What’s gray, maroon, and nasty all over? That would be our family bathroom before we took it down to the studs and used four simple design tricks to transform the dark, cramped space into a colorful kids bathroom makeover that’s light and bright.
Bruises on my hip from banging into the rusty wall-mounted sink. Cuts on toes from chipped floor tiles. Fumbling around for shampoo in the dark shower. The constant fear of tetanus from the rusty tub faucet. Our tiny family bathroom had nothing to lose and everything to gain from a makeover.
Let’s have a look at the dark and dreary “before”:
Imagine me and my husband (who is 6′ tall) in this tiny space, trying to bathe and brush the teeth of two very wiggly small children.
It’s not a pretty picture, is it?
Let’s face it, most of us live in fixer-uppers; precious few are able to buy a home that comes with a large, lovely bathroom. In an ideal world, we’re able to expand the space; but in many situations, that’s simply not possible.
So what do you do when you have a dark and dreary kids bathroom (or even your master bath) if you can’t add a window or enlarge the footprint?
Here are the design tricks that I used to work with the space that we have and create a cheerful kids bathroom that’s functional and filled with light.
4 Design Tricks to Brighten a Dreary Bathroom
Please note that this post contains affiliate links; see my disclosures for more information.
1. White tile, and lots of it.
Glossy white subway tile and matte white basket-weave tile are key to making this kids bathroom makeover a bright, shining success. The white tile reflects light, so even though we didn’t increase the bathroom’s size, it still appears larger and brighter.
In the shower, we brought the white subway tile all the way up to the ceiling and continued the marine blue penny tile all the way around and in the shower niche, which is equally divided to avoid sibling arguments! The brightly colored shower curtain is a nice compromise between my little girl’s need for pink and my son’s love of orange and adds a cheerful touch.
2. Invest in more, brighter light fixtures.
A three-bulb vanity light may seem like overkill for such a small bathroom, but the additional wattage is so much better for applying makeup (and waking up in the morning!). A new recessed light in the shower combined with the more powerful vanity fixture creates a light, bright bathroom.
3. Add mirrors and chrome to reflect light.
In a tiny, windowless room, mirrors and reflective surfaces like chrome are super important! In our bathroom, the new recessed medicine cabinet is much larger than the original and is also mirrored on the both the inside of the door as well as the back of the cabinet, which also helps to move light around the space while providing much-needed storage. Additionally, all of the chrome fixtures reflect even more light.
Bonus tip: A compact vanity with furniture-style feet also helps to make the room seem larger because you can see the floor tile all the way around.
4. Glass shelves.
Although you may love the look of rustic wood shelves, the reality is that glass is the best option for small, dark rooms because they don’t take up any visual weight, yet still provide decorative storage space for meaningful and functional items.
We are so grateful that this kids bathroom makeover created a clean, functional space for our family! My hips are no longer bruised and my kids enjoy taking baths in their bright, new space! I hope these decorating tips will help you see that even the dreariest, darkest of bathrooms have potential.
Colorful Kids Bathroom Makeover Shopping Resources
- Paint, Maritime Blue by Benjamin Moore
- White on white basketweave tile, Overstock
- Marine blue penny tile, Wayfair
- Vanity, KitchenSource
- Vanity light, Wayfair (unavailable)
- Medicine cabinet, eFaucets
- Showerhead and tub faucet, Wayfair
- Faucet, Wayfair
- Towel ring, Wayfair
- Toilet paper holder, Wayfair
- Shower curtain, Target
- Trash can, Container Store
- Glass shelves, Amazon
- Wall Art, KrankyKrab
- Stepstool, HomeGoods
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Rosemary Astheimer says
I love the colored penny tiles! Fun but tasteful.
Thanks so much, Rosemary!
Paige Marie says
Great Job Laura! It’s funny how something seemingly so small like tile color can totally change the mood and appearance of a room. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be hard, but “inviting” is definitely one I have in mind!
Thank you, Paige Marie! Yes, paint and white tile made a world of difference. 🙂
Lovely! What color grout did you use on the floor? I’d love to do a light floor in my kids’ (also windowless) bath, but I’m a little worried about keeping it clean. I think I darker grout could help with that.
Hi Beth! I can’t remember exactly…I think it was “silver mist” or something like that. It was the palest shade of gray on our tile guy’s grout color chart.