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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Weaver

Basic to Bougie on a Budget: 5 Tips on Upgrading Your Bathroom

Don't be shy- We all do it!

It's the unspoken "bathroom anxiety". If your friend's bathroom looks elegant and put together, you can't help but feel like you need some upgrades in your life. Unfortunately, not everyone can drop thousands of dollars, or weeks of time, into a bathroom to boost the visual pleasures of their home. Some of us have lives, Linda, and we don't have time for all the cool DIY projects you found on TikTok and Pinterest. Especially for the bathroom. I mean, who even started this trend anyway? This is the place where people go to do their business and scroll Facebook, not admire your decorative wallpaper and perfectly folded towels, okay?!

Fortunately for those of us who are short on time and money, There are a few ways to upgrade the look of your bathroom without a complete overhaul. I've found it's always best to select a theme before you start any room upgrade, so I'll discuss that briefly, and then we'll get into the meat and potatoes of the thing.

Picking Your Bathroom Theme

You may already have a theme, and if you don't plan to change it, and you don't have a beach theme, by all means, skip this step. The title is "Basic to Bougie", and it doesn't get more basic than beach-themed bathrooms. Maybe that's your vibe, and that's fine, but if you're going for something other than basic, I'd suggest pretty much anything else.

Some of my favorite themes have been decade-related; Elegant and Flirty 1920's, Bright and Groovy 70's, or any antique-y theme that follows one of your hobbies (trains, planes, cars, music, etc.).

I have recently discovered a love for color palettes with gold and white. Pick one other cool (blues, greens, and purples) color, like navy blue or jade green, and you've got a theme you can work with. I also recommend exploring some color combinations on sites like Pinterest.


1. Update Bathroom Fixtures and Hardware

Once you've got your theme, the rest is easy. Plumbing fixtures and hardware can change the look of your bathroom dramatically. Try to stick to the same finish, then get styles that fit your theme. Walking through department and hardware stores can provide some inspiration, but I'm partial to scrolling Delta and MOEN catalogs online to find styles and finishes I like.

This step is more of a priority when fixtures are old and corroded. Replacing old or outdated faucets and hardware is a simple step that will give your bathroom a much-needed facelift.

See our Bathroom Fixtures Pinterest Board here.


2. Add Paint or Wallpaper

/wall-pa-per/ definition: DECORATIVE paper for walls

Wallpaper is a decoration that should not be abused or dismissed. Everyone knows a fresh coat of paint will level up a room, but wallpaper is an inexpensive way to add some accents and texture. Notice how this design adds some fun character while complimenting everything else in the room. The colors tie everything together, and the flowers make additional decor unnecessary. But also notice how it's paired with simple white paint. I suggest using paint first, then putting wallpaper on an accent wall or only the top or bottom half (as pictured).


3. Install New Lighting

There are so many lighting options and styles to choose from, but when you're on a budget, the best option is to consider what you already have and work from there. If your bathroom is set up to have a fixture above the mirror, it's best to look for options that will accommodate that position.

Consider how much lighting you want in your bathroom and what style of light fixtures will fit your theme. Dimmable LED lighting is a growing trend, allowing for low-light ambiance and high-light functionality. Do your research and find the best fit for you and your budget.

For some unique fixture ideas, check out our Light Fixture Pinterest Board here.


4. Out With the "Eeck", in With The Chic

Bathroom accessories, like bath mats and shower curtains, need to be replaced for sanitary reasons every so many years. They collect moisture and become a breeding ground for bacteria. You can wash and sanitize them all you like- sometimes it's just time to say goodbye.

Fortunately, cute accessories are easy to find at a reasonable price. New plungers, toilet brushes, bathmats, shower curtains, and toothbrush holders can be found at most discount stores.

Staying within a theme is usually easy, but if you aren't finding anything that fits, Amazon has some excellent unique options for a reasonable price.


5. Accessorize With Plants and Decor

Plants can add some life to an otherwise simple look. If you're finding it difficult to add character or flare without going overboard, a simple theme with a couple of plants is always a great inexpensive go-to. Find a wall-mounting planter, or set it on a cabinet as decoration. Window sills that don't have blinds are great for plants that like natural sunlight.

This is another area where researching plants will come in handy. Knowing the space you have available and the sunlight available in your bathroom will help you find a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in your bathroom.

HouseBeautiful has a list of plants that are great for bathrooms. You can find it here.

Bonus: Some plants absorb humidity and help prevent a damp environment in your bathroom. This also means that even if you forget to water it, your plant should stay alive for a while.

Decorative mirrors are another great way to decorate your bathroom. This is especially helpful for smaller or darker spaces since they add some depth and reflective features.

Again, follow your theme.

If you can't add mirrors without detracting from the theme, then it's okay to forgo them. Mirrors should add to, not detract from, the overall look.


So now you know- you don't need money or time to make your bathroom look great. It just needs the right kind of theme and flourish in the right areas. We hope you found this advice helpful and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy renovating!

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