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Colour Rescue: Simple Fixes for Your Dated Bathroom

By 10/26/2023November 13th, 202314 Comments

So you have a tired bathroom but you’re ignoring it because it’s not time to renovate yet. Today I’m flipping the script to help you see a dated bathroom as an opportunity to get curious and playful with colour and decorating.

Because if it’s just blah right now, what do you have to lose?

In this week’s Colour Rescue, I’m sharing ideas for creating some joy in neglected, dated bathrooms using colour and styling.

When you have a dated bathroom that needs some love, this is exactly when you can ignore what’s timeless and get creative.

Iris Apfel Ecclectic

Iris Apfel

Colour to the rescue

When a space is lacking charm and detail, it’s too easy to close the door and sigh, “one day”. But let’s be honest, you may have to put up with this bathroom for 5 or 10 years more, why not make it fun!

Too often my timeless advice is misinterpreted as meaning top to bottom “safe” or “correct”.

To be clear, I do think the best options for tile and flooring in bathrooms are limited. Quiet white or cream.. the end.

But the goal is to create a flexible backdrop so that the colour, walls, and details CAN be creative. 

But when you have a bathroom that’s already past its expiry date, and with less than perfect finishes, you might as well get eclectic with colour and fun details.

Ok, this bathroom below has a perfect white countertop but I love the playful spirit of it. 

Go bold with colour

Wall Street Journal

If you have a dated bathroom with some drab or wonky finishes, this is when you need to get creative. Like in this amazingly creative bathroom below. It’s a small bathroom with no window so she went bold with colour, really well done. 

Updating a dated bathroom with colour

Jeweled Interiors

Over on my Youtube channel I’ll show you how I’d add more colour to this bathroom below. 

This bathroom need colour

Get curious

Bathrooms are compact spaces where it’s only one can of paint, a shower curtain, a small inexpensive rug. Some art and styling. It’s not a huge commitment if you draw outside the lines in a small space. You could end up with something that gives you joy, not to mention the satisfaction of creating something beautiful.

And if it doesn’t work out, chalk it up to learning and try again. 

Why busy wall tile is so limiting

One of the biggest limiting elements in a bathroom is when tile that is not solid white or cream is run up the wall onto eye level. That’s when you’ll need to pull the colour palette right from the tile like the first bathroom we’ll look at below. (Because the purple is clearly NOT working).

Then we’ll look at a couple bathrooms where adding in some charming details and COLOUR is the answer.

Styling makes all the difference

Willey Design

Finally, I’ll show you an unusual bathroom with some existing bold tile and some ideas to with its retro potential.

4 Simple Fixes for Dated Bathrooms

So get curious with what you can do with your less than fabulous bathroom and get some inspiration from this week’s Colour Rescue here!

If you would like my ideas for your specific bathroom that isn’t slated for a renovation, but you’d like to make it look its best in the mean time, check out my new Bathroom Refresh eDesign package here. 

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  • TC says:

    Hi Maira,
    Thanks for the video! I have a question about the pink beige bathroom. Wouldn’t a blue paint color highlight the pink beige tile and make it more obvious? I have been following you for a few years and I thought the correct paint color would be a pink beige neutral to blend with the tile. Can you give more explanation on this?

    • TC says:

      Oops! Autocorrect messed up your name! Maria 😀

    • Maria Killam says:

      If there was a lot of pink beige tile on the wall then blue would look bad but in this case it was all on the floor and pink beige looks great with most shades of blue. Good question, Maria

  • Margaret says:

    I like a bathroom that creates a calm, soothing environment, especially if it’s a small bathroom and the only one. For me, the Willey Design above with the soft wall color and elegant bamboo-inspired accents is perfect.

  • Les says:

    In the Jeweled Interiors designed bathroom, the shower tile was painted the same color as the wallpaper background. If you look closely, it had one of the offending contrast accent tile stripes that disappeared when it was all painted the same lovely shade of blue. The fabric shower curtain is also fabulous and disguises any dated shower fixtures which can be expensive to replace. Thank you for a great post!

    • Les says:

      It is also possible that the horizontal stripe was the edging tile where the original tile stopped. They could have added the same size square tile up to the ceiling and then painting it all the same blue shade to disguise old vs new.

  • Bette says:

    I appreciate this video! I like hearing designers say that you don’t necessarily need to spend money to completely renovate, but can live with and enjoy what you have — with tweaks.

  • Maggie S says:


    LOVE these Color Rescue videos!! I have been following you from almost the beginning and these are even more helpful than all your great posts!! Because you are working with real problems and showing how “small fixes” can change everything, it is bringing approachable solutions that feel within reach for the average person!

  • Stacy says:

    I bought a house with busy green gray tile on the floor and in the shower and around the tub. I painted it Agreeable Gray, and it blends in with the tile so that I don’t notice the tile now. I also replaced the doors on the gray vanity (it was laminate) and then painted the whole thing navy. I replaced the black/gray granite countertop that didn’t match with a quartz that has a light green gray background with some darker gray veining. I framed the mirror (since it was not centered under the light), installed new light fixtures, and I just hung a stagecoach shade in white linen with navy ties. My bathroom honestly looks like a hotel bathroom now. I would never choose that tile or that vanity, but I made it work because I was not going to redo a 3 year old bathroom. I really hate that laminate cabinets are considered an upgrade today because you can’t paint the doors. You have to replace the doors, which is an additional expense.

  • Sue M says:

    Thank you for the video! I also have a small bathroom with no window and tile to the ceiling, very similar to the one in the video. My bathroom is all bone, including tiles, vanity, tub and toilet. The toilet needs to be replaced and I am tempted to replace it with white and change the countertop to a mix of white and beige. I was wondering if that would be a mistake or if I should stick with another beige/bone toilet. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Lisa W says:

    Maria, I enjoy you and your content so much BUT I detest being forced to YouTube for content. I spend half my life in zoom meetings. I don’t want something that feels like yet another zoom meeting. I want to read! I read fast. Watching video is slow. If I an interrupted I don’t want to start a video again. Please provide alternatives.

  • Beth says:

    Great video and ideas!
    What do you suggest for a northwoods (MN) cabin bathroom where the walls are knotty pine? Having difficulty picking out a mirror (frameless, brass, black rimmed?) and such that don’t look too rustic nor too modern.
    (There’s a white toilet and white sink with a chrome faucet atop a pine vanity that’ll eventually have a curtain made in a colored pattern.)

  • Anne-Marie says:

    I love the work-wth-what-you-have approach. Our main bathroom came with deep purple walls, hideous floor tile used for the shower surround, and (of course) accent tile. I found a shower curtain in a fun print that combined the purple with shades of turquoise and bright green. We keep the shower curtain closed to hide the tile, hang green towels, and the room looks coordinated and intentional.

  • Ginger Anzelone says:

    I look at your beautiful design choices & look around my house for ways to improve the color scheme.

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