Updating a bathroom medicine cabinet

by Jessica
I haven't found any ideas on how to update my medicine cabinet (renting) that is pictured below. There are tons of ideas on updating mirrors or single panel cabinets but none like this. Please help!
Ugly trifold medicine cabinet
  21 answers
  • April April on Jul 10, 2016
    If you don't need the storage space could you take it off the wall and hang a large framed mirror in its place?
  • CK CK on Jul 10, 2016
    I had one similar. I painted it the same color as the wall and it sort of "erased" itself from view ;-) Even my dad commented how much nicer it looked. The light fixture looks dated too but if you're renting you probably don't have an option to remove. Howevvverrrr.......you could easily replace it while you live there with a light fixture of your choice (I did the same thing in my bathroom too) and replace the existing one before you move. You don't need an electrician to do this. Instructions come in the box for new light fixtures. DO remember to shut off the power first though before installation. Good luck! These trifold mirror cabinets really have some great aspects to them....painting them makes them look so much more updated. I guess you'd have to ask your landlord first for permission to do so, but he/she probably wouldn't mind if you can convince him/her of the easy update :-)
    • See 1 previous
    • Millie Millie on Jan 03, 2017

      Clean it well with TSP, or even a light solution of ammonia, then rinse. This would remove hairspray, smoke, etc. that may have adhered. Then sand slightly to dull any shine, being sure to get into any grooves. Then prime. I personally love Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water based, no odor primer. GREAT adhesion! Then paint with semi-gloss latex paint. I like Valspar, but there are many good paints out there. This would be a great project if you are new to painting.

  • Queenie Doss Queenie Doss on Jul 10, 2016
    I am very crafty and stuck with the same cabinet and triple mirrors and a lot of patience and after a year of thinking about it I have decided to remove it and replace with flat mirror ,it will make your bathroom look thirty years younger ,instant up grade ,you can find a large mirror from old dresser and paint the frame and tweek to your taste ,it will make your bathroom look much larger also ,hang basket on wall and reclaim the space you removed ,store landlords in closet until its time to move again . Not only do I have the same cabinet ,I have the exact same lights also
  • William William on Jul 10, 2016
    Remember to check your lease on what you are allowed to do. Also make sure your landlord gives you permission, in writing, or you could loose your security!
  • Hunter Hampton Hunter Hampton on Jul 10, 2016
    I had just a mirror, hated it. It looked nice but I needed a place over the sink to put pills and bathroom stuff in. I would rather have an ugly medicine cabinet than no medicine cabinet. I have the same lights, but covered them. Google cover hollywood bathroom lights. You could also replace the bulbs with Edison bulbs and you wouldn't need to cover them.
  • Apache Apache on Jul 10, 2016
    A quick and easy fix, which is removable, is to head to the local Dollar Store. You can find peel off sheets of designs. Choose a couple you really like, I chose butterflies and flowers, both in a neutral silver. I added them to my mirrors in a border pattern. Then I chose some softly shaded butterflies and added them for a touch of color. For the ugly frame, I chose a pretty contact paper. For $4.00 I had a new and beautiful focal point in my bathroom. Everyone comments on it as soon as they walk into the bathroom. You can also find inspirational sayings there. They are also clings. I add them to walls and doors as added interest. Perhaps you would like some in your bathroom, it looks pretty plain. Live well, laugh often, love much is one of my favorites, also, The greatest of these is Love. Happy decorating.
    • Judy Benner Judy Benner on Aug 31, 2020

      Do those clings adhere to walls? I’m in the southwest and my walls are textured a bit.

  • Patricia Patricia on Jul 10, 2016
    Since the sides are visible and if you are a single female, I would find material that you like and make a gathered frill around the frame with accessories to match. Or decale the mirror with flowers and drape a garland that matches the flower leaves over the frame. Good luck I know this is a difficult project especially if you have a husband that isn't into frills.
  • Shirley4 Shirley4 on Jul 10, 2016
    OK... I'm guessing since you're renting the landlord won't let you just change out the medicine cabinet? And you probably don't want to spend alot of money on someone elses property... so here are some stream of consciousness thoughts......... LOL 1. Removable wallpaper or removable contact paper to cover the edges around the mirrors. - 2. Frosted decals to apply to the mirrors to make them look etched. - 3. If the surround is really metal with a faux wood look, you could use magnets to attached some real wood (stained or painted or whatever look you like?). - 4. I'll keep thinking.... :-) Do let us know what you decide to do!!! :-)
  • Jemma Dee Jemma Dee on Jul 10, 2016
    If you are handy, make 3 sided set of shelves to fit over the top and down the sides of the medicine cabinet (like a saddle). You can accessorize with votives and fancy perfume bottles. Sort of like a mini version of the IKEA Lack wall shelf pictured below.
    comment photo
  • Michelle Michelle on Jul 10, 2016
    I have to get rid of mine too but I don't know how to tell if a recessed cabinet can be installed in my bathroom or not. I need the storage space but that cabinet has to go. Advice on the recessed cabinets??
  • M. How M. How on Jul 11, 2016
    I bought a mirror exactly like this on craigslist intending to recess it into my bathroom wall. However, there were water and other pipes in that area and that was the reason the original medicine cabinet was not recessed. A bummer but that's life.
  • Kposies Kposies on Jul 13, 2016
    I have the same cabinet: cost $300. Why would you want to get rid of it? Yes, it is meant to be recessed into the wall, however, homes where you need the extra storage are usually too small to set this cabinet into the wall. I painted the sides of mine to match my wall. If you need the storage, you can live with the protrusion.
  • Michelle Michelle on Jul 13, 2016
    Its just very unattractive, makes a small room look and feel smaller and its totally outdated. I cant wait to find a better way to store things. When I sell my home it will def have to be gone!
  • CK CK on Jul 14, 2016
    I'ts oak, right? Clean it well with TSP (trisodium phosphate) found in the paint section of the store. (Follow package instructions.) Allow to dry completely. Then use any good quality primer (I like Zinsser Bulleye's 1-2-3 in latex). I've always had good adhesion with water based primers. Then use any latex paint in whatever sheen (from flat to high gloss) that you want. If you want it to blend in with the wall paint color, use the same color and sheen as that is. If you want it to stand out, paint it a color you'll use in your room as accents. My guess is that your landlord won't put up much stink if you paint it the same color as the current neutral colored wall. Convince him that it'll look more refreshed and he'll go for it... hopefully ;-) Then post pics :-)
  • Marjo Marjo on Jul 14, 2016
    Go to a hobby store and buy a package of glass mosaic pieces and glue them all over the cabinet in a nice pattern and you'll have an artistic mosaic frame. Paint the sides in a color that will compliment your mosaic or walls.
  • Brit Brit on Aug 10, 2016
    I'm in the same boat as you, OP. I think what my husband and I will do is try to individually frame each door so they look like three separate pieces.
  • Carey Carey on Sep 10, 2016
    And I just bought one just like it. It needs to be cleaned up, either varnished or painted. I am so looking forward to having a really nice medicine cabinet in my bathroom. Then here on Hometalk I saw and idea to use one for a sewing thread Cabinet. Now I am in a quandary!! Do I want to use it in my sewing room or in my Bathroom? Maybe I will have to look for another one. It seems that we all have a tendency to think that the grass is greener on there other side of the fence, just like our steer did when I was a kid! I could have strangled that critter because I was always having to go get him back in the fence!!!!LOL
  • Sally Sally on Dec 30, 2016

    We are building a new home and in one of the bathrooms I bought an old buffet that I am making into the vanity. To match it I bought a used triple door mirrored medicine cabinet that we will recess in the wall. It has an oak frame that we will stain to match the vanity. This is a 500k home. I want the vintage look though with the sinks and everything. See if you can match the vanity to the medicine cabinet however you decide to finish it. It will make everything flow and match better and look clean. Good luck.

  • Lynne Webb Lynne Webb on Jan 01, 2017

    You're renting? I wouldn't do any thing permanent like painting unless you get permission. As it is, I'd add some ivy along the top and go to the Dollar Tree. They have some 'inspirational' semi-transparent stick-on's for mirrors and walls. I have one that says 'Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful' on my own bathroom mirror.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 23, 2024

    Lowes and Home Depot have attractive peelable window film. Just remove it when you leave.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 23, 2024

    ONLY with written permission from the landlord would I change the medicine cabinet in ANY way unless you can return the cabinet to it's original look when you move. You might ASK if they'd be willing to update....otherwise save your creativity until you own your own property. The landlord might even consider updating the cabinet if you request it.