Stature is not something I’m blessed with. I’m short. Short and sweet. Well, mostly just short. And usually sweet. You know who else was short? Napoleon. And I had Napoleon in mind when we designed this DIY bathroom/french country bathroom here at our little DIY blog.
our DIY bathroom/french country bathroom reveal
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|Portrait of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David, 1812|
This bathroom is in our basement. And when we moved into this house out in the country, this is what it looked like down there…
See that hint of leopard shower curtain on the left? That’s the doorway to the old bathroom. As you can probably tell, this project was going to be a very TALL order.
Fortunately, I’ve never been afraid of a challenge, despite my height. In fact, I think my smallness has only fueled my drive to take on big things.
My nickname on the high school lacrosse team? “Huge”…which is kind of an awesome nickname, and probably gives off the idea I was actually good. I can assure you, I barely made the cut, and spent most of my time there cheering on my teammates from the bench…that’s ok, more good life lessons learned.
Little “woman” syndrome? Sure. A “Napoleon complex”? Definitely. Because, you see, I think that anyone can do just about anything, if they have enough compunction and drive to do it. Where does this magical thinking come from?
Probably a lot from this guy. My Pop. Sorry for the bad pic, but he doesn’t like to have his likeness captured. He’s usually behind the camera (like me). And this guy taught me that there are no limits to what you can do if you have the guts to try something. And my Mom? Well, she’s a five-foot-nothing ball of energy in perpetual motion. Nobody messes with Mom, despite her size. “Small but mighty” is what she’d always say. That and “good things come in small packages”. And I wholeheartedly agree.
Take this little bathroom, for example. When we bought the house, the footprint of this space was enormous. You walked in there and thought…pass me the 10lb. ball and lemme lace up my bowlers cause I’m gonna knock those pins flat at the other end of this bathroom. It was a ridiculously large especially for a basement bath which undoubtedly won’t get a ton of use. We wanted to open up the stairwell to make the basement feel less closed in when you walked into the space. In order to do that, we stole some square footage from the bath. The new full bath tops out at a whopping 36 sq ft.
Here you can see how open it now looks as you come down the stairs compared to the picture up top of the same hallway. That blue table above is sitting where the original vanity sat in the old bathroom. So all that space was originally enclosed.
Some may think we’re bonkers for stealing space from a bathroom. I can understand that notion. But, I’d say this in response. A small bathroom does NOT have to be or feel cramped. And something that is small DEFINITELY need not feel short on style.
Take Napoleon, for example. Sure, he was small (allegedly), but he was not lacking in guts or gusto. An Emperor, and one of the greatest military commanders in history.
The Napoleonic code, which allowed for freedom of religion, and prevented privileges to be granted simply on the basis of birth was enacted in France under his rule. Clearly a big thinker, in a pint-sized body.
I’d like to think Napoleon would dig this throne room.
I mean, we’ve got the French toile…
Basketweave marble floors with herringbone marble subway tile in the shower…
and a DIY barnboard ceiling that seems very french country bathroom, no?
The door needn’t be closed on BIG style just because of a SMALL footprint!
In fact, quite the opposite. To me, small spaces just crave big patterns and bold choices because they want to stand out. If you’ve got a small bathroom you don’t know how to dress up, I suggest GO BIG OR GO HOME! Buy a huge wall stencil and go to town. Order that bold wallpaper you’ve always gravitated toward, but been slightly scared of. Pick a big ol super glam chandelier. Choose a crazy paint color, like black! And then let me know how it goes. I love hearing stories about how the little guy or the underdog came out on top. It makes us small folks feel powerful.
And there you have it. Napoleon’s throne room. Good things do come in small packages.
french country bathroom source list:
*we share the EXACT product whenever possible. If a product is no longer available, we have tried to provide and notate a close match.
- Wallpaper – Thibaut “Piccadilly Cotillion” (no longer readily available)
- Wainscot/Beadboard (PVC, NOT wood)
- 3×6 carrara marble subway tiles
- 12×12 carrara marble tiles
- Lugarno Triple Sconce vanity light (Restoration Hardware)
- Brushed Nickel “Pearl” Lavatory faucet