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Easy Ways to Update a Bathroom

I strive to provide helpful information, including smart and fun methods for solving everyday problems.

Replace a boring plate-glass mirror with something beautiful, fun or exciting. I love Venetian glass mirrors, as they provide plenty of lovely sparkle and elegance, much like a crystal chanedlier does.

Replace a boring plate-glass mirror with something beautiful, fun or exciting. I love Venetian glass mirrors, as they provide plenty of lovely sparkle and elegance, much like a crystal chanedlier does.

Let’s face it—we’re not all cut out to go into the remodeling business. What might be an “easy” bathroom update to one person might be quite a difficult project for someone else. Some handy people might think tiling the floor or installing a new sink and faucet is an easy bathroom update. Unfortunately, those projects would be difficult for me. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to begin, and the finished product would undoubtedly be of poor quality.

Luckily, there are truly easy updates anyone (even me!) can make to give a bathroom a fresh, new look, no matter how few skills they might have with a tile saw or a nail gun. If your handyman skills are as unimpressive as mine, read on for some projects that anyone can pull off successfully.

New Bath Linens: Towels, Bath Rugs and a Shower Curtain

Probably the easiest update you can give your bathroom is new towels, bath rugs and a shower curtain. Simply go shopping, hang them up or set them out, and your project is finished! That is my kind of home improvement, right there.

What to Do

Look for the prettiest or most exciting shower curtain you can find. Sure, a clear vinyl curtain will do exactly what you need it to, which is keep water off the floor, but over that clear vinyl curtain, just for show, hang a fabric shower curtain.For your own room, that might be a minimalist hotel-type white cotton shower curtain, or a cottage-styled curtain covered in tiers of soft pink ruffles. Hanging a “statement” shower curtain can elevate your bathroom from "oh-ho-hum" to "boy-oh-boy!"

Try mixing towel colors and patterns. For example, in a tween or teen girl’s bathroom, hang a purple bath towels over the rod, then layer cute black-and-white zebra print hand towels on top. In your own bathroom, try layering solid color hand towels over subtle, monochromatic paisley bath towels.

Teach yourself and your family members to close the shower when they get out of the tub. It has a much cleaner, prettier look than the view into your tub.

What Not to Do

Don’t hang your shower curtain too high. The curtain will look best of hung so that the bottom of the curtain hits just above the floor.

Skip the weird shag carpet toilet lid cover. Someone is buying these? I know they make them because I see them in the stores. Leave them at the store, ‘kay? They give your bathroom that “1970’s grandma” look. If the lid of your toilet seat is stained, cracked or has peeling paint, replace the seat instead of trying to cover it up. Replacing the seat is easy.

An Unusual Bath Rug

There’s no rule that says your bathroom rug must be a terry cloth mat or a fluffy little shag carpet that matches your towels. While those rugs are certainly pretty and feel great to sink your toes into, there are plenty of unexpected options that actually work very well in a bathroom. For a luxurious, more formal look, consider an Oriental rug. There are plenty of synthetic fiber rugs that look terrific. I bought a short runner that I placed on the floor in front of our double sinks. It is just the right width and length to stretch across that narrow portion of our bathroom, and my husband and I each have a soft place to stand when we brush our teeth.

In a more casual bath, try a braided rug or a rag rug. These are soft, absorbent, and inexpensive and add loads of wonderful texture and color to your room.

For a more contemporary room, consider flokati, faux fur, or a bamboo mat.

What to Do

Measure your bathroom to see what sizes will work in each location you’d like a rug. Look at doorway-sized rugs and mats. These are often the perfect size for a bathroom.

What Not to Do

Steer clear of silk or wool in the bathroom, as these two fibers don’t do well in wet, humid environments.

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Read More From Dengarden

A Show-Stopping Mirror

While there is certainly nothing wrong with those large, frameless plate-glass mirrors that builders love to put up, there’s nothing really great about them, either. Plate-glass mirrors are functional and economical, which I think is why they are builders’ favorites. However, these mirrors are nothing special and don’t add anything to the look of your bathroom. Basically, a plate-glass mirror is the decorating equivalent of a blank wall.

A framed mirror, on the other hand, adds character and architectural interest while providing a clean, crisp, and finished look. An ornately or unusually framed mirror takes the concept even farther and adds almost the equivalent of a framed work of art to your bathroom.

What to Do

Carefully remove your plate glass mirror. (You'll find videos outlining two very different techniques at the bottom of this article.) The mirror is probably attached to the wall with adhesive. You may be able to remove the entire mirror in one piece, or it may break during removal.

Sand any remaining adhesive from the wall, then smooth on a thin layer of joint compound to even out the wall surface. Paint walls, then hang your fabulous framed mirror in its new home.

What Not to Do

Don’t get a too-small mirror or hang your mirror at the wrong height. While large plate glass mirrors don’t add anything to your décor, too-small framed mirrors aren’t what you’re after, either.

Before buying your mirror, use painter’s tape to "draw" the ideal mirror size on your wall, and the best height for it to hang. Consider everyone in the family, including children. My husband is tall and I am short, so I have to supervise when he a hangs mirror to ensure that I won’t have to stand on a stool to use it.

New Hardware

Just as builders love plain, inexpensive mirrors, they also seem to prefer interior hardware that is devoid of character or ornamentation. If your cabinet knobs and drawer pulls are plain Jane or dated, it’s very easy to switch them out for some that are newer, prettier, shinier, more interesting, or all of the above. While you’re at it, look for coordinating bath towel bars, hand towel rings, and toilet paper holders.

What to Do

For the easiest updating, take a good look at the screw holes already drilled into your cabinets, drawers, and walls. Measure the thickness of your cabinet doors and the distance between the screw holes of pulls or handles that are attached with two screws. Write the measurements down, and bring one of your existing handles with you when shopping for new ones so you can ensure that your new hardware will slip right into place of the old hardware.

What Not to Do

Don’t leave your information at home. Count exactly how many of each piece of hardware you need, write it down with the measurements from above, and slip the paper in your wallet. This prevents the need to search out “just one more” of those great-looking, unusual knobs that have apparently now been discontinued.

Pale blue paint looks classic, calming and clean against crisp white tile and painted wood trim.

Pale blue paint looks classic, calming and clean against crisp white tile and painted wood trim.

New Paint

While painting your entire house can be an intimidating, overwhelming chore, painting your bathroom is comparatively quick and easy. Bathrooms are typically some of the smallest rooms in the house, so it doesn’t take a lot of paint, supplies, prep work, or time to give your bathroom a beautiful new wall color. Paint isn’t just for walls, either. If your cabinetry is unattractive, paint can turn your eyesore into a thing of beauty.

What to Do

If you’d like to make your small room seem bigger, go for a pale shade to reflect light and give an airy feeling. On the other hand, bathrooms, especially powder rooms, are often small enough that a bold, dark color won’t overpower the room.

What Not to Do

If you’re painting cabinets, don’t skip the sanding and priming. These will ensure the best possible results. Also when painting cabinets, don’t pick a glossy paint, as it will show every imperfection. Use satin paint instead, and add a distressed finish to make dents, dings, and imperfections look as if they are part of the plan.

Paint the Counter Tops and Tub

Yes, believe it or not, you can paint those ugly pink or mustard gold laminate counter tops! Rustoleum has come out with a product specifically for this purpose, called Rustoleum Counter Top Coating. You roll it on with a foam brush, like paint. I personally do not have experience with this product, but was very excited to hear about it, as I was tempted so many times to paint the orange ones in my first home. This product is very affordable and the project is easy to complete, especially when compared to replacing your counter tops. This product comes in several colors - but not pink, mustard gold or avocado.

Those who have used it say that for the price (less than $25!) it works well and they are extremely happy with the results. They say it has a strong odor in the beginning, and so your room needs good ventilation. Also, it takes 24 hours to dry and three full days to "cure," so make sure you can go without touching your countertop for three days.

Rustoleum also makes a tub refinisher that works in a similar fashion but is made especially for bathtubs. Whether your tub is an undesirable color or is old, scratched, and discolored, this product recoats it with a durable, self-leveling epoxy-acrylic finish. Reviewers on Amazon give mixed reviews but say that proper prep work is the key to good results. This product is available in white and almond.

What to Do

Follow the manufacturer's instructions very closely. Read the reviews at for helpful tips from those who have used the product.

What Not to Do

Don't skimp on time. While the actual application process goes rather quickly, prep work and drying time may add several days to this project.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on October 20, 2013:

Thanks Crafty, you are so sweet with your kid words! appreciate it! Write a hub about your vanity and post a photo! I'd love to see it!

CraftytotheCore on September 27, 2013:

This is brilliantly written. I had a vanity in my bathroom I didn't like. I don't know what it was about it, it just wasn't my taste. So I painted it and found some crystal knobs for it. It looks so much better now! These suggestions are very helpful.

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