Most homeowners know that the bathroom is the second most-costly room in the home to refurbish, but transforming the bathroom into a serene retreat doesn’t have to cost $20,000. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some smart design choices to come out of the renovation experience with a beautiful bathroom on a smart budget.
Bathroom Remodeling Ideas Overview
First, budget carefully. A renovation that begins without a plan is the easiest way to see costs spiral out of control, ending up with a project that takes a decade to finish. The total budget will influence your design decisions, with micro budgets benefiting from plans that stick to cosmetic features and plans with a little more wiggle room offering the chance to change bigger elements like tile, cabinets, and small architectural changes.
Shop Around for Tile
A micro budget probably can’t sustain a full set of new tile on the floor, shower, and along the walls, but there are a few ways to include tile in the smallest of home remodeling projects. After shopping around at different tile suppliers for a low price, inquire about closeouts and incomplete stock. Inserting a few designer tiles within a set of less expensive tiles offers a chance to add a bit of luxury into the bathroom with trendy accents.
Choose Counter Tops Smartly
Often, one of the first phrases out of a real estate agent’s mouth is “and there are granite countertops,” but this feature isn’t as expensive as you might think when it’s in the bathroom. While a kitchen might require several feet of counter space, a bathroom often has a much smaller need. This means a beautiful granite or marble countertop isn’t out of reach.
Remember that stone countertops like granite are available in colors beyond traditional gray or brown. Just as you did with the tile for the bathroom, comparison shop for granite and remember to consider all the available colors that might allow you to drop the price a little more.
One rather ingenious way to get a granite countertop on a particularly small budget is to choose a slab that has imperfections. Consider that installation of a sink and/or fixtures may hide the imperfection once the piece is shaped for installation.
Trendy and Inexpensive Sink Pedestals
While resurfacing the cabinets in the bathroom are a simple DIY project, one trendy solution that adds style to the space, is using a piece of old furniture on which to place the sink. This might be an old dresser or nightstand that you can find at a garage sale for 10 or 20 dollars.
Homeowners who aren’t interested in putting the work in to find an old piece of furniture may end up paying thousands of dollars for this feature in a regular furniture store. It’s not worth the money to pay a premium for a few drilled holes, which is essentially what you’re paying for when you buy such a piece retail.
Remember that repurposing an old piece of furniture must only be done when you’re willing to make sure the furniture is sealed against moisture. Bathrooms tend to be quite humid, and often there’s very little ventilation. A high quality stain, sealant, or paint is necessary to protect an old piece of furniture from the stress of a humid environment.
Smart Fixture Buying Tips
A set of new, shiny fixtures is a noticeable and popular way to update a bathroom, and there’s a lot of hardware in the bathroom that might need replacing. Beyond the sink and bathtub faucets, there’s also towel racks, the handle on the toilet, and all of the cabinet knobs. Take a close look at the number of pieces you’ll require and purchase all the fixtures and hardware at the same time, so it matches.
Alternatively, it’s possible to get creative with accents like the towel racks by using materials that aren’t necessarily meant for use as a towel rack. Any long piece of metal that might be affixed to the wall can serve as a towel rack. Something “industrial” like a piece of pipe could look great in a modern bathroom.
Get Your Caulk and Grout Ready
Cleaning grout and re-caulking are activities that most homeowners dread. What many people don’t know is that old, dirty grout that isn’t cleaned on a regular basis may become damaged and pitted over time. Reapplying caulk to various points in the bathroom isn’t too difficult, but getting the grout to look like new will require an investment of time and manpower.
Attempt Refurbishment Instead of Replacement
There are elements in a bathroom that will cost a hefty amount when fully replaced, and a homeowner with a small budget probably won’t have the available funds to bring in a completely new bathtub. There is an option called relining, however, that’s terrifically inexpensive and will ensure the bathtub looks new, just like the sink and toilet (which are much easier to replace because they cost far less).
Additionally, purchasing an entirely new set of fixtures isn’t absolutely required if you can locate some vintage options. Some types of fixtures, such as fiberglass, porcelain, and cast iron may be refinished with a kit that’s available from the store, but remember that a few extra tools will also be required of the job like protective gear, sanding materials, and paint brushes.
Find Second Hand Sources
Just about everything in a bathroom (except for a can of paint) can be found somewhere from a secondhand source. Online websites like eBay and Craigslist are treasure troves of trendy and vintage pieces, as well as the vintage listings on Etsy. Comparison shop on each of these sites, and if you choose Craigslist, remember to bring your bargaining hat.
There are also brick and mortar resources that offer secondhand sales that even benefit charities, in many cases. Most people only think that they can only donate to charities like Habitat for Humanity, but there are also opportunities to buy gently used items, and support a good cause at the same time.
Remember the Environment
If funding permits, consider water-saving devices when you upgrade items like the toilet, faucets, and sinks, as well as the shower fixtures. “Low flow” toilets had a bad reputation in the mid 1990s when they were first put on the market, but today’s water-saving toilets and bathroom fixtures work extraordinarily well and shouldn’t present any major problems.
Also consider that “green” fixtures and devices often cost about the same as their water-wasting equivalents, so investment in these items won’t bloat the budget, and you’ll even save money in the long run on power and water bills. Any repurposed or reused equipment in the bathroom also helps reduce waste and keep working fixtures from ending up in a landfill.
Think Outside the Box
Be sure to think outside-the-box when finding ways to repurpose items. A shelf doesn’t necessarily have to have originated in a bathroom elsewhere. Consider shelving made out of reclaimed wood for towels or old tiles that were removed from another home undergoing refurbishment. Vintage tiles may be completely intact and require nothing more than a quick shine.
Refurbishing a bathroom on the “cheap” is a fun adventure for any homeowner, and the resulting space is something of which you can be proud. Plan well for the remodeling and see your hard work turn into something beautiful, at a great price.
For those that are not much of a ‘weekend warrior’ but still need some bathroom remodeling, feel free to contact me to discuss remodel ideas that fit your home and budget.
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