how to fix a boring builder grade bathroom

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I was on Pinterest yesterday and kept seeing all of these amazing bathrooms.  They are breathtaking.  And, I’m sure they all had a breathtaking budget.  It got me thinking about our builder basic bathrooms.  I may not have mind blowing bathrooms with all of the latest and greatest, but I was still able to transform the builder basic into something I absolutely love.  Best part?  It didn’t take much money at all.


Take down the towel rod over your tub and/or toilet.  Like, immediately.  This is my number one because it drives me insane 😀

In regards to the tub towel rod, I know there are absolutely instances where this won’t apply, but most of us don’t have time for regular relaxing soaks in the tub.  When we do, grabbing a dusty towel that has been hanging on that towel rod for several weeks isn’t the best way to finish it.  Replace your towel rod with some art and leave a fresh clean towel near the tub or, if you have room, on a pretty stool or vanity seat.  You’ll always appreciate looking at art work over a dusty towel and rod.

For the towel rod over the toilet.  Gross.  Enough said.  Take it down and add a pretty shelf or some art instead.  Add a hook on a different wall if you can. 

In our guest bathroom, I was out of walls, and the door near the shower was too tall to place an over-the-door hook.  So, I found a small hook with a narrow back and placed it in the less than inch wide piece of wall between the door trim and the shower tile.  There’s also this clever hook that slips over your door hinge if you have no wall space.


Add or update cabinet hardware.  I know this one isn’t news, but that’s because it makes such a difference!  But, what might be news is adding detail to the false drawer fronts.  Those need love too!  You can add regular knobs or pulls, or you can add a faux keyhole like I did in our master bathroom.  It’s more of a subtle addition, but I love how it makes the vanity look a little more special.


Frame out your builder grade mirror.  This is an affordable and easy upgrade and drastically changes the feel of the room.  I simply glued 1×2’s that I stained (notched out to accommodate mirror clips) to our master mirrors using mirror adhesive.  I did a similar version in the remaining bathrooms.


Add interest to the walls with moulding, wallpaper, or both!  For our secondary bathrooms, I did my own DIY shiplap.  Minimal cost for a huge transformation.  If the ship has sailed for you with shiplap, think about board and batten, or other types of wainscoting.


A super quick update is to swap out hand towels and soap dispensers.  Freshen up the look by adding a turkish hand towel and dark glass soap dispensers.


Move your shower curtain up higher.  This may require a longer curtain, or you could DIY by using window curtains like I did in Izzy’s bathroom, or a sheet like I did in our guest bathroom.  Moving it up makes the room so feel much taller.  It’s the same concept as hanging your window curtains higher.


If you have a separate tub, do you have a window above it?  Treat it like any other window in your home and give it drapes, and/or blinds.  Bathrooms can have a hard and cold look sometimes, this instantly softens and warms it up.
This was actually going to be only seven, but when I started uploading my photos I noticed something else important in all of them.  The addition of green life.  Flowers, cut leaf stems, and even faux succulents.  There’s a reason all of the professional shots of homes you see in your favorite magazines have flowers or greenery in them.  They give a space life and make it feel good.  Be on the look out for some in all the photos below.
If I haven’t convinced you of some of these builder grade bathroom fixes, here are some before and afters of our bathrooms using all of these tips.  Click on the room title to be taken to their individual posts for more photos and info.
Master // Towel rod replaced by art, and blinds and drapes added to window, trimmed mirror, and hardware added to vanity:

Izzy’s bath // Shiplap added to walls, towel bar removed (replaced by hook), art + shelf above toilet, hardware added to cabinets, trimmed out mirror, new shower curtain (but still hung high): 

Sam’s bath // Shiplap added to walls, towel bar removed (replaced by hook on opposite wall, art above toilet, hardware added to cabinets, trimmed out mirror, higher hanging shower curtain:

Guest bath // Shiplap added to walls, towel bar removed (replaced by hooks on opposite wall, art above toilet, hardware added to cabinets, trimmed out mirror, higher hanging shower curtain:

Powder room // Terry cloth hand towel (look how dingy it is!!!!!!) replaced with turkish hand towel, and boring soap dispenser replaced with modern brown dispenser (psst… this is actually plastic incase the kids drop it).


Meet Shelley

Hi, I’m Shelley! My belief is that with a little creativity and elbow grease, you can make your home look like a million bucks without spending it.

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