Heidi and her boyfriend are moving into a tiny NY apartment soon. As new owners, they can finally paint their new digs (note: I am jealous) but can't afford a whole lot of renovation, and she thought to ask me what on earth to do with their bathroom.
It is, in a word, beige. In two words, dark beige. We're talking tiles, toilet, tub, sink, and walls. Yikes. Without a photo (and I'm not sure I WANT to see one), it's hard to know exactly what direction to go, but Heidi assures me, "it's New York tiny", and for now, they can't change the tile or fixtures. Let's take some inspiration from Chase Booth's bathroom, featured in Domino magazine (a true crap-turned-spa inspiration, above).
First things first: Paint. Get rid of those beige walls and cool down with a soft gentle blue. NOT periwinkle. Think clean fresh blue. If we think of the beige fixtures and tile as "sand" then this will be "sky".
For a good blue, try Benjamin Moore "White Satin" (more blue than white), BM "Light Blue" or "Skyscraper". The tone will be affected by the room's lighting, however, and because there is no natural light, you'll want to take some samples or strips into the room to see how they look. Sometimes undertones of green or purple can totally alter your favorite color in the store. As for finish, be sure to tell the BM employee that you're painting a bathroom. They'll know what will stand up to the harsh, damp conditions. You'll also need to prime the walls if the current beige is very dark.
I recommend painting the ceiling and medicine cabinets (there are two) a creamy white, instead of the harsh bright white they currently are. Go for a shade above pure white, but avoid yellowy undertones. Take an array of whites home, and follow your instincts. You may consider painting the back of the door as well, if it's dingy or dark.
Then add this shower curtain:
Switch out the faucet for something like this (clean, modern, shiny) in sink and tub if you can:
Add a bathmat in a soft blue (I swear by Ikea: washable and affordable):
Add natural details like this bathroom set (or you can't really go wrong with a off-white ceramic choice):
Consider adding some glass shelves like these for extra storage (put little things like hair pins or cotton balls in baskets):
Frame a nature print like this in a plain wooden frame and simple mat:
Since this is your first place, I'd suggest something romantic, even if it is just the bathroom. Like a piece of driftwood with your initials carved into it mounted on the wall, or even with your closing-date on it. A special touch to make getting ready in the morning that much more pleasant.
Heidi, I hope this helped! Just remember, add a pretty candle, fluffy towels, and you can't go wrong! Be sure to send a picture!