My inspiration for this makeover was my fantasy bathroom: a relaxing oasis, complete with an outdoor shower, nestled deep on a tropical island. In this getaway, I would be surrounded by lush foliage and warm bamboo. My other goal for the bathroom makeover was to do this as cheaply as possible. This meant using accessories from my closet stash, making over existing items, and using thrift store items. I'm proud to say I spent less than $150 for everything. Read along to see how my bathroom went from Ohio to Oahu in this island-inspired makeover.
I have a confession. Not until recently did I start creating mood boards. In the past, I’d sketch out what I wanted my rooms to look like. I still make drawings, but have found mood boards to be more beneficial. Even if you don’t use the exact items you include on the board, they’re still quite a useful tool.
This was the mood board I created for my bathroom makeover:
I later decided to visualize my tropical bathroom in Hawaii or some other Polynesian location. To create this natural, island vibe, I enlisted natural elements like glass, river rocks, bamboo, rope, and tropical greenery.
To allow more space for decor, I hung floating shelves on the walls. This helps balance the weight of the decor, plus frees up counter space for the essentials.
One way I created this natural effect was with my wall mirror. This plain Jane wall mirror received an extensive makeover by repurposing common cooking utensils: bamboo skewers. I’m always looking for new ways to repurpose these because they’re super cheap and I love bamboo.
Decorating your bathroom with art or photography is a great way to add personality and beauty. To create this sea turtle artwork and ensure the patterns were authentic, I researched Hawaiian/Polynesian tattoos and quilts.
On top of the toilet stands an extra roll of TP (a necessity!) and air freshener that I dressed up with scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. This is a cheap and easy way to customize your decor and add some flair to an otherwise boring household item. Sometimes even the small things need a makeover too!
Moving along to the sink, I bought a new soap dispenser. I couldn’t find the one from my mood board but found a similar replacement. The silver bowl holds a bar of soap that my old man uses. It’s actually a dining bowl, but it’s easy to clean up and adds a little polish to the space.
In the corner, I created a faux foliage arrangement with stems and river rocks. Since I have no natural light for plants in my bathroom, faking it was the next best thing. This “vase” is actually a drinking glass. Using drinking glasses is a great repurposing tool plus saves you money.
I equate hotel rooms with relaxation and retreat, so using a tray to hold my everyday toiletries helps create that vibe here. The tray was one I’d had in my accessories arsenal, so no money was spent. I used trial-size items so the countertop doesn’t feel too congested. (I even snuck in an actual bottle of lotion from a past hotel stay.)
Also inside the tray are a couple glass candy jars that I scored at the thrift store. Since they have lids, they’re perfect for storing cotton balls and cotton swabs. These jars are so much prettier than the plain ones you could buy at the store—and much cheaper too!
Another thrift store find are these little Tiki guys, which I actually bought long before this bathroom makeover was conceived. They were originally brown and I’d previously spray-painted them white. I think they were actually shot glasses, but they make nice mini-vases and they coordinate wonderfully in my tropical room.
Although they aren’t the same pattern, these glass votives tie in well with the glass jars. They can be found at IKEA (Flest). I have flameless tea lights inside because of the close proximity to the wall and the shelf above.
To counter-balance all the decor, I chose a simple shower curtain (Thai Sheer from Kohl’s). It’s solid, yet there is a ribbed texture that adds visual interest. I love its crispness and semi-sheer quality. Since the bathroom wasn’t equipped with a light over the shower, the semi-sheerness of the fabric allows a decent amount of light while showering.
For the bathmat, I ended up buying this round mat in Espresso at World Market. I really like that it’s not your typical bathmat shape and has a bit of detail in the edging. I’ve decided not to go the bamboo placemat route again after my failed DIY attempt. A fabric bathmat is just more practical—I tried using a bamboo soap dish (IKEA’s Dragan) and mold grew under it very quickly.
For towels, I decided to stick with neutrals and bought some new ones from IKEA (Frajen). Using neutral towels is great because they can easily be reused if you change your room’s color scheme down the road… which we all know I am likely to do.
That’s it! I’m glad the process is finally done and that I’m finally pleased with the results. Although, if I could somehow lengthen my bathtub to accommodate bubble baths, it would be perfect.
Do you believe decor has the power to take you to another place? Have you made over a bathroom lately? Share your story!