We’d all love to update our ho-hum bathroom to mirror one of the over-the-top spa-like bathrooms we see in decorating magazines. You know the ones we mean. They’re typically outfitted with an outrageously expensive free-standing tub, a separate tiled shower with a built-in bench and multiple shower heads, heated towel racks, and a double vanity that looks more expensive than your entire dining room suite! Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that kind of a budget to work with. Still, with a little imagination, a bit of forethought and some DIY spunk, you can do a bathroom remodel on a budget. Here’s how to take your bathroom from boring to impressive without breaking the bank!
Make Some Magic With Paint
There’s no less expensive way to transform a bathroom — or any room, for that matter — than with paint, and if you do it yourself, you save even more.
- Stencil the ceiling to create an unexpected focal point. (Painting it in a contrasting color will have the same eye-catching effect.)
- Create drama with boldly-colored walls. (Consider saturated colors like turquoise, terracotta, or deep blues as well as deep, rich grays.)
- Got a little imagination and a paintbrush? Paint a simple mural to add pizzazz to an otherwise ordinary bathroom. (Bear in mind that things like bare trees or blooms are easiest to master if you’re not exactly a Picasso protégé!)
- Instead of replacing an outdated vanity, give it a makeover with paint and new hardware. (Oil-based paint works best in moist environments and is easier to clean, too. Just make sure you’ve got some good ventilation in the room since the fumes are strong!)
Make Tile More Affordable
Tile is a popular choice for bathrooms because it’s durable, moisture resistant, and versatile, but it can get pricey. Here are some ways to cut tiling costs to make it a more affordable option:
- Use less expensive plain white ceramic tile for the majority of the room, and add a colorful tile accent wall.
- Along the same lines, perk up white tile with dark or colored grout lines.
When Painting Isn’t an Option
Bathrooms in rental units are typically neutral, and your landlord may not want you to change that. Here’s what to do instead …
- Punch up a white bathroom with black accents. (Add a plant to soften the look.)
- Another way to perk up a neutral bathroom is with a “look at me” shower curtain. (If you’re going for an elegant look, consider using two shower curtains for an effect that mimics the look of draperies.)
- Use vinyl decals to add interest to walls.
Make the Mirror a Focal Point
A great mirror can literally transform a blah bathroom …
- Replace a boring big box store bathroom mirror with one that makes a statement.
- Use multiple mirrors as art and create the illusion of more space at the same time.
Details That Get Noticed
- Install beadboard sheets (4′ x 8′) to perk up boring walls and add some charm. They look like real beadboard (which involves installing individual boards) but are a fraction of the price.
- Install a curved shower rod to add some softness to a room that’s mostly made up for rectangular shapes. Double the effect by adding a round mirror over the sink.
Splurge on One Great Feature
- Replace your existing showerhead with a large rain-style showerhead for a spa-like touch. This threads easily onto existing piping — no plumber required!
- If your bathroom is small, it’s easier to afford some standout tile for the floor.
Introduce Some Vintage Pieces
Scour flea markets and yard/garage sales for old pieces of furniture or quirky pieces that you can re-purpose to add warmth and charm to your bathroom …
- Think a less pristine piece won’t work? Think again. An old, distressed glass-front cabinet can serve as storage for towels and other necessaries, while adding a shabby-chic vibe to a ho-hum bathroom.
- Use a vintage table, chest, makeup vanity — even a desk — to create your own one-of-a-kind vanity. (Use a mid-century piece if your bathroom is sleek and modern, and it’ll look right at home, yet still add a touch of warmth.)
- Don’t overlook things like vintage lighting, plumbing fixtures, mirrors, and even side chairs, which can all add charm and personality to a plain-looking bathroom.
Add Some Distinctive Accessories
You accessorize other rooms in your home, and the bathroom should be no exception. Just a few artful touches can make a huge difference in the atmosphere. They don’t necessarily have to have a “bathroom theme” to work well, although inexpensive touches like a bowl of natural sea sponges or beautiful handmade soaps are always effective. You can also add a beautiful piece of framed art, a vase with a single white orchid, or even a piece of sculpture to add personality, serenity, or even humor!
In the end, there are no hard and fast rules, and in fact, a little outside-the-box thinking is often what makes your bathroom special — whether it’s got a whirlpool tub and expensive tile work, or, like most typical bathrooms, something a little more ordinary! These tips are just a starting point, so make sure to add your own dash of personality to your bathroom remodel on a budget!
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