Budget-Savvy Bath Redo

It's a problem faced by homeowners across the U.S.: How to update a bath with limited funds. Frankly, most of us can't afford a total renovation. So what's the next best thing? Improving what you have, and letting the little things make the difference. See if these easy, cost-saving ideas work for you.


The common white-box bathroom found in suburbia has its pluses: usually, it's roomy, has a window, possibly a separate shower stall and tub, and one very large vanity cabinet. The downside? It's still a common white-box bathroom with next to zero personality.

The perfect solution combines organization and storage with serene touches to create a retreat that's easy on the eyes and the pocketbook.

Play Up the Positives

All the space in this bathroom allowed the inclusion of furniture pieces, such as a white wire chair and floor cabinet, to make the space look less antiseptic. White ceramic flooring goes from blah to brilliant when surrounding woodwork is painted to match instead of covered in an orangey wood stain.

Three-inch wood blinds control privacy or let in the sun, and their slim profile lets them fade into the background so the wall color can take center stage.

Work Around Existing Features

Using the classic white of the existing fixtures as a decorating starting point, the woodwork was painted white to match. Simple chocolate-brown paint creates visual calm, as well as huge contrast and architectural interest (with just a $25 price tag). Save yourself the expense of removing the sheet mirror that lives above most cookie -- cutter bathrooms and instead center a decorative picture frame in front of it for a more intimate look.

Glass door counter cabinets provide pretty display storage of attractive bath products and cover up some of the wide expanse of mirror.

Update Fittings

A new Victorian-style facet with white porcelain levers matches the collection of antique mirrors hung over the bathtub. Brushed-silver knobs replace gold knobs. Cup pulls add more vintage style to the drawers -- a $60 touch that has big impact. And a timeless $90 chrome light fixture takes the place of the dated wrought iron fixture.

Hide the Clutter

This floor cabinet, a $75 flea-market treasure, fits neatly against the wall nearest the tub. Closed cabinets provide hidden storage for bath sheets and extra towels, and shelves up above display green, silver, and white tchotchkes with a style mission: make the bathroom as personal as it is practical.

Pamper Yourself!

Soothing bubble baths, bath oils, and lotions beckon you to forget the stresses of your day and spend time in your newly made over bathroom.

Consider a bath tray an investment in your "me time" bank -- a long soak is the perfect opportunity to get started on that classic book you've always wanted to read, or the newest release.


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