Then collapse into a bubble bath after.

I take a lot of pride in my home décor, especially the effort I’ve made to incorporate my personality and love of color in every room. From paint palettes to furniture picks to organizing solutions, I’m usually pretty relentless in making sure everything is just-so. But there was always one fly in the ointment. My downstairs bathroom.

It’s embarrassing, since this tiny powder room is the only bathroom seen by guests. The problem is it’s also the one most frequented by my sons, Sloppy and Sloppier. I was also majorly at fault due to a one-time-only painting misstep: a muted “what was I thinking?” mauve that did little to hide the many warps and flaws in the walls. Between the color, the smell, the toothpaste everywhere, the always-overflowing garbage, and a horrible star-shaped cabinet pull that either injured you or ripped your pants on a regular basis—I just gave up on it. For seven years.

Until a few weeks ago when a friend sent me a picture of HER bathroom redux, complete with framed cover art from a New Order album. “Hey…” I thought slowly, like the Bridget Fonda character in Singles, one of my favorite movies ever. “I don’t have to take this. I can just break up with (my bathroom).” And just like that, I did. You can, too.

STEP 1: Paint

Dig out the old or buy new brushes, rollers, and trays, and think about what color makes you happy. Because I’d taken such a serious stumble with my color choice here previously, I decided this time to play it super-safe and go with a versatile crisp white to open up the space. I also figured it was a blank slate of sorts that I could frequently switch up with different colored accents and accessories.

IMPORTANT: Choose the right KIND of paint for a bathroom. I think this is where we messed up before, because it wasn’t durable or washable and didn’t mask the imperfections on the walls. Look for satin or semi-gloss, or better yet, bring a picture and talk to a sales consultant before you buy.

STEP 2: Replace

Assess what’s not working and resolve to fix it. In my bathroom, that pointy starfish cabinet pull was the first thing to go. Even though I barely know how to use a screwdriver, switching that out with a new knob was absolutely no biggie.

Second was the garbage can with the swinging top. I normally have nothing against these, but since my kids are incapable of pushing their refuse down, you’d find toilet paper and paper towels sticking out of the top, bus station-style, even if the bag was mostly empty. This step can with removable inner bucket for disposal is a much better choice.

Lastly, the dead space between the wall and the sink where we desperately need storage. My light bulb: A shower caddy with a flat bottom can sit on the floor and fit into a variety of awkward spaces—even corners. The takeaway: Be creative!

STEP 3: Personalize  

Back when I had an office and didn’t work at the dining room table, I loved surrounding myself with kitschy pop culture treasures, like Saturday Night Fever trading cards I found at a flea market, Anne Taintor postcards, and my favorite album covers. But I didn’t want to put tacks in my freshly painted walls and I definitely knew better than to try and pick up a hammer.

Can I show you the BEST THING EVER? It’s these peel-and-stick photo display clips. No nails. No tacks. Just adhere to the wall in the artistic arrangement of your choice and (temporarily!) attach your favorite photos, postcards, and more. If I wanted to be nice, I could even let my kids have a turn and decorate the bathroom with Star Wars-themed pictures one month and My Little Pony the next.

Now all I need is a robot to keep the place clean, and we will be all set!

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