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How To Paint A Herringbone Accent Wall To Instantly Update Your Small Bathroom

Cheap small bathroom makeover idea

This DIY tutorial will show you how to create an amazing herringbone design. Our small bathroom makeover started with a simple beige bathroom and ended up looking completely brand new bathroom accent wall.

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The “Before” Small Bathroom

Dark Small Bathroom

First Time Bathroom Makeover

We had “redone” it once before to become a neutral bathroom until we really decided what we wanted to do. The previous owners even had carpet in the bathroom and the cabinets were the construction grade oak cabinets from the ’90s.

Beige hallway small bathroom

After we bought this house, we had previously used gel stain on the construction grade cabinets and we tiled the floor ourselves when we first moved in.

Applying Gel Stain to Bathroom Vanity

This is a picture of the in-progress gel-staining from our master bath and this small bathroom. As you can see, carpet was in the bathrooms (all of them in this house when we moved in)…

yuck!

Gel Stained Cabinets

The gel stain was easy to use and still gave us that warm wood feel. A few years later, we painted two other bathroom vanities made out of the construction grade oak.

Minwax Red Elm Gel Stained cabinets in bathroom

If you want to learn more about gel stain, here is a midcentury modern dresser that was redone with gel stain! Even after the gel staining of the bathroom cabinets, it still felt…

Blah (to put it nicely).

Apparently, 5 years ago, I thought beige was an okay color to paint things. I don’t know what I was thinking and now I am completely want to make my new neutral to be gray.

Bye bye boring bathroom before small bathroom makeover

How to cheaply makeover your bathroom using paint?

As far as we see it, paint is sometimes the most budget-friendly way to update your home! Here are a few ideas on how to use paint in your bathroom.

  1. Stain or paint exist bathroom cabinets (as we discussed above)
  2. Add fun stencils to your floor
  3. Refinish tile or tubs with a paint tile kit (we have never done, this but did recently painted our kitchen tile backsplash)
  4. Repaint the whole bathroom
  5. Create a fun accent wall in your small bath

While we have not completed all of these DIY bathroom paint projects, we have completed the fun accent wall and here is how we did it!

Supplies need to create herringbone tape design

Buying Paint Tips!

Here is a tip about Sherwin Williams or most other places you will buy your paint. I had an old gallon of paint in my basement that I bought during one of their 40% off sales. I never had it tinted. Once I decide on “Polished Concrete” I was able to take my old gallon to the store and they tinted it for free! It is always great to use what you have and really helped me stay on budget for this project! We discuss more gray paint ideas in this post.

Did you also know that one of the big box stores has free shipping on 8 oz. paint samples!!! I just figured this out and can’t wait to just order online in the near future!!!!

If you want to have a different color than the current wall for your tape lines, you will need to paint that. After you have your base coat, you are going to tape out your herringbone design.

Paint samples being tested on herringbone design

How to create a painted herringbone accent wall

1. Decide on how far apart you would like your designs. Our lines in my herringbone design come together at the point every 7″ down and 12″ apart.

2. Measure 12″ across your wall. Mark in 3 places. Line frog tape up in order to get straight lines vertically. Keep the tape straight and pull it tightly when mapping out your herringbone design. This will help you get clean and crisp lines.

Frog tape herringbone design on wall

2. For each line, measure 7″ down and tape diagonally from one to the other. So your first diagonal line starts at the ceiling and goes down to the 7″ mark on the next line.

3. Keep repeating to make the herringbone pattern. REALLY PRESS THE TAPE! Use your fingernail to really make the tape stick and I also suggest that you take the foam roller (without paint) and run it over the tape. I have also used an old credit card before to push the tape on nice and flat.

4. Once the herringbone design is completely tape, use a small roller to paint the whole surface. You may need two or three coats.

Gray paint over frog tape for painted accent wall

5. Once rolling and trimming is done, it is time for the FUN! I like to peel the tape when the paint is dry, but I do not let it dry too long. Some painters will want you to wait a day, but I am just too impatient for that!

6. Carefully peel off the tape. I find that pulling straight with design can help. If there are any bleeds, you can always touch up the design with the base coat. I did have to touch up a few spots, especially along the ceiling.

Tape being peeled off herringbone painter's tape design

7. Clean-up (My least favorite part) and ENJOY your new DIY herringbone accent wall!

8. Have a blast decorating your new bathroom or space that you chose to TRANSFORM with a painted accent wall.

DIY farmhouse industrial shelving above toilet

What type of DIY bathroom shelves look good over the toilet?

Here we made these industrial shelves with a little help buying these Industrial Pipe Flanges from Amazon. I love how they look against our DIY herringbone accent wall. It ends up being much easier to have everything we needed for the pipes for the industrial look to be sent to us.

I had priced out the pipe fittings at the local big box store and looked at a lot of industrial pipe tutorials. However, instead of searching for the parts, we thought it would save us time if we just have the parts sent to us.

Read more: 23 Epic DIY Shelves For Any Home Decor Style

We did have to buy and stain our own wood with our favorite wood stain color. However, these turned out way nicer than anything we could have bought. We also were able to make two towel racks out of the same $25 piece of wood bought at the local lumber supply.

Side angle of pipe fitting shelves in bathroom

We even used these industrial flanges to make a corner shelf for under our TV in our living room. Once you find a product you love, you keep using it!

A little elbow grease and you can make any room a special place in your home!

Other budget bathroom makeover ideas

  1. Upcycle all jars to use for storage
  2. Create your own drying hooks
  3. Create your own bathroom shelves (here are thicker industrial ones)
  4. Redo your old vanity
  5. Paint a small bathroom accent wall

Originally I had planned on only talking about how to paint this gray herringbone wall. Then I realized that we also have other budget-friendly decor ideas that others might want to know.

Upcycle old jars and items for shelving decor or organization

Here we used old ghee butter jars to help store q-tips and other bathroom essentials our guests might use. The jars were the perfect size to even store hotel samples if someone needs something super quickly.

Old jars used at DIY bathroom decor

Create your own drying hooks for towels & hand towels

Instead of purchasing a hook unit, we decided to make matching hooks for our guests to hang their towels. Using the leftover wood from the shelf, we stained it that same color and added hooks.

DIY hooks on wood in small bathroom

You can find a variety of hooks or hardware at places. I found these hooks in the clearance aisle of HomeGoods, but I do love the selection at places like World Market (like using these knobs instead of hooks) or even like these hooks on Amazon.

Single hook for hand towel

We even used a square wood piece to add a hook for hand towels next to the sink. Considering we used supplies we already had, it was a completely budget-friendly addition to our bathroom.

Herringbone painted wall in small bathroom with gel stained vanity

Our Room Makeover Related Posts

DIY Ombre Hexagon Wall in a bedroom

16 Ways to Cheaply Makover Your Bathroom

How we turned an old dining room into our Dream Home Office!

We love our painted accent wall in our small bathroom (as well as all the other bathroom DIY projects)!

Follow us on Pinterest or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

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gail

Monday 28th of June 2021

Erin, Love your DIY bathroom wall and I think I may try to do this in our small bathroom that is set up just like yours. To get behind the toilet....did you take the tank off? I have a hard time just painting behind any toilet.

Erin

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Hi Gail. I am so happy you love our bathroom makeover. I actually was able to get the small foam roller behind the toilet. As for taping the lines, it was awkward and I am sure that they are not perfect, but I was able to do it well enough. You will want to take the lid off on the toilet in order to be able to reach as much as you can. Good luck with your bathroom makeover!

Shirley

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

I just came across this, looking for ideas on Pinterest. Your bathroom looks just like mine..well, mine is ugly right now. The other wall, is it just plain?

Erin

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

Hi Shirley. I am so happy you found our blog on Pinterest. Yes, I debated about painting the whole bathroom a lighter gray or even more white, however, I just kept it the cream color. Only the wall that you are seeing has the gray design on it. At first, my husband wasn't sure my accent wall idea would work, but when it was done he really liked it. I hope that helps! Good luck in your small bathroom makeover.

Annie

Thursday 27th of June 2019

This is gorgeous and you make it look so easy! I feel like something like this would take me forever but I am inspired by your patience and attention to detail :) Great job!!!

Erin

Friday 28th of June 2019

Hi Annie! Thanks for the kind words about this DIY painted accent wall! I really love how it changed our boring bathroom on a budget!

Meredith

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I LOVE that accent wall I was totally looking for something like that for my house!

Erin

Friday 28th of June 2019

I am glad that you loved this accent wall! It really does makeover a room!

Bethany Rutledge

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

This one turned out great. I'm so impressed that you all are able to do this stuff yourself!

Erin

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Thanks Bethany! I love DIY projects, especially ones that involve painting!

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