Three years after moving into her family’s Raleigh, North Carolina home, artist and interior stylist Ashley Whiteside was officially ready to upgrade her main bathroom. “The space was inoffensive but very builder-basic,” she explains. “When we'd moved in, we'd painted the walls and done absolutely nothing else—it was time to bring some joy and functionality to the space.”
Since the house was only about a decade old, Ashley says there was no need for much more than cosmetic upgrades. “I began by painting the trim, doors, and vanity, then added wallpaper, new medicine cabinet mirrors, lighting, faucets, and bathroom hardware,” she explains. “In doing so, we added character and interest to the room while making it more efficient.”
Curious how you can revamp your bathroom without breaking the bank? We asked Ashely to share some of her favorite budget-friendly ideas for remodeling a bathroom and this is what she had to say.
1. Apply low-contrast wallpaper.
To help brighten up the dim bathroom without relying on traditional white paint, Ashley dressed up the walls with a neutral-toned toile wallpaper. “I challenged myself to work with more neutrals, and the wallpaper was the jumping off point for the design direction of the bathroom,” she explains. “The low-contrast pattern features multiple shades of white and cream, with some pearlescent touches, that complement the builder-grade beige square floor tile that wasn’t in the budget to replace.”
2. Create contrast with trim paint.
To play up the neutral hues of the wallpaper, Ashley painted the door, window and wall trims in Grayish, a soft airy gray with obvious green undertones. “In use, the color feels light but grounded,” she explains. “Intriguing, but without being too bold.” She says she opted to keep the architectural moldings of the door white to create a pop of contrast that added a dash of vintage drama to the space. “I often paint things the same color to hide offenses, but in this case, I wanted the small space to look elevated and storied,” she explains.
3. Update dated fixtures.
To ensure the space felt sophisticated without spending an arm and a leg, Ashley swapped out the boring builder-grade sink fixtures with brand-new chrome-finished ones and replaced the vanity lights above the sink. “These lights were originally white and gold, but I thought their presence was best incorporated into the room as a shape, and not as colors,” she explains. “I spray-painted them taupe to create a subtle contrast against the wallpaper.”
4. Incorporate eye-catching decor accents.
To modernize the space without creating unnecessary visual clutter, Ashley employed a pair of shapely arched vanity mirrors above the sink and hung an eye-catching green-checked hand towel between them. “Going with a modern mirror shape with an almost-invisible frame was a very effective way to modernize the whole space, while the contrasting hand towel pattern helps make the toile wallpaper feel less traditional.”
5. Add texture wherever you can.
A little texture can go a long way in when remodeling a bathroom on a budget, which is why Ashley says she incorporated several organic elements into the decor scheme. “Adding texture to a space is a great way to make it feel elevated yet approachable when you’re on a budget,” she explains. “The wooden knobs, vintage vase, and Monstera plant add an organic touch to the bathroom, and remind you that the space is meant to be lived in.”
Looking for more bathroom inspiration? Check out: The best bathroom paint colors (and how to use them)