Sorry about that! I have filters for ads with noise and pop-ups, but sometimes advertisers are sneaky and slip them through. I have let my ad guy know, so we can see where they are coming from and block them.

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