gold line svg


Ask The Audience: Help Julie Design A Quick And Colorful Rental Bathroom Refresh


Hi all, and welcome back into my teeny tiny bathroom for one! A little over a month ago a few of us on the team walked you through our rental bathrooms and shared our hopes/dreams of how to spruce them up for the better. Unbeknown to us (Ryann, Caitlin, & myself), Jess decided to announce in the post that she wanted to challenge all of us to get them done in 2 months. I gladly accepted this deadline cause I personally work better under pressure. Let’s just say I perfected pulling an all-nighter in design school. So ladies, how are yours coming along? I know that Caitlin has wallpaper on the way and Jess shared a very beautiful custom piece with us on our Zoom call yesterday. All I can say is that it involves more of that beautiful wood incorporated in the rest of her apartment and it’s a real good hack that I think many of you have agonized over in your own rentals. I’ve had a few items arrive like a huge half-circle vintage mirror, a vintage french towel rack and a hanging planter but there are some last-minute but big design decisions to be made and I am soooo torn. Here is where you all come into the equation, today I am hoping you’ll weigh in and just tell this Libra which direction to move forward in. 🙂

As a little reminder here is the beige box that I am working with…

WOW. I apologize for all the many, many notes of the things I want to change and this is only a mini refresh, imagine if I was doing a full renovation. Yikes! Actually, it would probably have just a big ‘X’ over everything with the exception of the window and door trim since I am quite partial to those. Let’s talk about the initial ideas I had for the space. First off, I am not planning on swapping out any of the hard fixtures. This includes the faucet, toilet paper holder, mirror, and even the vanity hardware. That last one is mainly cause I can’t remove them without ripping apart the vanity since there is a piece of wood covering the screws. I am however wanting to replace my yellowing (ewwww) plus kind of broken toilet seat cover with a beautiful new wood one. When Jess shared this bathroom trend idea, I just knew I had to have one in my life.

For the past 8 months, I was searching for a large vintage mirror to overlap that builder grade one to add some interest to it since it spans the entire wall. I finally found it and it arrived the other week but like the excellent procrastinator that I am, it currently lives under my bed. I like to tell myself, “Why should I hang it before I add temporary wallpaper or implement my paint design idea?” but in reality, it’s cause it weighs a ton and I am nervous to install it into my brittle stucco walls. Short Rant: They truly are the worst walls and make the littlest of tasks so difficult. I went to hang a piece of art with a small nail the other day and I kid you not, when I hit it softly with the hammer for the third time it sounded like half my wall crumbled behind it. Coooool. So, hanging the mirror is a bit terrifying but eventually I will gain the courage (probably after a drink or two) to see if it stays up on the wall.

Rant over.

The rest of the design refresh includes a mini medicine cabinet DIY, picking out a paint color (your choices are dark or light purple, yes purple), adding a new towel rack, some solution for storage, and styling it out.

On the other side, we have this beautiful (kidding) shower surround courtesy of circa the 1970s I assume. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but in person it looks pastel peach with some streaks of coral, it could be worse but also it could be better. For instance, a classic simple subway tile like on the front of the tub. Why didn’t they put it all over?? But I get that it being a rental would make it very hard to clean or expensive to replace over the years.

So, what has inspired the mood board you are about to weigh in on? Well, none of them are a bathroom that is for sure.

image source | image source | image source

Initially, I wanted my bathroom to carry over the “old man library” aesthetic of my bedroom and was so inspired by the three images above but then I saw this photo from Angela Wator’s Instagram

image source

That purple and coral color combo stopped my scrolling thumb amongst the sea of neutral. I think I’ve mentioned it before but the right shades of purple and I have been friends since high school when I painted my 12′ x 20′ attic bedroom floor to ceiling in purple. Arlyn wrote about the purple comeback almost two years ago and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down yet.

Two weeks ago I decided to give our members on EHD Insider Community a sneak peek at my two mood boards that I have been working on for the past month. My hope was that it would help me decide once and for all which direction to go but they too seemed pretty torn between the two design plans.

One of the options had more items and therefore felt a little stronger so to make it fair (Libra) I’ve updated them to include all the same stuff.

Without further adieu, let me introduce you to Option One:

Shower Curtain | Hanging Planter | Light Fixture | Wallpaper | Trim Color | Peel & Stick Tiles | Basket | Rust Mat | Wood Toilet Seat | Reed Diffuser | Towel

Option One was designed by drawing on the elements from the first round of inspiration photos. There is pattern, there is a lot of color (maybe too much), it’s a bit moodier and definitely has that “old man library” feel but like his wife came in and for sure put up that shower curtain.

My design heart was set on this plan until I thought of two things. The first is that it might be a lot for a tiny bathroom where I try to relax as I get ready for my day in the mornings and take my baths to again relax at night. And two, the temporary wallpaper in yellow did not look great next to my shower surround.

Here’s the proof…

I was afraid that it would accentuate the shower surround and make it look more dated than it already did. What I needed was a contrasting color…purple, lilac to be exact.

That brings us to Option Two which incorporates a lot of the same elements but is more tonal (read: relaxing) but my question to you is, is it too safe?

Shower Curtain | Hanging Planter | Light Fixture | Wallpaper | Trim Color | Basket | Rust Mat | Wood Toilet Seat | Reed Diffuser | Towel

In this option, I am deciding to forego the peel & stick floor tiles. It’s kind of a relief in a way since I am not sure how much longer I will be in this apartment and it seems very time consuming to put them down just to spend hours removing them in maybe less than a year. I do love the ones that I had found so I hope Ryann uses the black colorway in her own rental bathroom. Do it, Ryann! And, if you are wondering what that wood frame is for, that’s the mini medicine cabinet DIY. I am making a simple wood frame with cheap hobby board to cover up the chrome and calling it a day.

Alright! Now is the time to cast your votes below. 🙂 Do I go with the more bold Option One? Or the lilac and rust color combo of Option Two? You decide so I don’t have to, please and thank you! Talk to you all soon xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Makeover Takeover: Julie’s HUGE (and DIY packed) Bedroom Upgrade

Fin Mark


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Comments are closed.
newest oldest most voted
Notify of



2! There’s still a lot going on for a small space.


My heart says 1 because I love a bolder look at that shower curtain is gorgeous.

But for the space, your timeline, and ease since you aren’t there to stay, 100% go with 1!


Option 1! Go bold – it’s a rental and like you said, you may not be there long. So if it’s too energizing/busy instead of relaxing, it’s not forever. Plus I’m just obsessed with that light fixture and shower curtain 😍


1! 1! 1!


Option 1 !


2! Love the purple!


I like everything in option 1 except the paint color. Small bathrooms are not fun to paint and having to repaint a dark purple back to a neutral when you move is not going to be much fun. Or maybe you could just do one wall?

yesssssssssssss! that angela wator room picture stopped me dead in my tracks too when I saw it on AT. that’s my jam, my coral and purple jam! option 2 for sure. also, where is that option 2 shower curtain from?


When I was in middle school my mom redid my small bathroom in bright colors and the trauma is still with me 20 years later 😉 so I vote for option 2! But with the light from option 1?


That wooden toilet seat went out of vogue many years ago. For good reasons: germs and the finishes held up poorly. Ewww.

Inês Seabra

I installed one from ikea on a rental I lived in for 9 years and when we left the house it look like new. The wood sealer held up pretty good all the cleaning with toilet disinfectant (never used any special treatment).


I agree. I have 2 young sons. When we bought our last house there was a wood toilet seat in their bathroom. That was the first thing I replaced in the house.



Meghan Terry



1 easy


1 easy!




Just remember whatever paint color you put on the wall in a small bathroom is definitely going to reflect back at you when you’re looking in the mirror. I once lived with a roommate who painted the bathroom a fun green color (I know). While it was a pretty color, it made me look horrible when i looked in the mirror and tried to do my makeup. I looked sick. I kind of feel like that lavender color will do the same.

Cris S.

Yes yes yes to this issue! Our family room was a cute apple green and our sofa was the popular late 90s/early 00s sage from Crate & Barrel. And now all my kids’ pictures have a gross green tinge to them – especially skin tones.


I’ve needed to paint my sage/mint green bathroom forever because of this. Testing colors behind your mirror reflection is so necessary! More designers should remind us of that.


I do my makeup next to the window in my bedroom. Much better lighting-wise, and then my nice makeup and perfume isn’t constantly exposed to heat and humidity!


Love them both for different reasons but 2 is my favorite.


Option 2! Love it, can’t wait to see the finished bathroom


No. 2. Airier looking, especially the light fixture. Plus, that mustard color in the shower curtain, together with the dark paint, would make your skin look sallow and undereye bags (not that you have any!) would darken…not a look that I would want first thing in the morning 😉


The 1s and 2s don’t match between the mini mood board higher in the post and the descriptions below! No criticism! But could impact the voting.

Elizabeth Reynoso

Option 2!


I’m torn. Love them both. I think I would get both shower curtains and alternate depending on my mood and the season, leave the floor as is, and use the light fixture in #1.

Your color aesthetic is so exciting and it’s not surprising that Heidi Callier is represented in your inspiration board. She is the queen of “old man library and his wife” look ( I don’t think she calls it that! Lol)

Just a quick question – where exactly are the paint and wallpaper going in the room?




Option 1, go big! Why not? I think the light fixture sent me over for option 1.

Both designs are gorgeous, so I can’t wait to see.


What is the light fixture in #1? ( The blue one)


I think it’s the Alabax fixture from Schoolhouse.


I like both but leaning towards 2 with light fixture from 1. Advice is to look up monkey hooks or gorilla hooks. I use them in my plaster walls to hang heavy things and they work great! Good luck


I work in a frame store and art gallery and I love those monkey hooks!


I always feel decision paralysis as a renter, especially when it comes to spending money on updating fixtures that I don’t know if I’ll use again/will translate in a future home. The idea of creating a design for a room and buying lots of new stuff is so hard when I know I have no equity in that home. I’d love to learn more about budgets for these types of projects. And does this blog cover some of the costs of your new things since it’s for a blog post? Just curious because that’s honestly my biggest hurdle with rental home projects. My rental house looks more or less like it did when I moved in, except with all my stuff I already had and a little bit of paint.

All that to say, #2 is my vote for sure.


Option 2 for sure! I don’t think anything about it will feel too safe once it’s to scale in your bathroom. ❤️


Absolutely #2!


Option #1! And I would probably forego the peel ‘n stick floor tiles, if you plan on moving fairly soon, and just get a nice rug.


We had a bold purple bathroom for years, and went back to white and calming recently. When you stumble in in the morning, a little calm is nice. #2.


No 2 is deffo the ‘ol lady library bathroom to your old man library bedroom, it’s gorgeous and I love it. And at the same time I also prefer the shape of the light in option 1. Can’t wait to see the finished look!


Option 2!

Alyssa Buckley

I Love #2!

Oh man I love them both. But I think I lean towards option 2 – love that shower curtain!




Option 1!


2 with the shower curtain from #1 🙂


I vote option 2, but with the shower curtain and light from option 1. It would have some bold elements, but also some quiet moments. Option 1 feels like too many competing “moments” in such a small space.


No 2. However, I second the comments for the reflection in the mirror. Not sure either ones are a good match for most complexions… purple makes the green tint come out. So you’ll find that your skin might look more green/olive (if you’re fairer). Not sure how it would come out if you’re darker skinned or black. But then, in that case, dark walls might not give you good enough contrast or light reflexion…




Option 2 for ease. But do we get sources for that amazing shower curtain and light fixture in Option 1?


2! Lilac and rust! Maybe you can bold it up a smidge with a floral shower curtain but more calm than in option 1. Love the lilac and rust though! That’s my current color scheme for my living room makeover. <3

Sonia Quinones

Definitely #2. In fact, I just went I bought the exact same shower curtain from Urban Outfitters cause I liked it so much.


My vote is for option #2!! I love the more tonal vibes, especially for such a small space. 🙂

Debi Juckett

I vote #1… pretty!!!


Go bold! It’s so so fun!!!




Option 1. So much bolder but still relaxing and that shower curtain is AMAZING. But, maybe skip the wallpaper and just paint everywhere. And keep the floor tiles. So great.

Go To Top