“Update the bathroom” lands on many home to-do lists, but if a major remodel isn’t on the horizon, it’s a task that gets pushed around for years. For our 2022 Get It Done virtual home, our goal is actually to complete all those “someday” tasks that are all too easy to put off. In addition to the easy bathroom update ideas highlighted in the virtual home tour (take the tour here and navigate to the bathroom by clicking “Rooms”), there are tons of ways to freshen up a bathroom without remodeling or tearing down walls. Start simply with a can of paint or some new drawer knobs. You’ll be surprised how much these small projects improve the space.
Repaint the walls
In any room, including the bathroom, a coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to give the room a new look. If you have a small bathroom or if the bottom half of the walls are tiled, you probably only need a single gallon of paint. For less than $100 (including new brushes and rollers) you can revamp this space. Choose a shade that works with what’s already in the room, keeping in mind the wood tones, tile colors and flooring. A light blue shade will make this room feel calm, while a pale peach color is romantic and flattering. Consider a satin finish, which is easier to wipe off and will repel moisture more than matte paint.
Turn off the hardware
When replacing the vanity and cabinets is not possible, replacing the hardware is a cost-effective bathroom update idea. Before buying new handles and knobs, measure the ones you already have. Look for handles that are the same length as the ones you own, so you can avoid drilling new holes and filling old ones. Unscrew a few buttons to see if the area underneath is discolored. If it is, purchase replacements that cover the same area. Changing the hardware in a bathroom is like accessorizing an outfit – it’s a finishing touch that can upgrade the whole look.
Replace the shower head
Not only can a stylish shower head make a bathroom look more modern, but it can also elevate the experience of using the bathroom. Additionally, a new low-flow shower head can reduce the amount of water you use and save you money on utility bills. To improve the flow of your current shower head without replacing it, remove mineral buildup by soaking it in white vinegar by following these steps.
Upgrade your shower curtain (and bath mat)
The shower curtain takes a lot of visual ownership in a bathroom, so replacing this one detail might be the easiest bathroom update idea. A colorful curtain can change the color palette of the room (no paint needed), while a white shower curtain makes a room feel clean and calm. If you’ve had the same curtain rings for a decade, consider replacing them as well. Pair the new curtain with a coordinating bath mat and towel to complete the instant makeover.
To introduce ambient lighting into the bathroom without having to replace the fixtures, consider installing a dimmer switch. That way, you can adjust the light as needed. Dim the lights for a soothing bath, or turn them up when you’re getting ready in the morning.
Introduce extra storage
If toiletries are overflowing from the medicine cabinet and TP is stacked out in the open, adding some stylish storage to the bathroom will improve the space. In a spacious bathroom, consider a freestanding cabinet that can store toilet paper, hair styling tools and clean towels. In a small bathroom, you can let a slim rolling storage cart contain spare bottles of shampoo and bars of soap. When everything has a storage space, you can keep the counters free.
Update the sealant
You don’t have to remodel the entire room to give old tiles a new look. In fact, even giving the grout a good scrub can dramatically improve its appearance. Another option: change the color of the sealant. If you want to change light grout to dark gray for a more modern look, consider grout color. The dye is brushed onto the grout lines to change their color, then the excess is wiped off the tile with a sponge or cloth. This process is tedious and time-consuming, but if you do it yourself, you can upgrade your bathroom for less than $50.
Apply Peel-and-Stick wallpaper
If your bathroom has a fan and decent air flow, it is possible to install wallpaper and keep it looking great. Choose a removable wallpaper that is labeled “moisture resistant” and then put it on an accent wall (or all the walls) in the bathroom. Do you have tiles on the lower part of the walls? You’re in luck – this project will require half the amount of wallpaper.