Bathroom Makeover: 7 Budget Friendly Ways to Make Bathroom Improvements

by Agnes Gaddis | Updated: Sep 28, 2021

If you find the bathroom in your rental home is starting to look dull and uninspired, it may be time to make some bathroom improvements, especially if you’re looking to keep your current tenants happy or attract new ones. You may consider a renovation or makeover. There are many things to examine when determining if you need a renovation or makeover, but it basically comes down to budget.

A renovation is a costly project and will more than likely not fit in your budget or even be necessary. If you don’t have $10,000 to spend on bathroom improvements for a renovation, then a makeover is your best option. We’ve compiled a list of the best bathroom improvements to make your makeover easier and more budget friendly, but first we'll help you decide if you need a renovation or a makeover.

Do I need a bathroom renovation or a bathroom makeover? 

If your bathroom fixtures are showing signs of wear and tear, or the bathroom hasn't been remodeled for a while, it's time to renovate. According to Ilana Weismark, CEO of Ooh La La Home Staging, a bathroom should be remodeled every four to five years. Examples of renovation projects include hooking up fixtures like toilets and sinks, installing new flooring, insulation, hanging drywall and plumbing. Add in the cost of a contractor, and the cost of the renovation can increase tremendously. Note that the duration of a bathroom renovation project can take a few days to a few months and could be a pain for your current tenant. If you’re looking for new renters, this can delay new tenants moving in which can mean losing revenue. 

A bathroom with no plumbing issues, moldy walls or broken tiles that has adequate space probably doesn’t need a full remodel.  If this is the case, you’ll want to move forward with a makeover and focus on cosmetic changes such as painting, regrouting and updating some fixtures instead of structural changes like adding new tiles and expanding the shower. These changes are comparatively cheaper and quick to complete, and will still give your bathroom the refresh it needs.

7 budget friendly bathroom makeover ideas

Use the following makeover ideas when a renovation project is off the table:

1. Redo the grouting

View of bathroom vanity against a white tiled, dark colored grout wall.

Your bathroom probably looks jaded because of the build up of grime, limescale and mold within your tiles. This causes discoloration in your grout and most likely changes the look of your bathroom in an unappealing way. After cleaning your bathroom thoroughly, inspect the grouting around your tiles. 

Aside from being a cheap way to refresh your bathroom, this is a long term solution to staining and mould growth. Usually the pinky, orange film caused by mold within your tile spaces will still return within a short time even after a deep clean.

2. Repaint the walls

Bathroom with bright orange wall

Use mold-resistant or satin finish paint to give your bathroom a fresh look. Painting might be the most intensive of the DIY tasks on this list. You need to use a lot of painter's tape or masking tape and paint slowly around fixtures, especially if you have a small bathroom. When painting your bathroom, ensure you keep the rule of balance in mind. Use both light and dark colors to create a beautiful combination. For example, white floor tiles with a vibrant navy blue on the walls will help create a welcoming feel. You can also experiment with mosaic patterns if you're hiring a painter. 

However, painting isn't the only way to achieve a balanced design, you can create balance with your choice of bathroom vanity. Pair a black vanity with white tiles and a gold finish for the faucet.

3. Replace the existing bathroom vanity

Focused view of wooden vanity in a white bathroom.

A wood bathroom vanity gets damaged over time with water splashes and moisture. If the damage is visible or the vanity structure is dissipating, you should consider replacing it. You can find cheap bathroom vanities that compliment your space’s new design on Amazon, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace. Updating your bathroom vanity could make a big difference in your bathroom's look. If you prefer not to buy a new vanity, consider a upcycled or repurposed bathroom vanity. You'll find some cool ideas on Pinterest. 

4. Update the lighting

View of entire bathroom highlighting  ceiling lights and vanity lights. All lights are turned on.

Lighting is one of the easiest bathroom improvements to make in your bathroom, and the best way to create space. Typically, in bathrooms, there's a ceiling light fixture and a vanity light fixture. When light is distributed effectively, a bright, airy environment is created, in turn creating the illusion of space. The evenly distributed light eliminates shadows. 

However, bathroom lights shouldn't be too bright or too dull. Either of these can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks like putting on makeup and shaving. 

5. Change the shower faucets and drain

Bathroom view of wooden shower and shower faucet.

If you have a stained, leaky shower faucet and drain, it’s time to replace it. While changing the shower faucet can be fairly simple, the drain could require a bit of plumbing knowledge. If you’re not confident that you can change your drain or faucet, you may want to hire a plumber. This change is inexpensive and could make a big difference in your bathroom’s look. 

6. Use lighted mirrors to create a unique feel

Lighted mirror above bathroom vanity with double sinks.

If you want to go the extra mile with bathroom lighting and make your bathroom feel more modern, use lighted mirrors. Apart from the functionality of serving as an extra light source over the sink, they beautify the space. Wired, illuminated LED mirrors can skew on the expensive side, but you can opt for low cost, battery-operated models. You could also buy basic LED light strips via Amazon and install them on a normal mirror yourself. 

7. Update bathroom accessories

Bathroom vanity with purple accessorie sincluding lavendar plants in flower pot, purple toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, and hand towels.

One of the most popular bathroom improvements projects to do is to update the fixtures. Buy new accessories for your vanity or a stylish hamper for use towels and washcloths. Add in textured bathroom wall art and a new shower curtain, mirror and replace the towels. These small touches will make a big impact in how people perceive your bathroom.

What if I decide I want to remodel? How much will it cost?

The cost of a bathroom remodel would depend on a number of things including if you plan to do it yourself or hire a contractor, the size of the bathroom and ultimately the vision you have for the space. You can use interior design apps to estimate your cost and visually test-run your ideas. HomeAdvisor's 2021 True cost guide puts the average cost of a small to medium bathroom remodel between $6,583 and $16,224. 

However, a bathroom remodel could cost below $1000, depending on the type of bathroom. A powder room remodel would cost well below the amount for a full bath size remodel. Whenever you embark on a remodeling project, know that you're sure to spend more than you budgeted so maintaining a reasonable overage is key.

Time for a makeover

Bathroom improvements don’t have to be costly to ensure that your bathroom has a quality makeover. Doing simple projects like changing the grouting, updating a few fixtures and a new coat of paint can go a long way to give your bathroom a bright, new look. Determine your design goal and set a budget. Then you’ll be on your way to a bathroom your tenants will enjoy while also adding value to your home.

Categories: Landlords

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