A bathroom makeover can completely transform a space and take it from basic to beautiful. With some strategic upgrades and design choices, you can create a soothing, spa-like oasis right in your own home. From fixtures and finishes to storage and layout, there are many ways to give your boring bathroom a major facelift. Follow these 8 tips to elevate your basic bathroom into a luxurious retreat.

Refresh the Paint and Walls

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to instantly update the look of a bathroom. Go for soothing, neutral hues like off-white, light grey or beige which will make the space feel bright and airy. Add visual interest with texture – consider a faux finish like Venetian plaster or add architectural molding. Paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls to give the illusion of height.

Further elevate your bathroom walls with:

  • Accent tiles – Use mosaic tiles, marble tiles or glass tiles to create a focal feature wall behind the vanity, tub or shower. Opt for neutral grout lines to let the tile design pop.
  • Wallpaper – Water-resistant wallpaper with subtle patterns or textures can add serious style to your bathroom. Try grasscloth, embossed or metallic wallpaper. Use removable wallpaper above the wainscoting or behind open shelving for easy application.
  • Wainscoting – Adding beadboard wainscoting along the lower half of bathroom walls gives a cottage charm look. Paint it white for a crisp, clean aesthetic.
  • Gallery wall – Hang a collection of framed artwork for bold impact. Black and white botanical prints, abstract geometric designs and nature photography all work well.

Upgrade the Vanity and Hardware

An outdated vanity can really age a bathroom’s look. Replace it with a more contemporary, streamlined model with clean lines. Opt for a wall-mounted vanity or floating vanity to open up floor space. Add a pop of color with a bold hue like navy blue, emerald green or sandy beige.

When selecting hardware for the vanity, cabinet pulls and faucets, choose metals like brushed gold, matte black or unlacquered brass for a modern edge. Matching the finish of all the hardware gives a cohesive polished look.

Other vanity upgrades include:

  • Marble or quartz countertop – Timeless and elegant.
  • Undermount sinks – Sleek and seamless.
  • Vessel sink – For a unique focal point.
  • Touch-free faucet – High-tech convenience.
  • Drawers and closed storage – Reduce clutter.

Get Good Lighting

Proper illumination is key in making any bathroom feel bright and inviting. Good lighting comes from layering multiple sources:

  • Overhead light – Use a central ceiling fixture as the main light source. Opt for energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Sconces – Mount stylish wall sconces on each side of the vanity mirror for ideal task lighting.
  • Windows – Maximize natural light with wide windows, skylights or solar tubes. Utilize semi-sheer shades.
  • Accent lighting – Install recessed lighting, pendant lights or strip lighting under cabinets for a spa-like glow.

Dimmers allow you to control the mood and ambiance. Place lights at varying heights throughout the space for optimal coverage.

Add Pops of Color

Injecting color into a neutral bathroom palette can give it a fun, contemporary edge. Use color strategically in these areas:

  • Bath towels and accessories – Vibrant hues like teal, coral and lilac lend fresh style.
  • Patterned shower curtain – Choose lively prints or bold stripes.
  • Bath mats – Coordinate or contrast with towels.
  • Artwork – Colorful abstract prints.
  • Flowers – A glass vase of blooms provides an instant pop.
  • Backsplash tile – Handmade subway tiles in aqua or mint.
  • Painted vanity – Go bold with a deep blue or emerald tone.

Stick to one or two complementary colors so the space doesn’t feel chaotic. Keep other finishes neutral to allow the colorful accents to pop.

Pick Fixtures that Pop

Updating your basic bathroom fixtures to more stylish options can make a dramatic difference. Look for fixtures with interesting shapes, curves, textures and finishes to add visual appeal.

Some fixtures that can make a statement include:

  • Curved shower rod
  • Rainfall showerhead
  • Freestanding tub
  • Stone vessel sink
  • Matte black faucets
  • Patterned floor tile
  • Mirror with built-in lighting

Also consider smart home technology and water conservation. Touchless faucets turn on when hands are under the spout. Digital shower systems control flow rate, temperature and multi-jet sprays. Low-flow toilets drastically reduce water usage per flush.

Create Spa-Like Luxury

Transform your basic bathroom into a spa sanctuary with these soothing touches:

  • Soaking tub – Close your eyes and unwind in a deep soak. Add bath pillows.
  • High-end shower – Install a multi-function shower system with body sprays.
  • Heated floors – Warm from toes to tip on chilly mornings.
  • Towel warmer – Step out of the shower into a warm cozy towel.
  • Robes and slippers – Feel pampered post-bath.
  • Candles – Set a relaxing mood with calming scents.
  • Essential oils – Apply lavender, eucalyptus or citrus oils.
  • Soft lighting – Use dimmers for a calming vibe.
  • Plants – Bring a little nature in with orchids or bamboo.
  • Luxurious textiles – Plush bath mats, towels and shower curtains.
  • Storage – Hide clutter to keep the space tranquil.

Add Stylish Storage

Lack of sufficient storage is a common bathroom headache. Clever storage solutions keep all your products organized and out of sight. Popular options include:

  • Cabinetry – Add cabinets above toilet, under sink or on empty walls.
  • Drawers – Custom built-in drawers maximize unused areas.
  • Shelving – Floating shelves or corner shelves display towels.
  • Ladder rack – Drape towels on a freestanding ladder rack.
  • Baskets – Woven baskets conceal items. Use different sizes to stack.
  • Under sink – Insert roll-out trays or a caddy on rails.
  • Medicine cabinet – Mirror cabinets store items behind the looking glass.
  • Wall niche – Built-in wall niches create discreet recessed storage.

Proper storage reduces visual clutter and keeps your upgraded bathroom looking tidy.

Create an Open, Spa-Like Layout

Rethinking your bathroom’s layout can make it feel more open and relaxing. Some tips:

  • Remove shower door – A seamless walk-in shower makes small bathrooms appear larger.
  • Extend vanity space – A double vanity allows two people to use sink at once.
  • Adjust toilet location – Moving toilet next to shower gives more open floor space.
  • Add a linen closet – Built-in storage hides extra towels and toiletries.
  • Include a bench – A sitting area makes the room feel welcoming.
  • Improve flow – Have clear paths between each area and the door.
  • Expand mirror – A mirrored wall visually doubles the size of the space.

Aim for a simple, uncluttered look that enhances the roomy feel. Having breathing room and zones for different activities turns a basic utilitarian bathroom into a peaceful spa.

8 Ways to Elevate a Basic Bathroom

Upgrading a tired, basic bathroom doesn’t have to be a major renovation. With some strategic changes, you can give your bathroom a fresh new luxe look. Here are 8 ways to inexpensively elevate your bathroom:

  1. Refresh the paint and walls – A coat of neutral paint paired with textured wallpaper or tile accents goes a long way.
  2. Upgrade the vanity and hardware – Replace an outdated vanity with a sleek new wall-mounted option and modern metallic hardware.
  3. Get good lighting – Layer overhead, task, and accent lighting at varying heights for a well-lit space.
  4. Add pops of color – Liven things up with bright towels, shower curtains, wall art and flowers.
  5. Pick fixtures that pop – Swap out basic fixtures for ones with interesting shapes, textures and finishes.
  6. Create spa-like luxury – Unwind in a soaking tub, steam shower, or just by candlelight with soft tunes.
  7. Add stylish storage – Keep clutter at bay with built-ins, cabinetry, baskets and hiding spots.
  8. Create an open, spa-like layout – Remove shower doors, adjust layout, and expand mirrors to feel more roomy.

With creativity and clever design choices, you can easily breathe new life into a boring bathroom. Focus on the details that will make the biggest impact for your time and money. Soon you’ll have a Pinterest-worthy oasis to relax and rejuvenate in.

Frequently Asked Questions About Elevating a Basic Bathroom

How much does it cost to upgrade a basic bathroom?

The cost to upgrade a basic bathroom can range from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the space and scope of the remodel. Small upgrades like new paint, fixtures, vanity and lighting can elevate a bathroom for under $5,000. Full gut renovations with layout changes can reach $15,000.

What are the best paint colors for small bathrooms?

Light, neutral paint colors work best in small bathrooms to make the space feel open and airy. Popular options include soft white, light grey, pale blue, and light beige. Avoid dark colors which can make a small bathroom feel closed in.

How do I make my bathroom look expensive on a budget?

On a budget, focus on small upgrades that have big visual impact like new mirrors, pedestal sink, matte black fixtures, accent tile, wall sconces, towel warmer, wallpaper and freestanding tub. Quality materials like marble and brass also elevate a space without a huge investment.

Should I get a shower curtain or glass door?

For a basic bathroom, a shower curtain can help create a spa-like feel when hung higher than the top of the shower enclosure, allowing an airy, open look. Frameless glass shower doors give a more upscale, sleek aesthetic. Consider cleaning convenience and budget when deciding between the two.

How can I make my bathroom more relaxing?

To make your bathroom more relaxing, use calming neutral colors, soft lighting, candles, essential oils, plants, pampering textiles and a spa-like soaking tub. Reduce clutter, play soothing music, and display artwork. A tranquil, zen bathroom promotes relaxation.

What are trending bathroom colors for 2023?

Top bathroom color trends for 2023 include organic hues like mossy green, earthy brown, creamy beige and sky blue. Matte black fixtures remain popular for a bold, modern look. Expect to see lots of wood tones and natural materials that bring the spa experience home.

How do I choose bathroom hardware finishes?

When choosing hardware finishes, opt for a consistent look throughout the bathroom by matching the faucets, shower fixtures, lighting, and accessories in the same finish. Polished chrome, brushed nickel, matte black, and oil-rubbed bronze are classic choices that fit many decor styles.

Where should you splurge and save when remodeling a bathroom?

Splurge on durable surfaces like natural stone countertops and tile floors. Also spend on quality plumbing fixtures. Save on accessories like shower curtains and towels that can easily be swapped out later. Check stores for clearance lighting and vanities to get high-end looks at bargain prices.

How can I add storage to my small bathroom?

Creative storage solutions for small bathrooms include corner shelves, under-sink organizers, wall cabinets, medicine cabinets, freestanding shelving units, drawer units under the vanity, recessed niches, and waterproof bins and baskets for shower essentials. Keep everything well-organized but out of sight.


Elevating a tired, basic bathroom is one of the best ways to add value and enjoyment to your home. With strategic upgrades like new neutral paint, modern vanity and fixtures, spa-inspired decor and improved storage, you can transform your bathroom into a tranquil sanctuary. Focus on upgrades that are high-impact yet within your time and budget constraints. Soon you’ll have a Pinterest-worthy bathroom retreat to relax and rejuvenate within your own home.