Ideas for Decorating Your Bathroom If You’re a Hapless Renter

Well, folks, we’ve been cooped up for a while now, and like a frog in boiling water, many of us have let our living spaces devolve into grimy, tiny-hair-dusted dens of sludgitude and disarray. Just because you haven’t had anyone over in, say, an entire year doesn’t mean that they’re never coming back. The time for home improvements is now, and your personal loo is no exception. 

“But it’s not my fault that my bathroom is gross,” you may say. “I have roommates! I’ve been busy! My bathroom hasn’t been updated since 1993, my landlord is an asshole, my cabinetry is ugly AF, the tiling is hideous!” HELLO! We’ve all been there (some of us are still there), and today we can help, and for cheap. We, too, have had to rent an apartment whose bathroom loves to spread its dingiest goddamn wings in matters of hardware, lighting, and general ambiance. No more. It’s time to scour off that soap scum and make it nice in there. After all, the bathroom, toothpaste-flecked as it may be, is an important place in our lives. 

We need a few more DIY stay-at-home projects as we wait in our queue for a jab of Johnson & Johnson or whatever, so we’re going for the gold by doing a little step-by-step upgrading of our salles de bain, from the walls to the floor to the lighting. And best of all, every single one of these jazzy and pizzazzy enhancements is under $100. 

Make staring at yourself more fun

Somehow, the place where we pee is also the designated spot in the house for staring at our mugs. Remember when everyone was spray foam/slug trailing their mirrors? Well, you could do that! Or, you could find a mirror that, as we once overheard this really fried dude say at a bar, “has a vibe on its own turf,” like asymmetrical shapes that will bring instant interest and less rigidity to the most meh of walls, and textured non-IKEA composite wood (no shade; We love you) materials that will make your home feel a little more grown up (with a streak of “loose cannon” energy).   

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We could write an ode to the power of blobs, shapes, and general curvy decor to save us from ourselves. Oh wait, we did! 

Curvy asymmetrical mirror, $87.05 at Etsy

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There are so many places this bearded lady takes our imaginations. 

Shaw Arch Decorative Wall Mirror with Rope Trim, $97.19 at Overstock

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Rattan is the hill on which we will happily die. It’s such a staple of vintage decor, but still manages to feel non-gimmicky and sleek. 

Round Natural Wrapped Rattan Calla Mirror, $79.99 at Cost Plus World Market

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You’re not imagining it; ska energy is very in and very much everywhere. For Lisa Says Gah! junkies, and aging skunx (reclaim your checkerboard!!) this mirror is a Beetlejuice delight.

Checkered mirror, $100 at Etsy

Get a bathmat that makes you feel good naked

When you emerge from the shower like the fully steamed, sexy clam you are, it’s really nice to feel the plushy embrace of a bath mat that doesn’t look like it rolled out of a college RA’s dorm. It’s also so easy to love rugs, but so hard for our wallets to love rugs, and treating yourself to a railroad-apartment-bathroom-sized graphic mat is a great way to scratch that itch. 


Cold Picnic is definitely the minimalist, artisanal Cool Kid rug company of the moment. As evidenced by this sweet peach, for your sweet peach. 

Cold Picnic Cul de Sac Bath Mat, $69 at Garmentory

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The ideal rug for that bathtime Dad Grass smoke sesh. 

Handmade mushroom rug, $135 at Etsy


When you find a super non-slip semi-shag with a relaxing color palette, don’t let it go. 

Carmel Super-Soft and Best Quality Bath Rug, $29.99 at Wayfair

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It’s kinda whack that we even think our bath mats all have to be cloth. The lattice-work design of this bamboo mat looks really chic and will dry quicker than most shag mats. 

Morvat Bamboo Bath Mat, $22.99 at Amazon

Statement walls… #brave

Some walls give off the energy of a bunk scratch-and-sniff greeting card (ah, to be gifting in the 1990s). You can’t sledgehammer-facelift your bathroom, so opt for removable wallpaper; it’s idiot-proof, and looks, you know, “elevated.” Here are our favorites, from geometric 60s Esquire vibes to Kate Bush-energy dark florals.


The perfect vibe-match for the record player in the living room that you always get compliments on but only use once every six months.

Peel and Stick Wallpaper Panel, $82 at AllModern


We’re supposed to have another post-pandemic Roaring 20s, so here’s the wallpaper to match.

Enid Striped Hexagon Peel and Stick Wallpaper, $1.60/square foot at Wayfair

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These arabesque leaves would definitely make Oscar Wilde die twice. Mucho sumptuous, but still feels lowkey. 

Overscale Lily Removable Wallpaper, $49 per panel at Urban Outfitters

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This wallpaper presents its own ecosystem of minimalist dots, marbled triangles, and palm fronds, bringing interest and depth without feeling overwhelming.  

Abstract palm leaf wallpaper, $76.90 at Etsy

Nice hand soap just makes you feel richer

If you haven’t already, do join the cult of fancy hand soaps that has been blossoming before and during the pandemic. The ethos is simple: We’re washing our hands a lot more (and realizing what dirty little rat bastards we were pre-COVID), and doing it with suds that smell like the vacation we had to postpone.  

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No petrochemicals, no preservatives, just a citrus palm blast (lost Capri Sun flavor?) for you. This is a refreshing and bright option for those who wish they could live in a Japanese-candy-scented bubble bath. 

Yuzu Tangent GC Organic Hand Soap, $26 at Verishop

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It’s as if the eco-conscious folks over at Bathing Culture found the Tree of Life, milked its redwood teat, and siphoned all that woodsy goodness into an all-over soap. Love that this comes in a 70s-style glass bottle, too. 

Mind and Body Wash Refillable Glass Soap, $35 at Bathing Culture

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A classic status symbol soap for a reason. It’s earthy, silky, and aromatherapeutic AF.

Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash, $39 at Aesop

Knobs… what about ‘em

Don’t have bandwidth, budget, or landlord permission to gut thine wonky cabinets? Just replace the knobs. Think of it like pieces of flair for your restroom (but in a good way); you could go with some amorphous amoeba shapes, wooden pulls, or a rhinestone knob worthy of a wonderful roadside kitsch hotel. 

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Yup, still not done with blobs. Especially blobs that looked like they splooshed off a painting at the MoMA.

Matisse shape concrete knobs, $11.19 at Etsy

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Varying sizes for varying needs, and a little touch of gold hardware that says “There’s Aesop soap refills in here.”

Nordic Wooden Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Knobs And Pulls, starting at $5.29 on Etsy

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“Hi MTV, I’m ___ and welcome to my crib.”

Rhinestone Drawer Knob, $42.99 at Amazon 

Replace those ratty towels 

No more pilling. No more settling for a brown, falling-apart towel your mom bought for your freshman dorm 11 years ago, just because it’s there. You deserve to have your crevices coddled and pampered, and to not just walk out of your restroom in a Medieval serfdom rag (unless that’s your thing), but to waltz out in a towel that doubles as your third to sixth outfit change of the day. You fabulous himbo-bimbo, you. 


Two über plush hand towels and a matching bath mat, for our Virgos out there. 

Brooklinen Super-Plush Bath Towel Bundle, $69 $50.92 at Brooklinen

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Streetwear x dad rock crossover content, in towel form. 

Slowtide x Grateful Dead Truckin’ Towel, $34.95 at Slowtide


Everything Pendleton touches turns to cozy, high-quality gold with production that’s mindful of the environment (see: “Oeko-Tex® Made in Green certified”) and this towel’s so big, it can double as a beach blanket. 

Pendleton Harding Black Spa Towel, $64.49 at Overstock 

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Your vaccinated visitors will be really impressed if you have a bunch of hand towels splayed out like a fancy hotel, or just a thoughtful statement towel hung on that front-and-center ring. 

Slowtide Clive Hand Towel, $16.95 at Slowtide

Embrace your inner playboy/playgirl/playperson with a fine robe

We all have that one poly-blend Costco robe in our closets, simply because we didn’t know there was such an eclectic vault of bath and house robes online. A thin Turkish cotton robe is a warm weather must, while a thick terry cloth sitch makes our chest hair sing. 


Made from Turkish cotton and two-ply gauze, Parachute’s colorful robes are ideal for being your spring/summer post-bath cocoon.

Parachute Cotton Robe, $99 at Parachute

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We love a calf-length robe so that we can splay all over the couch immediately post-shower and not traumatize our roommates. Plus, this one begs for the wearer to be holding a Mai Tai.

Men’s Calf Length Pattern Turkish Terry Robe, $89.95 $62.96 at Land’s End

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Turkish towels are thinner and more flannel-y than the terry cloth ones found in most of our homes, but they’ll dry you off with a silky touch, and in this case, with a nice big hood.

LuGo Peshtemal Turkish Cotton Bathrobe, $59.90 at Etsy

Spray water on your bum (a.k.a., for love of bidets)

Bidets are the equivalent of a car spoiler for your toilet, only they actually put in the work to elevate your life by refreshing your nethers. It’s a common misconception that you need to shell out big, BIG money for a bidet as well; there’s a Niagara Falls for every budget. 


Very on sale, and very much a steamed facial for your anus. Your serotonin levels will thank you for this (and the bamboo knob would match the bamboo bath might quuuuite well). 

Tushy Classic 3.0, $129.99 $99 at Tushy

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We honestly wouldn’t even notice this on our toilet after a few flushes. This is an excellent grab bag/just-because present for someone you’re close with (or want to be).

Leafbay Bidet for Toilet, $27.99 at Amazon

Add plants (real or fake)

Putting plants in any room is kind of like hitting the “auto” effect on an iPhone photo: everything just looks more naturally invigorated. If you’re bad at keeping plants alive, order some hard-to-kill pothos, air plants, and philodendrons. If you have zero light in your bathroom, there’s zero shame in finding some forever, faux greens.

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These are some leggy, leggy plants that don’t need much light and will crawl all over your mirror. 

Philodendron Heartleaf, $35 at Bloomscape

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This is an aquatic room, after all. Just look at this jolly bunch. 

Sea Urchin Air Plant Kit, $17.97 at Etsy

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We would kill a real one of these, anyways. (Also: It’s kind of rare to find a faux plant with such a choice pot.)

Faux Pilea Peperomioides, $75 at The Sill 

Make your shower psychedelic with mood lighting

We don’t want to walk into restroom lighting that makes us feel like we’re about to get etherized. Everyone has been feeling that double smattering of seasonal depression and COVID winter blues, so luckily, the land of happy lighting has been expanding to include everything from faux sunsets to app-driven smart light bulbs. 

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Also fully support joining Our Divine Lady’s Cult of Sunset Lamps. Who doesn’t want to wake up feeling like the all-knowing baby in 2001: A Space Odyssey? 

Sunset Projection Led Light, $20.37 at Amazon

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Maybe you’re James Turrell. Maybe you’re just someone who takes Tinder dates to the MOMA.

Neon Tube LED, $55 $46.75 at HAY

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“Alexa, dim the lights to Tom Selleck.” 

Smart WiFi Light Bulbs, $18.99 at Amazon

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Just sipping on your bourbon, spinning on the neon wings of Saturn. You poet, you. 

Saturn Planet Neon Light, $29.07 at Etsy

Sex up your shower curtain

Aside from swapping out the mildewy curtain you may have already, please note that: You can totally throw (most) shower curtains in the washing machine. 


The big graphic composition will open up your space, and mellow yellow color choice brings in just enough mood zhouz. 

Mid-Century Modern Sun & Rainbow Shower Curtain, $69.99 $41.99 at Society6

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It’s OK. We miss Prince, too. 

3D Crystal Pattern EVA Bathroom Shower Curtain Liner, $15.99 at Amazon

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Linen is so inherently lowkey chic, that a splurge on a shower curtain in the material will do most of the work for upping environment of your whole bathroom. 

Linen Solid Single Shower Curtain, $89 at The Company Store

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