10 Ways to Customize a Rental Bathroom

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Renovation and rental are two words that you don’t hear too much in the same sentence, but even though you might not be able to completely overhaul your rental apartment, there are ways to cover up that old avocado-green tile, add storage to your small shower, or transform an ugly overhead light without making your landlord angry in the process.

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Add storage (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
  1. Add Storage: Rental bathrooms usually don’t come with a lot of built-in storage, so small additions like shower caddies and wall-mounted shelves can help. SimpleHuman makes a few different caddies and soap pumps that can be suction-cupped, tension-mounted, or silicone-glued to the wall without damaging your tile. Their products are on the expensive side, but they’re well made and most of them come with 5-year warranties. Plus, their shower caddies are designed not to slip, which is often the problem with cheaper versions.
  2. Dress Your Windows: If you have a bathroom window that needs privacy or overlooks an ugly view, dress it up with curtains or window film. British designer Emma Jeffs makes some very cool patterns like this Moroccan Tile Window Film, available for $76.
  3. Cover Up Ugly Tile: UK company Mibo makes waterproof Tile Tattoos, heavy-duty stickers that can be used to cover up existing tile patterns. When you move out, you can just peel them off. They’re available at
    at 2Jane.com for $16 per set of 6.
  4. Use a Tension Rod: The old-fashioned tension rod remains a tried-and-true tool for rental bathrooms where you need to hang a shower curtain without drilling into tile. If you want to try something a little fancier than a standard rod, Umbra makes some nice versions in chrome and bamboo.
  5. Change the Lighting: Many rental bathrooms come with ugly, outdated fixtures, and it’s not that hard to update them. Just change out the shades, replace the fixture, or see this post for more ideas.
  6. Add Distinctive Hooks: In a small space like the bathroom, details matter, and the right hooks can have a big impact on the way the room feels. We like the Stone Towel Hooks from Viva Terra, but you could also experiment with antique hooks.
  7. Decorate with Color and Pattern: Accessories always help when you want to add color without painting or making any huge changes. Try coordinating textiles (bathmats, shower curtains, towels) to create a unified color scheme. The shower curtain shown above is Marimekko’s Madison Green Shower Curtain from Crate & Barrel.
  8. Spring for Some Lux Towels: Towels can make such a huge difference in how you feel about your bathroom. You use them so often (usually in the morning when you’re tired and trying to wake up) that good ones are important. The Matteo Due Shag Bath Towels shown above are pricey ($36 – $54 each) but they’re really fluffy and they’re made from 100% Egyptian cotton. If you want good towel recommendations for less, check out Apartment Therapy’s recommendations for best bathroom towels.
  9. Add Freestanding Furniture: If you’ve got the space, a stool, a storage cabinet, or even a chair can make a bathroom feel much homier. Waterproof pieces, like ceramic garden stools, are great because steam and moisture can’t damage them. The one shown above is Wisteria’s Chinese Garden Stool ($130).
  10. Fix Up Your Fixtures: If your rental toilet seat is sub-par or the hardware in your bathroom could use an upgrade, consider springing for some new fixtures. Some landlords will even deduct the cost from your rent or split the difference with you. Even if you end up paying from your own pocket, a simple project like replacing a toilet seat costs less than $50.

10 Ways to Customize a Rental
• 11 Luxurious Touches to Add to Your Rental Bathroom
• A Rental Bath, Accessorized

Photos: SimpleHuman, Emma Jeffs, Mibo, Sarah Coffey, Gregory Han, Viva Terra, Crate & Barrel, Matteo, Wisteria