If you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom on a budget, here are some clever tricks that can help you make the most of what you already have!
Back in the spring, we decided it was finally time to replace the ugly peel n stick tile that was in our kitchen, laundry room, and our main bathroom. You can read more about how that turned out here, but long story short: We loved it. It made the rooms look so much better pretty much instantly, as new flooring tends to do. In order to put the flooring in, we had to remove the pedestal sink that was in our bathroom. Once that was out, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to put it back in and this little “bathroom on a budget” upgrade started to take shape.
I decided that this would be a great project to share for this month’s Thrifty Style Team post! The way these posts work is that you read through one and then scroll all the way to the bottom to find links to all of the other posts that the other team members have put together this month. There’s a new thrifty style idea in every post! Be sure to check out all of the others when you’re done reading about my bathroom. 🙂
Ideas to Upgrade Your Bathroom on a Budget
I should definitely call attention to the fact that we really weren’t ready to do a full renovation on this bathroom. It does kind of need one, but there are several projects already underway around the house that we really wanted to get to first. We definitely wanted it to look a bit better in here though, so we decided to do what we could without throwing a ton of money into a room that we’re hoping to totally renovate one day soonish. Here are some of the little upgrades we did that made the most impact, for the least amount of money!
Add New Trim and Baseboards
We usually think of trim work as being the final piece of the puzzle in a renovation, but did you know that you can replace just these things in a room without renovating the entire space? Updating your trim work can really have a huge effect on a space, even if you change nothing else. In our bathroom, we took out the old 3.5″ baseboard and replaced them with these taller ones, like we’ve been doing elsewhere in the house. This height of baseboard actually fits more with the age of our house, and make more sense than the ones that were installed in the 90’s that were popular at that time. The simpleness of them is what makes them feel more modern.
We also took out the thin little trim that ran along the top of the tile work and added a big, chunky piece of trim up there. It ties in with the type of trim we used on top of the shiplap in the kitchen and makes the tile work seem brand new, even though we didn’t touch it.
Paint Your Tile
About 7-ish years ago, I thought we’d be ripping this bathroom out fairly soon, so I did a little experiment and painted the ugly peachy/browny patterned tile in this bathroom. I thought it was crazy, but it was only for a little while so I thought at least I’d be able to look at fresh white tile for those few months while I waited to do this bathroom. Well, fast-forward 7 years and the painted tile was still there, and not looking too terrible except for maybe three little spots. We considered a few different options to either remove the tile or just cover it up during this update, but decided that maybe the best option was actually just a fresh coat of paint. I absolutely love the way it looks now with the new trim work and I even like the shape, size and layout of the tile in here. So glad we kept it!
*update!* Here’s the link to the original post from a long time ago when I first updated this bathroom and painted the tile!
Upgrade a Cheapo Vanity
I have to admit that I really have a thing for high-quality cabinetry. It just makes me happy. The bathroom vanity options that really caught my eye were just too expensive for this little “bathroom on a budget” update and it would be silly to spend that kind of money on something that we’re considering to be a temporary solution. I ended up finding this really simple, teeny-tiny bathroom vanity that took up less space than our old pedestal sink, but offered a bit of storage as well. You can read more about how I made the most of the tiny amount of storage space in the single cupboard here: How to Organize a Tiny Vanity.
I liked the basic shape and color of the vanity, I liked the little cubby on the bottom for towels, and I liked the inset cabinet door, but that was about it. It was pretty plain and lacked anything that really gave it any style or personality. To make it look a little less like it belonged in a sad basement bathroom somewhere, I made sure to use a good, high-quality faucet in a finish that worked with other finishes in the room. I also added a new, more modern handle for the cabinet door, and then I added a towel bar to the side of it. We bought a standard size towel bar and just cut it down to fit and it works perfectly, both functionally, and also because I can hang a towel on it to add a little color and pattern to the super plain side of the vanity.
I can’t get too far into ideas for a bathroom upgrade on a budget without focussing on the vinyl flooring that started this whole project in the first place. Vinyl flooring is such a practical solution for a bathroom because it’s completely watertight. The advances in this type of flooring in recent years have been really impressive and you can get some really nice flooring for very little per square foot. Look for If you’re only looking to put the flooring in the bathroom, this would be an incredibly affordable upgrade and definitely worth the small investment!
Chris also thought I should note that the actual installation of vinyl plank flooring is actually really inexpensive, even compared to other flooring that might seem to be a similar price point to purchase. You can probably find tile, for instance, for around the same price per square foot as vinyl plank flooring, but then you also have to purchase thin set, grout, and a tile saw. You can install vinyl tile with just a utility knife and nothing else. It’s also super easy to remove later on if you want to change your flooring out again.
Work With What You Have
When it comes to trying to keep costs down, of course the very best tactic is to work with what you already have in the room. It can be easy to just say that you don’t like anything in a room and just decide that everything needs to go, but it’s worthwhile to take a step back and look at what you already have that you can save and incorporate into your new design. In our case, we kept the tile, the toilet, the light fixtures, and the tub. The tub definitely needs to go at some point, but we realized that it doesn’t bother us quite as much as the old pedestal sink did, and ripping the tub out would have led us to have to do way more in here that just a little spur-of-the-moment, on-a-whim update.
Honorable Mention: Get a New Shower Curtain
You know how getting a new quilt on your bed kind of makes the whole room feel like it has a new life? That’s the role that a shower curtain plays in a bathroom, if you have that kind of a tub/shower set up. I’d had my old shower curtain for about 8 years. Actually, I’m pretty sure I bought it the week that we moved in. I still liked it and thought I should just keep it, but realized that it might be worth it to spend the few dollars and just see how I felt about something new. It really was the final piece of the puzzle that made this whole room feel brand new.
If you follow along with me on Instagram, then you may have seen in my stories that I actually burned a hole through the new shower curtain when I was trying to steam the creases out! I was a little annoyed at myself, but I liked the curtain so much, that I went out and bought another one. One follower suggested that I make outdoor pillows out of the shower curtain that I had ruined and I loved that idea!
So that’s our updated bathroom on a budget!
Scroll down to see all of the other fun projects from this month’s edition of the Thrifty Style Team!
- OPERATION HOME PURGE…SAVE MONEY BUYING & SELLING ON FACEBOOK by Redhead Can Decorate
- FUN HALLOWEEN CANDY CENTERPIECE DIY by Chatfield Court
- VINTAGE ENAMEL BUCKET by Bliss Ranch
- COZY FALL BEDROOM DECOR IDEAS by DIY Beautify
- UPCYCLED DETERGENT POD CONTAINER PUMPKIN CENTERPIECE by Salvage Sister and Mister
- THRIFTY BOHO STYLE PILLOW TUTORIAL by What Meegan Makes
- 5 WAYS TO UPGRADE A BATHROOM ON A BUDGET by The Creekline House
- DIY LAKE HOUSE DIRECTIONAL ROAD SIGN ON SCRAP CEDAR by Unskinny Boppy
- EASY DIY LEATHER PLANT HANGER by The How-To Home
- COUNTRY COTTAGE CUBBY MAKEOVER by Cottage at the Crossroads
- TURN A SUMMER WREATH INTO A FALL ARRANGEMENT by Duke Manor Farm
- VINTAGE HALLOWEEN PRINTABLES by I Should Be Mopping the Floor
- PAINTED PLASTIC JACK-O-LANTERN MAKEOVER by 2 Bees in a Pod
- EASY KRAFT PAPER AND PAINT TABLERUNNER by Jennifer Rizzo
- THRIFT STORE LAMP UPDATE by The DIY Village
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.