7 Cheap Bathroom Design Fixes

How to refresh your bathroom quickly if a full reno isn't in the budget

Credit: iStock/Elena Ta

A good scrub and some fresh accessories can breathe new life into your bathroom

A dingy bathroom can be downright depressing. But don’t despair: if there’s one room in the home that can benefit from a few low-cost design upgrades, the bathroom is it

Just don’t blame us if you start wanting to spend all day in there.

Quick Ways to Freshen up Your Bathroom Design

Scrub it: You may not want to hear it, but we’re going to say it anyway: the number-one way you can give your bathroom a cheap refresh is to clean it. And we mean deep clean. Put on your gloves and scrub the entire toilet bowl. Wipe down counters and scrub tile grout with a stiff-bristled brush. Clean the mirrors, and any metal fixtures, with glass cleaner. Mop the floor. Scrub the tub and shower. Wipe the walls and ceiling with a damp cloth.

Store your toiletries: Go through your cupboards and drawers and throw out old toiletry products. Store loose items, such as toothpaste and moisturizer, out of sight. Instead of replacing your cabinetry, which can be pricey, consider changing out the hardware (try glass or stainless steel). Corral shampoo and bath products into a hanging organizer or rack.

Replace your curtain: Get rid of that scummy shower curtain. Consider replacing it with the single-panel, waterproof-fabric variety, which can go in the washing machine. Look for graphic prints, or colours that play well with your other accessories. While you’re at it, replace the bathmat, too.

Accessorize: Pick up an inexpensive set of matching accessories – soap dish, toothbrush holder, canisters, etc. – in metal, glass, porcelain or wood. Move your frayed towels to the rag bin and purchase a new set. If you have a large bathroom, consider hanging some framed photos or art in colours that complement your decor. Just make sure they’re away from splash zones.

Repaint: One of the quickest, cheapest ways to transform a room is paint, and bathrooms are no exception. Purple, pink, lime green and turquoise are the trendiest paint colours this year. If you prefer a subdued look, grey is a great go-to neutral, and you can bring in brighter colours with accents. Just remember to use bathroom-formula paint, to prevent mould and mildew.  

Try wallpaper: Wallpaper in the bathroom? You may think it’s a decorating no-no, but this is a great way to make a statement in a powder room, or on one wall of an ensuite. Try a subtly embossed pattern, or for more drama, a bold chevron or animal print. Just make sure you follow the directions for walls in moisture-heavy areas – or buy paper specifically intended for bathrooms.

Buy a new mirror:
A brand-new mirror adds big sparkle – without the big spend. You can also reframe your current mirror. Wood, brushed metal and tile frames all work well with bathroom mirrors. Many glass companies also sell mirrored frames, which add a bit of texture and create a finished look that’s clean and elegant.