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How To Brighten Up A Dark Bathroom


One of my favorite spaces to design is a bathroom. I love the feel you can create in this space. I may even be one of the select few who look forward to checking out the ladies’ room when dining out at restaurants. I so appreciate fellow designers and how they can be so creative. They have such a gift of creating mood through design aesthetics.


Bathrooms that have been designed with hospitality in mind, such as restaurants and hotels, are a dream to walk into. The color scheme, materials and lighting are all carefully considered for our pleasure. Hospitality bathrooms are often dark and moody which is ideal to create a relaxed atmosphere, but in our homes we need our bathrooms to be both relaxing and practical. A dark bathroom won’t have proper lighting for daily maintenance.

In addition to brightening up a bathroom, I like to create a spa-like feel at home. There are multiple ways to do this depending on your budget.


For this bathroom we had a small budget to make some necessary changes, before the owner listed it for sale. We updated and renovated what we could and modified the rest. These are the before photos.


Fortunately, there was a window in this bathroom, but the dark dated shower tile made the room feel dark and heavy. With dark tiles the light from the window did not have an opportunity to bounce around the room and brighten it up.


We replaced all of the shower tiles with larger 12” x 24” tiles, for an updated sleek look. We chose a light color palette and added a neutral color tile inlay on the back of the shower for texture and interest. We also updated all of the shower fixtures with chrome, which helped with the light reflection and contemporary look.

Unfortunately, because we replaced all of the shower tile we were not able to reuse the existing shower glass (the depth of the tile changed and the glass was no longer wide enough), but we were able to put in brand new gorgeous frameless glass.


If frameless glass is in your budget, it is a great way to open up the room, it really makes a difference not having the obstruction of a solid frame. If your bathroom has a curtain rod, consider keeping the curtain light. A textured white shower curtain screams resort spa.

The majority of the budget needed to go to the shower and floor tile, so the vanity was untouched other than a few coats of white paint.


Fortunately, the countertop was neutral and we were able to tie in the creamy color with the shower tiles. Saving where we could, we kept the existing faucets and swapped out the light fixtures with chrome contemporary fixtures. (Pay no attention to the missing lightbulbs, long story...)

If I had an even smaller budget to work with on a project like this and could not do any renovating, I would have only painted the walls and the vanity white. For accessories, I would be sure to keep them light. Materials such as glass and reflective metals are best because they won’t appear heavy and take up visual space. I would keep all of the fabrics (towels, curtains, rugs) bright and white.


Regardless of your budget, there are ways to lighten up a dark bathroom. Allocate your budget to your must-haves and modify the rest with some of the easy tricks I mentioned. Light paint color, reflective materials, white fabrics and natural light are a good place to start.


I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if you’ve recently updated your bathroom and some of the ideas you came up with to brighten up your space.


Watch the video below to see the rest of the updating we did at this property. I love a before and after!

Castle Designs


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