A small rustic bathroom sounds delightful, with natural materials exposed and the feel of the outdoors pouring in. However, achieving an artistic look versus living in a barn is a goal that can be hard to grasp. You can follow specific rules to ensure reasonable rustic bathroom ideas on a budget.


Dealing with a small space can further limit your expectations of design and being able to experience a rustic feel. The following tips can save you time and money in recreating your tiny bathroom without spending a fortune on updates.


Table of Contents

The Look of a Small Rustic Bathroom

Raw and honest are fitting terms to describe anything rustic. Warm, earthly neutrals present an authentic and uncomplicated view of life. If you compare it to an existing style, contemporary would be close. Rustic has rounded edges, no polished finishes, and carries the character of country people.  

There are no surprises with rustic to interrupt our state of mind of nature and purity. We can easily incorporate this style into many others, including Tuscan, modern rural, cottage, and coastal. A wood floor or floor tiles of slate bring the element of nature’s most refined to your room.

detail of bathtub in a rustic bathroom 

A Small Rustic Bathroom with Atmosphere

A modern bathroom has challenges. The most significant hurdle is protecting wood from moisture. You can create an outstanding rustic look with unfinished timber, but how long before the timber warps and cracks? To think that you can strip the wood from an old barn and use it as an accent wall in a bathroom is not realistic.

It is an impossible task to remove dampness from a bathroom. Select moisture-resistant materials are a great way to battle the recurring damage caused by water. Before making a trip to Home Depot for exceptional-looking wood paneling or wood planks, consider these water-resistant options.


  • PVC Wall Panels: PVC wall panels are water-resistant and designed to use in wet areas. They are also fire-resistant. 
  • Vinyl Wall Tiles: Photo-realistic vinyl is helpful in any area exposed to moisture. A stone wall becomes possible with this great choice.
  • Wood Types and Sealants: Hardwoods are less porous than softwoods and are more resistant to moisture. There is no type of wood that is waterproof. However, waterproofing sealers can create a waterproof barrier to prevent warping and mold. They make sealers from polyurethane or a similar product.
  • Ceramin: Ceramin (registered trademark) by CLASSEN is a laminate tile treated with a megaloc aqua protection system. Free of PVC and plasticizers, it is durable, waterproof, and dimensionally stable. 100% recyclable and an excellent alternative for allergy sufferers. 

There is a way to waterproof your wood without chemicals and sprays. Linseed oil or Tung oil is a plant-based product hand-rubbed into the wood. A very time-consuming method, it requires re-application as time passes. You can purchase a pre-blend that contains either Tung or boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and polyurethane. This mixture is good for removing any stickiness that occurs when the oil alone dries.

Wood can cast a warm and welcoming look to a rustic bathroom. Be careful not to overdo timber in a small space it can turn into a claustrophobic nightmare. For example, using wood beams and lining the walls with wood can be overbearing. Your rustic design will turn out feeling like a closet. 

For example:


  1. Use natural stone or wood-looking material on one wall while painting the other three walls white. Dark colors of walnut or red cedar will add a look of sophistication.
  2. Use natural wood or rough stone as wainscoting on two walls. The suggested height for a bathroom is 38 to 42 inches. However, practice with the right look by taping off sections and observing the difference. Placing these waterproof barriers behind the vanity and toilet is a great idea to protect from moisture buildup. 
  3. wooden floor or stone tiles will suffice when having white walls. Rustic accents, such as open shelving and a wooden vanity, can be a focal point. Storage space becomes available for your powder room when a closet is not present.
  4. A compact bath can benefit from white-painted shiplap walls and create a clean aesthetic look. Shiplap gives an excellent backdrop for both if you want to use one prominent color and different textures. If you have an enclosed tub, installing a shiplap along the exposed side will give the room a better flow.  

Color Scheme for a Small Rustic Bathroom

Fall colors of green, red, and brown are standard in a rustic bathroom design. Warm blues from the sky and orange-yellow from sunsets are also useful in combination. The critical thing to remember about color in presenting a rustic flair is to keep the tone natural with no phony commercial decorative accents.

Use earthy tones throughout the entire space in your rustic, DIY bathroom ideas. White and neutral colors encourage settings with too much space, and natural light is a must in these open areas.

Exceptional Ideas for Rustic Bathroom Vanities

Idea #1

There is a cheap way to bring new life to your tired-looking bathroom vanity. For several years now, builders’ basic wood-looking vanities got used. This move aims to provide a generic look that would flow with several decors. 

An easy way to make your space feel more rustic is to transform your existing cookie-cutter vanity into a more powerful rustic statement piece. Weathered wood boards, repurposed gray wood, or distressed teal and brown painted wood are a few rustic bathroom decor ideas.

AdvertisementsThe first line of business is to remove the doors and drawers from the existing vanity. Either set aside to redo the exterior and replace or discard and leave an opening for open shelves.

If you want to replace the doors and drawers, remove the hardware and recover with your new look. Replace the hardware with industrial cup pulls to complement your rustic look. If you select the second method, purchase a wood board the size of the interior and use adjustable pegs to create two roomy interior shelves. The cost will be minimal, and the results will be excellent.


Idea #2

Creating a small bathroom toilet table will take up little space and give you ample storage below. Visit garage sales and second-hand stores for wooden writing desks that have seen better days. It will take up little floor space in your small area.

This project can be a little more intense and costly than the first one. The desktop will need to be removed and replaced with a marble countertop for protection from water and dampness. The existing sink can be an option, or you can install a vessel sink.

For the space beneath, look at wicker baskets on wheels or stackable wooden crates that easily fit into the open space. The extra storage will be invaluable in this type of storage unit.

Idea #3

Use tin inserts in your vanity doors for a bold and natural look. A straight version or tin with ripples will highlight your vanity. This is a good idea that can also work for a linen closet or an over-the-toilet unit. Using a mini barn door and easy to install. 

New versions of barn doors are taking shape. For example, a modern design sliding cabinet door can still give you a rustic appearance with a different perspective. A replica of the same style can act as an entrance sliding door

Mirrors and Lights

A bathroom mirror is essential in any bathroom. In staying with the plain and natural look of a rustic retreat, a frameless mirror above the vanity is one of the best ways to achieve this look. However, if you have left this wall painted in a neutral color or have included white subway tile as a backsplash, a framed mirror can look fabulous. 

One solution to covering your above-the-sink vanity area is to purchase a farmhouse mirror. There are different shapes and sizes for small and large bathrooms. With frames finished already, the overall look is an already complete rustic finish. You can also create your mirror frame for a more desired look.

Make sure that someone proportionately balances your mirror with the vanity. The vanity should always be more expansive than the mirror hung above it. In a small bathroom, the vanity may only be 30″ wide. The mirror should not exceed 26-28″ in width to deliver the perfect balance. The space between the top of the vanity and the mirror can be 5-10 inches in height.

Bathroom lights

Bathroom lights need not be fancy unless you add a modern touch to your perfect space. If the main feature of any rustic style bathroom is the vanity, choose your surrounding lights carefully.

Old-school light fixtures hung above the mirror can bring out the natural elements of this rustic space look. The vintage look will tie in nicely on a solid wood board of matching stain. Always make sure that your lights do not overhang the mirror. This makes a big difference in appearance. 

Vintage insulator lights or fixtures with copper shades make a lovely accent above the vanity area. Hung from the ceiling as pendant lighting, you can place these fixtures on a dimmer switch to deliver low or high light beams.


Tubs and Showers

If you are old enough, the picture of a cow trough bathtub on the back porch is on your mind. Made of galvanized metal, the original purpose was to provide water to the farm animals.

AdvertisementsPioneers of the 18th century found that these troughs also worked for taking baths. This was before the invention of running water and toilets in homes. Today, porcelain-enamel cast iron, copper, and freestanding acrylic tubs are all the rage in rustic-styled homes.

Different versions have developed from the original piece, and they consider many the epitome of deep water soaking. A freestanding tub adds a feeling of luxury to a rustic bathroom. The thought of relaxing neck deep in warm fragrance and bubbly water turns the entire room into a shrine for pleasure. 

A small bathroom may still have this feature, including a water nozzle shooting from a nearby wall or on the ceiling. Depending on the tub’s location, a shower curtain is used to avoid soaking the walls and floors. If you are lucky enough to have one of these prized tubs, consider the design of the shower curtain

I saw plain white or white lace, but today’s designs include more colorful pictures and prints. Golden sunflowers, brown plaids, natural burlap, and personalized notes can hugely affect your rustic flavor. Open showers share the same picturesque variations in curtains.



Accessories go a long way in giving your rustic bathroom a quality appearance. If you have an entire blank wall, put a lot of thought into the specific vintage accessories that match the overall atmosphere. A large mirror (full-length) is always welcome if the wall space can support it.

Wooden or metal picture frames with landscape views, animals, or sky formations make a pleasing array of nature. Paintings on rough wood panels are also striking. Wooden shelves and iron towel holders can sit majestically over a toilet. A spray of wildflowers or fresh greenery always adds to the vibrancy of life. If nothing else, use artificial leaves and ferns for a touch of natural color.

Use a short wooden towel rack close to the vanity to drape hand towels. Save room for an old metal medicine cabinet if you can find one. Wooden signs are always a pleasing sight to visitors. 

Clear or blue tinted mason jars make excellent liquid soap dispensers, and toothbrush holders in antique ceramic material add a nice touch. If you see a space for a floating shelf, use it. Organize your insignificant items and shelter them in boxes, glass jars, and vintage trays. 

Last, keep the clutter on the floor to a minimum. The more floor space shown, the larger your small bathroom will appear. If you have any architectural details covered up through remodeling, uncover them. Exposed pipes and wiring are going a bit too far, but brick walls, old windows, and spaces between wooden joints can set off your creative spirit.

Start your new project at your own pace to exchange a contemporary or modern bathroom decor for one of rustic beauty. Most of the ideas listed here take little money but create an entirely distinct atmosphere. 

Other projects, such as updating sinks and faucets, should be a consideration much later if needed. By moving at your own pace, you will feel the changes each time you step into the room. A greener, more natural environment will unfold before your very eyes. 


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