11 Affordable Renter-Friendly Bathroom Upgrades That Completely Change the Experience

11 Affordable Renter-Friendly Bathroom Upgrades That Completely Change the Experience
No need to start tearing down walls to enjoy your bathroom experience.

Thanks to Brio for believing in Primer's mission and sponsoring this post. Primer readers who buy the Beardscape V2 receive the Zero Blade attachment ($24.99 value) FREE.

We’re creeping up on two years since we moved into a new house. I’ve renovated one bathroom, put in new kitchen appliances, painted every room, had a new furnace put in, and replaced a handful of ceiling fans. I’d say we’re about ten percent through the projects we want to tackle. After I finished the bathroom reno, I told Katie I needed a break for a few months. In the meantime, our master bath still has the flooring and vanity that the last owner put in around 1986 when linoleum was sexy and the Thriller album was still topping charts. 

Katie and I agreed that updating the master bath isn’t top of the priority list, and there are some creative ways we can enhance the bathroom experience without breaking the bank. If you’re on a budget, living in an apartment, or just don’t have the time to rip out the old tub, here are a few ways to upgrade your bathroom overnight. 

In fast-paced world, creating a tranquil bathroom space can be a game-changer, especially for men who often find their daily grooming routines to be the only significant self-care time they have.

With some affordable grooming, decor, and renter-friendly upgrades, you can easily turn your bathroom into a practical and refined sanctuary without breaking the bank that will not only improve your daily routines but also add some serious functionality and mood to your space. So why wait? Let's dive right in and explore these awesome tips and tricks to help you create the perfect bathroom tailored just for you.

Trust us, it's going to be a total game-changer.

Streamline Your Grooming Tools

brio beardscape v 2
Brio Beardscape V2

Ok honestly, I’m a guy who has a lot of stuff (as in I still haven’t gone through all of my boxes since we moved into this house). The older I get, the more I crave minimalism. So the times I need a beard trimmer and hair cutter (just to even things out between trips to the barber), it’s nice to have a single tool. 

The V2 Trimmer by Brio is the last trimmer you’ll ever need. The ceramic cutting blade is adjustable in 0.3mm increments from 1.0mm up to 1.9mm, so you can give yourself a little room when you’re trimming your cheeks or your chest. The travel lock means it won’t start vibrating in your carry-on (which sounds funny until it happens), and the screen tells you your cutting length, RPM, and battery life. You’ll get 4 attachment guards that give 24 cutting lengths – the guards are double sided, so you don’t have to keep track of 17 accessories. And if you need that ultimately close trim, you can snap on the Zero Blade add-on, which safely cuts down to 0.2mm. 

Brio zero blade attachment
The Zero Blade attachment cuts down to .2mm

Another advantage of the Beardscape V2 is that it comes with a corded charging stand. And I realize that should be commonplace for a trimmer, but most of them only come with a cord, leaving the trimmer laying on your countertop, taking up horizontal space. And because you get between 180-240 minutes of run time on a single charge (depending on the speed you use), and the company offers a two-year warranty, you won’t be replacing the V2 anytime soon. 

One thing I’ve noticed about small electronics companies (especially ones who make grooming tools), you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to issues with the product itself. Brio, on the other hand, prides itself on customer service. Have a problem? Need a hand understanding how to use your trimmer better? Give them a call. A human will pick up and chat with you to make things right.  Primer readers get a free Zero Blade when buying the Beardscape V2.

Upgrade Your Shower Bottles and Soap Storage

amber bottles in shower
Amber Bottles with Rustproof Pump

Yes, I’m a proud member of my local wholesale club, but that doesn’t mean I want the 64oz. plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner sitting out for the world to see (even if they are a great deal). Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facewash, each of these deserves its own spot in the shower, but multicolored, amoebic shaped bottles are clunky and odd looking. 

A set of amber shower bottles is a fast way to streamline your shower aesthetic without losing any function. Each of these bottles is infinitely refillable, and since they’re only 16oz., they have a relatively small footprint. Plus they have a look that’s consistent with higher end grooming brands like Beardbrand and Aesop. 

If you’re a bar-soap guy like me, use one for shampoo, one for conditioner, one for hand soap, and one for lotion. The fewer colorful and branded plastic bottles you have out, the nicer your bathroom looks. A word to the wise, the chalk labels will rinse off quickly if you keep these in the shower as opposed to on the tub ledge. So in that case, a label maker will come in handy. 

Add a Touch of (Maintenance-Free) Nature with Eucalyptus

eucalyptus in a bathroom

We’ve said before that plants will make a house feel like a home. The problem is that most people assume that greenery is only meant for the living room and the bedroom where there is lots of light. The fact is, plants enhance any living space making it feel more organic and reducing any clinical feeling, especially your bathroom. 

If you’re like me, you have chronic allergies that keep you just shy of breathing well most days (and somehow it’s always the worst when I wake up). This where a bunch of eucalyptus can come in handy. Beyond looking and smelling nice, Eucalyptus oil can help loosen congestion, so wrapping a sprig around the head of your shower will allow the oil to diffuse into the steam. 

On an aesthetic note, eucalyptus is just a pretty plant, adding a bit of nature to an otherwise prosaic or dark bathroom. And even when it dies, it holds its shape and still looks great for months. A plant that looks amazing even when it’s dead? Perfect.

Our preferred (and budget-friendly) place to pick up Eucalyptus bunches is Trader Joes, where you can get a bunch for about $4. Be mindful of your situation as it can be toxic to pets, in which case you may consider faux plants as an alternative way of making your bathroom feel less sterile.

Invest in a Stylish and Functional Grown Up Hamper

bathroom hamper
Laundry Basket

There’s nothing wrong with having a plastic hamper in your walk-in closet, but that’s also not a public space. So what if you don’t have a walk-in? Or what if your bathroom hamper is always visible. The simple solution is to get a hamper that’s functional but also looks good. And yes, they exist. 

A visually pleasing hamper like this one draws the line between I needed somewhere for my dirty clothes and I chose this spot for my dirty clothes. There’s a difference. And because this hamper looks like something you chose on purpose, you won’t be embarrassed when it finds its way into other areas of your house. You could alternatively use it for blankets, towels, or the kids’ toys. 

Oh, and since it’s somewhat compact, maybe now you won’t wait nine days to do a load of laundry. 

Set a Relaxing Mood with Timer-Enabled Artificial Candles

fake candles in bathroom

I appreciate lighting a few candles around the house. But I have two problems with candles: 1. They’re so damn expensive (at least the good ones are), and 2. I usually forget to blow them out, which means half way through date night, Katie gets a panicked look and says, “Did you blow out the candle on the bookshelf?!” No…no I did not. 

Because bathrooms aren’t usually capacious, one or two candles is enough to create ambience for a soak in the tub or even just getting ready in the morning. And artificial candles give you the benefit of that ambience without the worry of forgetting to blow them out. These candles come in a few different glass finishes, are made of real wax, and have timers to turn themselves off. 

Simplify Your Countertop with an Aesthetic Organizer

bathroom counter tray with brio beardscape, brio toothbrush, and soap
An affordable marble tray keeps the sink organized and makes cleaning a breeze / Electric Toothbrush / Amazing smelling handsoap

In my constant quest to balance form and function, I’ve found that I don’t want to keep everything I own locked away in a drawer. I’d like to reach for my toothbrush, which is readily available on the countertop. But toothbrushes get wet, and tongue scrapers look a little weird, and my acne cream keeps falling over because it’s small, and suddenly my balance is shot and this looks like a sixteen-year-old’s bathroom. 

A countertop organizer is the most efficient way to solve this problem. I know they make them out of wood and metal, but this is your bathroom, where moisture abounds. I like this silicone one because it’s easy to rinse out and wipe down, sticks in one spot, and it has a detachable drip tray at the bottom to catch extra water that would otherwise end up on your countertop. 

Maximize Space with Over-the-Door Shower Hooks

over the door hooks

In our house, our daughters share the main upstairs bathroom because Katie and I have a master bathroom, but let’s not get carried away here with the luxury. The master is small, and I frequently find myself saying Where the hell am I supposed to put this? An example of this is the scrubby thing Katie likes to use to wash her body, the small cloth for her face, the brush I use for my nails after I’ve been working on the car, the hair mask Katie likes to use once a week, etc. 

If you have a glass, frameless shower door, hooks give you the ability to make use of otherwise unusable space. If you don’t have a glass door, they make shower curtains with pockets. We use one of these, and it’s outstanding. The pockets aren’t visible from the outside, and they offer ample storage for all of your shower accoutrement. 

Upgrade To A Not Gross Shower Mat

We’ve spent far too long using white, cotton shower mats. Yes, they look great and feel comfortable under foot, but they’re also dirty after two people have stepped on them. When you step out of the shower, you need absorption and a dose of comfort. 

It’s time to step up to a memory foam shower mat. The soft top gives you the absorption and the softness underfoot, while the memory foam core makes it an easy step out, supporting your joints a little better than cotton alone. I like the gray color because it probably matches 85% of bathrooms out there, and it won’t show dirt easily. When it does get dirty, you can throw it in the wash. 

A Bathrobe Fit for a King

man using a brio beard trimmer wearing a bathrobe
Spa bathrobe (similar)

We have a Bernese Mountain Dog, Ruby. She’s about 125lbs, but she’s pretty chill. For Christmas, I bought my wife another Berner puppy, Seamus. He’s not chill, and when I wake up in the morning, he has to pee…immediately. If I get showered and ready and then try to take Seamus out, he’ll have a surprise for me in the crate (ask me how I know). 

My point? Since Christmas I’ve been embracing the wonder of the bathrobe. There’s something regal about putting on a full-length, soft robe for a quick jaunt outside. Depending on your climate (I’m on the east coast), it’s hard to go wrong with a fleece robe. I like this one in the golden brown color. It’s soft, the length is perfect, and it has a hood in case you’re feelin’ like a boxer. A word to wise: Wash your robe, gentlemen. 

Improve Your Sound for Cheap

oontz angle speaker
Oontz Angle Bluetooth Speaker

Picture this: You're enjoying the tail end of your shower – you know, the invigorating internet-recommended cold part – while listening to your favorite podcast. Or maybe you're just waking up, groggily getting ready for the day, and some chill tunes make all the difference. Don't try to hear your phone speaker over the shower, pick up a bluetooth speaker that can live in the bathroom.

Water resistant with a 14 hour battery, the Oontz Angle costs less than a bowl of penne bolognese. Primer's founder Andrew has had it since 2017 and it's still going strong. He also takes it on most vacations too.


a framed black and white wall art image
The Ultimate Collection Of 42 Free Wall Art Prints

No, I’m not talking about some kitsch bathroom picture that says something punny like “I Hope Everything Comes Out Ok!” Haha, grow up, Jeffrey. 

Since the bathroom is a small space, a little art goes a long way. An abstract landscape (think Monet), an old film photograph of the beach from a 80s family vacation, or something celebrating the human form. It really doesn’t matter. The point is that art brings any space to life, even especially your bathroom. 

Mike Henson

Mike Henson is a literature teacher in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He enjoys shooting 35mm film, restoring vintage straight blades, purchasing too many American-made goods, and spending time with his wife and their three daughters.