1. Set a Serene Scene: Tailored Treatment
A crisp window dressing, like this Roman shade, makes a bath feel more finished and introduces color and pattern. Window film can provide privacy on the lower sash.
Similar to shown: Canopy Stripe in Kiwi/Sand Sunbrella Fabric, about $25 per yard; Ballard Designs
Free tutorial on making a Roman shade; Sew-Helpful
Gila window film, about $25 for a 4-by-6½-foot roll; The Home Depot
2. Colored Claw-Foot
Make a cast-iron soaker a focal point by painting the outside a soothing hue, like this sage green.
Similar to shown: All Surface Enamel Oil Base in Bonsai Tint, about $23 per quart; Sherwin-Williams
3. Streamlined Sink
Add a modern rectangular vessel sink to the mix—its clean lines provide a nice counterpoint to the curvy old-fashioned tub.
Similar to shown: Kingston Brass Pacifica Vitreous China Sink, about $167; Lowe’s
4. Add Unexpected Touches: Vintage-Inspired Vanity
Give a gently used desk new life as a sink console with high-gloss white paint and amber glass hexagonal knobs.
Similar to shown: Vintage desk, starting at about $70; Craigslist
Cosmas cabinet knobs, about $4 each; Doorcorner.com
5. Wood Countertop
Pair real wood in the bath with an undermount sink, as seen here, and a water-resistant urethane, acrylic, or tung-oil finish. Better yet, around a frequent-use basin, use a wood-look laminate. Continue either material up the wall as a cool take on a classic washbasin stand.
Try Formica in Auburn Maple, from about $14 per square foot, installed.
6. Tiled Baseboard
Forgo traditional molding and extend tile several inches up the wall to create an eye-catching border, like this basketweave.
Similar to shown: Crema Cappuccino Basketweave Marble Mosaic tile, about $13 per square foot; The Home Depot
7. Reinterpret the Classics: Cottage-Style Cabine
Save money—or DIY time—by opting for a wall-mount medicine cabinet, which is easier to install than a recessed model.
Similar to shown: Zenith Medicine Cabinet, about $100; The Home Depot
8. Standout Ledge
Cap subway-tile wainscot with a DIY decorative rail. The how-to: Top upside-down one-piece baseboard with rounded window-stool trim; add cove molding where the two meet.
Oak baseboard, about $21 per 8-foot length; pine cove molding, about $3 per 8-foot length; windowsill molding, about $28 per 8-foot length; The Home Depot
9. Marble Hex Tile
Add a luxurious feel underfoot with mesh-backed marble tile featuring impressive 3-inch hexagons.
Similar to shown: Carrara White Hexagon Mosaic Tile, about $10 for a 0.92-square-foot sheet; Marble Online
10. Bring in Warm Accents: Petal-Power Pendant
Balance the rustic look of a wood-frame mirror and shelving with a delicate hanging light made of shells.
Similar to shown: Capiz pendant, about $70; Cost Plus World Market
11. Window Mirror
Inject some architectural character into the space above your sink with a window-style mirror.
Similar to shown: Reclaimed PalletWorks hanging mirror with sill, about $75; Etsy
12. Wood Shelves
Top an oft-ignored storage area—directly above the toilet—with shelves that are a cinch to DIY. Cut pine boards to size and stain them, and support with 1-inch cleats at both ends.
Similar to shown: 2×10 Douglas fir boards, about $8 per 8-foot length; The Home Depot
Minwax Gel Stain in Hickory, about $18 per quart; at home centers
13. Tie it All Together: Library Light
Install a sconce with an articulated arm above the medicine cabinet for a style boost. It’s just as great at providing effective task lighting in the bath as it is at illuminating bookshelves.
Similar to shown: House of Troy Hyde Park sconce, about $206; Wayfair.com
14. Double-Duty Fabric
Take a cue from designer spaces and match the material of your shade to your shower curtain. Lightweight cotton won’t block light and is easy to launder. Just be sure to hang a waterproof liner behind the shower curtain.
Similar to shown: Porcelain Check by Michael Miller, about $10 per yard; Hawthorne Threads
15. DIY Sink Stand
Build a simple table like this one by mounting an edge-glued panel over 2×2 legs reinforced with corner braces. Finish with a cheery, coordinating shade of paint. Install a drop-in basin or a statement-making vessel sink, like this one—just plan the stand’s height accordingly.
Similar color to shown: Aura Bath & Spa Paint in Crisp Morning Air, about $26 per quart; Benjamin Moore
16. Surprising Storage: Bath-Friendly Bar Cart
Who says one of these beauties should only be rolled out for cocktail hour? Wheel it into the washroom for mobile towel and toiletry storage.
Similar to shown: Newbury Cart, starting at about $269; Restoration Hardware
17. Surprising Storage: Customized Pails
Galvanized-steel buckets can do more than hold gardening tools or ice-cold drinks. Personalized with paint, they are the perfect catchall for kids’ bath gear.
Similar to shown: Behrens 12-quart bucket, about $10; Lowe’s
18. Surprising Storage: Towel Tree
A problem-solver in the entryway, a coatrack can be a helpful addition to the bath for hanging wet towels. One with integrated storage is even handier—here, the umbrella stand holds a fresh supply down below.
For a similar solution, try a storage tower with shelves and hooks: three-tier tower shoe and coat rack, about $112; Overstock
19. Surprising Storage: Vintage Dresser
A treasure found in Grandma’s attic (or on Craigslist) can be an unexpected and elegant addition to the bath. Take this highboy: Deep drawers offer ample linen storage, while delicate legs keep the piece from feeling too heavy and overwhelming the room.