Bathrooms are the ultimate test of form, function, & style. How do you make such a utilitarian space so pretty and functional without feeling like you have to constantly fuss over it?
The first step is to avoid making some of the most common bathroom decorating mistakes. I’ll share with you some realistically affordable, insanely easy fixes that will truly transform your bathroom whether you are remodeling or just trying to update your builder basic bathroom.
Mistake #1 – Flat Paint:
There is nothing worse than seeing spots on walls from who knows what that can’t be cleaned. Gross. Or a spot on the wall where something was cleaned but at the cost of practically scraping the paint off the wall.
Sure, sheen is important and you don’t want any weird glares or shadows in the bathroom. But it goes without saying that in some cases, cleanliness is WAY more important. Ditch the flat paint and give it a coat or 2 of semi-gloss. Too much for you? Try satin – there’s less sheen than semi-gloss, but more durable and scrubbable than flat.
Mistake #2 – Huge builder basic mirrors:
There is just nothing good to say about these things except that they are big. You can literally see EVERYthing. Most of the time these mirrors are secured to the wall with 4 clips – 2 metal ones at the bottom just above the vanity, and 2 (metal or “decorative” plastic at the top). Remove those clips and the mirror will just lift away. It will definitely take 2 people to get the mirror down, just because it’s so large and awkward. But it WILL be worth it.
Replace the big frame-less mirror with 1 large framed mirror or 2 smaller framed mirrors. If you’re on a super tight budget and don’t have time to scour garage/estate sales and thrift shops, you could just frame out the existing mirror. Big box stores like Home Depot & Lowe’s have loads of low cost molding that can be used to make a frame. This is also a good option if your mirror has been glued to the wall by the builder. Even though it’s much sturdier when it’s glued and secured with clips, it can be a mess to remove. So framing it in place is a good way to go.
Mistake #3 – Plastic shower curtains:
This 1 is actually a 2-fer…
- Just say no to the plastic shower curtain. Unless it’s just for a liner, there is absolutely no reason to hang a sheet of plastic in front of your shower (or anyplace else). There are just too many options for decorative shower curtains.
- If you really want to make a statement or go higher end, use fabric or curtains instead with a waterproof liner. And follow the same rules as for window treatments – hang curtains high and allow them to drop down to the floor. Use decorative hardware and even tiebacks.
Bonus: they are washable. That plastic curtains are too but they will only last so long.
Mistake #4 – No Storage:
This is one of the biggest bathroom decorating mistakes you can make. It’s just bad for you & your guests.
Imagine using the hall bath that has run out of “TP” & you didn’t notice it before you went to “do your business”. There are no cabinets to look in, no shelves, no baskets. Just the toilet, sink, a (cute little) hand towel and a fast approaching panic attack.
Hmmm… maybe this should be mistake #1!
What do do, what to DO?! You & your budget are not ready for all new bathroom cabinets or a full on remodel. No problem. The simplest fix is to get a couple of nice, natural fiber baskets. They can be big enough to use on the floor or small enough to fit on top of the tank. Problem solved.
OR… Add an inexpensive shelf or 2 and arrange a few extra rolls, with some pretty (or handsome) hand towels, and a decorative item or 2. Just try to avoid those big bulky units designed to frame the toilet – even the best designed toilet is NOT a work of art.
Mistake #5 – Storage that doesn’t work in a bathroom:
This is the only thing worse than #4. Why? Because it’s really sad to see nice things that are not functional at all, or that only last for a short while. It would be such a shame to mount a nice little wooden cabinet over the toilet only to find it rotting away a month later because it’s not sealed wood and moisture is it’s natural enemy.
Avoid the hassle and do your homework. Or, as I mentioned in bathroom decorating mistake #4, opt for natural fiber baskets since most natural fibers used for baskets can be cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed.
When all else fails, ask a pro.
Mistake #6 – Rugs… Kinda:
Standard old school bath rugs – you know the ones you can buy in a set and get matching a contour rug and seat cover – are just bad. Just BAD.
If you you must, treat the bathroom just like any other room you’d use a rug. Go big, and go with style. Ditch the tiny little rectangles under every sink and pull a plush number into the middle of the bathroom. Just please pay extra attention to cleaning instructions and to the backing (get non-slip or latex, or get a good rug pad).
Mistake #7 – Bare walls:
This is the bathroom, I get it. But it’s still a ROOM. Treat it like one and add some interest to the walls. Wallpaper, large scale art, room appropriate collections (i.e. NOT crosses or figurines), or even a gallery wall. YES, in the bathroom!
Mistake #8 – Bad Lighting:
At some point the bathroom – whether, master, kid, guest, or powder – will serve a bigger purpose than what it was meant for. Things like shaving, makeup, treating little boo-boos (you know, kids’ scrapes, scratches, and such). So don’t just stick a bulb in the ceiling and call it a day.
Give the lighting some love too, hang a funky fixture or a chandelier. And make sure to use a bulb with the right wattage (so you won’t burn the house down), lumens (so you get the right amount of light/brightness), and warmth (so you get the right “color” (yellow vs. blue, soft vs. bright) of light you want).
There you have it. 8 bathroom decorating mistakes you can fix real quick, real cheap. And the best part is you don’t have to tackle all of them; fixing just 1 will make a huge difference. It’ll make you want to give the whole bathroom a room remix.