3 Ways to Refresh your Bathroom (without a major renovation!)

Bathrooms and Kitchens often scare us when we’re thinking about upgrading or refreshing our home design, because so many different things are involved in a pretty small space:

  • plumbing

  • electric

  • tile

  • fixtures

  • hardware

  • lighting

  • backsplash

  • storage

  • paint

  • (and finally....) the decor

Immediately, you might be imaging the dollar signs, mess, and stress that would come with a bathroom renovation… and I get it. But today we’re going to talk about 3 ways to update your bathroom WITHOUT a renovation, either to tide you over until you’re ready to invest in a larger project, or to make do with what you currently have- and hopefully learn to love it!


Bathrooms are an easy spot to add luxury to your home, improve the function in an area that everyone uses daily, and increase the market value of your house for when you’re ready to put it on the market.

Today I’m sharing three steps to update your bathroom that don’t require a major renovation. Either try one, or all three, and see if you can upgrade your sorry bathroom from junky to the jewel box it deserves to be!

1) Paint

One of the easiest, most cost effective, and DIY-friendly ways to make a huge impact in your home is with paint. Tile, bathtubs, and lighting fixtures might all look completely different if they are against a new backdrop. Vanity cabinets can also be painted to make a serious update to the style of a room, for much less money and hassle than replacing a bathroom vanity.

First, identify the color palette of the things that are absolutely staying in the bathroom.

It is tempting to want to match the colors that are already in your bathroom- but if you’re looking for a big change- Don’t do it!

We had a bathroom with a dark tan travertine marble tile on the walls and floor, and the previous owners had color matched a peachy-orange for the wall paint. The room felt small, dark, and dingy (and it was terrible for putting on makeup, too!).

I repainted the room in a simple creamy white (still with a warm undertone to not clash with the tile) and it completely opened and freshened the space. I had *thought* that I hated the tile, but what I really hated was the orange color on the walls. As soon as it was painted white, the tile looked rich and luxurious, and that half-bath didn’t bother me any more.

In another bathroom, I couldn’t update the tile because it was from 1925 and could no longer be matched perfectly. So, I drew inspiration from the accent tile and painted the walls a pale green that was close to the tile. The previously buttercream paint made the old tiles look dingy and dirty all the time. When the paint was updated to a cool green- the white and green wall tiles looked fresh and updated!

Have a bathroom you’re considering painting? Show us in the busy mama’s home design club!


2) Textiles and Details

For a quicker fix, let's assume everything permanent in your space will stay as it is, and you’re not ready to commit to a weekend of painting. 

The textiles and other decor items in a bathroom can be updated quickly and can change the whole style of the room.


First, clear ALL the clutter from surfaces. This includes towels, soap dispensers, shampoo bottles, makeup, medicine, towels, shower curtains, window treatments, and rugs. If you leave *just a few things* in the space, you really can’t see what you’re working with, and it’s harder to imagine a new color palette when you’re looking at your old things.

Next, as you’re getting started, stick to a SIMPLE color palette. Simplifying the amount of colors and textures that you look at will make the space feel more pulled together and intentionally designed. You can get your color inspiration from a piece of artwork, or a towel or rug that you love. But Keep. It. Simple.

When you’re sourcing things for your bathroom update (from around your home, vintage shops, or your local big box store….) only add functional/decorative items that are a) absolutely necessary and b) that you like! When you start wondering where something "could" go- it shouldn't go in the bathroom at all!

Only after you have a combination of the necessary things (towels, curtain, etc) should you even consider non-essential decor! ;)

3) Storage and Non-Traditional elements

Finally, if you’re looking for an update that will truly define your space and reflect your unique style- look outside of the “bathroom aisle” for items to add to your space. 

Storage and function are top priorities in this hardworking space in our homes.

Vanity cabinets, countertop trays, towel storage, drying racks, and light fixtures can all be included in bathrooms by using furnishings designed for other living spaces in our homes.

For inspiration, I put together a curated collection of items to include in your next bathroom update- from storage to decor- that will add a designer’s touch to your powder room!

Each week I host a LIVE video series on Facebook to discuss {real} design + decor solutions for {real} family homes! This episode is all about updating your bathroom (on a budget, in a weekend, however you need to!) so that it works the best for your busy family home (and you love it, too!).

What bathroom dilemma are you trying to solve right now? Is the color off? Not enough storage? Are you scared to invest in anything permanent, so you just do NOTHING?

My Online Home Design+Decor Consulting services are designed to help you solve your design problem, make great decor decisions, and implement so you can hurry up and start living in your dream home!

If you’re tired of waiting to love your home, and you’re ready to get started- book a free design chat today!

Not sure how you would update your space even if you felt ready to get started?

Create your Signature Home Design Style with my 5-day email course. Because having a clear plan is the first step towards making that dream home a reality! 

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