It’s About Time: After 3 Years of Beige, My Bland Rental Bathroom Gets a Refresh

published Aug 14, 2017
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(Image credit: Charles Dundas-Shaw)

I have lived on my own for the last six years, slowly but surely acquiring furniture, art and decor that I really liked, which of course means that along the way, there were empty corners (and rooms) waiting to be filled. Finally, though, my apartment—which I’ve lived in for two years—has gotten to a place where I didn’t wonder if visitors thought I had just moved in. The guest bedroom has curtains (which I sewed and I’m quite proud of!); I got around to putting art up in my kitchen; I got a sofa table for behind my floating couch (among other things here and there).

Heck, even the guest bathroom had some stuff going for it, but my bathroom? Well, that was a sad, sad place that looked like no one had moved in yet (apart from the random bottles of dry shampoo and saline solution). The only spot in my rental condo that didn’t get a refresh by the landlord, it is a beige space that is so bland that even using the term “vanilla” to describe it would be a bit of an insult to vanilla. I was never inspired to do much with it, opting to tackle more public areas of my home first, but enough was enough. It was time to do something about it.

(Image credit: Charles Dundas-Shaw)

As a renter, I knew I wanted (well…needed) everything to be totally reversible. And by “totally reversible” I mean I don’t want to do anything when it comes time to move. I don’t want to peel off temporary wallpaper. I don’t want to paint anything back to its original color. The most I will be willing to do is pull out a screw driver and put back on a wall plate or two, snap back on a towel bar and replace four simple pieces of cabinet hardware. There was a moment while I was planning this makeover that I even contemplated swapping out the faucet, since I actually have a nice modern one in the guest closet (which I received gratis from the manufacturer years ago) that would fit and spruce up the place, but even the thought of changing a faucet while I’m knee-deep in boxes made me shudder. I know myself; I know all those “easy” projects would really stress me out, so…to thine own self be true, right?

I decided that all I was willing to do was add textiles, some art, a shelf or two (which I intend on leaving in place with the permission of my landlord should they be too much of a headache to remove), and some more storage, because for as large as this bathroom is (unnecessarily large if you ask me), it’s kind of awkward and not that conducive to storing much of anything.

Being a strange hybrid of someone who likes to plan things out, and also someone who usually just flies by the seat of her pants, I loosely outlined what I wanted to accomplish to get my boring bathroom looking a little more…inspiring.

(Image credit: Charles Dundas-Shaw)

Projects to tackle:

1. Cover the worn tile (or at least distract from it). The tile here isn’t awful, but it is cracked and worn in some pretty visible places (which are actually cropped in these images). The floor is fine, but if there’s a way I could find to cover up a large portion of the off-white expanse, that’d be great.

Possible strategy: I knew the two traditionally sized bath mats needed to go. They are old, dingy and just never looked clean even after a run through the wash. I need something larger for the center of the room to detract from the cracked, worn tile. Maybe the cotton Moroccan rug in my office that never felt right in there? Worth a shot!

2. Add color and texture. If this bathroom is anything, it’s BORING. It’s not “ugly” or super dated. I mean, it’s not a modern marvel, but I’ve seen FAR worse bathrooms (heck, I’ve lived with far worse bathrooms…don’t get me started on the frosted flamingo motif that was on the shower door of my last place). But omg is it a bore. It’s the beigest room I’ve ever seen and feels almost clinical (but like a sketchy free clinic, not a pristine hospital).

Possible strategy: This room needs some life! I know I want to bring in a shower curtain for pattern and color, a large rug, new towels (possibly Turkish with fringe) and art. Oh, and a plant. Every room needs a plant!

3. Add more usable storage to clear off counters. Though my bathroom is large, it strangely isn’t very effective for storage. My medicine cabinet is exploding (note to self: clean that out), and under my sink is stuffed to the brim with cleaning products, medical supplies, hair styling tools and beyond. I have no space for extra toilet paper, towels or other linens, and can’t stand the clutter that accumulates on my counters during everyday life.

Possible strategy: I have a plethora of bathroom images pinned that have a vintage/antique console table or cabinet and I love the look. Plus, I can likely get something cheap at a thrift store and use it to hold my enormous makeup organizer, various other beauty products, extra toilet paper and towels, etc.

4. Change cabinet hardware. The cabinet doors here are your standard particle board covered with off-white laminate. You can tell in some spots that it’s seen better days, but overall, not awful for a rental. And the pulls are in pretty crappy shape. They are discolored, stained and peeling. If it were my own home, I’d likely rip all of it out for something new, but of course, I can’t do that!

Possible strategy: Some new hardware should do the trick, I think. It might be like putting lipstick on a pig, but it can’t make the situation any worse.