A Ho-hum NYC Bathroom

bathfeaturedimage99.99% of the time, renting an apartment in New York City means dealing with a really ugly bathroom. The problem with ugly bathrooms is they are really hard to cover up (short of re-tiling and replacing every fixture in the space).  I recently tackled my own NYC bathroom (pastel yellow tiles and all), and came away with a few tips to pass along that I think may help at least a few of my fellow renters. Here’s my bathroom (which I believe was probably last renovated in the 70’s) when I first moved in:bathroombeforeFor me, the key to turning this bathroom from complete eye-sore into a space I didn’t cringe at every time I walked through the door was white. Everything from the towels to the shower curtain to the bath mats had to be white. I think that in bathrooms, white always looks the most luxe (how many fancy hotels have you been to with colored bath towels?). White is also the best option when you are working with colored tile. Don’t try and match or compliment ugly tile–it just doesn’t work! Here’s how my bathroom looks after little strategic styling: ???Everything I did to help “update” this bathroom was completely cosmetic. Where I could, I tried to create soothing vignettes to distract from the old grout job and the massive amount of pale yellow tile. Below, I like to keep the sink as clean and simple as possible. When guests come over I always replace my toothbrush cup for a nice bottle of hand soap. bath3
Add some green into your bathroom; whether it’s a small vase of flowers or a potted plant, putting something living in this horribly dated space helps. On the windowsill (below), I keep a small potted fern, a favorite Dyptique candle, a pretty vessel to keep lotions, and a slim tray for stacking wash cloths. One of the keys to making any bathroom look a little more sophisticated is to contain your bath products in pretty vessels. This way everything stays organized, but looks pretty too. bath7A small vintage tray holds shower essentials. And no, the color-coded products are not an accident (wink). bath4I’m a proponent of buying the best quality towels you can afford, even if it means buying just two. These Yves Delorme hand towels are so luxurious and plush. bath5My mom gave me a set of four framed, vintage House & Garden magazine covers when I moved into my first apartment. At one time they hung above my bed in a square grid. Now I have three of them on the biggest wall of the bathroom and the fourth next to the sink. Something that is pretty and simple and that doesn’t compete with the pale yellow tiles helps pull this space together. bath2So, how do you make your ugly bathroom feel prettier?
(Photos by Matt McGrath)

  • TheLittleBlackDoor

    What a difference, and for zero reno bucks! It feels so fresh, I love it!

  • Lizzie

    Love!!!! what a transformation

  • Tiffany Leigh

    Loving it! You did an amazing job :). The yellow almost looks purposeful now. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Kelly

    Nice Job!

  • Anne {Almost Home}

    I love this–great tips! It’s so nice to see a real-life space with very practical, realistic ideas. And for the record–I’d much rather have to work with a space like this than the horribly planned and designed circa early 1990’s bathroom I’m probably going to be faced with once we move to Northern CA!

  • LindsB

    Right now I’m working with a similar bathroom, except my tile is pink. I’m in the process of stenciling black polkadots on the walls which I think move the eye up to the ceiling and not at the gross floor. But its sitll not finished, so fingers crossed it looks good complete.

  • donnarino

    I actually like the tiles. Black, pale yellow and white looks chic.

  • Katherine A.

    I like to use a duri or an oriental rug instead of a traditional bath mat. Duri’s look better the more faded they get, both (one slightly more hip, the other slightly more classic) give the bathroom a bit of richness and add importance.