One of the best investments you can make, not just in the resale value of your home, but in your overall quality of life, is to upgrade your bathroom.
Your bathroom is not only where you get clean, but it’s also generally where you groom and style yourself. For many people, a long soak in a bathtub is one of the key ways that they relax and take care of themselves. And for some parents, the bathroom is the one place that they can get some precious alone time.
Making your bathroom a more enjoyable livable room heightens the relaxing aspect of your cleaning, grooming, and self-care rituals. Making it more convenient and useful saves time and streamlines morning routines. Improving the lighting and atmosphere gives you a happier face when you check your smile in the mirror. And a nice bathroom is likely to seal the deal for prospective home buyers as well.
A bathroom renovation can be expensive and time-consuming, but they don’t have to be. There are many inexpensive, DIY options that give you the benefits of a full-fledged remodeling at a fraction of the cost.
TIP: Keep in mind that any bathroom remodel on a budget requires you to buy or install new fixtures that use the existing plumbing and drain placement in your bathroom. Moving water supplies and drains can be costly and time-consuming, so work with what you already have.
Budget Bathroom Design Ideas
Your bathroom remodel costs depend on what you will replace and what you will re-use. During your budget preparation you need to consider the following.
Upgrade your bathtub
If you have an inexpensive, prefabricated, fiberglass bathtub that is old, cracked, or stained, replacing it with a newer version in the same size and shape is an easy way to improve the look of your bathroom. A new fiberglass bathtub can be as little as $200, and using existing drains and plumbing makes installation so easy that an advanced homeowner could probably do it themselves over a weekend.
Expensive bathtub options: Buy a new, high-quality bathtub and have it professionally installed.
Inexpensive bathtub options: Have a professional resurface an existing bathtub to make it look new again. Professional bathtub resurfacing can cost as little as $300, with much better final results than buying a DIY resurfacing kit for $100.
Upgrade your shower
Walk-in showers are in huge demand, and an easy way to maximize space in a small bathroom. If you currently have an alcove bathtub, consider removing it altogether and replacing it with a walk-in shower. In contrast to a bathtub, a walk-in shower can open up a room and feel spacious, while offering many of the luxurious, spa-like features of a bath.
Expensive shower options: Install a new shower with custom tile surround and fancy showerheads.
Inexpensive options: Install a pre-fabricated shower stall in the alcove formerly occupied by the bathtub. Shower stall kits cost half as much as custom tile surrounds, and start at about $500. These are easy to install and might even be a DIY project, but professional installation only costs $400-$600.
Upgrade your tiles
Old, stained tiles in a bathroom makes the room look dirty no matter how clean it is. And removing old, bad tile is a job in itself; it can be expensive to remove and difficult to dispose of.
Expensive tile option: Retile the bathroom, with a combined material and labor cost of about $1100 per 100 square feet.
Inexpensive option: Often it isn’t the tile itself that is the problem; it’s the old, stained grout. Purchasing a grout removal attachment for a Dremel tool means that you can re-grout your bathroom and make it look sparkling again for less than $100. Also, there are a huge variety of self-adhesive decals that can be applied over existing tiles to add a new look or custom accent for just a few dollars.
Upgrade your cabinets
In any bathroom, storage is key, and old, ugly cabinets are unappealing. Evaluate your storage needs and options, and look for attractive, space-saving solutions.
Expensive bathroom cabinet option: Replace bathroom cabinet and bathroom vanity altogether, including professional removal and installation costs, starting at about $500 (assuming you use the existing sink and countertop).
Inexpensive option: Remove doors and drawer-fronts and paint them. Paint cabinet facing, clean and polish (or replace) doorknobs and drawer pulls for only the cost of paint and painting supplies. While we often see people doing this in the kitchen, remember that it can just as easily be done in the bathroom.
Upgrade the lighting
Bathroom lighting is not only integral to the atmosphere and environment of the room, it can contribute to safety and cleanliness in the tub and shower, and make you look better in the mirror. This is a place where it’s good to not skimp, and perhaps not good to DIY unless you have some experience working with electricity.
The cost for a professional to simply replace one light fixture with another is only about $100, so the best way to save money on lighting is to shop sales and deals on the fixtures themselves.
TIP: it’s not just about the light fixtures, but about the light temperature. Bad lighting can make anyone look terrible and strike a blow to self-confidence. Choose warmer color temperature lightbulbs to light your face in the mirror: not only will you look much better, but choosing bulbs that simulate the color temperature of daylight will improve the results of your makeup application. “Daylight” or “warm white” LED or halogen bulbs may cost a little more, but they will last for years, and you will look and feel better every day.
Budget Bathroom Remodel Final Thoughts
These are just a few ways to improve the look, feel, and function of your bathroom on a tight budget, but with big results. Tackling one job at a time also makes it easy to DIY and spread the cost out, making it more manageable in both financial and schedule terms. In a one-bathroom house, a full-scale remodel can cause all kinds of logistic challenges. Break the remodel project down into bite-size pieces and surprise yourself with what you can do!