10 inexpensive bathroom upgrades you can DIY with no costly or difficult installation needed

All it takes is a little DIY to give your bathroom an upgrade with these quick, simple, and inexpensive updates

A bathroom with white zellige tiles and gold plumbing fixtures
(Image credit: Bert & May / Sarah Southwell)

In case you hadn't noticed, bathroom renovations are costly. Gutting the entire space, installing new plumbing fixtures, and then re-tiling the room will leave you with such a hefty bill that you might be driven to re-mortgage the entire house (we wish we were joking). Luckily though, there are plenty of quick, simple, and inexpensive ways to give your bathroom an upgrade with a little DIY. 

That's because a lot of your bathroom features can be interchanged more easily than you might think, and many of them are renter-friendly, too. From switching up your showerhead to embracing peel-and-stick tiles, here are ten different ways to elevate a modern bathroom with no tricky (or costly) installation necessary. 

1. Upgrade your showerhead

Monochrome modern bathroom with white tiles and black fixtures and fittings

(Image credit: Christian Brailey \ Rider Stirland)

By far one of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your bathroom a mini-makeover is by switching up your showerhead. For most showers, these fixtures are really easy to interchange - whether you have an electric or thermostatic one - making it a great way to stay up to date with the latest trends. 

If your showerhead has accumulated limescale or is starting to look tired, switch it up with new brushed brass or matt black fittings for a contemporary look. If you want to go the extra mile for a spa-like space, a waterfall showerhead is the ultimate luxury.

Another budget buy for a spa-like shower that could really make a difference to your morning routine is an ionic showerhead, like this one from Amazon, or an aromatherapy shower filter for your daily dose of essential oils. 'We think of our filters as the Nespresso pod system on a showerhead,' says Brian Koh, founder of H201SHIFT showerheads. 'These essential oils are infused with skin-loving nutrients, which keep you hydrated and moisturized even after showering and they're also equipped with a water filter to trap harmful chemicals and pipe rust.'

2. Introduce some clever storage 

marble vanity unit

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

An organized bathroom that's free from clutter can make your space feel like new. Spend a day throwing out any cosmetic products you don't use that are visually cluttering your space and add some clever bathroom storage solutions to keep everything else out of sight. 

By far one of the best investments perfect for the job is a vanity cabinet complete with a mirror. Multifunctional items like these are a must-have in small spaces like bathrooms and powder rooms, helping to keep everything contained while also maximizing space. Find one that can fit your toothbrush and daily products like cleansers and moisturizers and your bathroom will instantly feel more spacious. 

3. Frost your glass

A window with ribbed frosted glass

(Image credit: Amazon)

Frosted glass is an essential for privacy, but if your bathroom isn't fitted with translucent windows, you can easily do it yourself with some adhesive vinyl. Not only does it give you the freedom to choose a frosted style for a fraction of the cost of new windows, but these peel-and-stick solutions are easily removed, making them renter-friendly. 

Besides bathroom windows, you can also use these frosted films to give furniture a new look, too. Hannah Crosskey, home renovator at @nosixtyeight, used adhesive vinyl with a reeded effect on the windows of her vanity cabinet doors. 'I used it for my beauty products but they just looked really messy through the windows,' she says. 'Rather than paying out for new glass, I used reeded film instead. It's sticky on one side so you just spray it with water to activate the adhesive, then apply it.' 

4. Mix up your hardware 

A modern bathroom with a black vanity and black towel rink

(Image credit: Britton Bathrooms)

We often forget how easy it is to switch up our hardware. After living with the same door handles, cabinet pulls, towel rails, and toilet roll holders for so long, they become part of the furniture (quite literally) and we end up overlooking how much they contribute to our design. 

If you want to give your bathroom a more cohesive feel, consider buying into matching hardware sets, or at least ensure they all have the same finish. For example, if you have a brass towel rail but silver door knobs, opting for just one will give your bathroom a more put-together look. You could also go a step further and install new knobs or handles to your existing cabinetry for a simple upgrade. 

We often just settle for the basic fittings we inherited with our home, so make your own mark on your space by choosing quirky hardware choices that reflect your personality. We love this super cute vintage-themed hardware set from Bed, Bath, and Beyond

5. Switch up your backsplash with a peel and stick tile

Katuba blue stone

(Image credit: Cullifords)

Vinyl earned itself a bit of a bad name in the 80s and 90s, but we've come a long way from the cheap-looking tiles of those bygone days. Cheap, easy to install, and renter-friendly, vinyl tiles are a great way to elevate your space, and they look convincingly authentic these days, too. There are plenty of peel-and-stick options out there that make an excellent way to dress up your bathroom backsplash or even reinvent your bathroom flooring if you're feeling brave. 

6. Change your taps 

A bathroom with a brass tap

(Image credit: Kingston Lafferty Design)

Fitting a new bathroom faucet is usually easy enough to DIY, as long as no new plumbing is involved and they're not mounted to the wall. While this job is easiest to carry out on the bathroom sink, switching up your taps offers you a myriad of ways to play around with your bathroom scheme, whether you want a more contemporary look or a vintagey-feel. It's also one of the most effective upgrades if your taps are limescaled or looking worse for wear. 

7. Add LED light strips under your mirror 

A bathroom with LED lights behind the mirror

(Image credit: The Stylesmiths. photo credit Fiona Susanto)

Looking for a luxe, spa bathroom aesthetic? Light up mirrors and vanities are the best way to give your space a Hollywood-style treatment. The best part is, you don't need to splash out on a new mirror either, so it costs next to nothing. 

Those sticky LED strips you've seen all over Instagram aren't just for teens to deck their bedrooms in neon - you can use them below a mirror for a backlit effect or around the edge of a mirror for an elegant framing effect. You could even go beyond your mirror and use them under the countertop of your bathroom vanity for an ultra-luxe backlit theme. 

8. Neatly display your clean towels 

a small bathroom with a mirror over the window

(Image credit: Jessie Preza. Design: Kipling House)

It's the little things in life that make all the difference in our everyday lives. Treat yourself and your guests to clean towels and thoughtfully display them if you want to be met with a little taste of luxury each morning. First, find a way to store your towels that suits you - this might mean rolling them, folding and stacking, or creating a neat pocket. 

Next, decide how you want to store them. Perhaps there's an unused shelve below your vanity perfect for the job, or maybe you want to buy some wicker storage baskets, like these ones from Target, to keep your best bath towels contained. Wall-mounted towel holders are also great for maximizing floor space while offering a neat place for rolled-up towels to reside. 

'This gives a clean, uniform, and sophisticated visual to your bathroom,' says Michael Miller of Old Fashioned Bathrooms 'You can then color coordinate your towels for a complete look.'

9. Buy a glass soap dispenser 

a shower room with large format floor tiles

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

One of the oldest tricks in the book that's loved by designers worldwide is a simple glass soap dispenser to upgrade your space. Let's face it, disposable plastic hand soaps and a cluster of shower gels is a total eyesore that detracts from the rest of your design. 

For an organized bathroom with a hint of luxury, invest in some glass dispensers (we love the look of amber glass best) and decant your shower gels and soaps into them. If you have a small bathroom, it's also worth buying some simple hardware to mount the dispensers to the wall to maximize space. It's tiny details like this that really raise the game.

10. Add a plant

a dark green bathroom

(Image credit: Workstead)

Last but not least, never underestimate the power of plants. Look up the best houseplants for bathrooms (humidity-loving plants will thrive in this steamy spot!) and add one to your bathroom to add a touch of greenery that instantly elevates your space. 

A peace lily in the corner or a Boston fern hung from a ceiling hook will turn your bathroom into a green oasis while also keeping your air fresh and clean - all you need to do is buy it and they'll do the rest of the work for you! Upgrading your bathroom really doesn't get more simple than that. 

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.