DIY bathroom makeover (Only $350!)

before and after collage of the bathroom makeover with a pink background

If you don't know, I take baths all the time. Like, 3 to 5 nights per week. I like to sit in the tub and read, write, and talk on the phone. Despite spending hours each night in the downstairs bathroom and living in this apartment since 2017, I never took the time to upgrade or decorate it. Until now!

I can be the type of person who is a little too practical and utilitarian. I generally dislike clutter and find that a clean and organized space is more pleasing to my psyche. I also use objects until they're on their last leg, not replacing anything until absolutely necessary. The downstairs bathroom was an example of this. My plastic comb had lost most of its teeth but I refused to toss it because, well, it still worked. The towels? We brought those over from AJ's apartment, which means they hadn't been replaced since before 2014... (how often are you supposed to replace towels?)

Utilitarianism aside, I still like my stuff. Especially kitschy or sentimental trinkets I've collected over time. And I like the feeling of spaces that are at least somewhat curated, which for me usually means taking a little extra time to decide how I want my space to feel, and taking small steps to make that feeling a reality.

I recently took a full week off work and used some of my time off to re-decorate the downstairs bathroom. In total, everything cost about $350, $100 going to new towels. If this seems like a crazy amount of money to spend on towels, you'd be correct. I let AJ buy the towels and he went to bougie-town, aka I'm not complaining; they're buttery soft and feel like fancy hotel towels.

after shot of the whole bathroom


before shot of bathroom with very old towels

Before. Check out those rugs and towels.

My process for re-decorating the bathroom went something like this:

  1. Search Pinterest for inspiration images.

screenshot of my pinterest bathroom inspiration board

  1. Feel discouraged because every modern bathroom seems to incorporate either (a) lots of plants, or (b) fun wallpaper, or both. Since my bathroom doesn't get any natural light and I'm too lazy to figure out how or where to add wallpaper, these were not viable options.
  2. Go to my local At Home store at 9:00 PM to browse. Find these fake grass stems in fun colors. I'm reminded of a vase that was given to us by AJ's parents and decide to use that as my inspiration.
  3. Buy the fake grass stems, a fake gold-painted rose, some dried grasses in a bundle(?), and a tall vase. I'm going full Greek Goddess on this bathroom. I don't know where any of this stuff will go yet, but I'm trusting my intuition. Also buy a shower organizer. Wonder why it took me so long to buy one of these?
  4. Get home and look around the house for other objects that would be better off in my new bathroom space. I find a small woven basket.
  5. Can't fall asleep that night because I'm too excited about decorating the bathroom. I have so many ideas! I make a list of things I need: cute containers to store things on the counters (cups, bowls, trays, etc.), candles, trash can (old one was too small and ugly), rugs, and a shower curtain.
  6. Decide to buy a shower curtain online at 1 AM. Also, a new comb! In my head, I have a vision for the space, which feels amazing.
  7. Mostly hang out with friends and family the whole next day, but do have time to stop at a thrift store to look for items on my list*.* I ended up buying a trash can and several containers for storing makeup, cotton pads, and q-tips.
  8. Go to T.J.Maxx at 9 PM. Buy a white metal stool for the empty corner and a fake marble tray for the top of the toilet. Plan to put cute things here, like candles and crystals.
  9. Go to Target 30 minutes before they close. On a mission to find bathroom rugs. The rugs in the bathroom section were blah. I peruse the rest of the home goods section and find two small rugs that match my exact vision for the space. They're not "bathroom" rugs, but I don't know the difference. Also buy two candles.
  10. Saturday evening 10:30-12:30 PM - declutter and clean the bathroom. Reorganize everything so that the space makes more sense. I moved these plastic drawers out of the closet space and into the cabinets under the sink since they mostly store bathroom-related things like spare toothbrushes and flu medicine.
  11. Once cleaned and organized, put everything together, besides the towels and shower curtain, which won't arrive for a while. Organize makeup into the new containers and fold washcloths into the woven basket. Experiment with vase placement, and ultimately decide to put the big vase with the fake grass stems on the floor next to the toilet. The smaller goddess vase finds its home on the counter next to my makeup and jewelry.
  12. Take a step back and admire my work. The space feels so good! Much more put-together, cozy, and spa-like. AJ loves it too.

before shot bathroom featuring a cluttered counter

Before. Mostly I feel like this photo demonstrates the bathroom's lack of personality. It's just blah.

after shot of upgraded bathroom

After. So much better! Color! Patterns! Personality!

I've already taken 3 long baths since my little bathroom makeover. I'm even drafting this blog post in the bathtub! My favorite part is lighting the candles before settling into the hot water.

It's been a long time since I've felt this excited about a project, and I'm paying close attention to why. I love transforming spaces, organizing, and cleaning. But in this instance, I think I just enjoyed doing something other than coding or designing, which is what I do for my day job. Making things with my hands is something I'd like to integrate into my daily routine.

I want to wake up every day feeling excited to take on the day, just as I felt with this little bathroom makeover project.

green painted inspiration vase depicting a naked woman

The vase that inspired the whole makeover.

after shot of wicker basket on a white stool. the basket stores folded washcloths.

This basket is actually cute and I'm glad I found a home for it. Currently storing washcloths and head scarves.

before shot of the shower

Before. Shower is also boring and this corner organization is gross and just not working.

after shot of the shower with a hanging, brass shower organizer and a bright pink transluscent shower curtain

After. New shower organizer and a bright pink shower curtain—my favorite part.

before shot of the counter

Before. Counter is a bit cluttered, but not too bad!

after shot of the organized counter

After. Mostly just reorganized and decluttered.

after shot of new toilet arrangement with fake grass inside a tall white vase

After. The fake grass stems add height and color to the space. And I started displaying some of my favorite bath and skincare products instead of hiding everything away.

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