Upgrade your bathroom on a shoestring budget

Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson
Published on April 18, 2017

Kitchens and bathrooms are the workhorses of the house. Every member of the family spends time in each room, numerous times a day and, over the years, both can become worn and drab. Sure, they could use a remodel, but with the average cost of $9,275 to upgrade your bathroom, you may want to consider a DIY makeover instead.

Whether you’re putting the home on the market or just want to give it a new feel, take a look at some of the ideas we’ve put together to help you spruce up your bathroom, without breaking the budget.

Clean it up

Sure, it’s a basic suggestion, but a clean slate will help you see exactly where you need to start before you upgrade your bathroom. Clean the bathroom from top (yes, even the light bulbs can use a good dusting) to bottom.

Rid the counters of the detritus that typically collects there – the cosmetics, blow dryer, toothpaste and medicine tubes and bottles. If it’s not decorative, put it in a cupboard.  In order to properly upgrade your bathroom, you need to be able to see what you are starting with.

Take down the shower curtain and liner, remove throw rugs and towels and wash them if you’ll be keeping them.  If you have glass shower doors, white vinegar and water will help rid those doors of water spots.

Wallpaper or paint?

What you do to your walls can be a game changer. Paint or wallpaper will instantly transform the space in a variety of ways, from making a tiny bathroom feel roomier to giving it an entirely different feel. Color, whether in paint or paper form, works wonders.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both wallpaper and paint, so take some time to consider carefully which you’ll use. Wallpaper is harder to work with than paint and it’s much harder to remove when you (or a homebuyer) decide they no longer want it. The advantage of wallpaper, however, is that it can provide texture and patterns that are much harder to achieve with paint.  Plus wallpaper can really upgrade your bathroom with different patterns and designs.

Of course there are other wall treatments to consider if you’re not on a tight budget. These include shiplap, board and batten and others.

Whichever you choose, when you upgrade your bathroom, the walls are the second task after cleaning.

Shed some new light

New home builders aren’t particularly knowledgeable about proper lighting techniques. The ubiquitous Hollywood lighting strips in bathrooms are a perfect example of this. Women, especially, rely on proper lighting in the bathroom, when applying cosmetics. Lighting above the mirror is the absolute worse for that purpose, according to lighting experts.

These experts recommend attaching lighting sconces at eye-level on each side of the mirror. So, consider this when purchasing new lighting when you upgrade your bathroom.

Update accessories

Depending on your budget, new accessories can include items as small (but with a big impact) as new throw rugs to a new mirror and faucets. Consider at least buying a snappy shower curtain and coordinating towels and rugs.  Just having new colors will be a major upgrade to your bathroom.

Ditch the plastic switch covers for some of the new ones that come in a wide range of finishes, such as aged bronze and brushed nickel. With a bit larger budget, you can quickly add new life when you upgrade your bathroom by replacing the drawer pulls and cabinet door knobs to match the finish of the switch plates.

Finally, don’t forget those walls you worked so hard on – consider adorning them with artwork.

Most homeowners spend between $5,534 and $13,040 to remodel their bathrooms, according to HomeAdvisor. With a little creativity and far less money, you can upgrade your bathroom in just a weekend.

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