It sounds strange, I know, but I love the look of my powder room.

It features navy grasscloth wallpaper, a crisp white chair rail, and beautiful brass fixtures—and it was entirely designed around a painting of a pink giraffe. It brings a smile to my face every day, and it’s a welcome change after more than 10 years of dashing in and out of dingy rental bathrooms. 

“In rentals, bathrooms are often the most neglected spaces,” says Alexandra Gater, a Toronto-based YouTuber and a highly talented DIYer. She has plenty of experience with apartments too, but she’s readily used their details as inspiration for budget-friendly fixes. Her popular channel includes the recent transformation of her bathroom, which was upgraded with a blush pink wall, open shelving, and hanging plants

“I love walking into a space that makes me feel confident,” she says. Luckily, a rental bathroom is primed for simple yet effective changes—and they can be accomplished without a ton of interior design experience. Here’s how Alexandra made it happen:

Ditch Mismatched Bottles

Decanting liquid products is, hands down, the easiest change you can make, Gater says. Instead of crowding plastic bottles of various shapes, sizes, and colors on your countertop, pour them into matching amber apothecary bottles. Put things you can’t decant, like makeup and deodorant, into a small basket or tray on a shelf. Just like that, you’ll have a spa-like vignette.

Add Stylish Artwork

“We don’t often think about putting artwork in the bathroom, but it’s a great place to put it,” she says. Artwork will not only add style to an otherwise empty wall, but it can also detract from any issues on it. After all, we all know rental walls that aren’t exactly ready for their closeup. Gallery-worthy pieces aren’t necessary, but a downloadable print in an inexpensive frame totally makes a statement. 

Play With Color

Because a bathroom is a small space, it lends itself well to taking chances. This is one room where you can go wild with pattern and color, Gater says, even if the rest of your living area is more low key. She likes the idea of an accent wall, which can either be done in an eye-popping shade or be more akin to her own muted blush. Either way, it’s much more appealing than a standard rental’s yellowish white.

(Sorta) Swap Out Your Tiles

Paint isn’t the only way to bring color to your space. In fact, Gater recommends adding a graphic peel-and-stick tile to the floor, which goes right over whatever is already in place. This option is more expensive, she says, but it can be a showstopper if you plan on staying put for a while. When you’re ready to move, the tiles can be removed without leaving any residue behind.

Brighten Up the Lighting

When Gater first moved into her current apartment, the bathroom light fixture was completely rusted out, so she replaced it with an inexpensive wall sconce from Ikea. Gater stashed the old fixture in a closet, and can swap it out again whenever she leaves—eliminating the need to get her landlord’s permission for the upgrade. “Though it costs a bit more, good lighting makes such a huge difference in a space,” she says.

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