So you want to give your bathroom a new look without flushing any funds down the toilet? Check out these tips for saving money during your bathroom remodel.
Have a Plan Before You Start
Working with a designer or architect may seem like a pricey move right out of the gate for someone wanting to remodel their bathroom on a budget, but it is money well spent. Having a plan you’ve worked out with a professional will assure you that your design, budget and timeline are realistic, and it will give you a goal with a path to get there. “Hiring a designer saves you time and money in the long run, so you don’t make expensive errors,” says south Florida-based designer Meredith Marlow.
Keep Plumbing Where It Is
Another reason to work with a designer on your bathroom renovation: Using the existing piping will save you big bucks. Relocating utilities like the toilet and the bathtub are no small task: Designer Justin Riordan says it costs about $5,000 each time you move plumbing fixtures.
Dress up that builder-grade mirror with a fantastic frame, and at a fraction of the price of sourcing a huge hanging mirror. A frame will also hide any age-related wear, says Karen Gray Plaisted, a Warwick, N.Y.-based home stager and decorator. “I often tell clients to add a frame around their mirror to hide the flaking that can happen around the edges, and to give it a more updated look,” she says.
Don’t Toss Money Down the Toilet — Update It
Here’s some potty talk you won’t want to miss: When remodeling your bathroom, consider replacing your toilet seat and lid instead of tossing out the whole porcelain perch. Just changing out these two tops can give your toilet a fresh look without buying a new unit, which saves you plumber installation fees, too.
Hit the Salvage Hard
Home decor blogger Anita Joyce found a large piece of salvage barn wood to serve as a shower curtain valance. It looks like a pricey piece and serves as a focal point, but it was definitely a budget item. Salvage can be intimidating, but if you start by checking out antique stores, flea markets, resellers and auctions, you’ve already got the idea, she says. You just have to go do it to really figure it out … and that’s how you score the really great items. You can also salvage and redo cast iron tubs, light fixtures, even sinks … basically anything that fits your style and you want to put the effort in to saving and making your own!
The Vanity of Furniture
Want to upgrade your tired vanity? Try hunting vintage and antique dressers at flea markets and antique stores. It’s not difficult to cut out the space to hide the plumbing and seal drawers that need to stay in place, and you can set a sink in it or on it. No one will have another one like yours, and you won’t have shelled out big bucks for a run-of-the-mill piece.
Alternatives to Tile
The bath doesn’t have to have tile to the ceiling: consider alternatives like reclaimed wood panels, board and batten, or beadboard as high-end looking tile replacements. Wood requires more maintenance, but also gives off a much warmer, comforting vibe than tile.
Consider Open Shelves
The bathroom is a private place, but open shelving can create the illusion of space in smaller square footage, and with a less weighty wallet hit than cabinets. A few drawers or covered baskets on high shelves can house your private items, and your colorful towels, pretty soaps and washes, and other bathroom decor don’t have to hide in a dark closet any longer!
Let There Be Lighting
Builder-grade lighting is one of the first things many people want to change in a bathroom renovation, and with good cause: The fixtures rarely hold much aesthetic appeal. Adding lots of light to a bathroom is one of the most valuable changes a homeowner can make, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Shop sales at lighting and home improvement stores, and if your bathroom has easy roof access, consider bringing the outdoors in with a budget skylight like Solatube.
Punch It Up With Paint
Don’t underestimate the impact a pop of colorful paint can have in a small space. If you coordinate with a detail like your tile work, it can bring an entirely new dimension to your bathroom that you might never have noticed before, says Mary Elizabeth Hulsey, founder of Mission Stone & Tile in Nashville, Tenn.
Count on Countertops
If your vanity is the main focal point of your bathroom, then choosing granite might not be such a splurge. Karen Gray Plaisted, a Warwick, N.Y.-based home stager and decorator says she worked with a couple who did minor updates to the rest of their bathroom, but they chose a slab granite vanity as the focal point for the space. “It gave it a ‘wow’ and saved a lot of money,” she says.
Look Online for Leftovers
When you find a tile you like, check Craigslist and eBay to see if anyone is selling their leftovers, says John Gerard, author of Renovate Your Kitchen the Smart Way: How to Plan, Execute and Save Money During Your Kitchen Remodel. “People will buy more material than they need and they often can’t return it so they try to sell it online at a deep discount just to get rid of it,” he explains. Buy what you can at the fire-sale prices, then finish out what you need by matching at your local store.