Bathroom Renovations

10 low-cost ways to update your bathroom

Sprucing up your bathroom doesn't have to cost a fortune
Simon Whitbread

Give your bathroom a style boost with our top 10 simple decorative updates (that are kind to your wallet, too).

The hardest-working room in the house has to cope with a steady influx of action from householders and guests alike. And, if this oft-forgotten and hidden space hasn’t seen some love in a few years, then that heavy foot traffic can leave you feeling exposed.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can get your bathroom looking its best while avoiding a cash splash and time-consuming project during the busiest months of the year. We spoke to the experts and asked them to share the ways you can lift the style quota of your bathroom without a whole renovation. Here’s how.

Coastal style bathroom vanity with round pink concrete basin
(Credit: Louise Roche)

1. Keep your bathroom surfaces clear

Clearing away the bits and bobs that clutter up the shower or vanity looks neat and brings a stylish sense of order, as well as making the room easier to keep clean. “Ensuring everything has a place makes a big difference,” says interior designer Annie Bowen of Annie Bowen Design. “Add a basket for extra storage if needed, a small dish for jewellery and think about drawer dividers or baskets within cupboards so bottles and jars don’t rattle around.” All you need is storage for that sleek look.

2. Add pattern in the bathroom

For real wow factor, embrace the wallpaper trend. Paste-the-wall technology makes hanging it (and removing it later) a breeze. A bold or colourful design will help distract the eye from other less-than-perfect features. Medium-to-large patterns work well in small rooms to bring the illusion of a larger space. The secret to success is to avoid using it in wet zones like the shower or areas that are subject to splashes.

3. Update your tapware

Updating your tapware will make a big impact and can be an easy and affordable upgrade, says Daniela Santilli, bathrooms and kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms. “For a weekend job, choose tapware that contains no in-wall component, like a basin mixer,” she says. “Ensure that your new tapware style is a swap like-for-like, so you are replacing a basin mixer with another basin mixer.” You’ll need the help of a licensed plumber for a tapware change, but you can often swap out a showerhead yourself.

Antique mirrors over twin marble vanity basins
Antique mirrors are filled with character and can bring a more unique style to your room. (Credit: Nic Gossage)

4. Paint your bathroom walls

Colour can dramatically transform any space. “A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and can instantly breathe life into a tired space,” says Andrea Lucena-Orr, colour and communications manager for Dulux. “Fresh and calming tones complement any bathroom and help create a clean and elegant area. Opting for natural, earth-based colours such as subtle greens and browns or warm clays is a fantastic way to ensure your walls represent your creativity, while giving a sense of balance and tranquillity.”

5. Update your bathroom lighting

Nothing dates a room like an old light, but few things are more eye-catching than a truly beautiful fitting. This change is a relatively simple task for a licensed electrician, says interior architect Sally Rhys-Jones. However, she warns: “Make sure the light you choose is suitable for an area with steam and water.

Teal bathroom cabinets with marble vanity
Painting is the ultimate DIY –relatively cheap, fairly easy and totally transformative. (Credit: Simon Whitbread)

6. Replace your cabinetry handles

Changing your cabinetry handles is possibly the fastest cosmetic update you can do, says Sally. “Just check the width of the existing ones and make sure you buy new handles that can be screwed into the same holes,” she says. While you’re selecting your handles, look for wall hooks in the same finish to add extra storage options for towels and robes.

7. Deep clean your bathroom

A good clean will make your bathroom look like new. Pay particular attention to things such as grubby grout between your tiles – scrub it with an old toothbrush, or if it’s beyond cleaning, try using a grout pen to refresh the lines. “Getting a silicone expert out to re-silicone around the edges of the room can also bring a bathroom back,” suggests Annie.

8. How to style your bathroom

Take cues from the top stylists to make even the dullest bathroom look the business. “Aim for aesthetically pleasing packaging for bottles on the shower and vanity,” says Annie. “A high-quality candle next to the handwash on the vanity looks beautiful, too.” Pile loo rolls in a gorgeous basket for a practical-meets-pretty touch, and don’t forget the five-star note that good quality, lush towels bring to a bathroom. “Roll them up just like they do in hotels for instant luxe,” adds Danielle.

Coastal style powder room with timber vanity and tropical wallpaper
No-one wants to hear it but a little cleaning goes a long way to ensure that fresh look. (Credit: Louise Roche)

9. Swap out your bathroom mirror

As a focal point in your bathroom, a good-looking mirror punches above its weight in the style stakes, so swap out a boring model for an update with impact. “Choose ones with texture and interest to instantly transform a space and open it right up,” says interior designer Danielle Bonello-Dunsford of Danielle Victoria Design Studio. For a unique piece that will bring lashings of personality, try second-hand stores, opshops or Gumtree, where you can nab charming mirrors for a song.

10. Decorate your bathroom with a painted stencil pattern

Turn to specialist products such as those in the Dulux Renovation Range to give a laminate, melamine or timber vanity a completely new look, or to refresh a wall of dated tiles. If you’re feeling particularly creative, try bringing interest to a plain tiled border by adding a pretty pattern using tile-friendly paint and a stencil. Practise the technique on paper first for the best results.

Annie Sloane stencilled bathroom floor
If you’re feeling particularly creative, you could paint your floors like this checkered pattern by Annie Sloan. (Credit: Photo: Annie Sloan)

Our picks to update your bathroom

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Marquis Cove wall-hung vanity, The Blue Space

$1377 (was $1620)

A floating vanity gives the illusion of space and this timber-faced unit adds a natural texture to boot.

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Nero X Plus wall basin/bath set in Brushed Gold, The Blue Space

$346 (was $407)

Brushed brass warms up the contemporary lines of this “X” style set ready to wall mount above your tub or basin.

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Timberline Church mirror 800mm x 400mm, The Blue Space

$459 (was $537)

Curves are taking over interiors and we love bringing them into the bathroom space to soften hard edges. An arched mirror for the win!

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Waffle bath towel in Brown, Myer

$23 (was $45)

Snuggle into textured comfort each morning with this waffle weave bath towel in warm brown – so good you could eat it!

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Deep Teal wall paint, Porters Paints


Create ocean vibes all year round with this moody deep teal colour to accent your vanity or bathroom feature wall.

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