We spend a good chunk of time in our bathroom each day. It’s an intimate space where we should feel at ease and at peace. Whether your bathroom is dark and dingy, or cramped and disorganized, there are simple ways to add light and space without hauling out the hammer or hiring a contractor. These seven affordable tips are tested by experts, and will provide inspiration for bathroom updates big and small.
7 Pro Tips for Brightening Your Bathroom
Add light and airiness to even the smallest bathroom space with these easy, affordable tips and tricks.
A Brighter Bath1/8
A New Hue2/8
A fresh coat of paint (or two) can revive a dingy bathroom in record time. The only question is: what shade to go with? Typically, lighter hues bring a sense of light and airiness to enclosed spaces like bathrooms, especially if windows are small or non-existent. But don’t feel confined to white or off-white paint. Complement these bright neutrals with a bold contrast color, including black, pink, yellow, gray, and blue-green. For inspiration, we’ve turned to Sherwin-Williams. Their color experts paired simple white tile with Cascade, a dark teal paint, for an airy-yet-grounded wash room space.
Bring the Indoors In3/8
Orchids, succulents, cacti, air plants… there are many hardy varieties that will thrive in your bathroom. Plants can also keep bathrooms smelling fresh, thanks to their natural air-purifying powers. Choose plants best suited to your bathroom’s atmospheric conditions. Staghorn ferns are known to enjoy humid environments, as well as moderate light. Peace lilies can bloom several times a year, even in low-light conditions. Whatever plant you choose, learn about its care regime and cultivate your very own micro-garden in your bathroom.
Related: The 10 Best Plants for Your Bathroom
Trick of the Eye4/8
Reflective surfaces play with light, tricking the eye into seeing more space than is really there. Mirrors are one way of adding dimensionality and spaciousness to your bathroom. A frameless mirror is a good choice, as it blends into the surrounding walls, offering a sleek and neutral accessory you can pair with almost any color and décor style. In addition to mirrors, metallic finishes (on lighting, waste baskets, toilet brushes, and more) add subtle sheen and maximize light.
From floors and backsplashes to shower stalls, tile often is often the surface of choice in bathrooms. Porcelain is a subcategory of ceramic tile that has a greater ability to repel water, making it ideal for high-moisture surfaces, including showers and bathtub areas. But beyond classic porcelain, there are myriad tile options for brightening your bathroom and delivering luxury and durability—plus beauty. Vinyl tiles are another cost-effective choice, with many colors and textures available for bathroom floors and other surfaces. Having trouble deciding which bathroom floor tile may be best? Compare the benefits of glass, linoleum, cork, stone, and more. Bottom line: lighter colors, clean grout lines, and water-repelling properties make tile of all kinds a solid choice for brightening your bathing space.
No Window, No Problem6/8
Many interior bathrooms lack windows to provide adequate natural light. Fortunately, new innovations offer a range of affordable, eco-friendly, and natural-looking lights for even the darkest of bathrooms. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of lighting options, so we’ve got answers for the best bathroom lighting on the market today. Use a layered approach and incorporate ambient, task, and accent lights. For example, pair recessed lighting with wall sconces, and add candles for luxury and warmth. For an energy-efficient glow, choose LED or CFL bulbs that say “white,” “cool white,” or “daylight” on the label.
Related: Solved! The Best Bathroom Lighting
Clean, Tidy, Organized7/8
There are three simple steps to add space to your bathroom: clean, tidy, organize. Even cramped bathrooms can magically appear larger and brighter thanks to a little elbow grease and the right storage options. Did you know a bathroom can smell brighter too? Essential oils of grapefruit, lavender, lemon, and peppermint can be found in soaps and natural cleaning and beauty products, adding a sparkly aroma to the air. Create visual clarity by clearing off countertops and stashing unsightly stuff (toilet paper, medicines) in jars, drawers, or a DIY vanity. If you don’t have enough built-in storage, use your imagination and make the most of space behind the door, above the toilet, and inside the shower/bath area. A shallow medicine cabinet can easily be replaced with a deeper, wall-mounted unit. What you gain in extra storage space will be amplified by uncluttered surfaces and functional design.
Embrace Your Space8/8
The best tip of all? Work with the space you have, rather than against it. In practical terms, this means playing up the strengths—and downplaying the perceived weaknesses—of your bathroom. Dark and small? Use deep, bold colors with white contrast, for a look that is elegant and makes good use of shadows. Or choose monochrome tones that play up architectural features, like crown molding or a glass-encased shower. Add a few favorite photos or artwork to the walls, in sleek frames that complete your room with a personal touch.
Related: 10 Bathroom Trends You Might Regret
Low in square footage? Certainly! Short on style, features, or convenience? Absolutely not. Click now to see 25 of our all-time favorite small bathroom designs.