Kitchen renovations seem to get all of the glory, but a refresh of the room where you spend the most time devoted to personal care can have a majorly positive effect on your day-to-day life. That also makes it expensive: According to Fixr.com, the average national cost for a bathroom renovation ranges from $4,500 to $9,000.
That said, it doesn’t take a master plumber’s license to make small changes that can have a major impact. Here are a few upgrades that can spruce up your space with minimal headache.
Get a new shower curtain
The absolute easiest fix can actually be a game changer in such a small space. Most people don’t think twice about hanging a standard plastic shower curtain in their bathroom, but it’s a lost opportunity to make a design statement with a much nicer-looking cloth hanging that can dictate the whole vibe of the room. (Just don’t forget to hang a plastic vinyl liner behind it to prevent water spillage.)
Apply fresh grout to tiles
If you’ve scrubbed your grout within an inch of its life and it still looks moldy and discolored, it’s time to replace it. Wearing a mask, use a handheld removal tool (under $10 at Home Depot) to gently scrape existing grout away. When you’re finished, wipe the area to create a clean surface. Mix your grout and apply using a spreader and finisher. (For step-by-step instruction, see YouTube video below.)
Depending on the look of your existing tiles, you may want to match the color, or use a darker shade of grout to add contrast to light tiles.
Add new hardware
Replacing your existing sink or tub may be well out of the price range, but new fixtures like faucets are surprisingly inexpensive, and really catch the eye. Most sets available are standard sizes, so all you have to do is choose the design. Similarly, it’s not a huge undertaking to replace a leaky old showerhead with, say, a higher-end rainfall model. However, unless you have basic plumbing skills, we’d advise you pay a professional to install the new pieces.
Not prepared to pay a service bill? Almost anyone can replace drawer pulls, and it’s so easy to find sets in a broad range of styles, from vintage to modern.
According to Alden Fenwick of Alden Fenwick Design, based in New York City and the Hamptons, matte black is currently one of the most popular choices, especially if you want to spend less.
“Metal finishes are harder to pass off on the cheaper end,” she explains. The Home Depot has a vast array of affordable options.
Another easy fix? Buy a matching bathroom set (containing essentials like a towel holder, toilet paper roll, and door hooks) to pull a cohesive theme together.
Paint the walls white
It’s fine to get creative with the wall color in other parts of your home, but crisp white is best when it comes to making a small space seem larger. Any decorator will tell you that a fresh coat of paint is the simplest way to instantly transform a room and make it look especially fresh and clean. But for the bathroom, choose a mildew-resistant formula to help prevent mold. While you have your materials out, why not paint outdated cabinetry for a more dramatic revamp?
Reglaze the tub
A new tub will cost a few thousand—but the far more budget-friendly option is to reglaze the tub you have, which will run you around $500. It’s a relatively simple process that transforms your grimy old bathtub into a sparkling-new watering hole.
This is not a task you can easily achieve on your own, so hiring a professional to do the honors may be the way to go. Yet if you’re handy and ambitious, by all means do it yourself. Here’s more on how to reglaze a tub.
Consider a more flattering light fixture
Statement light fixtures used to be reserved for high-end renovations, but in 2021 there are so many affordable options thanks to online shops like All Modern and Schoolhouse. We like this retro-style option above from Shades of Light ($224.00).
Want to add a warm, flattering cast to the room? Here’s an old Hollywood lighting trick: Swap regular old lightbulbs for ones that are slightly pink-tinged.
Add a stick-on backsplash
Your vanity is a natural focal point of your bathroom, so why not add a little pizazz while also protecting your walls from a high moisture area? We consider actual tile application to be on the more advanced side of DIY home projects, but new adhesive backsplashes are easy to apply, like the one above from Etsy ($21.72 for a pack of 24).
Pro tip: Use a blow-dryer to make sure it goes on smooth and fully adheres.
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