Making the Most of a Bad Rental Bathroom Part II

Black and white bathroom art

Though I started working on our upstairs bathroom almost four years ago, it took this long to post about it because I still have so many hangups about where it's at. I mean, it's not great; even the after leaves a lot to be desired. But as a renter, it's just part of the deal – learning to reimagine some shortcomings (and, more realistically, ignore the permanent ones). For a more complete breakdown of our bathroom's specific eyesores check out Part I here

And here's how it looks now!

Black and white rental bathroom
Black and white rental bathroom Before/After

Let's hear it for paint! Just brightening those walls with some straight-outa-the-can untinted white made such a difference. Inspired by this image, I decided to try a two-tone effect in black and white and I love it. It's classic but impactful and helps draw your eye from some of the other less favorable elements. 

Black and white bathroom with flowers
Bathroom flowers

I don't always (ok, ever) have fresh flowers in the bathroom, but now I'm like, wait, why not? It makes getting ready for the day feel so luxe. And in a bathroom with sad beige floor tiles, an uninspired faucet, and light fixtures I couldn't afford to replace, any small dose of beauty is a welcomed reprieve.   

The shower curtain is actually what inspired me to start working on the bathroom again. I'd painted the room all those years ago, but then couldn't get beyond how ugly the floors still looked and just gave up on pursuing any more improvements. Childlike tantrums die hard. When I spotted this simple striped curtain at Target a few months ago, I felt a jolt of motivation to keep trying.  

Pink terrarium print in black and white bathroom
Potted aloe in black and white bathroom

Because of the high contrast walls, I wanted to keep the room mostly neutral. The vanity countertop on the opposite side of the room has the loveliest flecks of soft pink, though, so playing up that small detail felt right – thus the terrarium print by BlackLab Studio, and the cutest vintage pink vanity stool you ever did see!  

Black and white rental bathroom with pink vanity stool
Black and white bathroom art

Primping at a built-in vanity (even if it is hobbled together with scrap wood and misaligned drawers) feels v. glamorous – especially when surrounded by portraits of no-name vintage stunners.

I fully acknowledge a wall of strangers peering at you whilst exiting the shower isn't for everyone. But we're cool with it.

Vintage portrait gallery wall in rental bathroom
Vintage bathroom makeup vanity
Makeup brushes in vintage tins
Vintage portrait in the bathroom

A minor gripe, but it really bugs me that the light fixture was off-center on this wall – its placement no doubt an attempt at avoiding the cabinet door. A gallery wall in the bathroom wouldn't be my first choice, but it was the easiest and most effective way I could think to minimize the lack of symmetry.

Initially I thought I'd fill it with Paint by Numbers scenes, but then I remembered the vintage How to Paint Portraits magazine I'd recently scored at an estate sale for $2. I purchased a bunch of frames at thrift stores, scanned the images at Kinkos (it feels so weird to call it Fed Ex Office), Luke helped resize some of the images to fit their new frames, then back to, er, Fed Ex Office to print. I think the total for the whole project was around $40, and more importantly was two days from start to finish. That never happens.   

Black and white rental bathroom Before/After
Vintage portrait gallery wall in bathroom
Vintage vanity mirror in bathroom
Vintage tri-fold vanity mirror in bathroom
Makeup on brass tray
Vintage lady portrait in black and white bathroom

It feels so good to have art on the walls and a more pulled-together space. Maybe some day I'll get to wield legit homeowner power over an unfavorable bathroom, but for now I'm embracing our rental bath, trying to make the most of it.

Black and white bathroom vanity
Vintage Portrait Gallery Wall in Bathroom

Here's one last parting Before/After shot. And if you're interested in any of the items I used, check out the source list below!

Black and white rental bathroom Before/After