How I transformed my bathroom into a tropical oasis for under $200

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How I transformed my bathroom into a tropical oasis for under $200

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The original bathroom with its 1970s avocado-green tile, which I primed and painted white rather than …

With one spare weekend, a $200 budget, and a few creative inclinations, I turned a tiny bathroom into my very own private island getaway. (Insert frosty beverage with little paper umbrella here.)

Beach colors

Although green is my favorite color, the 1970s avocado-green ceramic tile that covered half way up each of my bathroom walls was not so appealing. I didn't have the time or budget to have the tile removed, so I painted it white. One coat of primer before the white paint worked like magic; no sanding or prepping the tile was required. For the top half of the wall, I chose an aqua color for an airy, sitting-by-the-ocean feel. A sandy beige proved to be a good transition color. Painting the outdated wood-grain vanity and corner cabinet produced a great visual accent as well. I painted their bases and doors the same aqua as the walls and painted the trim white. I didn't even remove the hardware; I just taped around the hinges and handles of the cabinets and the door and then gave them all a quick spruce with silver spray paint.

Tropical design

I knew I wanted to use real sand in my new beach-themed bathroom so I came up with a unique application for just that. I created a border of sand around the room where the tile meets the textured drywall. A small bag of children's playground sand did the trick nicely.

Here comes the fun, ingenious (and a little bit messy) part. Using white paint as my medium for sticking the sand to the wall, I rolled a small area with paint, then filled a plastic hotdog holder with sand and blew the sand onto the wet paint with my hair dryer. I'm not really sure exactly how I came up with this idea; I brainstormed about it for a bit (and searched the garage high and low for a drywall mud tray, but to no avail). The hotdog holder worked even better than expected because it provided the perfect cone shape for maximum coverage on the wall (and less on the floor), but the key was to do only about 6 inches of wall at a time and use the lowest setting on the hair dryer.

Now, what would a sandy beach be without seashells? I found shells and sea creatures at my local craft store as well as some I had collected years earlier from the beach and incorporated them into my design. A little hot glue and random placement created a shell-filled shoreline border around the room.

Special little touches

Nothing says paradise to me like the smell of suntan lotion; this is where coconut-scented essential oil and reed diffusers came into play. A basket of rolled beach towels, like those swanky sea-side resorts, added a charming touch, as well as a potted palm tree for the corner. Easy DIY laminate floor tile, a new mirror, colorful shower curtain and a few beach-themed decorations streamlined and completed the room perfectly.


I completed this project in one weekend and for just under $200.

  • Primer and paint - $35
  • Sand and shells - $15
  • Mirrored medicine cabinet - $70
  • Self-adhesive laminate floor tile - $35
  • Shower curtain and accessories - $30
  • Beta fish and bowl - $13
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