We talk a lot about kitchen renovations and big garden projects that keep our homes looking modern, and while bathrooms do get their share of touch-ups, their ability to look dated isn’t entirely dependent on fixtures and tile. Decor, too, can make even the most updated loo look more outdated than it is. Here’s what to ditch to bring your john back into the modern age.
Trade your wallpaper in for fresh paint
Wallpaper can really make a bathroom look old, per Realtor.com—especially if it’s wrinkled or peeling. The site, which knows a thing or two about keeping homes valuable, suggested a fresh paint job in place of bathroom wallpaper. Here are some tips on painting, generally, and here are some made just for tile.
Giovanna Macejka, an interior designer in New York City, told Lifehacker that wallpaper itself won’t necessarily date your bathroom, but if you opt to decorate with it, you should “be sure to use a glue that can hold up to the humidity.” Peel-and-stick options aren’t great for rooms that get steamy as often as bathrooms do.
As for paint colors, she advised that “it’s fun to go outside of the box,” and suggested “dark and moody” blues and greens, “bright and poppy” pinks and oranges, or “soft and serene” sage greens and ivories. If that seems like a major commitment, she said her favorite bathroom decor hack is simply painting the ceiling for “a fun pop of color to accent the rest of the room.”
Update your lighting
There are so many kinds of lighting available today. In a bathroom, in particular, you want soft lighting that won’t offend guests or blind you in the morning, so consider that when you’re selecting fixtures and wattage. If you rent your space or don’t have the time and money to do a whole new lighting scheme, Macejka said there’s still an easy fix: Wwap out the existing fixtures for “something more modern, light a globe light.”
Make hardware swaps
You don’t need new cabinets or a new vanity to modernize your bathroom. You can accomplish a lot of the same effect with simple hardware swaps, per Macejka. Head to your local hardware store and pick coordinated versions for the following:
- Drawer knobs
- Cabinet pulls
Don’t be intimidated by that last one. Here’s a guide on how to change a faucet.
Why not try some plants?
Here’s a tip from Macejka you might find surprising: Add some greenery to your bathroom so the space feels “more alive and dynamic.” It makes sense; a bathroom might be too wet for peel-and-stick wallpaper, but lots of varieties of plants would love it—these high-humidity plants will thrive particularly well in a bathroom. (And if you’re worried about your ability to keep anything green alive, Macejka added that it doesn’t matter if the plants are real or fake.)
Other notable dated bathroom trends
Some of the things above are easy to fix, but if you want to take it a step further, here’s a list of other more expensive fixes you should consider to modernize your bathroom, from Family Handyman:
- Get rid of “glass block” walls, which look outdated
- Don’t use “Hollywood”-style vanity lighting
- Get rid of anything with a chevron pattern
- Replace any granite countertops
- Get rid of anything copper
Macejka also recommended upgrading your shower curtain and bath mat to “something that will pop.” She said Urban Outfitters usually has great options for trendy, modern pieces that will make the bathroom feel fresh.