Real Homes, Real Solutions: 20 Reversible Ideas to Overhaul Your Rental Bathroom NOW


The following are stellar examples from our House Tours of rental bathrooms done right. While I’ve broken down the images according to categories, a great thing about these bathrooms is that they all have a cross-section of ideas to steal (in a good way, of course), so steal away!

Try the Textile Treatment

Investing in high quality textiles can be the fastest route to upgrading your bathroom, as evidenced in the way Kym’s elegant cream-colored Portuguese matelassé fabric shower curtain and extra long draperies elevate the look of her bathroom in a big way.

Textiles are a great way to create a cohesive look—as rental bathrooms can be a hodgepodge of styles and eras—and they’re also very helpful for creating visual interest in bland bathrooms. Austin and Jeremy’s use of blues and a patterned rug go a long way to jazz up an otherwise whitewashed bathroom.

Try using a bold shower curtain as a decor anchor. At first glance, Katie and Matt’s rental bathroom reads as incredibly modern and stylish (and it is), but on closer inspection, you’ll note how much of the heavy lifting is done by their boldly patterned shower curtain. Using the gray-and-white striped pattern as an anchor, the use of gray decor elements tie the room together and give it a fresh and modern feel.

Rinse and repeat on the impact of a great shower curtain. Only in the case of Kate’s bathroom, she elevates the vintage quality of her bathroom with its soft yellow tiles by adding in a bold floral shower curtain from Anthropologie, along with smaller decor elements that echo the blues in the curtain’s pattern.

The Power of Paint

This tip is definitely an oldie but a goodie for updating the overall look of your rental bathroom. If your landlord gives his/her approval to paint, a little bit of paint has miles of transformative power.

Dark & Elegant

Use of deep navy, black or deep gray create elegant tones in the following rental bathrooms.

Bright and Cheerful

Bright bold colors add cheerfulness and charm that can often be lacking in rental bathrooms, while pastels can help create a soft and pretty tone. Pastels are especially worth considering if your rental bathroom has vintage elements (or, er, old) fixtures.

Neutral & Classic

Light grays, creams and off-white will make a rental bathroom feel less cookie cutter and are still a safe bet if you’re nervous about adding anything too bold for the longterm. Depending on your landlord, some will even cover paint costs (I know, I know, on what planet, right? But I have heard about this happening from friends) or at least allow you to leave the color in place when you move if it is neutral and improves the look of the bathroom.

Creative Storage Ideas

Figuring out storage in rental bathrooms can require incredibly imaginative solutions, and luckily, our house tours are filled with them. Two of the biggest takeaways from these examples are 1) don’t be afraid to mount shelving to the wall, as it can prove to be a lifesaver in small bathrooms and 2) think creatively about using non-bathroom specific storage solutions.

Erika’s loft bathroom was lacking in both storage and space for external storage, so she got to work and built her own shelving—attaching one unit to the wall over the toilet and creating a floating shelf unit in a receded alcove. So don’t be afraid to DIY your way to storage solutions that will work in the context of your rental bathroom.

Thinking outside the bathroom-specific-storage box can open up so many options for bathroom storage. Here, Matt and Andy use a vintage cart as storage that fits the space of their small bathroom and the charming, eclectic style of their home.

Remember how much impact you can have by adding in the right piece. Cue Justin and Madison’s rental bathroom: it is both tight on space and pretty standard. I love how they went a long way to solving both a storage problem and adding a little style in one step by bringing in a perfectly-sized wooden shelf with rattan baskets, in turn adding in some much needed character and functionality to their rental bathroom.

No medicine cabinet? Improvise using wall-mounted shelving. Sweatson installed this attractive over-the-toilet shelf as an attractive way to store his toiletries without sacrificing space.

Little storage ideas: Along with wall-mounted towel racks that add function and look really great, I love Katie’s use of a vintage file box to store magazines—which also illustrates that it can be fun to get creative with storage solutions.

Oh, bless the IKEA RÅSKOG cart. We feature this cart a lot—and for good reason—compact, straightforwardly stylish, and only $30: winner winner chicken dinner, or winner winner Swedish meatballs. And in the case of James and Shanna’s rental bathroom, it serves as a sharp looking, space saving storage shelf on wheels. It’s a great option for storing all of your bathroom needs, from towels and toilet paper, to makeup and toiletries, to magazines. And if you want to check out more inspiring ways to use the Raskog, check out our recent posts:

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