How to Upgrade Your Bathroom on a Budget

towel bathroomThere’s no avoiding a bad bathroom, especially if it’s your only one.

You can’t ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. There’s no shutting the door and ushering guests quickly past it on your home tour. No, you’re destined to stare at that mess everyday as you brush your teeth, shampoo your hair and — er — “read a magazine.”

Much as you may dream of tearing the room down to the studs and rebuilding it to take the shape of the bathroom of your dreams, a full, start-to-finish remodel is often a budgetary no-go.

That doesn’t mean you have to postpone all upgrades indefinitely. Instead, take on that eyesore one step at a time by choosing the right budget upgrades:

Go Beyond Spring Cleaning

Years of neglect can make it hard to see what you’re really working with. Whether you’re in a high-turnover rental or an older home or you just haven’t had the time to keep up with the daily grime, a deep clean can give you a whole new outlook on your bathroom.

Start by deep cleaning every inch: Ceiling and walls, baseboards and trim, mirror and vanity, sink and toilet, shower and floor, fixtures and finishes. To save money, reduce chemical use and still get a great clean, try making your own DIY cleaners. The process isn’t nearly as intimidating or time-consuming as it sounds!

Crusty caulk and grimy grout can distract from an otherwise decent bathroom. Luckily, recaulking and refreshing (or replacing) grout are cheap, easy tasks.

Refresh With Paint

Decorators love to tell you that painting is the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to refresh a space. Why? Because it is absolutely true. It’s also much easier to change than tile or a new shower if you find yourself less than pleased with the result.

First things first: Always go with a satin or semi-gloss finish. In a space that receives as much moisture and humidity as your bathroom, you want a paint finish that is easy to clean and repels moisture.

Don’t limit yourself to the walls. Hate your vanity but can’t afford to replace it? Try giving it a whole new look with paint. With the right paint, you can even update outdated linoleum flooring.

Replace the Little Things

Don’t let the little things — like the caulk and grout mentioned above — bring you down. While a few bad details can skew your view, making small, strategic changes can have a big impact.

Try replacing a rickety toilet seat and broken toilet bolt caps instead of the whole toilet. Switch the faucet and showerhead instead of the sink and shower. Make subtle improvements with a new toilet paper holder and towel hooks.

Little upgrades and turn into big money savers. Consider picking up a low-flow showerhead and making your toilet dual flush as part of your upgrade.

Add Storage and Organization

Whether the issue is lack or storage space or poor organization, remedying the situation can make your daily routine much easier.

Make the most of your vanity’s drawers and cabinets by adding drawer dividers, bins, baskets and pull out organizers. Get a bigger medicine cabinet, add a slim storage piece wherever you have space or add your own DIY shelving over the toilet.

Swap Your Linens

Fresh, matching linens have a wonderful way of adding charm and polish to any space. Liven up your bathroom by replacing (or adding):

  • Towels
  • Hand towels
  • Shower curtains
  • Bath mat
  • Window coverings

Even if you don’t need the added privacy, a simple window dressing (like a faux Roman shade) goes a long way towards making a room look and feel complete.

Invest in the Big Picture

Bathrooms can be some of the coldest rooms in the home, thanks to all that tile. If you’re already replacing your flooring, consider adding propane heating.

This may sound like a luxurious perk, but think of the big picture when it comes to savings. No more cranking the heat on winter mornings just so you can shower without shivering. Not only will they help your heating bill, heated floors can add resale value to your home.

Be a Savvy Shopper

It’s always helpful to be a savvy shopper, but it’s especially helpful when it comes to bigger ticket items.

Looking to replace your sink, vanity, toilet, tub or shower? Do your second-hand research before buying new. There are plenty of diamonds in the rough to be found through services like Craigslist or Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Want to buy new? Ask about floor models, check out scratch and dent options, learn sales cycles and study online shopping tricks.

You may not be able to afford an all-at-once overhaul, but strategically working your way through low-budget updates can give you a deluxe-looking makeover for less.

About The Author

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current on Currency. She loves all things personal finance, which is why you’ll find her work all over the PF blogosphere. Catch her updates on Twitter @anumyoon!


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1 Comment

  1. Emmy @ Club Thrifty

    We are going to replace the old sink with something new. Less than $100 but it will make a huge difference!

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