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16 Easy Bathroom Upgrades That Don't Require a Gut Job

bathroom with v-groove paneling

Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson Design

Unless you've won the real-estate lottery, odds are, your bathroom isn't perfect. Sure, it might get plenty of natural light, but those unsightly tiles, cheap linoleum floors, and lackluster light fixtures are likely holding you back. Luckily, a little creativity can help you transform a ho-hum bathroom without a major overhaul — whether you're a renter who can't make extensive changes without losing your security deposit or a homeowner who's on a strict budget.

"The three biggest, most impactful things you can do to your bathroom (no gut-job required) are: paint, switch out lighting, and swap out hardware," interior designer Emily Henderson tells MyDomaine. "Then, depending on how handy you are, you can swap out your faucets too. But honestly, those first three will really change the look and feel of the space an insane amount," she explains. "Also, never underestimate the power of some great accessories."

Ready to improve your bathroom without stripping it down to the studs? Scroll on for 16 easy bathroom upgrades that don't require a gut job.

01 of 16

Swap Out Your Sink Faucet

Allow Emily Henderson to demonstrate the transformative power of swapping out your sink faucet. Here, a sleek polished nickel faucet adds a bit of modern edge to a bathroom filled with traditional details like a pedestal sink and board and batten molding.

02 of 16

Update Your Shower Hardware

Take a page from sought-after interior designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors and update your shower hardware (i.e. your shower head, shower rod, bathtub faucets, etc.) to revamp your entire space. Don't be afraid to mix your metals for an on-trend look.

03 of 16

Adorn Your Walls With Eye-Catching Wallpaper

Gain inspiration from interior designer Katie Hodges of Katie Hodges Design and adorn your walls with eye-catching wallpaper. Wallpaper tends to be more expensive than paint, so this bold application is especially prudent for a powder bathroom refresh.

04 of 16

Slather Your Walls in a Fresh Coat of Paint

Make like interior designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors and pick up a can of paint to give your bathroom a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive makeover. Not sure which shade to select? Here are the bathroom paint colors interior designers swear by.

05 of 16

Elevate Your Bathroom With Peel-and-Stick Tiles

Leave it to lifestyle blogger Sara Toufali of Black and Blooms to make a compelling case for peel-and-stick tiles. (Yes, those are peel-and-stick tiles.) Temporary and relatively inexpensive, they offer an ideal solution for renters or budget-conscious homeowners.

06 of 16

Decorate Your Bathroom With Backyard Branches

Follow interior designer Joyce Downing Pickens of JDP Interiors' lead and pick a few backyard branches to display in a tall vase on your bathroom counter. Tall greenery always makes an instant statement in a room — and (bonus) it's virtually free.

07 of 16

Give Your Floors a Fresh Look With a New Rug

Give your floors a fresh look with a new bathmat or rug à la lifestyle blogger Molly Madfis of Almost Makes Perfect. As Madifs' bathroom demonstrates, this seemingly simple swap can have a major impact on the overall look and feel of your space.

08 of 16

Ditch Your Traditional Medicine Cabinet

Swap your bulky, builder-grade medicine cabinet for a beautiful mirror, as interior designer Shea McGee of Studio McGee did here. Though convenient, medicine cabinets take up a lot of real estate and tend to look rather generic. A beautiful mirror is an instant upgrade.

09 of 16

Add Architectural Interest to Your Bathroom Walls

Forgo simply slathering your walls in paint or wallpaper in favor of adding architectural interest to your bathroom walls instead. In interior designer Emily Henderson's bathroom, v-groove paneling adds character to basic bathroom walls.

10 of 16

Replace Your Toilet and/or Your Sink

Consider undertaking a slightly larger project and replace an unsightly toilet or sink to give your bathroom an upgrade that's equally practical and aesthetically minded. As you can see, these swaps made all the difference in designer Brady Tolbert's vintage bathroom.

11 of 16

Swap Out Your Bathroom Light Fixtures

For a low-lift bathroom upgrade that will immediately have a huge impact on the entire space, swap out your light fixtures (i.e. sconces, pendants, etc.). Look no further than this bathroom designed by interior designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors for inspiration.

12 of 16

Hang Up a New Shower Curtain

Allow interior designer Shea McGee of Studio McGee to demonstrate that something as simple as hanging a new shower curtain can make all the difference. If you want to make a bold statement on a budget, this inexpensive yet impactful, this bathroom upgrade is foolproof.

13 of 16

Liven Up Your Bathroom With a Potted Plant

Take a cue from interior designer Jessica Helgerson of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design and liven up your bathroom with a potted plant. Opt for a tall variety like a Guiana chestnut (a.k.a. money tree) to draw the eye up and make your bathroom look and feel larger than it is.

14 of 16

Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Bathroom

Allow this bathroom designed by interior designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors to demonstrate the visual impact of a patterned tile backsplash.

If you're on a budget, install a backsplash in a powder room (versus a full-on bathroom) as it will require fewer tiles to get the same effect.

15 of 16

Update Your Bathroom's Window Treatments

Although often overlooked, window treatments have the power to completely transform any space. Take it from this bathroom designed by interior designer Katherine Carter in which natural fiber roman shades add some much-needed texture to a neutral bathroom.

16 of 16

Swap Your Standard Cotton Towels for High-Quality Linens

Naturally, interior designer Shea McGee of Studio McGee knows that no bathroom is complete without high-quality linens. You can't go wrong with fluffy cotton towels or tasseled Turkish towels. Bonus points if you display them on a ladder, as in the chic master bath pictured here.