So, apparently there are a few of you out there living with some questionable bathroom tile colors. (Or, that’s what you’ve told me.) You know I love the challenge of working with what you have. That means making something prettier—or at least more livable—by just making some easy cosmetic changes. It may not be the bathroom of your dreams, but here’s how I would update a “retro” bathroom without gutting the whole thing:
black and white accessories. I think black and white is the saving grace for a less-than-desirable existing color scheme. It instantly makes everything look more modern and gives the whole space an overall cleaner, fresher feel. To down play a tile color you don’t love, avoid bringing in an additional color and just go for high contrast, black and white accents in the form of artwork, towels, a shower curtain, wallpaper etc.
updated fixtures. There are a few changes worth investing the money and time into, and I believe updating the faucet, towel bars, etc., can only help improve the aesthetic (and resale value). If you’re unsure, chrome is a classic choice.
modern lighting. Another investment worth making. Lighting can change the entire look of a bathroom (or, any space for that matter). Again, I would stay with clean and classic options as opposed to going with something too frilly or traditional. You want to make changes that still keep in line with the style of the bathroom, but with a modern twist.
Ready to make some changes? A few accessory ideas to get your wheels turning. . .
1. pendant light 2. artwork 3. fabric 4. hand towel
5. shower curtain 6. bath towels 7. hook
8. rug 9. mirror 10. wallpaper
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This post was exactly what I needed. I have a pink bathroom and a blue. The pink is easy because it is one shade of pink and it is my little girls’ bathroom. However the blue has many different shades of blue. Can I add black to that? I am so stuck with what to do decor wise in there. Unfortunately the tile is all in good shape, so the hubby is not on board with a demolition
Great ideas! Also, wanted to let you know that the green tile bathroom with the dog wallpaper is by Urban Grace Interiors. (see it here: http://blog.urbangrace.com/2010/out-of-town-project-sneak-peeks/ )
Emily Clark says
Thank you! I knew I’d seen that somewhere before.
Megan @ Our PInteresting Family says
Great ideas! I like the light fixtures in the green bathroom.
Mary Jean says
Those were great ideas? I visited a house that had two shades of purple tile like those above! They could have used these ideas. Lol
I love this post! We are in the military so every 3 years there is a bathroom design dilemma. A future post I would like to see also would be bathroom ideas for builder grade oak cabinetry in bathrooms. Or kitchens. :} I dislike either but our last 2 houses have had them!
[email protected] says
I love how these retro bathrooms look with the black and white accents! It totally works! I’m still struggling with my master bathroom tile. I’ve removed the wallpaper, but I’m stuck on where to go next. I swear, I’m full of ideas for other spaces, but get stuck on my own! Maybe I need a fresh set of eyes – any ideas?
Some of my faves for sure!
[email protected] Stroll Thru Life says
How fun is this. I love the black and white with the different tiles. Looks very chic and updated.
I have a peach and black vintage bathroom and I actually love it. I totally agree with you on the black and white plan. I have the black and white shower curtain. I am DYING to put up the dog wallpaper – I’m madly in love with it – but my husband said it would give him a seizure :( he likes boring and plain when it comes to home decor and always busts my groove. I might just put it up one weekend when he’s out hunting.
Katherine @ Grass Stains says
Maybe you can find black-and-white dog wallpaper that features HUNTING dogs instead. ;-)
I picked up a copy of REFRESH today. What a great article and pics of your home!
Emily Clark says
Thanks! I’m dying to see it :)
Just bought the new Refresh and saw your great article!!
We have a vintage/original bathroom. Luckily ours is black/white tile so that was easy to work with. I actually painted the plaster walls black and used a black/white shower curtain. I was nervous about the black paint but I love it. It’s the only room that’s been the same since we moved in in 2006. Black and white art, white towels. I do hate that the previous owners “updated” the sink/vanity. It’s awful and I want to rip it out to install a pedestal sink but it seems as if the tile has been ruined behind the cabinet. Love this post!
Thank you, this was so helpful!
This really got me thinking about our bathroom, which has beige/off white tiles with even darker beige accent tiles and beige walls to match. Not sure the black and white scheme would work, but this has given me lots to think about!
I’m with Sarah (above), my hall bathroom has no window and has cookie cutter bland beige-y tile. (See link for example), so I find it difficult to do something unique design wise. I’m considering a bright red paint, but still not quite sure.
Rita Crane says
I just bought that shower curtain and I love it. Thank you for sharing, this post was relateable to me because our rental home has some vintage pieces that I can’t change. When God gives you lemons….you make the best darn lemonade you can! ;) xo
I love this post! We almost bought a house with a green tile bathroom, and I had thought it would be so fun to rescue it. = ) Not that I had these great ideas though. And I have that black and white shower curtain – for the first time ever I picked something right! = )
Heidi @ Decor & More says
Great post, Emily! Question: would you use black and white for that lovely 80’s almond colored tile? I’m thinking whites and creams?
Emily Clark says
I agree. There are lots of great black and cream accessories out there now. And, maybe go with brass accents?
LOVE! Got to be one of the best post I have ever seen. We had the pink one when I was a kid!
I love color. We have been house hunting and so many people have followed the flip shows and made everything gray. I don’t want to go through the hassle of renovating a house. I love the way you have brought these retro bathrooms into the present. I hope more flippers take notice. If the tile is in good shape, work with it.