Ask The Audience: Help Arlyn Decide On Some FUN Design Details For Her (Rental) Powder Bathroom

Fresh off my rental kitchen refresh, I’m back with another project that’s (sort of) been in the works for a few months without much movement. Welcome to my powder bath: a.k.a. a literal white blank box of a room with so much potential!

Before diving into what’s already locked in and what’s not—that’s where you come in—let me show you what we’re working with.It’s as boring as a chemistry textbook which is perfect because I don’t have as many limitations to work around like I did in my kitchen. The sky’s the limit (almost)!

The Befores

Like many powder baths, it’s a small narrow space. There’s literally zero storage in here but we don’t really need any, tbh. There’s a storage closet directly outside of here for extra toilet paper and well…that’s kind of all that’s to be expected of a powder bath, yeah? Everything you see here came with the rental except (obviously) any small decor. The light fixture is a very cheap IKEA vanity track, the shelf is polished nickel and green-edged glass, the faucet’s finish is kind of damaged from the hardish water we have here, though you can’t see it in the photos.

Another thing you can’t make out in the images is that the floor is a soft happy mint green, which I love. It’s reading white-ish here inaccurately.

Here are two pulled-back photos just so you can orient yourself. The powder bath sits at the end of a narrow tiny hallway of sorts, if you can even call it that. It’s basically a two-foot long and wide nook that houses that storage closet I mentioned, and then the door to the bathroom. All of those sit just outside of the kitchen and across from the dining space.

The Plans For The Afters

When we first moved here, I didn’t think I’d do anything in here. After all, my only real options were peel-and-stick wallpaper or paint to give this baby a transformation. I just felt exhausted at the thought of either (why is painting a bathroom a torture comparable to a thousand paper cuts??). But then, one day, I saw it. The perfect wallpaper.

If there’s one thing you should know about my husband Charles and me is that we are absolute, 100% diehard Back to the Future fans. It’s essentially the backbone of our relationship. Every year, we celebrate “Back to the Future Day” where we order a pizza and watch the first movie on November 5th, the day they go back to 1955. The tradition started on October 21, 2015, the date from the second movie where they went into the future, but we’ve since made some shifts for reasons too personal to share on this blog.

And since we live near where they filmed some of the pivotal scenes of the first and second movies, it only made sense that this bathroom became a tribute to the time travel franchise.

How so? Well…take a gander at this beaut. I introduce to you Hill Valley Toile, by Hygge & West:

Hill Valley Toile in McFly Red by Hygge & West

It’s not peel-and-stick, and permanently wallpapering a rental property isn’t something I want to undertake. BUT there are so many great solutions on the internet I can try, such as using a starch solution (though I read this attracts silverfish), or using double-sided tape atop painter’s tape to adhere the paper.

I immediately reached out and wrote up an email with our love story for the movies, and Hygge & West was kind enough to send me a roll large enough to cover every wall and ceiling of the bathroom. But then the roll sat there as I shifted focus to other things in my home. I made a few moodboards to try to decide on a new light fixture mostly but never went beyond that.


As this is the only bathroom on the living level, it’s the one that all guests see and use. To do the wallpaper justice, I decided to make a few simple swaps to make it sing, but I’d love your opinion, specifically with the vanity light.

Here’s what I’m considering:

The Vanity Light Options

Red Vanity Light | Mint Green Vanity Light | Art Deco White and Brass Vanity Light | Modern White and Brass Vanity Light | Black Mirror (similar) | Vintage Wall Shelf | Brass Faucet | Brass Accessories Suite | Scallop Jute Rug

The only difference in the above four images is the light fixture, as I mentioned. The mirror is something I already have from my old apartment (it used to live over my fireplace!), and it fits perfectly here. I’ve added in some brass fixtures rather than the brushed nickel that currently exists in the room because it needs warmth and character. I like the idea of this jute scalloped rug but I have some other options below, too. And finally, the vintage shelf feels Craftsman-y, which is apropos for my neighborhood and townhouse.

I tried two colorful options and two white and brass options. The red plays off the burgundy of the paper’s pattern, the mint ties in the floor tile, and the other choices are more standard in terms of colorway but one is traditional and one is modern.


To Change The Mirror Or Not?

Wood Ledge | Vintage-Style Rug

Okay, so here’s another consideration: Do I try a different mirror? There really is no other black in the bathroom design so, does it feel out of place? I have a fairly strict “every room needs a touch of black” policy but something about this is making me question whether it’s the *right* place for black.

Rattan Mirror

I played around with adding in a more natural mirror, as I don’t want more brass. I love this woven/rattan option from West Elm that is the same size as my existing Schoolhouse mirror (30″ in diameter). I think I really like it…uh oh.

Oh, and you may notice that the wall shelf is different and that’s correct! At some point, I had dragged this walnut ledge into my Photoshop moodboard and I like how sleek it is. It’s a nice counterpoint to the mirror.

My Top Picks

Plaid Rug

As much as I’d rather not spend more money than I have to, I do like the addition of the non-black mirror. And after another look, I don’t love the mint vanity light, so it’s out. And the other one might be too modern for everything else in the room and this area of my home. So these are my top two favorites. I brought back in the vintage wall shelf because I like what it adds to the design, and tried this Anthropologie rug I always swoon over when I see it in other people’s homes. I like these both for numerous reasons and while I am leaning toward one of these, I’d love to hear from you.

Are you Team Have Some Fun With Red or are you Team Keep It Classy With White & Brass?

And please feel free to chime in about the mirror, too. This is an Ask the Audience post, after all. Any and all opinions are welcome in the comments.

I also took the liberty of rounding up a few affordable accessories I’ve Pinned to style out the space. Everything is under $50 and the perfect additions to spruce up your bathroom. Remember, you don’t need a complete overhaul to feel better about a room in your home. Sometimes, all you need is a new rug and a pretty tray. Okay?!?

1. Cotton Ticking Stripe Flatweave Rug | 2. Modern Resin Stone Toilet Brush Holder | 3. Rattan Tray Light Brown – Threshold | 4. Solid Bathroom Wastebasket Tan – Threshold | 5. 2’1″x3’2″ Indoor/Outdoor Plaid Accent Rug | 6. Rubber-Coated Blue Bathroom Canister | 7. Brice Rust and Tan Modern Geo Recycled Chindi Area Rug | 8. Mid-Century Contour Towel Ring | 9. Waffle Bath Towel | 10. Mid-Century Contour Toilet Paper Holder | 11. Smokey Glass Soap Pump Blue – Threshold | 12. Weaving Village Scalloped Natural Jute Area Rug, Navy Trim, 2×3

Thanks for taking a look, and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks both about my plans and about the options I’m considering.

Your friend in design, Arlyn


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