1. Update the fixtures. Usually a pedestal sink will still be in good shape after decades of use, but a leaky faucet and out-of-date sconces will need to be replaced. The style of these two items can transform your bathroom and don’t involve changing the tile at all. If you’re dealing with a colored tub, consider having it resurfaced.
You can paint the walls and medicine cabinet white and let the tile color — whatever it may be — speak for itself. With a cleaner background, your colored tile could be a new favorite. Keep in mind that even if you do end up ripping out the tile, you can reuse the fixtures in the next phase of your bathroom renovation.
Use a metallic or wood frame, so there’s one less color to factor into your design.
The bathroom shown here originally featured a checkerboard of white and mint-green tiles. The homeowner applied a high-adhesion primer over the tiles, then topped it with a white satin latex paint.
If you don’t want to paint all your tile, just paint accent tiles — such as the crown — in a contrasting color.
White towels help keep things calm and bring the wall color into the tile field.
If it’s a kids’ bathroom, as in this example, it’s the perfect spot for a nightlight. Just try to make the shade blend in with the wall, so the outlet looks useful instead of being an eyesore.
Your wallpaper can have as much color and pattern as you like — it doesn’t have to be gray or another neutral. Stick to a plain shower curtain if you go for a colorful wallpaper, though, and let the wallpaper do all the work. Just make sure you have good ventilation if you have a shower in your bathroom, so that the paper does not peel off the walls.
8. Make it functional. Wall-hung or pedestal sinks are always nice to make a tight space look open, but then where does your stuff go? Older bathrooms usually do not have many towel bars or hooks. Adding a wall-hung towel rack above the tile will keep the space open but provide a fair amount of storage. Glass shelves are another alternative to keep toothbrushes, cotton swabs and other necessities organized. Even the containers you choose can add personality, a bit of helpful distraction and a level of cohesion to your bathroom.
Sometimes the details can make a difference in the livability of a vintage bathroom. Don’t give up on yours just yet!
More: 12 Design Tips to Make a Small Bathroom Better