In my dream world, Joanna Gaines would walk into our home’s small bathroom and say, “I just think some Arabesque tile inlay wood flooring with a black matte terracotta backsplash above the sink would make such a difference in here.” In reality, my initial idea to replace the tub with a glass-door walk-in was dashed as soon as I saw the prospective cost. While we plan on slowly making improvements, like replacing the linoleum floor with tile and installing new lights and a vanity, we needed a quick—and inexpensive—interim fix. The tiny bathroom is our only bathroom and, when we first moved in, the highest compliment it could have received is, “it’s technically functional.” While I don’t need my bathroom to be an oasis, I also didn’t want to hate being in there. This isn’t my dream bathroom, but I’m so thrilled with how just a few cost-effective improvements and some elbow grease completely transformed the space into one I actually love getting ready in and will be excited to show off to future guests. Here’s what how we improved our bathroom for $135 (scroll to the end to see some “before” shots):
Hands down, the biggest change we made was painting the white walls (just see the “before” shot below). I knew I either wanted wallpaper or paint, but paint is far more budget-friendly. Once we got started painting, we kept going: We initially painted the top half of the walls… then painted the full walls… then found ourselves painting the ceiling which made the most dramatic and beautiful change using Benjamin Moore in ‘Evening Sky,’ with their Aura matte finish.
2. Swap out the hooks and hardware.
When we moved in, all of the towel racks and hooks were silver. I swapped out the majority with black matte hooks and racks, to match our framed art (below), and installed a hook I bought years ago by the artist Kaye Blevgard.
3. Add framed art.
The bathroom is an unexpected place for nicer art, which is why it can make such an impact. We intentionally selected a paint color that would tie-in with a photograph by Jonah’s dad, that you may remember from our previous apartments. It helps the entire room look so much more pulled-together and intentional (just be sure you have good ventilation, so you don’t ruin said art with water damage).
4. Consider your products.
In a small bathroom with limited storage—an area I have some expertise in—even your shampoo bottles and products are going to contribute to the overall aesthetic, whether you like it or not. In our shower, we use Aesop bottles I bought myself years ago, and just refill with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, for a uniform look. I also removed built-in shelves I didn’t need from behind the door (there’s a small cabinet you can see in the photo of me painting below, that’s plenty of storage for us), and replaced it with cane shelves we already owned from Urban Outfitters and my perfume collection.
Cost breakdown of new purchases:
BEFORE + PROGRESS