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Ideas to Update Your 2000s Bathroom (Beige, Tuscan, & More)

Posted on January 9, 2024 by KylieMawdsley
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MODERNIZE YOUR OUTDATED BATHROOM (ON A BUDGET)

It’s one thing to design a room from scratch or undertake a full bathroom remodel. It’s a WHOLE nother can o’ Campbells to work with what you’ve got.

But just you know, working with what you’ve got is kind of my wheelhouse.

So today, we’re looking at outdated, 2000s bathrooms and ideas to update them, without breaking open the kid’s piggy bank. Keep in mind that many of these ideas can apply to ANY era of bathroom.

BATHROOM DESIGN IN THE EARLY TO MID 2000s

Let’s take a look at the average bathroom designed between 2000-2010 (give or take)…

  • granite countertops  (or laminate that looks like granite)
  • travertine tile
  • beige tiles that are supposed to look like travertine (or not)
  • tiles with a wide assortment of warm, rich tones in them
  • brushed nickel hardware with swoopy lines
  • light fixtures in brushed nickel with swoopy lines (technical term)
  • or, if not brushed nickel, there’s definitely oil-rubbed bronze
  • maple or oak cabinets, often a dark or reddish stain
  • if the vanity is painted, it’s most likely cream and glazed
  • 12×12 tile floor, although the closer to 2010 we got, the more 12×24 came on the scene

This one has a few 2000s features as well (that might even be winking at the ’90s)…

bathroom with beige tiles and stone before edesign update

This next bathroom is another average 2000s loo…

BATHROOM BEFORE (2)

Of course, you can do a full bathroom remodel (above and below for the before and after), but that’s not what this blog post is about.

Sherwin Williams Alabaster warm white walls in bathroom, dark gray hexagon tile floor, walk in shower, Evergreen Fog green accent wall behind vanity

As for this next bathroom, it has GREAT bones – they’re just not modern ones. It also has a BIG secret which I’ll share with you shortly…

bathroom, st cecelia granite, hickory wood cabinets, beige pink tile floor, travertine accent tile, dark wood mirros, chrome. Kylie M Update ideas

But what happens when you have an outdated bathroom and a small budget?

Light a match.

JUST JOKING – read my blog. Seriously, with 500+ blog posts, I’m sure I have what you’re looking for. If not, leave a comment and if it’s a common enough topic, I’ll write about it – we all know I love to hear myself talk (and type).

2000s beige tuscan style bathroom, beige tile, wood vanity, soaker tub, walk in shower

First up, if I’m doing an affordable bathroom remodel there are a few things I’m likely keeping as-is – these are often the non-negotiables when I’m helping an Online Color Consulting client update their loo…

  • flooring
  • countertop
  • vanity (at least the structure of it)
  • shower tile

Of these, the vanity and countertop are usually less expensive to update than the floor or shower, but for now, let’s keep it meat n’ potatoes (we’ll add the gravy later).

 

1. PAINT YOUR VANITY

The vanity is one of the first things I think about updating when I look at a bathroom. Now, this doesn’t mean you can go all willy-nilly with your favorite colors – you still need to coordinate with your surrounding finishes. However, there are any number of gorgeous shades you can try…

Benjamin Moore Alexandria Beige with travertine tile floor, wood cabinet in bathroom. Kylie M Edesign

Of course, it depends on what color your flooring is – whether it’s more beige, more tan, or if it’s another color entirely. However, these colors groups are usually where I start my color adventures in a 2000s bathroom…

THE BEST VANITY COLORS FOR A 2000s BATHROOM

Looking at this next bathroom, it has some fabulous bones…

2000s beige tuscan style bathroom, beige tile, wood vanity, soaker tub, walk in shower

Are these ‘updated bones’ based on ‘today’s trends and styles?’ No. However…

Unless you’re ready to gut your bathroom and commit to a remodel, you have to work with and appreciate what you have. 

Needless to say, the beige tile isn’t going anywhere. And while I’m not a fan of Corian countertops in ANY room, the color of this countertop is doable (I’d rather see an updated, warmer quartz or quartzite). But for now, I’d paint the vanity. Taking cues from the surrounding finishes…

  • I’d stay away from any type of blue, it looks like a ‘try hard’ with many beige finishes.
  • White is too stark for MANY 2000s bathrooms, so don’t get your hopes up. And it won’t make the cut in this bathroom either!
  • I wouldn’t do any light color on the vanity, as right now, the dark cherry stained wood is the only thing making the dark hardware not look too stark and high contrast.

Back to the vanity, I’d find a nice organic green hue – either a muted darker shade of green or a dark greige with a good green undertone. This depth keeps the existing hardware happy while the color leans into the naturally organic warmth of the beige tile. Green also happens to be a SUPER trendy color on kitchen cabinets!

samplize peel and stick ashwood moss

Get your PEEL & Stick sample

You know, another fun and easy way to shift the energy in the above bathroom would be to add a washable rug. This won’t just break up the expanse of beige floor tile, but it will add softness and texture to a space with a lot of hard finishes. Let’s see what that might look like…

If they kept the existing vanity color, this Masel rug would be stunning…

washable area rug to go with 2000s bathroom with tuscan style beige tile and cherry red cabinet vanity (1)

With painting the vanity a darker shade of green or greige, I’d look at rugs like these…

Loloi area rugs to go with beige tile tuscan bathroom and painte vanity

Billie Loloi rug / Emerson Persian rug

The key is to use a modern, trendy-looking rug in your space that has colors in it that pick up on your existing finishes – a great way to blend both worlds!

See a curated collection of my favorite DARK GREEN paint colors! 

 

2. INSTALL BOARD & BATTEN OR WAINSCOTING

Adding a trendy (#alsotimeless) detail to your bathroom is a great way to take it up a notch. While board and batten will come and go, depending on the style of your home, beadboard or wainscoting is a great way to add personality to a boring builder-basic bathroom.

Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, dark paint color in small bathroom powder room, granite countertop, wainscoting. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, update ideas

3 Ways to Add Personality to a Small Bathroom

Vertical shiplap is another great way to add personality to your bathroom without going overboard on the budget…

Sherwin Williams Light French Gray, s

Sherwin Williams Light French Gray and Pure White

This next bathroom has a pretty typical fiberglass shower surround, common in bathrooms from the 90s and 2000s…

Benjamin Moore Ocean Air, best blue paint colour. Bathroom with white wainscoting, beadboard, blue shower curtain. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, edecor and online paint colour consulting blog

Benjamin Moore Ocean Air

Look at how the beadboard and chonky top molding add charm to this space. Combined with the beautiful shade of blue on the walls and decor, I’m moving in!

Take a look at this next bathroom in all its Tuscan glory…

before update ideas, 2000s tuscan style bathroom with cherry red wood vanity cabinets, beige tile, oil rubbed bronze (2)

before update ideas, 2000s tuscan style bathroom with cherry red wood vanity cabinets, beige tile, oil rubbed bronze (1)

It would cost a lot to take the wall tile off and install new drywall – and you’d need to do the shower area too. Instead, I’d cover the wall tile with MDF/moldings to create a wainscoting look. While this isn’t the best behind a vanity, using water-resistant satin paint in a GORGEOUS darker shade of greige and caulking at the joints around the sink will give it a longer life. Here’s the basic idea for inspiration.

When updating an outdated bathroom, it’s not always about updates that will last forever, it’s updates that ‘work for a few years until your budget allows a larger remodel‘. 

I’d also shift the wall color in the above bathroom to an off-white shade of beige that flows with the tile – the blue goes against the tile’s instincts.

 

3. PAINT THE WALLS THE RIGHT COLOR

When it comes to painting your walls, it’s not about what you want, it’s about what suits your interior finishes – whether they’re beige, pink, or emerald green.

I say this because not everyone with a 1990s or 2000s bathroom dreams about beige walls, greige vanities, and ‘happy mediums’. Often, they have visions of white quartz, marble, taupe, white, and blue-green (a common ask) in their heads.

Pick paint colors for the home you have, not the home you wish you had. 

And once you’re given permission and guidance to do that, it can be easier to let go of where you were going and take the next best step in your update adventure!

The teal walls in this next bathroom are a holy hot mess and are too bright for the travertine tile and cream trim/storage cabinet. Also, notice the whiter trim around the door, a LOT is going on in here…

Bathroom update beige travertine tile in shower and tile floor with teal walls and cream trim.

The Best Wall Colors to Update Cream Cabinets & Trim

And while I wait for the ‘after’ photos (wink wink to my client), here are the color groups that would better suit this 90s loo…

Again, if you want a curated color bundle similar to the above greige one but in a different color, leave me a comment!

However, for the above colors to happen, the trim and the cupboard need to be painted as they’re way too creamy (yellow) and glazed for the beige tile. This is a common feature found in 2000s kitchens and bathrooms – cream cabinets and trims that are mismatched to their surrounding beige finishes.

How to Update Cream Cabinets & Trim

I love this next 2000s bathroom for its lovely lil bones. I could almost do a full case study on it, but for now, let’s look at the wall color…

before bathroom, tuscan style beige 2000s, tile travertine tile countertop, soaker tub (4)

While I’m sure we’re both distracted by the faucets, cabinet hardware, and lighting, ASIDE from these, I’d love to see the walls painted a lighter, more modern shade of beige. Don’t get me wrong, dark greige is right up my alley and it looks wicked pretty with these finishes. However, if the goal is to ‘update as much as we can while honoring the bones of this space‘, lighting the walls is a great place to start. I’d also paint the trim to match the vanity.

And yes, I definitely need to case-study this bad boy, but that’s a few blog posts away.

Check out this next lovely little 2000s loo…

Bathroom with beige tile before edesi

There we have it, our mixed tone 12×12 beige and brown tile floor, dark wood vanity and I see a corner of 2000s granite countertop.

Now let’s see how it shifted gears into the 2020s…

Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, dark grey paint colour in small bathroom with granite countertop, beige tile floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

The granite countertop and tile floor are super happy to have Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray as their partner, although a few other darker shades of taupe could work just as well.

This next 2000s bathroom has a great Tuscan vibe…

Sherwin Williams URbane Bronze painted bathroom vanity, corner sink, gold accents, Aesthetic White paint color on walls. Kylie M Edesign, online paint colors

Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White

In my ideal world would I sort out the varying countertop levels? Heck yes. Would I add lighting above all the mirrors and probably do corner-to-corner mirrors? Yup. Heck, I might even reconfigure this bathroom to not have this tricky layout.

But we’re here for some bang for buck, baby! 

Just joking. There was definitely some money spent in this bathroom (we’ve added a little gravy), but a full reconfiguration was not part of the show. Instead, let’s talk about what’s so fabulous about the above bathroom update…

  • the vanity is painted a wicked dark color
  • the wall color is a modern shade of beige
  • notice the sink hardware is a modern gold that coordinates with the mirror frames (although I’d LOVE some knobs/handles on those cupboards)
  • flooring was replaced with a warm-toned hexagon marble tile
  • the countertop looks like Taj Mahal, one of my favorite modern quartzite countertops
  • really, the only thing I’d change now is the fake floral arrangement in the corner – that’s an easy one

I bet this next bathroom looks familiar to a lot of you…

Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige in a bathroom with beige toned tile and soaker tub with dark wood surround. Kylie M Interiors E-design

While I don’t have a photo of the rest of this space, from what I do so…

  • I’d paint the front of the tub and the vanity (assuming it’s the same material).
  • To make the tile look more updated, we can’t do any type of gray. The best bet is a lighter, more modern shade of beige (some of them are pretty freakin’ fab).
  • Change the towel hardware (and likely the faucet and light fixture) to be less Tuscan style, although I’d probably stick with oil-rubbed bronze as those tiles have their limits.

Sometimes you can only go so far based on your home’s existing finishes.

You might have to settle on a happy medium between what you love and what your home needs! 

If you have a 1990s bathroom, I BET you have a 1990s KITCHEN TOO

 

4. UPDATE YOUR HARDWARE & LIGHTING

Your home’s hardware – faucets, light fixtures, door handles, cabinet hardware, etc. says a lot about your home, when it was built or remodeled, and what your personal style is. And relative to full bathroom remodels, it’s one of the easiest, most satisfying updates!

This next gorgeous bathroom update has Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White on the walls and Grizzle Gray on the vanity…

Bathroom wood vanity painted Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray, wall paint colour Aesthetic White. Bathroom update ideas

Notice how the cabinet hardware and lighting level up this bathroom. PERSONALLY, I’d love to see slightly taller, gold or brass faucets too, but some people love to mix and match!

If you want to learn about today’s trendy styles and finishes, rather than me talking myself blue, read this blog post

 

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL, IN A MANAGEABLE WAY…

If you want to level up, consider replacing your vanity. While I do hesitate with the vanity ‘packages’, where you get the vanity and countertop all in one, they are a great way to save money (the countertop product is usually cheap and stains/etches quickly).

This next bathroom has polished travertine beige floor tiles, and the homeowner bought a new vanity/countertop combo to jazz things up…

Benjamin Moore Classic Gray in bathroom with travertine tile floor, white vanity, white toilet, navy blue shower curtain. Kylie M Online Paint Color expert, consultant

Notice how the previously mentioned tips are implemented in this room – wall color, hardware – LOVE IT!

Or how about a vanity and some GORGEOUS FRIGGIN’ WALLPAPER…

Powder room under stairs, statement floral wallpaper, dark vanity, cute small bathroom update ideas. Kylie M Client photo. Online paint color consulting

Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige on the walls outside the bathroom

Or how about wallpaper AND beadboard or wainscoting…Benjamin Moore Copley Gray painted beadboard and bird and floral wallpaper. Country farmhouse style

Benjamin Moore Copley Gray

Thank you to everyone for sending in your ‘after’ photos, I couldn’t do this without you! 

 

LET’S UPDATE KYLIE’S BATHROOM ON A BUDGET

Rather than bouncing through different projects, we’re going to focus on one bathroom to see what can be done to take it to the next level. And remember that secret we talked about earlier?

This is my bathroom…and I have two more that are similar.

bathroom, st cecelia granite, hickory wood cabinets, beige pink tile floor, travertine accent tile, dark wood mirros, chrome. Kylie M Update ideas

I HAVEN’T updated it, yet (all of these photos are pre-purchases images), but the ideas below are what I could do if I don’t decide to torch it. But first, let’s see what’s shakin’…

  • St. Cecilia granite countertops  -notice the front profile of it, it’s scratchy and jagged (wooooof).
  • Hickory cabinets in a medium-toned stain – NOT BAD if they weren’t wearing out (you can see a bit of this in the far right corner). Plus, oak is in, hickory isn’t (for most homes).
  • Polished nickel hardware that’s guaranteed to grab every pant pocket and blow dryer cord, making my life miserable (yes, I am dramatic).
  • Check out the faucet, does it seem a LITTLE SHORT? I guarantee there aren’t any man hands fitting under that.
  • 12×12 pink/taupe/beige tile on the floor and the walls with travertine tile racing stripe, that doesn’t just stop there…

beige pink taupe 12x12 tile in bathroom and walk in shower, travertine accent, granite countertop. Kylie M update ideas

And you might be thinking, ‘Kylie, why don’t you just change it all – isn’t this what you DO?’ Because I’m like you. I live in my home, I live my life, and sometimes you don’t change things that you’ve never liked until you get ready to sell – WHICH I’M NOT DOING. However, I’m a very…very busy girl and there are 3350 more square feet of this home that needs my KLC.

Let’s just say my GSL level on this bathroom is low. 

(Give a Shart Level).

So, where do I even start? Right here…

1. UPDATE THE HARDWARE

Between the vanities, towel rods, faucets, and lighting, this bathroom needs a lot of work. Let’s start with the faucet…

bathroom, pink beige tile floors, travertine tile detail, st cecelia granite countertops, vessel sink, hickory wood cabinets. Kylie M update ideas

BATHROOM FAUCETS

The faucet, ugly lil short thing it is, is impossible to get your full hands under. While it coordinates with the tub filler, neither suits the style of this bathroom. I’ve since replaced the faucet, but we’ll save those photos for a later date (a lot is going on in my bathroom right now).

Choose your metal finish and style wisely.

  • Chrome is timeless for the average bathroom.
  • All black metal hardware in a bathroom is having a moment, but it won’t be for much longer – think about how hard you commit to black.
  • Gold and brass are hot, and if done carefully, can be mixed with black.
  • Most 2000s bathrooms can’t pull off super clean lines – make sure your fixtures have a bit of a modern curve. 90s bathroom ‘can’ be a bit more flexible in this regard.
  • learn allllll about cabinet hardware and mixing and matching HERE.

Please remember, this advice is for the average home. Depending on your particular style and the decade your home was built, there are ALWAYS exceptions! 

The 12 Most Popular White & Off-White Quartz Countertops

CABINET HARDWARE

If your cabinets don’t have any knobs or handles, it’s time to add them – they’re the jewelry of your bathroom. Just like I feel naked when I forget to wear earrings or clothes, your bathroom looks naked without it (with only a few, more modern exceptions).

Check out the handles on my cabinets. Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I catch my pockets on them?

ugly, long cabinet hardware on bathroom vanity, hickory wood, st cecelia granite countertops, honed edge, beige tile floor. update ideas

This is a good shot of the ridonkulous faucet too. And no, I don’t decorate with shells – I might look like Ariel, but I don’t live at the beach.

If you want to learn about today’s trendy styles and finishes, rather than me talking myself blue, read this blog post

 

LIGHT FIXTURES

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the oil-rubbed bronze, tinted glass wall lights that were previously there. Rest assured they looked something like this (also, a previous bathroom of mine)…

Maple bathroom before update and remodel

It always reminds me of those Jesus fish you see on the back of cars – that’s right, now you can’t unsee it.

It’s vital that your light fixture and faucet coordinate – don’t update one without the other.

With today’s trends, they don’t always need to be the same finish (although that’s my preference), they do need to have a similar style/vibe. Oh yeah, and don’t forget your towel bars and TP roll.

This is the bathroom in one of our previous ’90s homes…

bathroom before update

Paint Color review, Sherwin Williams Silver Strand, gray colour. Bathroom maple cabinet, white fixtures, east facing light. Undertones and more. Kylie M INteriors E-design

MY THOUGHTFUL & AFFORDABLE UPDATES

  • we kept the maple vanity, original laminate countertop, and sink
  • painted the walls Sherwin Williams Silver Strand
  • notice how the chrome faucet and light fixture coordinate in finish/styling
  • added a curved hotel-style shower rod with a new shower curtain
  • we did install a new tile floor – the laminate was absorbing too much water around the tub
  • yes, that mirror is fugly – it was all I could find that would fit for under $40 (seriously, it’s pretty bad, but it was 10 years ago)

Anyway, back to our lil piece of Tuscan heaven…

 

2. WALL PAINT COLOR

If you’re surprised that wall paint color comes in second, don’t be. I do believe that the best bang for buck starts with Ryan Reynolds your room’s hardware and metal finishes.

Yes, I’ve since painted our bathroom. It was Benjamin Moore Alexandria Beige when we moved in, and well-coordinated to the finishes, it was just too heavy for me.

bathroom, pink beige tile floors, travertine tile detail, st cecelia granite countertops, vessel sink, hickory wood cabinets. Kylie M update ideas

Hmmm, let me see if I can get you a shot of my new paint color without showing you the guts of the rest of the bathroom (seriously, it ain’t tidy).

Okay perfect, here it is before…

soaker tub with tile deck in pink beige 12x12, travertine, window

tuscan 2000s style bathroom update, beige pink taupe tile, granite countertop, wood vanity, travertine, soaker tub with tile deck. taupe paint color on walls

I’d give you the color, but I can’t give away ALLLL my secrets – I won’t have a job! 

While it looks a bit greenish in one spot, it’s ANYTHING but green-hued (that’s just exterior reflection). You can see the color better above the window (it’s a touch warmer in real-life).

In a bathroom like mine, which colors did I sample?

  • Off-white and light-depth shades of taupe
  • Off-white and light-depth beige paint colors

Do I generally love warm, pink-taupe-beige colors? HECCCCCK NO, but because this particular blend suits my bathroom and its finishes, I love how it turned out!

Remember, I’ve got ideas for your 1990s kitchen, too

 

3. VANITY COLOR

Next up for my bathroom (if I don’t end up gutting it, which is why it’s living in purgatory), is to paint the vanity.

Based on my particular finishes, and assuming they all stay as they are, I’ll explore…

Now, let’s say I do all of the above, I’ll have given my bathroom a BRAND new face without changing any of the big bones. I’ll save tens of thousands of dollars (for a bathroom this size)…

And while my bathroom won’t be MODERN, it will be appropriately updated. 

By the way, I have two more, smaller bathrooms with similar finishes to deal with – oy vay.

READ MORE BLOG POSTS IN THIS 6-PART SERIES

The Best Backsplash Ideas to Update a 2000s Kitchen (PART 2)

Ideas to Update Your 2000s Home: Hardware & Lighting (PART 3)

Ideas to Update Your Outdated Granite Counters (mostly 90s & 2000s) PART 4

5 CASE STUDIES: 2000s Kitchen Updates: Tuscan, Travertine, & More (PART 5)

Tile Trends: Subway Tile, Zellige, Herringbone & More

NEED HELP?

Kylie M Interiors, online paint color expert, consulding, edesign, Best Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Market (7)

Check out my Online Paint Color Consulting

Chat soon, 

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, signature, online paint colour consultant using Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams paint colours. DIY update advice ideas



Comments

  1. Thanks for this deep dive into 90s and 2000s bathrooms and for keeping it real! It’s interesting I was reading another blog this week that also stated that bathrooms don’t have to be a renovation priority. Paint can do the job for now. The other writer said, save the $$$ from the renovation and go on a vacation or have some other experience with your family. And I agree.

    We bought our 90s house two years ago and while I personally am not a fan of travertine, I am living with it for now and painting over the orange oak woodwork throughout the house and painting walls (in the whole house I mean, but including the bathrooms). It buys you five or so years, at least.

    There was one small powder room that had this ugly fake library-look wallpaper but a nice pedstal vanity and good bones, as you say. It also has (Orange) wood flooring. I stripped the paper and had it rewallpapered with a beautiful Cole and Son wallpaper from Anthropologie. Our painter was dabbling in woodworking so gave me a good deal to put up board and batten below the wallpaper. We painted that SW Pearly White which is beautiful in this room with no window. I changed the hardware to gold-ish hardware that was seriously from a kit I got at Lowes (and just fine), and called it a day. We love it and get so many compliments–that’s the bathroom that guests use and even us, during the day. So I’m satisfied with that for now!

  2. Hi Kylie, I haven’t visited your blog in a few years. I used to be here daily. I read everything for every room. Couldn’t get enough…borderline stalker..but I loved it all. Used your color services for a few rooms and it was amazing. Then life happened and I lost steam. Just read this and I’m inspired again! Thank you for all the excellent advise and content. It’s explained perfectly, making it easy to understand. Love how it’s always sprinkled with your wit and humor throughout. There is hope for those of us out here without an eye for design. We are not destined for fugly….thank you!

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