image of nyc rentla bathroom upgrades

You may not have control over the fixtures and flooring in your rental, but a few apartment bathroom upgrades can go a long way.

Just because you live in a rental doesn’t mean you have to live with the ugly bathroom that came with it. Sure, as a New York apartment dweller, you’re somewhat limited in the changes you can make to your bathroom — no ripping out that peeling linoleum flooring, for starters. But you might be surprised what a massive difference a few seemingly minor cosmetic tweaks can make. If you’re eager to take your bathroom from dingy to delightful — minus the gut renovation — these relatively simple apartment bathroom upgrades will have you reclining in the tub with a face mask and a glass of chardonnay in no time.

Clean and Declutter

First things first, you need a squeaky-clean canvas. Only the barest essentials should be on display in your bathroom — everything else can be tucked away wherever you can find or make space, whether it’s a medicine cabinet or wicker baskets under the sink. Apply an extra bit of elbow grease to the bathtub and grouting, if needed. Household products like baking soda and bleach can help with any unsightly staining.

Try Temporary Tiles

Cover that dull white wall or those outdated tiles with a striking new backsplash. Peel-and-stick tiles are easy to apply and remove (read: no grout or glue to contend with), so you can enjoy all of the style and none of the commitment. From sleek and contemporary to graphic and vintage, we love the mix of options available at Smart Tiles. You can even add temporary vinyl sheet flooring to cover up that unsightly old linoleum.

image of plants in nyc bathrooms

Even the tiniest bit of plant life will add atmosphere to a NYC rental bathroom. And you’ll thank yourself for installing a rain showerhead every morning.

Go Green

There’s nothing like lush plants to create a tranquil vibe. Not only do plants clean the air, they also bring a hint of natural beauty and color. Spider plants, bamboo, aloe vera, orchids, and ferns are just a few examples of plants that thrive in high-humidity spaces, making them a perfect addition to your new and improved bathroom.

Indulge in Luxe Linens

Luxurious towels (and a big, fluffy robe, if you’re feeling extra fancy) to wrap up in after a bath or shower are a must when it comes to creating a spa-like atmosphere. There’s never been a better time to overhaul your towels and bath mat. Go for all white if you want to really be true to the spa theme, but any cool, calm color will work — as long as you invest in quality.

image bathroom lighting nyc

Adding sconces or other alternative lighting in a bathroom can help set a spa-like mood.

Adjust the Lighting

Bad overhead lighting got you down? Take heart. You can still get that soothing spa ambience by switching out your unsightly fluorescent bulb for a dimmable version, and installing a dimmer switch. Also, candles are a great way to set a serene mood. Choose one (or, better yet, a few) with a relaxing scent that you love, and feel free to scatter other small lamps and sconces around as you see fit.

Replace the Showerhead

Getting the right showerhead is crucial. No matter how beautiful your bathroom is, a weak stream of water emerging from a rusty old shower head will ruin the whole experience. Treat yourself to a rainfall showerhead, and every morning will feel like the start of a vacation. You don’t have to spend a lot, either. This highly rated rainfall showerhead costs less than $30, and can be installed in five minutes.

Pick a Pretty Curtain

A nice new shower curtain is the final piece to complete your bathroom makeover. While a simple, spare design, like this one, will really give you that authentic spa look and feel, pick a color or pattern that speaks to you — after all, your shower curtain is likely going to be the most eye-catching thing in your bathroom. And don’t forget the mildew-resistant liner. It will help extend your curtain’s longevity.

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.