8 Bathroom Bettering Ideas You Can Do (When You Can’t Renovate Your Rental)

published Nov 9, 2014
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(Image credit: Liana Hayles Newton)

Staring all day at photos of enviable bathrooms full of bold tile floors, brand new fixtures, dreamy cabinets and claw foot tubs made for soaking in, it can be easy to get discouraged and focus on what you can’t do when you rent (or if you own but don’t have a huge budget for renovations). But just because you can’t tear everything out and start over doesn’t mean you can’t make your bathroom more beautiful. We’ve got the creative things you CAN do to make your bathroom better!

(Image credit: Poppytalk )

1. Wish you could paint your walls something dramatic?

Get the most bang for your buck by splurging on the powerful color combination (and stuff you can take with you when you move) of bold shower curtain and colorful art, in wall collage or giant oversize form. Together they’ll be so bold you’ll forget about not being able to paint the ceiling black. Or, if you’re feeling particularly gutsy (and want to spend the dough) experiment with temporary wallpaper.

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(Image credit: Kristin Murphy)

2. Can’t get all new fixtures?

First make sure you actually can’t get new fixtures by checking with your landlord (because we bet you could at least get a new showerhead). If not, shine and buff the ones you do have with tricks that will make even extra grimy ones look good as new. If it’s a matter of them being an entirely different finish than you’d like, consider getting bold and outnumbering the finishes you don’t love with accessories in the finishes you do love (will require some deft mixing of metallics though).

3. Wish you had a gorgeous tile floor?

Rug it out instead. If you’ve been dreaming about the hot trend of black and white cement tiles (who hasn’t been?), add a rug with a similarly dramatic black and white pattern. Or, grab some canvas and some paint and make a really oversized rug that has the exact pattern you’ve been dreaming of.

  • Beyond the Bathmat: Kilims & Oriental Rugs in the Bathroom
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(Image credit: Lonny )

4. Really hate your oddly colored tile walls?

Work with what you have! Instead of trying to ignore/disguise the fact that you have them, choose a color palette that will rock with the tiles you do have — even if it’s not the color palette of your dreams. Complementing what’s already there will look much better than fighting, and often times will tone down the existing the tiles, making them stick out less.

(Image credit: Knoxy Knox’s Inviting, Modern Home)

5. Can’t add a window and it’s really dark?

Work on incorporating proven design tricks that will make the room seem lighter, brighter and more spacious, like more mirrors and reflective surfaces, lighter colors and more.

6. Wish you could put a whole new sink or cabinet in?

You could want to do this both for the function (like what you have isn’t functioning that well) or for the looks. Well, first make it as functional as possible by organizing the space you do have to the max — this will at least make using cabinets you don’t like easier. Then either consider a temporary solution like contact paper or getting creative with vinyl, or put in plenty of eye-catching elements (do not discount the power of an overflowing, green and happy hanging plant) that will distract from the cabinets or sink you don’t like the look of.
(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

7. Can’t get the tub (steam shower/Jacuzzi) you want?

If you’re heart broken because you can’t sink into the kind of claw foot tub you’ve always wanted, make what you do have a more enjoyable place to spend time in. Really work on adding the “little” things that will make your bathroom a place you want to spend more than just five minutes getting ready in the morning.

8. Really just want to tear the whole thing down?

Clean up the small details that might be making the bathroom look dirtier than it is, like refreshing the grout and tub caulk (though if you rent, please do ask permission before trying). Spend the energy putting in elements you love in there — from a shower curtain to rug to art — so you don’t notice the stuff you can’t change as much. Make small replacements of things like a mirror or lights so you can add your own personality to the space (but return it back to the originals when your lease is up). When in doubt, add fresh flowers.

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.9.14-NT