Small Bath Makeovers

See how four small bathrooms were completely transformed, without knocking down walls or spending a fortune.

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    Makeover 1: Out with the Old

    Though utilitarian, this 5x8-foot bathroom lacked style and storage. The homeowner wanted the space to reflect her personality and include more places to stash stuff.

    To make the bath bright instead of boring, the homeowner turned to paint, beaded board, fresh fabrics, new fixtures, classic tile, and a bit of off-the-shelf millwork. The focal point, however, is the new vanity made from pipe, a slab of limestone, and a drop-in sink. This DIY project is half the cost of retail.

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    Makeover 1: Tub Time

    A window in the bath is both a blessing and a curse. The homeowner loved the light but needed a way to keep the woodwork water-free. She took out the tired window with its peeling fake-frosted glass and installed a new double-hung dressed with mini shutters and cafe curtains. Shower curtain liners protect the window treatment.

    DIY Tip: Front cafe curtains with a clear shower curtain cut to size for a solution that¿s practical but pretty.

  • 3 of 17

    Makeover 1: Country Charm

    To stretch the space and add interest to the bright white room, the homeowner installed head-high wainscoting and topped the wall with a warm, happy shade of greenish gold.

    DIY Tip: Add architectural interest to a bright white space by using contrasting hardware on doors and cabinets.

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    Makeover 1: Storage Solutions

    This bathroom needed storage in a big way but couldn't afford to sacrifice any surface area. The homeowner sunk a shallow shelving unit into the wall and hid it behind a door fronted in beaded-board paneling for a seamless look. Adjustable shelves allow for tall bottles and containers. Head-high wainscoting blends the unit into the backgrosund.

  • 5 of 17

    Makeover 1: Chic Sink

    This cross-handle faucet ( contributes a bit of sleekness to the room¿s cottage personality. For the vanity top, the homeowner picked through remnants at a local stone-supply company, where she found a great deal on this piece of limestone. Including charges to have it custom cut, she paid about $300.

    An undermount sink ( delivers a catalog-quality look without a big price tag. The homeowner¿s husband custom-made the unit using 1-1/2-inch chrome tubing and fittings he found on the Web ( He spent about $350 for the parts.

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    Makeover 2: Drab to Fab

    See how a few simple updates made all the difference in this once-drab bathroom.

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    Makeover 3: Modern Update

    This 5x8-foot bathroom was only (and barely) functional. Its perennial half-finished feel begged its owner for some closure and class.

    To suit the homeowner's taste -- masculine, but with calm Zen influences -- the palette focuses on creams and browns. Tile and natural wood provide the backdrop for softer elements, such as a large-print shower curtain, towels, and a rug. Mosaic glass tile encases the tub from floor to ceiling and makes an attractive focal point.

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    Makeover 3: Uncluttered Counter

    The homeowner wanted to emphasize clean lines and straightforward surfaces. A frameless mirror and wall-mount faucet keep the small-scale vanity uncluttered.

    DIY Tip: To keep a solid wood countertop looking great, seal it with clear polyurethane.

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    Makeover 3: No-Fuss Storage

    This homeowner is decidedly unfussy when it comes to prep time. Razor, comb, toothbrush, towel, and soap often suffice. He has all the storage space he needs with a towel basket, a medicine cabinet, and a small shelf.

    DIY Tip: When laying floor tile, find the center, install that row, and work out to the edges.

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    Makeover 3: Shower Curtain

    Whether metal or plastic, shower curtain rings either look cheesy or are irritating to use (or both). The homeowner's solution? A simple track on the ceiling that puts the eye on the curtain rather than the bar and those rings. In this small space, the floor-to-ceiling curtain also pulls the eye upward to visually expand the room.

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    Makeover 3: Simple Sink

    In a small bath, consistency is key. To play to the room's streamlined design and save lots of space, this homeowner chose a round, above-counter sink and paired it with contemporary wall-mount faucets.

    Instead of spending a wad of cash for a big piece of teak, he fashioned this vanity top from two pieces of mahogany by gluing two 2x10s together. For a snug fit, he routed a notch on the back edge of the top and fit it over a board firmly fastened to the wall.

    He purchased the legs for the vanity at IKEA for $12.99 each ( Though they're designed for use with IKEA furniture, he liked the look and simply repurposed them.

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    Makeover 4: Fresh Perspective

    This 90-year-old cottage bath didn't always look like this. Before its total DIY transformation, it was dingy and short on storage, with few amenities and even less style. The homeowner focused on the positive -- the white tub and tile -- and cooked up ways to improve the bathroom's looks and function.

    She started with a clean sweep of the surfaces. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling makes them look brand-new. Neutral 12x12-inch tiles simplify the floor. Made from a $10-a-yard quilting fabric, the new shower curtain places the room's palette clearly in the cottage category. A sparkly chandelier and pair of sconces flanking the mirror (a great value at $40 apiece) amp up the brightness.

    DIY Tip: Use outdoor fabric in bathroom applications, such as this Roman shade. It's often mildew- and water-resistant.

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    Makeover 4: Mirror Mania

    Replacing the dark vanity, this classic pedestal sink was a splurge, but worth the investment as a focal point. A new frame for the recessed medicine cabinet also gives weight to the wimpy mirror and offers a ledge for displaying toiletries. This frame is custom-made, but you can find similar fixes online; try

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    Makeover 4: Super Storage

    A new double-door cabinet takes advantage of every square inch by extending to the ceiling. The glass fronts keep the piece from feeling massive while reflecting light around the room. To make a splash with tile without the expense of labor or materials, the homeowner purchased samples from a tile shop, then chipped out a few original tiles and replaced them with the samples. Some of these tiles hold new double hooks.

    DIY Tip: Nothing dresses up a wall better than tile. Or add beaded board and new paint and you've got a fresh-faced backdrop. A bright white or neutral palette makes the space appear larger and helps accents such as towels, hardware, and artwork take center stage.

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    Makeover 4: Floor Planning

    Typically 30 to 32 inches wide, a door takes up lots of space in a petite bath. Make it shine by replacing a cheap-looking, flat-front, hollow-core door with a paneled model that adds subtle texture and overt character to a small room.

    Don't forget about flooring. Because the square footage is small, you won't have to drop a lot of dough to upgrade flooring. Stone or ceramic tile is a great choice for a luxurious, well-finished look. In a small space, it doesn't take long to install these materials yourself. Want to spend even less? Check out inexpensive vinyl options.

    DIY Tip: Before beginning any project, it helps to sketch the area to scale. Plot windows, doors, tub, toilet, vanity-and don't forget the extras, such as shelving and towel bars.

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    Makeover 4: Space Savers

    If you have an older home with vintage windows in the bathroom, consider the condition of the wood around the window. Is it beginning to rot? Replacing a window doesn't have to cost a fortune. Just be sure to get an efficient model and seal the trim with oil-base paint. Caulk the cracks meticulously. A mini shower curtain over the new window provides extra protection.

    With luck, your existing tub is still in good shape and is can't-go-wrong white. (If you've got avocado green and you want to replace it, your time and money commitment just got bigger!) Give it a good scrubbing, surround it with tile walls, and even wrap the front with millwork for an update. Add new faucets for fresh sparkle.

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    Begin Slideshow »

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