There are a few simple ways to give your bathroom a new look without a total overhaul – maybe you have moved into a new apartment and the bathroom is a bit utilitarian, and beyond a fresh coat of paint, you can easily introduce colour, smart storage solutions, personal artwork or even rugs to put your own mark on your bathroom.

Bathrooms can be tricky to get right at the best of times, but small bathrooms are worse, where space is at a premium. Often bathrooms feel unloved and cold because their very purpose needs water-friendly surfaces and bright lights, which all in turn translate into an unflattering chilly atmosphere.

Lighting, texture and colour are key points when revamping a bathroom, and adding in something of your own personality will help.


Lighting is obviously important in a bathroom, and it might be possible to add dimmer lights and warm-white bulbs throughout instead of a harsh bright light. And why not experiment with light at different heights – keep spotlights to a minimum and perhaps add low-level lighting that wash the floor with light for a change.

Mirrors give reflected light – go larger or go different with curved edges for contrast, or even framed mirrors in silver or gold to match your taps, or framed with wood or woven bamboo if you have neutral colours and textures you want to emphasise.

Dress up the ceramics with new taps - stylish options include polished chrome or copper, brushed nickel or bronze, and even brass or matte black. Just make sure to measure the existing holes to ensure they match up.


Different wall colours will create different moods. Pink is a nurturing colour that feels warm and cosy at night and fresh in the morning, and a soft pink combined with a muted green will have a calming effect.

Consider colour combinations that have a greater degree of contrast or even slightly clash - pink and mustard, or apple green and chocolate maybe.

Does blue look good in a bathroom? Yes, it does, even though your first thought might be ‘cold’, but blue pairs perfectly with so many other hues. Whether you're looking to create a bathroom that feels relaxed and beachy, opulent and feminine or modern, there's a way to use blue to achieve any look you want.

Go bold perhaps with graphic floral wallpaper, which works especially well in a small bathroom. A small space has a secret advantage - take the opportunity to use bold wallpaper that would overwhelm a larger room. A beach house themed bathroom could feature cheeky lobsters, but any favourite print will do.

If you can’t retile, make the tile grout pop with colour instead. Pick a sealer in a bold shade and apply it on top of your existing grout with a thin paintbrush.

Go for a chic look with black or take a more playful approach with a surprising shade of mint green, and perhaps a small investment in new towels to match will contribute to the décor, or pick bold or bright colours. They're easy to change when you're ready for something different.

Even a plain shower curtain can be jazzed up with a colourful curtain hung on the outside to pull your colours together.

Don’t forget that fresh plants do well in bathrooms, particularly ones that need humidity and perhaps don’t do so well out in the garden. Try a small potted orchid or asparagus fern in a corner - either will thrive in humidity - or reach new heights with a fiddle leaf fig.

A lush plant, a colourful rug, and unexpected window treatments make the bathroom feel as decorative as the rest of the house.


Bathroom storage is often difficult – everything gets lumped together under the sink, but if you have the space, adding a vintage wall cabinet, a chest of drawers or colourful baskets will go towards solving the problem.

Even a simple colour-matched vanity curtain can cover open spaces. Take cosmetics out of the medicine cabinet too and display them as décor on clear glass floating shelves, maybe even decant them into pretty glass bottles.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan