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home reno sanding drywall

The guest bathroom, or powder room, is a great place to open up a world of possibilities for your home remodeling at the top of the year, or any time. Lisa Michelle writes about her own experience here to help you to know what to expect – or what not to expect!

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Like there is for me, there may be a little voice in your head that suggests, loudly at times, that the duck wallpaper in the downstairs powder room just has to go. When you moved into your new home, you told yourself it would be the first thing you’d deal with (just as soon as the boxes were unpacked) but it’s been months. Here’s how I finally dug in and finished the project.

Stage 1: Deconstruction

There’s nothing like destroying a few walls and floors to put a girl (or a guy) in a good mood. But like all home improvement projects, nothing comes easy.

I started out with those ducks on the walls. They really had to go. The 1980s wallpaper had the added bonus of a border with, yes, even more ducks. I knew from the start it was going to be a slow process. I used a wallpaper scorer and grabbed some stripping solution from the hardware store, and used hot water to make things simpler.

It wasn’t, however, all that simple. In fact, although the wallpaper came off eventually, after several coats of stripping solution, the process damaged the drywall so significantly that it was impossible to paint the room. I ended up having to put a layer of ultrathin drywall on top of the finished walls. Total time spent: over a week.

The next step was to take out the disgusting linoleum. Like the walls, taking off linoleum is all about heat and moisture. Thankfully, this process was a lot faster and much less stressful. Within a day, the offensive floor was gone and I was ready to redecorate.

Stage 2: Construction

Once the walls were completely installed and painted a clean, clear light grey, it was just a matter of tiling the floor. I say ‘just’, as if this were something that I did on a whim, but there’s a science to tiling that can make the process kind of Zen once you get into it.

The first step is to think carefully about how much tile you need and to lay out your space before you do anything else. I chose a beautiful, clean-looking stone tile, and placed it down to see what I needed to cut and shape before I ensured that the floor was ready.

The next step was prepping the floor. I used primer and floor leveler products so that I would have an exactly smooth surface. This was especially important because I had just removed that 1980s linoleum, and there were some ridges left on the floorboards that I couldn’t take out without damaging the wood underneath. Leveling the floor was the best option for the space.

After setting and spacing the tiles, it’s a waiting game. Tiling can take several days because of the grout curing process. You can’t just grout and go, you’ve got to make sure that the thinset has dried before the grout goes on, and that the grout dries fully before you apply touchups or a sealant.

I didn’t attempt to put in matching wall tiles in this project. I’ve done it before, though, and it’s not as easy dealing with gravity on top of the curing process. You have to fiddle with different edging options as well, and wall grout much harder and messier to deal with than floor grout. But it always makes a beautiful design impact if you can hack it!

Stage 3: Design

Once all of the wall and floor drama is complete, it’s time to make the place look fantastic.

It’s a small room, actually right under the staircase, so it made sense to choose something that would stand out, especially since the walls were now devoid of ducks. To make things easier on myself (because, heck, why not) I chose a pre-measured vanity to install in the space. Luckily, the toilet was newer and in working order, so no replacement was necessary. I added some custom-framed antique postcards, some modern accessories, and clean white towels for a fresh look.

You won’t need extravagant options to make your guest powder room look inviting. I found that a simple reno was all that was needed to change the entire feeling of not only the room itself, but the whole living area of my home. Best of all, no ducks were harmed in the creation of my new living space.

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Lisa Michelle

Lisa Michelle is an editor, lifestyle writer, and novelist. She’s also an avid traveler, lover of animals, and admitted Anglophile.