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How to Update Your Bathroom (With Non-Bathroom Accessories)

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If you’re looking to spruce up your bathroom without doing a complete overhaul, the name of the game is accessories. But buying one of those matchy trash can/toothbrush holder/Kleenex cover sets never really cuts it. And a standard-issue bath mat may be practical, but it’s not exactly a game-changer. So what do the decorators do? They look for accessories that aren’t strictly made for the bathroom. That’s right: shopping for non-bathroom pieces, and even borrowing things from other rooms in your house is the ticket to a totally cool look. So where do you begin? A few of the pros weigh in:

The 15 Shades of White Paint Top Designers Swear By
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The 15 Shades of White Paint Top Designers Swear By

David Cafiero
“I'm a big fan of artwork in the bathroom. If the bathroom is large enough I always try to put in a piece of period furniture. A high boy or a 19th century commode or small dresser. It makes the room a little more interesting and offers a bit more storage.”

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Vicente Wolf
“I love using a collection of old silver to hold q-tips, cotton balls, etc. Also, a very modern bathroom always sparkles with a beautiful antique mirror.”

Keren Richter, White Arrow
“We buy antique furniture and accessories to mix in with contemporary fixtures or lighting—be it an earthenware soap dish, a dental cabinet for additional storage, or ceramic olive oil jug repurposed as a wastebasket.”

Timothy Corrigan
“Something as simple as hanging a painting or other form of real art elevates the bathroom from the utilitarian feeling to a place of indulgence and beauty.”

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Windsor Smith
“A round center table if there’s room (even a petite one works) creates space for a flower arrangement—which is a wonderful way to be greeted in the morning. It can also hold beautiful items like a china dish with a candle, or similar non-traditional items.”

Emily Henderson
“I love bringing trays into bathrooms to help corral items either on the vanity or on top of the counter. You can keep you toothbrushes, creams, and any other daily necessities within arms reach and by containing it all on a tray it allows the space to feel more clean and pulled together.”

Young Huh
“Consider a small sculpture on a countertop or a larger one in a wall niche or bracket. Art can transform a nice bathroom into an extraordinary one.”

Brad Ford, Brad Ford ID
“I like a nice collection of unexpected boxes to hold everything from cotton balls to q-tips. I'm not a fan of matching bathroom sets so I try to find things that are different shapes made with different materials to create a more dynamic tableau.”

Jon Call, Mr. Call Designs
“A non-bathroom item I like to use to decorate a bathroom with are 24-inch tall ceramic vases with a 6-inch opening on top, vintage or new, beside the toilet as a trash receptacle. They generally coordinate better with my interiors more than a generic push pedal waste bin.”

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Steve McKenzie, McKenzie Interior Design
“I think a distressed vintage oriental rug adds real warmth and story to a bathroom, especially when it is on all the marble and stone that so many bathrooms have today.”

Jenny Dina Kirschner
“I regularly use art in bathrooms. Where walls are tiled up to the ceiling, I'll hang art from the ceiling. Where I have extra space on a vanity countertop, I'll often put funny sculptures or whimsical handmade animal figures as an element of surprise in a place you'd least expect.”

Tricia Foley
“Cotton dhurrie-style runners in stripes are soft and washable and finish off a bathroom.”

Sheena Murphy, Sheep + Stone Interiors
“I love plants everywhere, including bathrooms.”

Casey DeBois
“I like to incorporate vintage or antique canisters and trays, and Moroccan rugs as bath mats and artwork."

Tags: design, tips, bathroom