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Instagrammable Tiny Apartment Small Bathroom Makeover

Updated on May 25, 2018
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine is an independent research consultant at NASA Langley with degrees in English, Biology, and Environmental Science (M.S.).

Before / After

Items Purchased
• Wallpaper Glue Remover- Spray [3 different brands]
• Sponge (s)
• Perforating Tool-Wheel
• Wallboard Knife
• Bucket
• Paper Towels
• Painter’s Tape

When I set out to give my bathroom a major makeover, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or time. I was living in a tiny rental apartment with an equally tiny bathroom that I wanted to make something I could be happy going into everyday. I did a little research online, purchased all possible items I might need to do the job and started my task of removing wallpaper, adding primer and doing the painting in one day. I removed wallpaper, which was the toughest part, using primer applied three times and painted my entire bathroom in just 7 hours. I wasn't sure the age of the wallpaper, the amount of layers or the type of glue on the wall. This mystery was soon revealed with some good surprises and some bad ones too.

I learned as I went but going into it overly prepared for any and all scenarios for the quickest turnaround was my approach. The last thing I wanted was to have a home project take place over the span of days or, even worse, multiple weekends or weeks. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money hiring a contractor to do the work or even renting a steamer, which is charged by the hour and can be pretty pricey and add up quickly. I went in prepared, searched on the website of home depot and purchased accessories for all types of wallpaper. You can see my list of purchased items to the right. Even though I didn't end-up using all of these products fully, it was worth the purchase to ensure I had what I needed to do the job. And note, all of these things are relatively cheap as compared to hiring someone or renting very expensive equipment.

There are three types of wallpaper: strippable, peel able top-layer and traditional. Strippable wallpaper easily peals. I knew I didn't have this wallpaper by choosing a corner of the wallpaper and attempting to pull it away using the wallboard knife. This is by far the easiest type of wallpaper to remove. Wallpaper with a peel able top-layer can be stripped easily but leaves a glued paper underneath that needs to be removed with a solution. Traditional paper is the most difficult to remove. If you have it, it means you’ll need to remove one thick strip of glued paper, which can be hard and take up time. However, with the correct tools, its possible to do it easily.


I had the peel able top-layer type of wallpaper. I removed all the items from my bathroom and laid paper towel down to protect my floors. I then stripped away the thick floral print paper and was left with a glued white paper underneath. To my surprise, the solution was no help, as it seemed to actually re-strengthen the adhesive already on the wallpaper. In the end, I had more difficulty scraping off the wallpaper with the reagent. This may have just been the case with the solution I decided to use but I would test it out on a piece of the wall before applying to the whole wallpaper area.

I filled a bucket with warm water, added some glue removal solution and used a sponge to rub off any pieces left behind. I used my painter’s tape to protect my tile and bathroom pieces. It was now time to use primer on the walls. I added primer a total of 3 times only because my wall was in such bad shape. I then used very white color paint and painted my bathroom twice over.

I didn't end up using all the items I purchased in the end but it was well worth it to complete in one day. It also cost much less than if I hired a professional. The work did make all the difference in the world. It turned a room that I cringed at every time I entered it, into my favorite room of the house. I couldn't believe one days worth of work could make such a difference but the hard work and sweat was much worth the reward. My landlord was also pleasantly surprised by the free room remodel, guaranteeing our deposit when we leave this apartment behind in the future.

The photos above are before and after shots from my actual project.


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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi Catherine, I liked your hub, and you have given some useful information. I get a lot of satisfaction in doing my own work. We just finished doing ceramic tile.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 

      5 years ago from Long Island, New York


      I cringe when the word wallpaper is used and having to attempt to remove it from my own walls would make me cringe even more! Most likely because when I first tried to remove wallpaper from a room wall, it was a nightmare. I wish that I had first read the excellent tips, that you provided in this very useful article first.

      At this time I would also like to extend a warm greeting & welcome U to our talented community of writers. It's nice to have another fellow Long Islander among the crowd here. Good luck to you with your writing, and I can see that you're off to a real good start!



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