Five Ways to Update a Bathroom

By Kate Riley January 6, 2015

I have renovation on the brain this month with two kitchens and two bathrooms in the works, so I’m dedicating this week to the topic of remodeling bathrooms! As we all know, updated bathrooms increase a home’s value and help sell your home quicker than similar houses in the market.

A fresh coat of paint on the walls goes a long way, and the quickest way to update a builder grade vanity is to refresh with a quality paint job. Bathrooms are personal spaces and an opportunity to inject your style, however most experts agree if you plan to live in the home for less than 10 years, take into account how the space will appeal to a future buyer when making permanent choices. Beyond paint, here are five ways to update a bathroom with some fantastic examples of great design !

Replace the Flooring. This is a big job which requires removing the toilet and sometimes the vanity if it’s a freestanding version. There are several options available for replacement, my favorite is tile, there are so so many gorgeous patterns available from elaborate to simple. As an upgrade, consider radiant heat flooring especially in climates where it gets cold! Vinyl planks are another option, versions that mimic wood warm a bathroom space. Sheet and peel and stick vinyl are budget friendly options and easier to DIY.

gray vanity marble chevron floor

elements of style

ceramic tile floor

better homes and gardens

gray tile floor

involving color

open shelf bathroom vanity

house of tubers

  hexagon tile floor

life in grace


Replace the Vanity. Vanities range in price from several hundred to thousands of dollars. With research, you can find many with a countertop to go with. Freestanding or floating versions are contemporary look which requires the tile extends underneath.

floating vanity

jillian harris

gray bathroom vanity

veranda interiors

bathroom remodel diy showoff

diy show off

blue bathroom vanity

house & home


Update the Mirrors. Wide span mirrors with clips are basic to most bathrooms but  ubiquitous. A framed modern mirror wonders to update a bathroom. You can frame the existing mirror in place with a DIY project or a custom version from Mirrormate. If replacing, removal of the large builder grade mirror is best done by a professional since it’s a dangerous process. Once removed, repair any wall damage and hang a new one with a modern shape!

gray vanity curved mirror

veranda interiors

beaded mirror above vanity

style me pretty

updated bathroom mirrors



Replace Countertop or Tile. A repurposed or repainted vanity gets a new look with a modern solid surface countertop. Quartz, marble, laminate, even waterproofed wood are all products that can be used in a bathroom. A contemporary application of tile to the ceiling is another dramatic update.

glass tile backsplash

in detail interiors

modern bathroom tile backsplash

 studio 80 design

blue glass tile bathroom backsplash

spaces designed

  gray plank bathroom tile

mike connell architect


Update Faucets, Fixtures or Frames.  Old fixtures date a bathroom quickly, with so may choices available, faucets are an easy switch that takes an afternoon using existing holes. Modern shower heads and dials upgrade a shower space, also consider a more contemporary framed or frameless shower enclosure.

kohler faucet


contemporary bathroom faucets

mark newman design

white shower chrome fixtures

this old house

frameless shower door_thumb[2]

how to decorate


Add Practical Attractive Storage. Medicine cabinets and shelving are sources of additional storage for toiletries and towels, but so are niches ! Mandi shares a great tutorial on finding space in drywall to create more storage, and if you’re redoing a shower, knock out some space to store shampoos and soaps!

built in medicine cabinet

better homes and gardens

bathroom niche storage

tidbits from the tremaynes

built in bathroom niche

how to decorate

shower niche


Check back tomorrow for Five More Ways to Update a Bathroom. As with any renovation, if you have DIY skills then by all means make the improvements yourself, but never hesitate to hire a professional to get it right.

What are your favorite elements in remodeled bathrooms? Have you recently made improvements to your bathroom? Feel free to share, I’d love to see pictures!


    • Wow Jill, amazing what white paint can do, love the contrast you created with your vanity top!

  1. This post couldn’t be more timely. I live in a 1948 colonial revival style home with the original bathrooms. The master bathroom has green tile but is not functional and will need to be gutted. We plan to get someone in to do that soon. The second bathroom features charming peach and black tile that is in great shape and we plan to keep. In the process of choosing wallpaper for it now!

  2. Love all those bathroom ideas! I have viewed them over and over.
    What excellent timing. Out looking for a new vanity and mirror. Loving the grey but afraid it’s a fad.

  3. Amazing what a fresh coat of paint does Jill, love the detail you added to the tile!

  4. We painted our bathroom when we first moved it and it was so dramatic for the space. However there is still a lot of work to be done. I want to do each of the above suggestions. There are a lot of great looks from your inspiration photos.

  5. Love these tips! We are about to update the flooring in our master bathroom and these are great choices. Love that elements of style tile!

  6. Gorgeous collection of inspiration, Kate! Thanks so much for including a link back to our bathroom reveal. It’s hard to choose just one favorite element. In my case, in the bathroom shown, it was the sconces (still swooning). Pinning these for future reference. We still have more bathrooms to remodel.

  7. hello,
    We are planning on remodeling our master bath soon… and I am a newbie to ALL remodeling. Im having a hard time finding good reasonable prices on vanities. Any suggestions? How much is custom usually and where did you find your vanity!? thank you for any and all suggestions!

  8. This is a really great list and each item can make a big impact. I am stuck renting for now, but often fantasize about doing all of the above to the dated bathrooms!

  9. I am planning a minor remodel of my kids bathroom as a winter project, so this couldn’t be more perfect timing!! The problem? I love them ALL! Here’s hoping I can make up my mind before the robins come back!! Thank you for the inspiration!

  10. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m getting ready to update my master bath and can use all the advice I can get!

  11. I recently updated a bathroom by painting the vanity, putting pretty hardware on it and having the solid surface top and faucet switched for new ones. The entire room got painted and mosaic tile art now hangs on the wall. A more modern light fixture replaced the old one as well. The tub stayed because it is a “Softtub” which I’d never heard of before, but oh so wonderfully comfy to bathe in. I have before and after photos I would have added, but don’t see how to do it. Do we send them by email?

  12. I like some of the bathrooms featured here. We are in the process of updating our downstairs bathroom. We just painted it a nice gray so that the pops of color from towels in the bathroom will look nice and can forever change. We also need to add crown molding.

  13. Your blog is such wonderful eye candy to me. After 31 years in hospital pharmacy, i am so tired after work. I just revel in your posts. Not that I haven’t done my share of remodeling! Just getting too pooped out. I still dabble in furniture drab to fab in the summer. It is -1 below here in MN today and no garage is adequate for that. Thanks for all you share. You are an inspiration to my niece!

  14. This is a fantastic round-up, Kate. I could literally put together my dream bathroom from these images alone. Thank you!

  15. Very helpful article and very nice pics. I love the modern look. This is giving me some inspiration on a bathroom project of my own.

  16. Do you know where the metal-framed mirror over the Jillian Harris vanity came from? I’m looking for a double-wide bathroom mirror with a metal frame.

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