Upgrade Your Bathroom Without Violating Your Lease

small bathroom

Bathroom renovations can be expensive and time consuming, but well worth the effort when you have the resources. However, not everyone with a picky palate and an eye for design is lucky enough to have the "tear it all down and customize" option homeowners have.

Apartment living makes executing design dreams tricky. Most landlords aren't down for painting, let alone sink replacements and flooring conversions. On top of that, most apartment bathrooms don't offer tenants a lot of space to work with. So how do we break free from whitewashed walls and plain (often chipped) porcelain to make the space our own? Here are a couple tips that will update and personalize your design while keeping your lease in tact.

Add Color

One of the biggest trends in apartment design today is temporary wallpaper. Manufacturers have created peel and stick wallpaper that keeps damage from apartment walls while giving renters the ability to get away from white washed blandness. As its popularity is growing, design options are becoming available to fit the theme of a multitude of visions. Some of them are even paintable! Genius right?

Vertical Spaces

You may not have room on the floor to bring in custom storage and still be able to get to your shower, so think vertical.

  • Floating shelves can add much needed extra storage around the sink and toilet.

  • Use baskets to hold towels and hide other personal items you'll need, while adding a touch of textured style.

  • Add a thinner shelf on a longer wall, and line it with items that compliment the room's color scheme like pictures, candles and small item containers.

  • Hooks beneath decorative shelving help keep towels and other necessary items off the floor and within reach for daily use.


There is no law against bringing in a select few accessories to compliment your design.

  • An unusual catch-all dish and well chosen bathmats will draw attention away from the features of the room you aren't fond of.

  • Create vignettes on shelves or ledges using beloved items, or even some greenery to bring life into the room.

  • If the space allows, re-purpose a chair or narrow table to create uniquely convenient storage.

The Illusion of Space

Just because there's minimal square footage, doesn't mean a bathroom has to look small. Illusions are easy to create with natural lighting and some well placed curtains.

  • Bold horizontal lines, or one distinctive image, will maximize the look of the average shower/bath combo. Keeping the curtain closed, so the design is fully visible, will help even more.

  • If you have "glass" doors instead of an open bath, add a spring rod yourself, and cover cloudy plexiglass with a curtain of your choice.

  • A bathroom with a window is an opportunity. Add a window treatment to its lower half for privacy, while still allowing natural light to come through. Setting the curtain rod slightly wider than the window frame can create the illusion of extended wall space where there really is none.

The whole idea behind apartment design is that it should feel like your home without damaging property that's not officially yours. These small changes can bring your bathroom from cold to comforting, and foreign to personal with minor effort and little cost. There's no reason to feel like a renter even if you happen to be one.