How to freshen up your bathroom

Updating a worn-out bathroom needn’t cost the earth. Here are 10 quick and easy fixes that you can accomplish in a weekend

Whether you’re sinking into a warm bath, brushing your teeth in the morning or taking off your make-up at the end of the day, your bathroom should be a relaxing haven, filled with personal touches that instil a sense of calm and wellbeing.

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However, more often than not, it can be a cold and unappealing space with tired fixtures and fittings. But don’t fret; here we’ve got 10 tips and tricks to transform your unloved washroom into a luxurious and indulgent space, without the need to splash the cash on a brand new suite.

Bring in the botanicals

Left to right: Aeschynanthus Twister, £18.99; hanging string of hearts, £19.99; foliage in hanging greenhouse, £16.99; Rhipsalis, £14.99; Kokedama hanging ball, £9.99; Atlantic brown basket 12cm, £6.99; cactus pot, £10; Nephrolepis Green Lady, £5.99; Atlantic brown basket, 14cm, £9.99; Mojo lemongrass & thyme diffuser, £27.50; tall face vase £10; Monstera Deliciosa moss pole, £44.99; Kokedama ball, £9.99; large seagrass basket, £18; Scottish Fine Soaps hand wash, £15; L’Occitane hand soap, £9; L’Occitane Lavender foaming bath soap, £26; Atlantic brown basket 16cm, £12.99, all Dobbies
Moisture-loving tropical plants will thrive in a steamy bathroom

Fresh foliage is an easy way to usher colour into a tired bathroom and houseplants can help to purify the air too. Many affordable and low-maintenance greens – such as spider and snake plants or orchids – thrive in a steamy and humid bathroom setting.

Place pretty pots or baskets on shelves and ledges, or create rainforest vibes by hanging on-trend trailing plants with dramatic leaves, such as string of hearts or ivy, from a ladder or bar suspended above the bath.

Refresh the textiles

Bring calm and cohesion to a mismatched suite with a fresh set of bathroom textiles. Fluffy towels, face cloths and a bath mat in a statement hue, or with a fun slogan, will create a colourful focal point in the room, and are an inexpensive option for tenants or those who aren’t planning a full renovation just yet.

For a playful touch, why not opt for a shower curtain in a clashing colour or pattern? Or pick a key shade from your other textiles to unify the look.

Update the cupboards

Chalk paint in Greek Blue and Pure, £19.95 per litre, Annie Sloan
Chalk paint in Greek Blue and Pure, £19.95 per litre, Annie Sloan

A lacklustre under-basin cupboard can easily shine with a little TLC. The queen of upcycling, Annie Sloan, has formulated her chalk paint with DIY in mind, so you can take a paintbrush to any tired bathroom cabinet without the need to prime first.

If your bathroom doesn’t have any built-in storage, a cheap set of vintage drawers bought from a charity shop or eBay can be given a fresh new lease of life with a quick lick of paint in a bold shade.

Switch up accessories

Ester towel bar, £32; Ester towel hook, £20; Ester towel ring, £36, all Anthropologie
Ester towel bar, £32; Ester towel hook, £20; Ester towel ring, £36, all Anthropologie

Fixtures and fittings in a bathroom can be tricky and expensive to replace, but smaller accessories such as hand towel rings, toilet roll holders, rails and hooks for bath towels and dressing gowns can easily be swapped in an afternoon.

Sleek and minimal matt black examples from Scandinavian design shop Ferm Living are a favourite of Instagram-savvy shoppers, but we love this ornate Ester set from Anthropologie for a touch of quirky opulence. All you need to add is a beautiful tumbler for your toothbrush and that token bottle of Aesop hand soap…

Choose new handles

Dated hardware can make an entire bathroom feel tired and unloved, but it’s possible to pick up new examples for a snip. For a luxe finish, opt for contemporary geometric handles in mixed metallic shades such as brass and pewter.

For a cool Scandinavian vibe, soft leather drawer pulls hark back to nature; while ceramic knobs or antique-style cup pulls are ideal for period houses. If you’re not handy with a screwdriver, there are plenty of helpful tutorials and step-by-step guides available online for replacing cupboard handles.

Take to the floor

Bathroom update
Asterix floor stickers, £30.95 for 12 x 20cm2 units, Quadrostyle

Tiles look beautiful on a bathroom floor, and those with bold, repeating patterns make the ultimate design statement. However, the perfect porcelain encaustic will set you back a few thousand pounds, not to mention the time they take to install. Cue sticky tile leaders Quadrostyle: the 1mm-thick sticky-back tiles that are waterproof enough to use on your bathroom floor.

Available in an array of playful patterns and colours, they will bring personality and style to even the dullest of bathrooms. Plus, they peel off easily without leaving a residue behind, making them perfect for rented homes!

Frame the window

Splash Kentia roller blind in Smoke/ Azure, from £18.27, Blinds 2go
Splash Kentia roller blind in Smoke/ Azure, from £18.27, Blinds 2go

Beyond offering much-needed privacy and warmth in a bathroom, a well-fitted blind is an easy way to inject colour, pattern and style to a space that’s in need of a lift.

Though traditional wooden shutters are in vogue, a simple roller blind is an easy-to-fit alternative for just a fraction of the price. This rainforest-inspired design from Blinds 2go has a sophisticated, leafy print that’ll softly complement the plants you already have in your bathroom. Plus, it’s made from fully waterproof fabric, so it will stay dry and clean even if your window is right next to the shower!

Check out our how-to guide to measuring your windows for blinds.

Embrace artworks

Paintings, photographs and posters put a vibrant stamp on any room, even practical spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Companies like Juniqe and Desenio are great for affordable posters and frames in a range of sizes, while King & McGaw offer beautiful limited-edition works at a higher price point.

These prints by Ramsgate-based artist, Margo in Margate, are all over Instagram at the moment and can be bought from online boutique, Rose & Grey. The simplistic shapes and peppy colours will brighten up any stretch of spare wall. Just be sure to buy a sturdy frame to avoid any water damage!

Dial up the luxury

Bath rack, £10; hygge candle in Blush Pink, £5; Elements blush tumbler, £5; Zen bubble glass tumbler, £4, all Dunelm
Bath rack, £10; hygge candle in Blush Pink, £5; Elements blush tumbler, £5; Zen bubble glass tumbler, £4, all Dunelm

There are few things nicer than sinking into a hot, bubbly bath at the end of the day, but not when your bathroom feels cold and uninviting. However, don’t worry; a few choice touches will make your space instantly more indulgent.

A wooden rack across the bath is the perfect accessory for holding a scented candle, a natural sea sponge, some rich bath oil… or even a chilled gin and tonic! Or, if you’ve only got a shower cubicle, try tying a bunch of fresh eucalyptus around the shower head. Once the warm water starts flowing, you’ll be cocooned in a heavenly, spa-like scent!

Paint the grout

A dark grout allows these pale green tiles to take centre stage. Village Mint wall tiles, £29.99 per sq m, Tile Mountain
A dark grout allows these pale green tiles to take centre stage. Village Mint wall tiles, £29.99 per sq m, Tile Mountain

It’s easy to fall out of love with a tiled bathroom if the grout is discoloured or mouldy. But don’t panic, there’s no need to take a hammer to the tiles just yet! Glazed, white metro tiles are the cheapest of them all, but they shine when paired with modern black or metallic grout.

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There are plenty of tutorials available online which will give you a step-by-step guide to grout painting, but all you really need is a foam paintbrush, some decorator’s tape, a damp cloth and the paint of your choice – there are lots of colours available from Amazon or DIY shops. After a few hours of patience, your bathroom will look brand new!