By Harry Sawyers
We’ve spent hundreds of hours testing bathroom accessories and fixtures to find the best upgrades for any home—including a rental. There’s a limit to what you can do in a space you don’t own, but a few minor upgrades to the bathroom can make it feel a lot more like it’s yours.
Few bathroom upgrades offer so much life improvement for so little effort. Wrap a little Teflon tape on the threads before screwing the new showerhead on, and save the old one so you can put it back when you move out.
The best showerhead
The best low-flow showerhead
At just 1.5 gpm, this exceptionally low-flow showerhead has one of the fullest sprays of any model we tested—but there’s only one (strong) setting, which may feel overwhelming.
Even if you already have a shower curtain you love, treat yourself to a new liner. And if you need a curtain but this style is too neutral for you, we have more options in the design section of our shower curtain guide.
Neutral and durable
A great liner
This washable polyester shower liner works as well as liners twice the price. It won’t attract soap scum like a dime-store plastic liner, and it can also double as a shower curtain.
When testing bath mats, we focused on absorbency, durability, and a range of options to suit everyone’s decor, seeking mats that would dry quickly and wouldn’t skid on a wet floor.
Good quality, guaranteed
More plush, less money
This soft polyester rug absorbs water as well as our pick and dries faster, but it has few color and size options and isn’t as sturdily made.
A wood mat option
No bathroom ever really has enough places to hang a towel, a robe, or a wet bathing suit. We have options for hooks you can drill, stick to an adhesive, or hang over the door.
If an adhesive hook will do
If you can mount hooks
If you need over-the-door hooks
Small trash can
We’ve found that the best garbage cans last longer, look better, and stink less than cheaper ones—all good reasons to justify getting something nice. Like a lot of good bathroom upgrades, this one can come with you when you move.
Roomy, tough, and stylish
Not as big but built to last years
Unless your shower has some excellent recessed shelving, you’ll likely need more storage than you’ll find at the corners of the tub. We tested 12 caddies to find versatile options that would last a long time and be easy to keep clean.
The best shower caddy
Excellent quality, easy to organize
A great, but more expensive pole-style pick
A new towel feels great, but one of the unexpected pleasures of upgrading is seeing something luxurious hanging on a hook every time you’re in the bathroom. We’ve spent well over 100 hours trying dozens over the past three years to find the best.
The best bath towels
Thin and affordable
Bidet (or just a new toilet seat)
If you can splurge on a bidet, go for it. But if not, even a new seat is nice.
Everything you’d want in a bidet seat
Only the essentials
If you want a regular seat instead
A standing shelf or wall shelves can add storage and decor options in a room where counter space is at a premium.
A basic, stylish, minimal shelf
Medicine cabinet organizer
Keep bottles and jars from tumbling off high shelves with clear organizers.
Order for small things
Nice cabinet-door storage
Hair elastics and makeup brushes stay separated with modular trays.
The best drawer-organizing set
If you need individual organizers
Toilet paper roll holder
A sturdy stand takes the place of a missing toilet paper holder while keeping a fresh roll handy and visible.
A roll holder with storage
Unless your bathroom is tiled floor to ceiling, you probably have a small open patch of drywall to fill. Put up some pictures—even a couple of favorites can transform a small space nicely.
The best picture hanger
Things to save for the renovation
Although it may seem simple to swap out a faucet, you’ll often find that you also must replace the angle stops that open and close the supply lines, which means shutting off water to the building and soldering new connections.
A new toilet is nice to have, but installing one can be surprisingly difficult. You may have read that this is a landlord-friendly rental upgrade, but it’s more work than that.
Our main hesitation: Many wall-mounted cabinets (or even some floating shelves with storage, like CB2’s Hide n’ Seek storage shelf) install by mounting to larger cleats, which is more likely to cause wall damage and harder to remove if you move out.