9 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Look More Expensive

No gut renovation required.

Updated 09/23/19

Photo: Tessa Neustadt; Design: Amber Interiors

The bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms in the house to renovate, second only to kitchens (hence why most of us tend to leave these spaces as is). But you don’t need a gut renovation to make your space feel luxe. If installing marble tile, acquiring a lust-worthy claw-foot tub, and splurging on a rain shower aren't in the cards, there are still numerous ways you can give your bathroom an expensive look without breaking the bank.

Renting? You too can go luxurious for less sans the extensive renovations. By upgrading small details like your storage, mirror, or bath mat, you can swiftly elevate the look and feel of your bathroom without having to put a sledgehammer through your vanity.

Here are our nine favorite affordable bathroom decorating ideas for elevating your favorite place in the house to unwind.

01 of 09

Add a Place to Perch

Bathroom Decorating Ideas

 Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Amber Interiors

Nearly every high-end bathroom we’ve stepped into is equipped with seating of some sort—be it a simple garden stool, a tufted ottoman, or an ornately carved armchair. Raw wood and soft upholstery adds depth and dimension against hard tile and stone for a well-balanced scene. Plus, not only does the accent look expensive, but it also feels grand. Why do your pedicure on the toilet seat when you could do it on your very own throne?

Serena & Lily Dip-Dyed Stool
Serena and Lily Dip-Dyed Stool $80
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02 of 09

Contain Yourself

Bathroom Décor

 Elizabeth Roberts

We often see hurricane jars filled cotton balls in the most well-appointed of bathrooms. The traditional look isn’t for everyone, and some of us like our toiletries more concealed. But one of the most tried-and-true tricks for giving your space an elevated aesthetic is to contain your odds and ends. Store your soap in a dish rather than on the sink, stash your toothbrush in a beautiful tumbler, or keep your cotton swabs in a darling box. Trust us—doing so will instantly neaten your space.

We often see hurricane jars filled cotton balls in the most well-appointed of bathrooms.

03 of 09

Replace Your Bath Mat

Bathroom Design Ideas

 Elizabeth Roberts

A dirty or tired bath mat is a surefire way to make your bathroom look unkempt. If you have one, there’s no question that it should be swiftly replaced. But the fanciest bathrooms have taken this a step further by replacing terry cloth mats with Turkish and Persian rugs. The tufted wool rugs are both soft and the perfect substitute for a bath mat. Better yet, with beautiful patterns and colors that only get better as they fade, they can add so much personality and sophistication to your bathroom.

Usually these types of rugs are a major investment, but thanks to a bathroom's small footprint, owning a little piece of handwoven luxury is totally possible.

Jayson Home Vintage Oushak Rug
Jayson Home Vintage Oushak Rug - 2'9" X 1'6" $300 $150
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04 of 09

Hang a Mirror With Flair

Studio McGee

 Studio McGee

It’s sad how many of us settle for contractor-grade mirrors from the bathroom aisle at the local hardware store. By choosing a mirror with a little more personality and getting clever with storage rather than resorting to the standard medicine cabinet, you’ll elevate your space to something far from basic. Look for interesting shapes, antique or vintage detailing, or a grand size to add plenty of light. If you’re on a budget, browse flea markets for affordable options.

DWR round mirror
Gubi Adnet Round Mirror $1200
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05 of 09

Input a Monogram

Bathroom Décor Ideas

 Nicole Cohen ; DESIGN: Sue de Chiara

A monogram is a staple of practically every classic sophisticated bathroom we’ve seen. Monogrammed bath towels are a no-brainer, but you can make your mark on hand towels in a powder room, a tissue box, or even the back of an upholstered chair. Mark and Graham offers monogramming on practically everything under the sun.

Mark and Graham Cotton Guest Towels
Mark and Graham Cotton Guest Towels $29
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06 of 09

Get the Hang of It

Bathroom Decorating Tips

Space Exploration

Ever heard the expression, "A place for everything, and everything in its place"? Placement is one thing that great designers are always successful at. A bathroom can easily look messy if there’s clutter or no place to hang your towels and robes (or if linens are tossed on the floor). So hang a small hand-towel ring right by the sink where it’s needed, install a hook for your bathrobe, and make sure you have a rod to hang your bath towels on. These simple additions may be virtually unnoticeable to the average guest, but they can make a drastic impact on the look of the room.

07 of 09

Bring in a Touch of Brass

Bathroom Design Tips

Jessica Helgerson

We’ve been seeing brass and copper everywhere lately, especially in the most luxurious of bathrooms. The fact that it’s not chrome (the most basic of finishes) instantly gives it a leg up on the average look. You don’t need to replace all of your faucets (trust us, hardware can add up), but a new soap dish, magnifying mirror, or a little jar might just do the trick.

You don’t need to replace all of your faucets, but a new soap dish or a little jar might just do the trick.

08 of 09

Dress Your Walls Up

Bathroom Décor Tips

 Katherine Carter

Even though wallpaper can be costly and time-consuming, the payoff is definitely worth it. It’s not as cheap as a new soap dish, but compared to paying a contractor to install a new shower and tiles, it’s a bargain. If your space just needs some pizzazz or if it’ll be a while before you can tackle a full renovation, spending a couple hundred bucks on a roll or two can be transformative. To make the most of your budget, opt for just an accent wall or ceiling to curb costs.

09 of 09

Don't Settle for Basic Lighting

Bathroom Decorating Advice

 Space Exploration

Overhead lighting is so often overlooked that someone should write a song about it. Perhaps because it’s usually there when we move into a new home, so we never get around to updating it. Regardless, there are some really handsome lighting options available that don’t cost a ton of money. Swap your builder-grade fixture for a chandelier over the tub or vanity to see your space transform with just a little elbow grease.

Up next: Interior designers have declared these the best small-bathroom paint colors.

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