9 Ways to Make Your Old Bathroom New Again

If a trip to the bath feels more like a trip in time to the 1960s—complete with nostalgic but now dated design choices like pastel bathtubs, plate mirrors, and garish, textured wallpaper—your bathroom could do with an update. But you don’t have to take the plunge on a more costly or time-consuming renovation when there are a number of thrifty and simple alterations you can make to refresh your bathroom. Read on for nine easy ways to bring your bathroom out of the dark ages and into modernity.

By Manasa Reddigari | Updated Nov 19, 2020 10:53 AM

Go Up the Wall

Paint Over Wallpaper

If textured or metallic wallpaper has lost its gleam and begun to peel, scrap it and try a coat of color instead. Too stuck to remove it? Paint over the paper in matte white or serene grays and blues to give your bathroom a clean slate while preventing drywall damage. Whatever you can unstick before painting, discard or repurpose the loose wallpaper to give it a second life.

Related: 12 "Off the Wall" Places to Put Wallpaper

Zillow Digs home in Lafayette, CA

Stop Living in the Pastel

Vintage Clawfoot Tub

Left alone, vintage pastel pieces can seem passé, but your old, mint-green or baby blue bathtub can still service you in the 21st century with a touch of modern, like simple bronze fixtures and faucets. Let your imagination run wild and continue to blend eras by surrounding your bathtub with art prints pulled from old books, reclaimed wood accents, airy milk-painted walls, and graphic tile design.

Related: 11 Reasons to Reconsider Pastels


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Reflect on Mirrors

Frame a Mirror

Mottled, plate glass mirrors on the wall hearken back to the most archaic bathrooms of all. If your mirror can be removed, sand and paint the barren wall before hanging a dramatic Venetian mirror or an ornately-framed mirror that lends character and depth. Alternatively, install decorative molding around your existing mirror for an urbane finish.

Zillow Digs home in Pacific Palisades, CA

Lose Your Marbles

Concrete Counters

The chintzy finish of cultured marble counters no longer deserves a place on your bathroom vanity. Instead, move in a sleeker, sophisticated direction while still minding your budget with a DIY concrete countertop. Set using to your exact specifications with a mold, this material is easy to customize to a vanity of any size, fit all of your desired fixtures, and accommodate your dream sink basin.

etsy.com via stogsconcretedesign

Perform a Medical Miracle

Mirrored Medicine Cabinet

Revive a plain-old mirrored medicine cabinet with one simple addition: a picture frame. The frame's edge accentuates whatever border currently exists on the mirror, with little to no work. Simply remove the mirror door and secure it with metal mirror holders and screws to a picture frame in the dimensions of your medicine cabinet. Reattach the door for a picture-perfect solution to bathroom storage dilemmas.

Related: 10 Smart Storage Tricks for a Tiny Bathroom


Open New Doors

Shower Design Ideas

Showers doors with corroded framing or cracked glass are apt to flood your bathroom with more than design regrets. While glass shower doors can be pricey and laborious to replace, hook-less curtains in bold solids or striking, printed patterns are not only easy and affordable to install, but when left open, they widen the bathroom space.

Related: 20 Ways to Make a Small Bath Look Big


Square Away Tiles

Painting Tiles

You may be ready to break up with the decorative ceramic tiles on your bathroom floor, but retiling a bathroom can put it out of commission for several days. The good news: You can paint over most ceramic tiles that haven’t received significant water exposure. Alternatively, cover tiles with color-blocked, flat-woven, or recycled jersey area rugs that capture the senses.

Related: Bathroom Floor Tile - 14 Options


Uplift Toilet Seats

Elongated Toilet Seat

Round, padded toilet seats would be better served as a memory of your grandmother’s house than as the focal point of a contemporary bathroom. Replace them with elongated toilet seats, in classic ceramic with brushed-nickel hinges or a rustic-inspired natural veneer like oak and maple. Seats with lift-off hinges make for easy cleaning.

Related: 8 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Bath Ever

Zillow Digs home in San Francisco, CA

Exhaust Your Fan Options

Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Ordinary, industrial exhaust fans may ban offending odors, mold, and mildew, but they also offend your design sensibilities with their clinical appearance. Install decorative fans—they run the gamut from rubbed bronze to delicate glass, disguised as lights or sleek enough to go unnoticed—or cover traditional fans with attractive DIY vent covers.

Related: 18 Bathroom Updates You Can Do in a Day

Zillow Digs home in Palm Springs, CA

Connect with a bathroom expert
Find licensed bathroom design and remodeling pros in your area and receive free, no-commitment estimates for your project.

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