Bathroom Decorating 101

I’m back with another post in the room decorating 101 series! While I’m not a design expert, I have learned a lot over the last six years about how, and how not to bring a space together. The plan is to tackle a different room in the house every month, so by the end of the year, you’ll have a comprehensive guide to decorating the home of your dreams.

Bathroom decorating tips and tricks

Last time, I gave you the ins and outs of decorating a dining room. Today’s topic? Bathroom decorating 101!

Bathroom Decorating 101

Master bathroom modern

Let me say that when it comes to decorating, there aren’t any exact rules! Every space, home, and family is different, so my words are not the end-all, be-all for decorating a space. Instead, I hope these insights can guide you as you consider your layout, large purchases, and how to bring the entire look together. No judgment, I just want to help as much as I can!

The bathroom is a little different from the other rooms covered in the 101 series because you’re not buying a lot of furniture for this space or reconfiguring the layout (unless you’re undergoing a renovation). In today’s post, I want to give you bathroom decorating tips for your current space. So, even if you don’t love your bathroom and have plans to do a renovation in a few years, you can still take away some tips on how to work with what you’ve got!

Bathroom DosBathroom decorating dos and don'ts

Swap the Mirror – We had some terribly dated mirrors in our Finn Fixer Upper and I removed them all during the demo. Even though we aren’t renovating the bathrooms just yet, I’m going to replace them with inexpensive mirrors that are more contemporary. This is such a simple switch and it can easily make the entire room feel better (without having to spend tons of money)! This is also a chance to incorporate a softer shape into the room. I love a round mirror in a bathroom (especially if you have a typical rectangular vanity)! This post has my tips for hanging a round mirror.

black faucet from Pfister

Change Out the Faucet – Replacing the faucet may sound like an intimidating plumbing project, but trust me, you can do this in less than an hour – probably more like 30 minutes. A sleek, new faucet will make any old vanity feel brand new. This post showcases how to replace your vanity and also reviews the steps for installing a new faucet and this post has tips to pick the perfect faucet. New toilet seat

Replace the Toilet Seat – Now, this one won’t necessarily change the look of your bathroom, but it’s a task I highly recommend to any new homeowner (or renter!). New toilet seats are so inexpensive and you can put a fresh one on in five minutes, flat. I’ve even seen some really cool bathrooms (like this) where they do a black toilet seat and lid for a contrasting look. Follow this tutorial and trust me, it’s worth it! Basket with toilet paper in the bathroom

Keep Extra Toilet Paper Handy – Running out of toilet paper is the absolute worst. Help out yourself and your guests by keeping plenty of toilet paper on hand. I like to keep a basket on the back of the toilet with lots of extra rolls. Or, if you want to hide it, you can use this canister and slip a roll inside. I displayed that one on my bathroom shelves and it was the best secret spot for extra tp. While you’re at it, consider keeping matches in your guest bathroom so guests can really make themselves comfortable.

Black pendant lights in our master bathroom

Consider New Lighting – We didn’t renovate the master bathroom in our old condo, but instead, we made a few simple switches like changing out the horrible pendants for these cool black ones! This made such a difference in this space and it was a budget-friendly swap. If you don’t have to move electrical, I highly recommend changing out the pendants, sconces, or vanity lights in your bathroom space.

Take your Shower Curtain to the Ceiling – Just like window treatments, shower curtains look best when they’re up high towards the ceiling. It draws the eye up and makes your bathroom ceilings appear much taller than they really are. You’ll have to buy an extra long shower curtain and liner, but trust me, it’s worth it! This rookie mistake shows the before and after of using an extra-long shower curtain and it’s crazy how much better it looks!

White board and batten in the bathroom decorating 101

Add Wood or Wallpaper – I love wallpaper, board and batten, or shiplap in a bathroom…especially a powder room! These all add so much interest to the walls and make the room feel intentionally designed. I do get a little worried about wallpaper in bathrooms with showers if the venting isn’t great (the last thing you want is for your wallpaper job to start peeling from the humidity!). But if you have a powder room, I say go for it! Here’s a tutorial for adding shiplap and board and batten to a bathroom space. Hand towel

Keep Towels Handy – One of my biggest pet peeves is going over to someone’s house, using their bathroom, and not having a towel to dry my hands. I’m not saying you have to have a huge towel rack in your bathroom, but even just placing a pretty hand towel near the sink is a nice gesture. Or, you can opt for Turkish towels hung on the back of the bathroom door.

Bathroom Don’ts

Styling a bathroom countertop

Leave Everything Out – By far the biggest bathroom decorating mistake I see is when people leave allllllll of their toiletries out on the counter. You don’t need to keep your face wash, hair spray, brush, makeup, etc. all out in plain sight. Get some baskets and get them organized under your sink or in your drawers. Only keep a few pretty essentials out on the countertop…like your perfume, a candle, and a canister with cotton balls.

Use a Toilet Tower – I went into detail about my true feelings for toilet towers in this post (spoiler alert: I’m not a fan!). Instead, opt for shelves, towel racks, or pretty cabinets for that extra storage.

Getting organized under the bathroom sinkNeglect Storage – Speaking of storage, I think it’s important to maximize the storage in your bathroom space! And when possible, be sure to use secret storage. This bathroom storage post has some easy tricks, like using a lazy Susan so everything is easily accessible.  Get creative and store your stuff in the best manner possible.

Guest bathroom renovation reveal

Skimp on Accessories – When you’re decorating your bathroom, you won’t have a lot of space for home decor, so make the items you display count! Invest in luxurious hand soap; put your shampoo and conditioner in pretty bottles (like these!); and even incorporate some art! A few other things to keep in mind…

  • Bring in greenery for some life and fresh air in this small space.
  • Don’t forget texture. Baskets are a great way to add warmth.
  • If you have a lot of countertop space, use a cakestand to highlight pretty perfume bottles and a candle.
round mirror before brass sconces

Display People Photos – This may sound a bit harsh, but I’m not a fan of people photos in bathrooms. I just think it can feel a little creepy to be doing your business while staring at a photo of the homeowners. Instead, add some real art to your bathroom (and make sure it’s the right scale!). I printed out this piece for my mom’s bathroom and it was an inexpensive way (only $7) to add some appropriate art to the space.

Use Furry Toilet Rugs – I hope this is an obvious one, but guys….those rugs that wrap around the toilet are a big no-no. Same goes for toilet seat covers. Just no! If you’re going to use a traditional bathroom rug, make it white so you can bleach it each week. Better yet, use a real rug in your bathroom. I love colorful oriental rugs in a bathroom space for extra warmth.

Bathroom Decorating – Save vs. SplurgeFinished bathroom

Now, where should you spend the most money when decorating your bathroom? And where can you save a few bucks?

Where to Splurge

american standard sink and brass faucet

If you want to upgrade your bathroom without completely renovating it, then there are a few things I think you should splurge on. Really, these are all easy swaps that you can do yourself, so investing in quality materials is where most of your money will go. Lighting is the “jewelry” of a space, so make it pretty! Then, change out the faucet and mirror for a whole new look! These are tasks you can easily do yourself to save a few bucks.

  • Mirror
  • Lighting
  • Faucet
  • Hand Soap
  • Bath Towels

Where to Save

Bathroom decorating tips and tricks

When it comes to the accessories in a bathroom, don’t overspend! You can easily find cute soap dispensers, hand towels, and canisters at HomeGoods or Target. Plus, layer in greenery and plants to really bring the entire look together.

  • Accessories
  • Hand Towels
  • Greenery & Plants
  • Rug
  • Shower Curtain

My Favorite Bathroom StaplesDIY bath tray

Here are some of my favorite bathroom pieces that you can use to transform your own space.

Glass shampoo bottlesI hope this post will act as a helpful resource as you tackle your own bathroom decorating. With a few small tweaks, you can create the space of your dreams.


Decorating 101 Series

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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