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10 Speedy Changes That'll Give Your Bathroom a Mini-Makeover

The trick: Focus on a single feature.

February 17, 2017
Photo by Rocky Luten

Bathrooms—perhaps the most pointedly shall-we-say "functional" room in any given house—beg for assistance in the design department. They are frequently visited! The good news is this is one of those "a little goes a long way" situations, as the small square footage (either in reality, or in comparison to your other rooms) means that even a small change in your bathrooms look will feel like a big one.

Some changes can be accomplished by ordering some cleaning supplies or spray paint, while others depend on a big new purchase or even a DIY project—but none will rival the pain or cost of a renovation. Here are 11 ways to give your bathroom a mini-makeover by focusing on just a single feature.

1. Replace the mirror.

We back frameless vintage mirrors with plate hangers, and then string them up with ribbon in our office bathrooms, which is very cute.

2. Deep clean the tile grout.

Make a paste of baking soda and water, then spread it across any discolored grout and let it sit for a few minutes. Spritz some vinegar onto it and let the volcanic sizzle subside, then scrub clean with a toothbrush. Pearly whites!

3. Paint over the existing grout.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em—as in, if all efforts to clean your grout fail, and it peers back at you sad and brown-yellowish still, consider painting it white. Look for a "colorant and sealer" in one, which can be "painted" onto the grout with a toothbrush but won't stain your tile.

4. Get new towels.

Whether you fold them over the rack, or hang them on the back of the door, your towels likely make a sizeable visual impact on your bathroom space. And if they're getting a little ratty, or are in a color you never could understand why you sprung for, consider a new set.

5. Give the walls a different look entirely.

Here are some options we love:

  • Patterned wallpaper: It's traditionally used in small spaces, like bathrooms, where the "visual clutter" of a pattern is contained.
  • Dark paint: Sure, some designers would say that a lighter paint will make a small room feel larger—but we love how cozy a dark, saturated color feels.
  • Tadelakt: The waxy, water-resistant plaster that almost glows.

6. Time for a new shower curtain?

The way I see it, fabric liners and curtains are worth the splurge: Not only do they look nicer than the plastic kind, you can toss them in the wash when they start to get splotchy-moldy (an inevitable fact of life). Opt for something that feels plush but also breezy, like this waffle weave (or this less expensive version).

7. Add a plant!

Moisture-loving plants, like ferns and orchids and air plants, will not only thrive in your steamiest room—they will absorb stinky odors. (Admitting that you need bathroom odor absorption is not required.)

8. Add a wee shelf.

(Or a few of them, if you need the storage—and of course the material is up to you.) But a tiny one does the job of nearly disappearing, as seen above, making your extra roll of TP and pot for that plant seem to float in mid-air. You can also butt one end up against the mirror, which will appear to double the size of the room!

9. Spray paint your hardware.

To keep her DIY bathroom makeover from breaking the bank, our contributor Liz Johnson removed and cleaned her dated nickel fixtures, then coated them with heavy duty industrial spray paint before putting them back in place.

10. Replace a bath mat with a soft rug.

No matter how fancy the bath mat, it's going to look... like a bath mat. Swap in a soft, washable rug—like a rag rug, which will handle wet feet and hand-washing just fine—and see if you don't feel a little more sophisticated hopping out of the shower. And lucky you: The slight texture in the pattern won't show dirt as quickly.

11. A bonus project, if you prefer a challenge:

Convert a thrifted piece of furniture into a custom vanity. Whoa nelly that sounds like an undertaking, you might be thinking, in which case you are right. But it's one with an extremely high reward! Do as Lindsay-Jean did (yes, she's a bathroom design magician) and re-finish an old credenza, cut out holes for the sink, hardware, and plumbing, and install. You won't regret it.

And for those seeking supplies, rather than design ideas, here are some bathroom-spiffing friends from our shop:

It's almost the weekend: What projects are you tackling at home (after you sleep in, of course)?

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.