8 Easy Ways to Update Your Bathroom—No Remodeling Required

Beautify your bathroom without going over budget.

blue bathroom
Photo: Kertlis/Getty Images

"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 for years. For our 2022 Get It Done virtual home, our goal is to actually complete all of those "someday" tasks that are all too easy to procrastinate. 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 on "Rooms"), there are tons of ways to refresh a bathroom without retiling or tearing down walls. Start simple 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 space a new look. If you have a small bathroom or if the lower half of the walls are tiled, you likely only need a single gallon of paint. For less than $100 (including new brushes and rollers), you can revamp this room. Pick a hue that works with what's already in the space, keeping in mind the wood tones, tile colors, and flooring. A light blue shade will make this room feel serene, while a pale peach color is romantic and flattering. Consider a satin finish, which is easier to wipe clean and will repel moisture more than matte paint.

Switch Out the Hardware

When replacing the vanity and cabinets isn't possible, changing the hardware is a cost-effective bathroom update idea. Before you shop for 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 in the old ones. Unscrew a couple knobs to see if the area underneath is discolored. If it is, shop for replacements that will cover the same area. Changing the hardware in a bathroom is like accessorizing an outfit—it's a finishing touch that can upgrade the entire 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. Plus, a new low-flow shower head can reduce the amount of water you use, saving 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, following these steps.

Upgrade Your Shower Curtain (and Bathmat)

The shower curtain demands a lot of visual real estate in a bathroom, so swapping out this one detail is perhaps the easiest bathroom update idea. A colorful curtain can change the color palette of the room (no painting necessary), while a white shower curtain makes a room feel clean and calm. If you've had the same curtain rings for a decade, consider switching those out too. Pair the new curtain with a coordinated bathmat and hand towel to complete the instant makeover.

Improve the Lighting

To introduce ambient lighting in 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 brighten them 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, added some stylish storage to the bathroom will enhance the space. In a spacious bathroom, consider a freestanding cabinet that can stash toilet paper, hair styling tools, and clean towels. In a tiny bathroom, let a slim rolling storage cart hold spare bottles of shampoo and bars of soap. Once everything has a storage spot, you can keep the counters clear.

Refresh the Grout

You don't need to retile the entire room to give old tile a new look. In fact, even giving the grout a good scrub can dramatically improve its appearance. Another option: change the color of the grout. If you want to change light grout to dark gray for a more modern look, consider grout colorant. The colorant is brushed onto the grout lines to change their color, and then the excess is wiped off the tile using a sponge or cloth. This process is tedious and time-consuming, but if you DIY the job, you can upgrade your bathroom for less than $50.

Apply Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

If your bathroom has a fan and decent airflow, it is possible to install peel-and-stick wallpaper and keep it looking good. Select a removable wallpaper that's labeled "moisture-resistant," then adhere it to one accent wall (or all the walls) of the bathroom. Have tile on the lower portion of the walls? You're in luck—this project will require half the amount of wallpaper.

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