How to Redo Your Bathroom
If you’re not starting from scratch, as Gwyneth did recently with her at-home spa, there’s still actually a lot you can do to freshen up almost any bath area, says top NYC designer Ariel Okin. Okin, who has her own furniture, wallpaper, and accessory lines, as well as a gorgeous e-commerce site, Fenimore Lane, also runs her own interior design firm with clients like Lena Dunham and goop (she transformed an empty Union Square loft into our sophisticated pre-COVID East Coast HQ), among countless other projects. Here, Okin’s brilliant decorating tips for changing up your space—no contractors needed.
DISTRACT WITH ACCESSORIES
Oversize greenery and artwork have the power to draw attention away from “anything less than stellar, like lackluster tiles,” says Okin. “A big mirror is great if you’ve got no windows.”
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Large woven baskets, a patterned shower curtain, a beautiful bath mat, amazing wallpaper, and—Okin’s fail-safe move—a fresh coat of paint can all accomplish a similar sleight of hand. “A slick coat of white paint (or a shocking, bold color) can transform a dated, dingy vanity and does wonders to make a space feel clean and crisp,” she says.
LIGHT IS EVERYTHING
“Swapping out lighting fixtures is an easy fix that you can implement without having to renovate—any skilled electrician can take out the old and pop in the new. It can do wonders for making a space feel new without having to do much else,” says Okin. “Natural light is your best friend in a bathroom,” she says, but whether you’ve got great windows or zero windows, avoid harsh overhead lighting and opt for sconces and floor or table lamps instead. “Any type of light coming from a filtered shade is more flattering and diffused than canned lighting in the ceiling,” Okin says. “And it’s really helpful when putting on makeup or inspecting your skin.”
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The best lighting, of course, is candlelight. “Set the mood for that well-deserved long soak,” says Okin.
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Okin recommends the professionals at Neat Method, who have a straightforward system anyone can use: Empty all drawers and cabinets, assess what you have, and create categories (hair, makeup, etc.). Measure the dimensions of your drawers and cabinet space and purchase corresponding caddies and bins. “Into the baskets go the products, and voilà—you can easily find and put away everything so the bathroom stays neat and tidy,” she says.
DISPLAY YOUR FAVORITES
Not everything needs to be relegated to bins and cabinets. Okin displays her most frequently used shower products on a chic stainless-steel tray.
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Add some greenery directly into the shower. “Fresh eucalyptus smells amazing and can stay bundled in the shower for weeks on end,” says Okin. “It makes the bathroom feel like a spa every time the water turns on.”
She keeps an oak tub caddy for books, candles, and a glass of wine. “Natural materials like wood add texture and warmth,” Okin says. And a silver julep cup holds her everyday essentials, including her favorite Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick.
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“The simplest, most effective way to make a bathroom feel really luxe and intentionally designed is with pretty glass jars,” says Okin. “Store cotton balls, Q-tips, bath salts, and even mouthwash in them—they just look great.”
INVEST IN STACKS OF WHITE TOWELS
“There’s nothing plusher or more enveloping than a fresh set of cozy white towels,” she says. “They make a bathroom feel like a luxurious European hotel. And they look fabulous neatly folded on a chic wooden stool.” Not everything needs to match, however: “I love adding in a patterned or scalloped hand towel here and there for some punch.”