• Ashley Perssico

Drab to Dreamy: Decorating Tips for Small Bathrooms

Ok, let me start by saying that I am ruined forever. I will never, ever live in a house with only one toilet ever again.

My childhood home only had one bathroom, as did my first adult apartment. However, our new place has two full bathrooms and one half bath. It's an absolute dream. Sure, I don't really love having to clean three toilets (especially when we have hard water) but knowing that there will never be a time when I have to wait to use the bathroom is amazing, especially for an emetophobe like me!

Anyway! Today, I wanted to share our half bath because, while our master bath is technically my favorite (shout out to the sheer magic of his and hers sinks!), it's my favorite of the three in terms of decor.

My boyfriend, Alex, and I rent our place. It's a sweet three-floor townhouse and every day I wake up wondering if we really live here. But, because we rent, we are at the will of our landlord. That includes coming to terms with the wall colors, which were chosen by the former owner. Luckily, this half bath — and most of the other walls in our place, actually — is a beautiful light green that I am in love with. Since we didn't paint it ourselves, I can't be sure what the exact color is but it seems awfully similar to Pale Pine by Glidden.

The second I saw this bathroom, I knew that I wanted to play on that pale sage color palette. That meant lots of dark greens, white, silvers, and dark wood to match the vanity. But before I jump into what it looks like now… here's what it looked like when we moved in:

An empty bathroom
Can we say booooooringggggg?! Also, shame on the previous owner for the backwards toilet paper roll!

The walls were just too empty. It felt like we were living in a hotel. From the second we moved in, I had been compulsively checking Pinterest for ideas on how to make this room come to life and a lot of the half bath decor I saw had shelves above the toilet. I loved the idea and immediately snagged these brown floating shelves from Target. I was planning on hanging them directly above one another, but they look so much better offset. I think it tricks you into thinking the area is bigger than it is, too.

Two floating shelves are above the toilet, with decor on each shelf and a towel ring shown to the left

Next, it was time to figure out what would go on the shelves. I knew I wanted some greenery but I'm also terrible with keeping plants alive — plus, this bathroom has zero natural light — so I opted for a couple of fakes. The vase on the shelf was a wonderful $1 find in the Target clearance section which I filled with some faux greenery I found (also on clearance) at Michaels. The fake plant on our countertop (shown in the photos below) was a Bullseye's Playground (aka that mecca of wonderful $1-$3 items at the front of Target) grab, which was in a cheap looking tin pot. I promptly put said pot into another Bullseye's Playground pot that better matched the room and voila — the perfect potted plant.

Now here's an important tip for small space decorating: when you're dressing up a half bath, things that would normally take up precious cabinet space can be put on display instead as long as you make them cute. Cotton swabs in small glass jars are a perfect example.

Next, I felt like I wanted our personalities to come through in every room of our place. And yes, that includes the bathroom. I decided to make a quick and easy print that reads "get naked... just kidding. this is a half bath, don't make it weird." and placed it in a frame I found at our local Savers. So far, everyone who has visited our house has gotten a great kick out of it and it makes me smile every time I go in there.

(If you want to print one for your own bathroom, check out this super affordable digital download on my Etsy shop!)

What kind of bathroom is it if there aren't any candles? While Alex is a Yankee Candle junkie, I opted for a small Home Scents Chesapeake Bay Candle that I picked up at Target. Yes, the fact that the lid matches the shelves may have had something to do with it.

A close-up of a mahogany shelf with matching photo frame on it, with a print that reads "get naked just kidding this is a half bath don't make it weird" and a small white candle beside it

Now for a confession: I love when bathrooms put the toilet paper on display. I think it's a mix between loving the white color against the walls but also knowing how comforting it is when you're using the bathroom at a friend's house and the replacement toilet paper is easily accessible for those cases where someone leaves you with only a square, or worse… none at all. For our TP stash, I chose a wired basket from Joann's where we just pile it high!

Not only do we have a basketful of TP on display, we also have an adorable cast iron yoga cat holder as well! My uncle bought it for me for Christmas last year and it is just so cute. I think it's actually supposed to be a paper towel holder but it just looks too sweet in our bathroom!

Outside of the get naked sign, the second most commented on item in our half bath is definitely the word search. I had discovered this idea on Pinterest, then found a perfect pre-made one on Etsy, but this impatient DIYer wanted it right away… so I made my own. I bought a framed chalkboard from the clearance section of Michaels, used glue to attach scrapbook paper, then meticulously wrote each letter onto the paper with a fine tip Sharpie. Is it perfect? No. Was it cheap? Yes. Do I love it regardless? Also yes.

As for the nitty gritty details, I dressed up our countertop with Threshold brand Medium Acacia bath accessories, including the soap pump and a soap dish that I decided to fill with decorative rocks and small tea light candles.

Finally, the bath towel and hand towel are both Threshold brand from Target in the color sage. I seriously love this color, it just fits perfectly.

Voila! Our dreamy green half bath. It's crazy what just a few small touches can do to make a rental feel like a home.

Small space decorating tips to keep in mind:

  1. When possible, put items on display instead of taking up storage space. Things like toilet paper and cotton swabs look great on shelves and even make it easier for guests to find these necessities. Mason jars are a huge help!

  2. High hanging shelves make use of critical wall space and also look amazing! The higher, the better. After all, this will draw guests' attention upward and create the illusion of a bigger room.

  3. Small things, like a toilet paper holder, can make all the difference. If you want to jazz up your bathroom, consider taking the wall holder off and replacing it with a standing tp holder instead. Instant fanciness.

  4. Try to keep the counter space relatively clear. Putting too many things near the sink of a small bathroom can make it feel even smaller and more cluttered.

  5. Metallic embellishments will help make any space look modern. Whether you show off your favorite metals in the form of bold appliances or take the more subtle look of a coated potted plant, the added metal will be a nice contemporary touch.

  6. Use a unique rug to dress up the tile. If you're renting and can't change the floor, this is a great way to distract from some less than ideal floor patterns.

  7. If your bathroom doesn't have a towel rack, adding some on the back of the door can be a great way to present guests with what they need while not taking away from the room.

  8. Don't overdo it! Add the basics (towels, soap, toilet paper) and one or two items that make your home, well, yours. That's all you need.

If you have any ideas for how I can make this half bath even more inviting, feel free to send me a message! You can find me on Instagram, @AshleyPerssico. I'm always happy to chat home decor ideas, so send any questions my way!

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