Lack the funds to redo your whole house? Then consider starting with the powder room.

Pick the theme or overall feel you want. Here, designer Lisa Todd went with a garden inspiration for Barbara and Paul Gardner's powder room. "The Gardners love the outdoors, so I wanted to bring that feeling into this space. It also complements the adjoining family room and kitchen, so there's a continuous flow," explains Lisa.

A lively floral wallpaper sets the stage in the tiny space, and bright white paint--which replaced the stained door and trim--contributes to the fresh look. The outdoor-inspired lantern continues the theme while giving off attractive light. A mirror that looks like a window, hardware, and some new accessories coordinate perfectly. Lisa chose to give the room even more presence by removing the texture on the ceiling and creating a tray effect with crown molding. "The tray ceiling really finishes the room and gives it more height visually," she says. "It's a special feature that's not too expensive in a compact space." The result is a small room with big style. Alice Welsh Doyle

Total: $1,300 (does not include the cost of hardwood floors, which were part of the main floor renovation, or the designer's fee)


  • Wallpaper: $100--three double rolls bought in stock and on sale. (Tip: Powder rooms don't require a lot of paper, so you may find a good deal on items that are being discontinued. In that situation, be sure to buy an extra double roll just in case you need it later.)
  • Mirror: $120
  • Faucet: $150
  • Light fixture: $150
  • Labor: $750

A competent do-it-yourselfer could do the work, but if you hire someone, expect to pay about $125 to take down existing lighting and repair the walls and $125 to strip the ceiling. (It takes patience, but you can do the ceiling yourself. Wet it thoroughly with a spray bottle, and then use a drywall knife to remove the bumps.)

Editor's note: If hardwoods aren't in your budget, consider inexpensive tile. A neutral textured carpet, such as sisal, would also work.