6 renter-friendly ideas to update your bathroom - without losing your deposit

A renter-friendly bathroom makeover is the quickest way to make your washroom feel like home

bathroom with decorative cork flooring green panelled bath and frilled shower curtain
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Whether you rent or own, everyone deserves a stylish bathroom that feels like a reflection of your taste. A bathroom is where you start and end the day and a vital spot for switching off and relaxing, so a renter-friendly bathroom makeover will make your washroom a pleasant spot to spend time in.

But if you live in a rented property, the scope of the changes you can make is going to be much more limited (especially if you want your deposit back). Plus, landlord-designed bathrooms typically use basic, budget sanitary ware that is less than inspiring.

Renter-friendly bathroom makeover ideas include anything from accessory updates (cue, lots of plants) to revamping surfaces with specialist products. The result will be a bathroom design that looks up-to-date and close to how you'd design a space if a renovation was on the cards. We've also made sure to stick to budget bathroom ideas so that you're not investing too much into a temporary fix. 

Renter friendly bathroom makeover

Renting doesn't mean you have to just suck up someone else's decorating style - while you might not want to try out any bathroom wallpaper ideas, there are so many reversible updates you can do to make a family bathroom or WC feel like your own. 

Whether you're in a property for a short-term let or plan on making it home for a few years, it's worth investing a little bit of money and time into making a rental flat or house reflect your taste. There are also so many DIY bathroom ideas on a budget, so all you'll need to sacrifice is an evening or weekend to get your space looking in tip-top shape. 

1. Switch up a shower curtain

bathroom with decorative cork flooring green panelled bath and frilled shower curtain

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Shower curtains are a common feature in rented bathrooms, and they probably haven't been changed since the previous tenant. Unsanitary and not very cute, to say the least. 

The first port of call when revamping a rented bathroom should be to tear down that curtain. If a new one isn't in the budget, bleach will be your best friend. But if you do want to invest in a new shower curtain idea then it's a great opportunity to add a new pattern or colour to the bathroom scheme. 

‘The humble bathroom is so often overlooked when it comes to colour, pattern and print and yet it’s one of the best spaces to easily embrace bold design. Why can’t you blend serious style with practicality? Adding a luxury shower curtain, emblazoned with a decadent design, to a bathroom is a really low-cost way to make a bold style statement,' says Jamie Watkins, co-founder of Divine Savages

We love this chic striped option from H&M Home

2. Add a rug for comfort

modern bathroom with sisal rug and wooden stool with plant on

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You might not think that a rug is welcome in a bathroom - after all, we banished carpeted bathrooms a long time ago. But if your rented bathroom feels a little cold and characterless, a rug will make it feel more homely.  

A bath mat is of course essential, but if you have the space, consider layering another rug for more dimension. If you have a large bathroom, adding rugs around the cabinet and sink area will make it feel cosy to stand on and hide any unsightly flooring. Jute will be a practical choice for a high traffic area and it will withstand splashes of water. 

3. Focus on lighting

Bathroom with plaster walls, and large gold round mirror above a wooden vanity unit

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Bathroom lighting ideas are a vital design feature to get right - especially because harsh white lighting is super common (and less than flattering). Switching out a lampshade if there is one is a fast way to make a rental bathroom more to your taste, but adding ambient lighting through table lamps will make the mood even cosier. 

'To help create a calmer or more relaxing space, update the lighting. You can find out the attachment style—such as a pendant light, three-bulb vanity lighting, etc.—and get a replacement with a fixture that has the same electrical hookup,' Holly Dolan, owner of Hume Interior Studio, recommends. 

'There are also some great cordless styles if this isn't an option for you then you can utilise cordless lighting with this clever TikTok hack - you'll need to choose a light you can attach to the wall and then attach command strips to a battery-operated puck light, which you can attach to a PVC screw-top adapter. This allows you to screw the light securely into the fitting, turning it on and off with the included remote control,' she continues. 

Shower lamps are trending too and will add so much atmosphere to evening everything-showers. 

4. Bring in a new lease of life

Gold towel radiator and white builtin wc with gold coloured flush plate

(Image credit: Future PLC / Rachael Smith)

Plants are known for their well-being benefits, so where better to place them than in a drab bathroom in need of a spruce up? 

'A low-cost option to add a more luxury feel to the bathroom is incorporating plants into the room,' says Brenna Ryan, Bathroom Expert at Victorian Plumbing. 'As well as looking good, plants such as English Ivy act as air cleaners and help to absorb moisture in the air and eliminate dampness.' 

Rental bathrooms are known for their issues with dampness and mould, so strategically placing a few of the best indoor plants will help counteract this problem. 

5. Try peel and stick

panelled bathroom with roll top bath

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

If you really dislike the bathroom flooring ideas and surfaces used, peel-and-stick decor updates might be the route forward. You can buy a variety of peel-and-stick tiles and marble appliques online and it's an easy way to achieve your desired look in a rental bathroom makeover. 

While adhering and removing them is simple, you will need to be careful placing them in areas where there's a large amount of water. It might not last that long in a bathroom, but if you're after a quick cosmetic fix for a year or two it'll certainly fit the bill. 

B&Q's vinyl floor sticker collection means you can achieve anything from parquet to a marble-effect design - there's something for everyone. 

6. Invest in freestanding furniture

wooden storage underneath bathroom sink

(Image credit: Future PLC / Douglas Gibb)

A rental isn't your forever home, so you're unlikely to want to spend much money on a rental bathroom makeover, but investing in freestanding furniture that can be taken with you when you leave won't feel like a hard pill to swallow. 

'To make the space feel more you, add in stylish furniture like a wooden ladder to hang towels or a small rattan footstool to act as a mini side table for candles or a reed diffuser,' Holly adds. This way, you don't just have to put up with the bathroom storage ideas and furniture supplied to you - you can create a design that speaks to your taste and use it elsewhere in the home wherever you go next. 

Which update are you planning on making to your rented bathroom?

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).