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How to reinvigorate your bathroom on a budget

Maybe you can’t rip it out and start again, but no matter — there’s still so much you can do to smarten up your bathroom in your first home

How to reinvigorate your bathroom on a budget

Brought to you by Houzz

Joanna Simmons, Houzz Contributor

Just moved into your first home or shared house? How’s the bathroom looking? If it’s seen better days but still basically functioning, you can do all kinds of things to improve its look and feel (and most will take you no time at all). Obviously, replacing the sanitaryware and tiling is prohibitively expensive and, if you are renting, impossible, too. But with some clever styling and a few inexpensive purchases, you can turn a tired bathroom into a pampering haven in no time.

South Philly Row House

Photo by Sara Bates

Pull up a chair

Chairs are not on everyone’s must-include list when it comes to kitting out a bathroom, but in a first home, where making major changes is often impossible, adding small pieces of furniture to the room can greatly improve how it looks and works. Pick something small and neat, such as this vintage child’s chair, and then use it as a handy storage surface.

Go green

Adding house plants to your bathroom can hugely improve its appearance, introducing vibrant living green to a dull space. Many plants really enjoy the misty, warm atmosphere of a bathroom, too, and will thrive there.


Photo by Mianni Homestaging

Lean in a ladder

If your bathroom doesn’t boast a stylish towel rail, introduce one with a lovely ladder. Go vintage and use an actual decorator’s ladder, or source a contemporary design. Ladders can be moved easily and will slot into small spaces, making them practical as well as attractive.

My Houzz: Contemporary Country Style in the Netherlands

Photo by Holly Marder 

Squeeze in some storage

By fleshing out your bathroom with useful pieces of portable storage, you will improve its functionality. Pick storage in a bold, arresting colour and it will add a welcome shot of brightness, too.


Photo by Ekeforshus Anebyhusgruppen 

Display treasures

Creating small, neat displays of your favourite objects brings personality to any space and can act as a pleasing diversion from a dreary scheme. This is a row of colourful bath toys, but ceramics or glass would also look appealing. Just make sure you stick to objects in water-resistant materials, as the bathroom is a humid, splashy environment! 

North London Flat

Photo by Amelia Hallsworth Photography 

Add vintage buys

The judicious use of a little vintage in your bathroom can ramp up its character rapidly. Less is often more, so don’t be tempted to style your bathroom with masses of junk-shop finds. Instead, pick one or two items that will look great and earn their keep, too. Here, a beautiful old wooden crate acts as towel storage.

Victorian House S. East London

Photo by Alison Hammond Photography 

Exploit a tall ceiling

If your bathroom has a small footprint but a high ceiling, make the most of these dimensions by hanging a clothes airer up high. Airers can eat into floor space and make a room feel cluttered, but whisking your wet pants up to the ceiling will keep your floor laundry-free!

Lavender Cottage - Laundry Room/Cloakroom

Photo by Torie Jayne 

Bring on the brightness!

Cheering up a first bathroom can be as simple and inexpensive as buying some brightly coloured towels and a zingy bath mat. This won’t break the bank, but can really perk up a tired scheme. Colourful signs such as this ‘washroom’ one can be easily propped up on a shelf or the top of a door frame if you don’t want (or aren’t allowed) to drill into walls.

South Melbourne Family Home

Photo by Studio Stamp

Mix in a mirror

A good-sized mirror is essential in a bathroom and it’s also an easy way to inject some personality into the space. Hunt down a vintage piece, or splash out on a beautiful new design with a handsome frame. This is one piece that will prove invaluable in any bathroom, and in any home you move to.

Take a look at more bathroom mirrors

Keep it tidy

Once you have some storage in your bathroom, you can take control of how tidy it looks. Bottles cluttered up around the basin will look messy, so store them out of sight. Then decant liquid soaps into smart dispensers, invest in a beautiful dish to keep soap stored neatly and get hold of an attractive holder or pretty vintage mug for toothbrushes, to give your basin a clean, ordered feel.


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