9 ingenious ways to make your bathroom look expensive

With the average bathroom remodel tapping in at nearly $18,000, we wouldn’t blame you for throwing in the (bath) towel on retiling your loo in onyx and marble or installing a gold-plated claw-foot tub.

Luckily for all of us, it’s easier than ever to fake the fancy for a fraction of the cost of a complete renovation. We’ve consulted with design experts from coast to coast to cull their favorite bathroom decor ideas and tips for making a bathroom look luxe for less.


Tile diagonally (or to the ceiling)

Designer Carolyn Rebuffel of Workroom C recommends diagonal tiling versus tiling along the square in a vertical or horizontal line. This trick will not only make your bathroom look fancy, it’ll open up the space as well — crucial if you have a cramped loo.

“This will give a custom, bespoke feel to your bathroom,” she says.

Kevin Sawyers, the San Francisco–based founder of Sawyers Design, recommends fully covering a wall in tile — all the way to the ceiling — “to add lots of sparkle and dimension to an otherwise lifeless surface.”

“Material selections are very important, but how you use specific materials is paramount,” he says. “Adding tile to a small area doesn’t use the material to its best advantage.”

Tiling can be expensive if you use a pro — up to $2,000 depending on the size of your space — but this is a job you could tackle on your own if you’re an adventurous DIYer.


Add large-scale lighting

One of Rebuffel’s favorite tricks is to use large-scale light fixtures — specifically flush-mount chandeliers.

“These can make a big impact overhead, but won’t take up any of the room’s physical space,” she says. “Remember, space is your biggest luxury.”


Use plants (yes, really)

Fresh-looking plants in galvanized planters like these from Epitome Home help draw the eye up, making a small space appear larger, says interior designer Christina Harmon.

We know what you’re thinking: The bathroom might seem like the last place you’d want to store a living thing. But some plants actually thrive in the bathroom. Try aloe vera, Boston ferns and even orchids.


Indulge in classy containers

We’re not just talking about buying one of those bathroom accessory sets with the matching soap dispenser and toothbrush holder (although you should do that, too). We’re talking about rehoming all your drugstore toiletries throughout your bathrooms. Think: beautiful glass bottles or dispensers for your shampoo, body wash and lotion.

“This will make your space feel luxe, special and thought-out — especially if your toiletries are on the cheaper side,” says Harmon, who loves amber glass containers such as these from Amazon.


Punch up your towels

Look for towels with rich detail such as embroidered edges, ribbon trim and monogramming. Harmon also loves Turkish towels, which dry easily and have a luxe, light-weight feel.


Incorporate gold and metallic accents

One of the easiest bathroom decor ideas? Brass, that decor staple from the 1970s and ’80s, is back in a big way, according to Janet Ramin, who teaches the interior design course at the New York Institute of Art and Design. Add touches of it (or any other gold-toned metal) to infuse your bathroom with a bit of warmth and elegance.

But it’s important to use the right shade, “otherwise a space can look garish instead of great,” says San Francisco Bay Area designer Cecile Starin.

“The gold of yesteryear, which had a more greenish base, looks dated now,” Starin says. “But fixtures in brushed golds in sleek shapes look warmer, new, and fresh.”

Wondering how to get the look without ripping out everything and starting over? Try metallic accent pieces such as wastebaskets, soap dishes and other vanity products. They’ll offer the same effect without overwhelming your space (and are less expensive than new fixtures).


Add an unusual mirror

To really elevate your bathroom look, choose a (preferably large) mirror with an interesting or unique shape or finish such as gold, Moroccan or tortoiseshell.

“Scale can be leveraged to make a strong style statement, so adding an oversized mirror — especially extending all the way to the ceiling — will add visual space and drama,” says designer Sam Jernigan of Renaissance Design Consultations. Her suggestion: have the mirror cut to house a pair of surface-mount sconces.


Hang oversized art

One of the most popular bathroom ideas is a single oversized piece of artwork as a luxe wall decor option. Have a tiny bathroom? Even better. Big art will do wonders for that space, too.

“It’ll serve to visually anchor a smaller space,” Jernigan says. “The unexpectedness of seeing a 5-foot framed piece in a smallish room helps reinforce this idea of ‘borrowing’ inspiration from upmarket spaces.”

Just be sure the piece is appropriately framed to guard against moisture and steam damage.


Swap out your shower curtains

“If you use shower curtains instead of sliding doors for the tub, use real bedroom curtains rather than those meant for the bathroom,” Ramin says.

There’s a larger selection, and you can find silk or silk-like curtains to instantly up the luxe factor. Be sure to add an inexpensive fabric shower liner underneath. There’s your instant glam!

— Realtor.com