Small Bathroom Remodels on a Budget

artwork above toilet
No matter the size, remodeling a small bathroom is a big project. These petite baths were completely transformed while keeping budget and style in mind.

BEFORE: Stuck in a Timewarp

Filled with charms and challenges, this 4x8-foot bath in a 1920s bungalow needed a few spruce-ups to unlock its full potential. A leaky water-guzzling toilet, a stained pedestal sink, and dated fixtures topped the must-fix list, which was accomplished on a $1,500 budget (excluding labor) and some DIY sweat equity.

After: Back to Classic

The remodel preserved and enhanced the classic details while updating the functionality of the space. The blue floor tiles inspired the addition of sophisticated navy and-gray damask-print wallpaper, which the homeowners hung themselves. New beaded-board wainscoting painted bright white restored some of the room’s architectural detail and proved to be more cost-effective than taking the wallpaper to the floor.

Total Cost: $1,515 (excluding labor)


The homeowners have already noticed a savings in their water bill after replacing their bath’s original toilet with a WaterSense-certified model. Toilets built before the 1980s can use up to 5-7 gallons per flush while today’s high efficiency models use as little as 1.28 gallons.

Replaced and Improved

A pedestal sink fits the home’s style but lacks storage, but a glass shelf and a new medicine cabinet stand in as handy storage. The homeowner suggests making sure the new cabinet will fit the existing hole before applying wallpaper in case the opening needs to be modified. Replacing the 1990s oak medicine cabinet with a white-framed version furthers the bathrooms lighter, bright aesthetic.

Personalized Style

An embroidered monogram and ribbon glued on with permanent fabric glue, such as Fabri-Tac, are inexpensive ways to give a store-bought shower curtain a custom look.

Character Boost

Thoughtful touches give the room additional character. Inspired by the vertical lines of the beaded board, Jim modified the built-in cabinet's existing doors with receded glass. Grosgrain ribbon glued to an inexpensive Roman shade shower curtain gave custom style. Finally, new chrome accessories added sparkle to the space.

Watch the quickest ways to transform your bathroom from drab to fab. These easy changes are impactful to the eye, but not on the wallet, proving that a decorating a bathroom can be done well for less.

Simple Updates

Quick and affordable changes took this small bath from drab to fab. See how you can use the same tactics in your bathroom.

Total Cost: $498

BEFORE: The Right Opportunity

A pet hamster's escape to inside the bathroom wall and a rescue required tearing into the wall herald a long-awaited bathroom redo.

After: Eclectic Simplicity

With a DIY mind-set, the owners of this small master bathroom created a personal sanctuary on a budget. This Asian butcher table, found at an antiques shop, was repurposed for the vanity. The table maintains its authenticity with a simple above-counter sink. A new mirror adds a modern touch, while a pebble-tile "rug" on the floor adds texture and a spa-like accent.

Total Cost: $1,528

Stylish Storage

Inexpensive shelves from a home center transform the wall above the toilet to provide a storage spot for bathroom essentials. Throughout the bathroom, a simple light-and-dark scheme helps the space appear larger, and the same scheme was applied to the vignette above the toilet. The dark tones on the shelves, picture frames, and art contrast with the white towels, photo mats, and bud vase.

Keep It Simple

Mixing modern with antique is the secret to this bathroom's signature look. Both the vanity and sink/faucet combination are simplistic but foster vintage and contemporary aesthetics. This single-lever faucet is easy to use, and the tall spout is the perfect height to deliver water to the vessel sink. A nickel finish on all the fixtures creates a cohesive look in this master bath.

Personalize with Details

This eclectic bath got a one-of-a-kind floor with a pebble-tile "rug" created with mesh-back river rock tile squares. Using just a few pieces of the more expensive pebble tile adds a luxe touch to the bathroom without adding much to the remodeling costs. The pebble tiles are the same color as the border tile, which creates an uninterrupted visual plane along the floor -- and helps the small bath feel larger.

Spacious Walk-In Shower

Simple subway tiles give this walk-in shower's modern design a classic feel. A painting, coated with a polyurethane sealer to waterproof it, creates a focal point on the back wall. Although this shower is open, it is wide enough that overspray is not a problem.

BEFORE: Basic and Boring

It took two rounds of remodeling to take this 5x5-foot powder room from basic to fantastic. The thoughtful planning strategy allowed the homeowners to make updates gradually (a smart spending strategy).

After: Posh Powder Room

With just a few affordable changes, this powder room got an elegant new look. A slender pedestal sink adds a graceful shape to the room without taking up much space. The easy-to-clean wainscoting behind the sink adds a pretty architectural element in this small bath. Installing the painted beaded board just past the midpoint of the wall draws the eye up and lends a sense of height and a layer of charm.

Total Cost: $2,355

Small Stature, Big Style

A white pedestal sink has a classic and versatile look that will withstand time and trend. With no base cabinet, the simple pedestal on the sink visually opens up the room. The pedestal sink was outfitted with the timeless appeal of a brushed-nickel faucet, and its wide rim is a perfect spot for pretty soaps or a small vase of flowers.

Walls That Wow

The bold, oversize paisley-pattern wallpaper amps up the small bathroom's style and offers ornate contrast to the simple lines of the wainscoting below.

Pretty Accents

Storage needs are often minimal in a powder room. Incorporating a small cabinet provides a place to tuck away extra rolls of toilet paper and hand towels. Plus, there's place on top to display decorative accents.

Style Underfoot

Although this bath was done on a budget, its small footprint didn't require much flooring material, which provided the homeowners an opportunity to splurge a bit. This woven mosaic tile is a perfect complement to the bathroom's style and will wear well. To stretch your budget, surround decorative tile with more affordable plain tile around the perimeter of the room.

BEFORE: Tight Quarters

Can you say small? This 7x6-foot bathroom left a lot to be desired in the style and size department. But a smart remodel transformed the tiny bath's style and function without adding a single inch.

After: Compact Comfort

Two avid DIYers transformed their 7x6-foot hall bathroom into a polished, serene space. They achieved their updated look with smart shopping and by doing most of the work themselves. To make the small room feel larger, they chose a color scheme of soft green, white, and brown.

Total Cost: $2,069

Punch with Paint

The serene, soft green paint visually expands the small room, and the white sink, towels, and robe are crisp counterpoints to the green walls. A rich brown vanity, framed mirror, and accents add drama.

Refresh and Repurpose

In an ingenious turn, an inexpensive nightstand was turned into a vanity. It's a sophisticated alternative to a stock vanity and offers the look of a higher-end model. The nightstand drawer is still functional and can be used to store small items. A large above-counter sink minimizes splashing, and the nightstand was treated with a lacquer finish to make it water-resistant.

Open Storage

Removing bulky linen closet doors helped open up the small bathroom and keep items accessible. Corralling like items -- washcloths, cosmetics, etc. -- in baskets prevents the open storage from looking cluttered.

Inexpensive Art

Art doesn't have to be expensive to offer a gallerylike look. A trip to New York City inspired this subway sign art. These signs were made on a computer, printed, and affixed to slim boards with glue, then covered with a decoupage medium.

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