In my quest for ideas to execute during my layoff, I came across a few posts on how to remodel bathrooms for less than a certain amount of money. Pinterest posts and ads from major home repair and supply stores focused on updating bathrooms that were in working order and could be redone with a little paint, fixture changes and maybe a new theme.
Here’s my bathroom before:
Here are a few of the ideas I used and how to apply them to your advantage:
1. Update the flooring
There are many homes out there that have linoleum or laminate flooring that can be easily painted over, replaced or tiled. If you have a bathroom in a second floor with these materials, tiling over will require a new base to support the weight. Many sites advise against tiling over linoleum or laminates. In the case your home is from 1980 or older, there is the risk of asbestos. Check the plans and specifications of your house with the local authorities before initiating the modifications.
Depending on the course of action and the price of the materials, placing laminate tiles that look like ceramic or wood will add the most value and the best look. If you are updating or adding a backsplash to the vanity, make sure the concepts and colors match. The most common remodel out there is the farm style or country style in all shades of dark to light wood grain.
Where to get the best deals: Check the newspaper for sales are the local hardware and home supply stores. Home Depot, Costco and Lowes place laminate tile on sale for $0.99 a sq ft. Local flooring stores also have specials that include installation or free quotes. Make sure the laminate planks are designed for bathroom use as most click or easy installation products are not made water resistant. Make sure you add 10% extra material in case of loss of material due to failures or material defects.
2. Frame the contractor’s mirror
Framing the mirror is another easy DIY project. You can buy kitted parts or create your own look. Some houses have odd dimensions on their mirrors because they were custom made for the home. If you buy trim at your local hardware store there are some options that come with corner blocks so you do not need to miter cuts to get the traditional frame look. If you do not like the current mirror, you can easily purchase a replacement and mount it to the wall. If you have a dual sink vanity, replace the one piece mirror with two and you will have space to add shelving or storage space.
Where to get the best deals: Local lumber store for wood trim, Home Depot or Lowes for corner block styles. Amazon or online for kits. Make sure you add 10% extra material in case of failures or wood defects.
3. Update the bathroom lighting and faucet fixtures
This is one of the easiest and less time consuming options to change the look of your bathroom. Most houses have the contractor’s light fixture which is a long bar with 3 to 4 lights. Depending on where you choose to get the replacement, and as long as the new one has the same lighting output (replace a 3 light bulb fixture with another one). If you like to do math, you can calculate the light fixture wattage output and find the corresponding light fixture with less or more light bulbs.
If you have the contractor’s bar fixture, the hole in the wall is not as big as the length of the bar. Once you remove it, the standard sized hole will fit most commercial fixtures. You may want to paint the wall before installing the new components, especially if you painted around the original fixture.
For the sink or bath fixtures, make sure they match the look of the light fixtures or that they do not clash with the floor finish. If you are using copper undertones for example, make sure all the accents match that undertone or you may end up having to change them. If you don’t have enough money to buy new ones, sand the existing ones and coat them with a rust resistant coat of spray paint. (You can do the same with the light fixtures and the cost of a can of paint ranges from $3 to $7.)
Where to get the best value: Depending on the look you are going for you can either purchase new fixtures at local stores or online. If you have a bit more time to shop, the local Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Tuesday Morning or second hand stores resell donations. Check the second hand stores near affluent or high priced home communities for higher quality goods.
4. Add trim or insert word here to the walls
Cost: $25+, depending on materials and size of bathroom
Add Wainscot or use baseboard or chair trim to create the effect of a two toned wall. Make sure the trim lines up or is taller than the vanity. In my case, I used the trim and painted the bottom of the wall a deep brown color to give the illusion of two surfaces mating. The trim only requires glue and nails which is faster and more economical than other wood finishes and installations.
Where to get the best value? Check local lumber store, Home Depot or Lowes for wood and installation supplies. Amazon has trim and Wainscot kits and so do most online stores. Make sure you add 10% extra material in case of losses or wood defects.
5. Change the curtain rod to a curved one
Cost: $20-$50, depending on style
Changing the curtain rod for a hotel style, more elbow room, curved rod is a simple upgrade that takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete with the correct tools (drill, level, a few stud screws in case the kit doesn’t include them). This is also the perfect moment to upgrade the bathroom curtain to match the look, if necessary. The curved rod adds space inside the bathtub and may take away a few inches of space; measure well the space between the new shower curtain location and the toilet or vanity to avoid running into each other.
Where to get the best value: Prices online can sometimes be offset by the shipping costs. Check TJ Maxx, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and secondhand stores like Habitat for Humanity. Because these rods are sold in many places, use a coupon to cut the cost. (I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon.)
6. Change towel rod for towel hooks
Cost: $2 – $5 per hook
My biggest issue in the bathroom was the towel rod. I couldn’t fit enough towels in the rod to meet the needs of two people. Although guests took the towels back to their room and hung them from the door or inside the closet, I didn’t feel this was efficient as my guests would need to carry the extra item to the bathroom. By adding the hooks, I could fit more towels in the space and they would dry just as well as the one hung from the rod. Adding a third hook gave us room to hang shower caps and loofas within reach of the shower/bath. The single hook holds the towels very well and is commonly used in country style bathrooms. It also adds a bit of class to the decoration when matched with the faucet and lighting fixture trim.
Where to get the best value: Clearance rack at hardware or home store or online. There are a lot of varieties and stores to choose from. Some people use drawer round handles instead of the hooks.
7. Change the paint or add a wallpaper feel to existing paint job
This is another quick fix to make any bathroom nicer. Depending on the style or home improvement show you are copying, the colors and textures suggested will vary based on sponsorship. A gallon of paint will most surely cost you anywhere from $25 to $50 dollars, or even more, depending on the brand. In my remodel, I used dark brown Valspar paint that I previously bought for another project. Make sure the paint is mold and mildew resistant as it will be under constant humidity changes.
Using neutral colors is always the best bet. If you don’t mind, some paint stores have a clearance rack with colors people returned or that were blended incorrectly. For a smaller bathroom in a two tone configuration, a pint may be paint enough. The cost is cut by half when you use the smaller amount and if you run out, ask for a sample size to finish the job (unless you miscalculated and need another pint).
To change the look to “fake” wallpaper you can purchase a roller kit with a pattern and use it to paint over the existing paint job. I found one at Home Goods, and some can be found online.
Where to get the best value: Valspar has a guarantee that if you do not like the color they will change it. Lowes and Ace Hardware carry the brand. Lowes and Home Depot carry many varieties and brands, including those used by the HGTV shows. Walmart and Fred Meyer sell high quality paint as well. I suggest you find one that matches your budget and follows the guidelines above.
8. Add tile over laminate or change the existing vanity sink for a tabletop style
I didn’t use the ideas to upgrade the sink and vanity but they ranged from painting the existing cabinetry to changing the sink and top for a farm one. Two of the most economical options where to leave the existing sink and tile over or paint the laminate to fake a stone counter top finish. This last option comes in kits from major retailers and brands.
For tiling, the cost will vary depending on the materials. I have selected tiles under $8 and ready mixed adhesive for other projects which is why I priced this option at $25+. Disconnecting the sink is very easy and quick but the tile installation time and grouting require a 48 hr period. On the other hand, painting the top will take less time and require less materials and tools.
If you change the color of the cabinets, you may need to change the color of the trim and Wainscotting to match unless you used white.
Where to get the best value? Check local tile stores, Home Depot or Lowes for tile and installation supplies. Make sure you add 10% extra material in case of losses or defects. For the paint kits, the same stores apply. (If you want to get creative check Pinterest for ideas on how to upgrade sink tops and vanities.)
If you use all of the suggestions at the lowest possible value, you could do a very nice remodel for less than $300. If you plan to sell your home soon, the neutral paint and curved rod may be the best bang for you buck as you never know what ideas the new owners may want to implement.
I hope that these tips are useful to you and that a combination of elements gets you to reach a budget of $100 or less!