See How an ELLE Decor Editor Revamped Her Rental Bathroom

Laurel Benedum
·2 min read
Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum
Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum


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One of the many lessons the last year has taught us is the importance of reconnecting with our homes, a sentiment that feels especially relevant as we wait out the final dregs of winter. And after having tackled some serious renovations on the rest of my apartment, I couldn’t fight the urge to troubleshoot my bathroom too.

As you could guess, the setup was much like your workaday Manhattan rental, leaving a lot to be desired. From faux marble tile to its yellow-tinged palette, the list of unfortunate design choices was lengthy. And while certain elements, like the college dorm–esque mirrors and fluorescent lighting, were non-negotiable, I knew that a few key changes could completely revamp the space. If you’re in a similar boat—or simply looking for a bit of inspiration—read on for my tips and tricks to make the most of a blah bathroom.

Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum
Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum

Add Color

When it came to my bathroom, the main goal was to detract from the jaundiced tones throughout. So naturally, a coat of paint was first on the list. I opted for a cool jade hue on the walls and the under-sink cabinet, an addition that makes a world of difference in helping the space feel complete and cohesive.

Then there was the awkward (and claustrophobic!) dropped ceiling over the shower. Working with what I had, I decided to conceal it with a valance-and-curtains look, which made the room feel instantly more spacious. Another game-changer was covering the beige tile flooring. And while I was hesitant to choose one of the vinyl, peel-and-stick varieties (the only renter-friendly option), I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and ease of it.

Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum
Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum

Dress It Up

Leaning into the neutrals theme, I had lazily hung up some framed matchbooks upon moving in, which added very little to the room. So after swiping a coat of paint on the walls, I knew I would need the artwork to be equally interesting. Graphic black-and-white prints in thick brass frames felt just right. And so did swapping out the mismatched metal towel bar for a matte black one. Finally, I ditched the beige hand towels and opted for crisp white with a colorful monogram.

Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum
Photo credit: Laurel J. Benedum

Add Finishing Touches

While my bathroom faucet wasn’t particularly offensive, it also wasn’t particularly attractive. So after some reassurance from expert friends at Kohler, I decided to take the plunge and swap it for something more special. I’ll admit that the job required a call and some assistance from our building super, but the task only took about 15 minutes, and—after it was accessorized with my favorite hand soap, a candle, and vase of dried posies—our sink has never looked chicer.


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