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<p><strong>After:</strong> White wainscoting adds charm to deep-gray walls. A wood counter on the white-painted vanity adds warmth and has extra counter space thanks to a washbasin-style vessel sink.</p>

After: White wainscoting adds charm to deep-gray walls. A wood counter on the white-painted vanity adds warmth and has extra counter space thanks to a washbasin-style vessel sink.

Nothing's more boring than basic beige. While the master bath at Meredith and Stephen Heard's ranch house, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was perfectly functional, it was a bleak blank box of washed-out finishes. To give it some oomph, Stephen created a high-contrast look on the walls with white-painted board-and-batten wainscot made from low-cost lath and furring strips; above it, Meredith used a dark gray paint to add depth.

Vanity Update

The vanity was in great shape, so Stephen just replaced the cultured-marble top with stained and sealed butcher block and, to create more deck space, put in a vessel sink. Meredith updated the cabinet doors with white paint and satin-nickel pulls left over from their kitchen remodel. To brighten the space, Stephen replaced the old strip vanity light with a three-shade fixture and the standard overhead flush-mount with a drum-shade pendant. Finally, Meredith added a sunny shower curtain she made herself. Having banished the bland, she says, "It's so much more welcoming now—we feel like we really gave the room some personality."

The Project Tally

• Tacked up lath and furring strips, board-and-batten style, using a nail gun; filled knots, sanded, and caulked; then sealed it all with leftover primer and paint $26

• Painted the walls a dark gray, custom mixed at the store from paint they had on hand $0

• Leftover paint and pulls freshened the vanity $0

• Topped the vanity with a new butcher-block counter, vessel sink, and faucet from a

big-box store $170

• Installed new overhead and vanity lights $80

• Finished the room with a new mirror and a lined DIY shower curtain made using a flat sheet and fabric paint $60

Total $336