Is your bathroom in desperate need of a makeover, but your bank account says, “No way!”

Spending on bathroom remodeling projects was estimated to exceed 14.7 billion dollars yearly. 

Are you going to be part of that spending group? 

Maybe you don’t have 20K lying around to remodel your bathroom (yes, that is the “average” starting point for a bathroom remodeling project these days), but maybe you do have a small amount of cash to spend. What are the things you can do, on a reasonable budget? That will make a big impact at a fairly low cost? 

Here are five ways (and one bonus at the end) to make a splash in the bath without spending a fortune: 

The Closet: Is there a closet in your bathroom? This is a decorating goldmine just waiting to be tapped. 

  • First, remove the door and the shelves. Caulk and paint the holes, where the door hinges were. We say this with love, “That door is not going back on!”
  • Install a fun, colorful wallpaper on the interior walls
  • Paint the shelves in a color that coordinates with the wallpaper
  • Purchase inexpensive storage baskets to corral all your toiletries
  • Voila!

The Vanity: A fresh coat of paint will give your vanity new life and a new pep in step

  • Remove the hardware and doors
  • Clean the doors and cabinet really well with odorless mineral spirits and a green Scotch Brite pad. Then go over it with denatured alcohol and a clean green Scotch Brite pad. No rinsing necessary.
  • Prep the cabinet by applying two coats of a quality stain-blocking primer like Zinsser’s Bullseye 123 Primer.
  • You can go safe and go with a neutral paint color, or choose something in a fun color that will really pop. Use good quality paint from General Finishes formulated especially for this type of application. Apply two coats of paint and then top with two coats of General Finishes’ clear Enduro water based polyurethane.
  • Don’t forget the hardware! Now that you have a “new” vanity, make sure to treat yourself to a splurge on some jewelry for that cabinet.

Could Your Bathroom Use Some Architectural Moldings? With basic carpentry skills, you can make a big impact with moldings! 

  • Install crown molding at the ceiling line
  • Use bigger trim around the windows & doors than the typical 2 ½” casing. Or if your casing is square add a base cap molding at the outside edge to give the look of expensive custom molding at a fraction of the price.
  • You can install the same base cap molding to the top of any square edge baseboard trim. This is an inexpensive way to make a big impact and these moldings are readily available at your local lumberyard or home center.
  • Do you have flat slab type cabinet, entry or closet doors? Add moldings to create the look of panels.
  • Cover up old tiles on the wall with beadboard paneling. If you opt for cellular pvc beadboard, it is water resistant and never needs to be painted. Adhere it with construction adhesive, and top with a simple chair rail. Bringing it 2/3 the way up the walls will visually lengthen the room

Let’s Talk About Grout! Is the grout on your tile floor or walls dirty or discolored? This can really date a bathroom. If the tile is in good shape but the grout is gross then here are three options to remedy this situation:

  • Try bleaching the grout using a Clorox Bleach Pen. Yes, it may take a while, and you’ll probably use several pens, but the results are well worth it!
  • You can re-grout if bleaching is not an option– yes it is more time consuming, but less costly than replacing the tile, and when you’re finished the grout will look like new! Use a grout removal tool to scrape off the top layer, then re-grout with stain-proof grout that will stand up to many more years of wear and tear.

Let’s Have Some Fun with Fixtures! Are your fixtures chipped, stained or some funky color? Refinish them! It’s a lot less expensive to have a professional re-glaze than to install new. Find a professional refinisher by using this search feature from Napco (North American Polymer Company), a well-respected authority on fixture refinishing.


Bonus: For a super easy breezy (and inexpensive) bathroom facelift, you can focus on the fabrics. Purchase new towels, a new shower curtain and new window treatments, a bath mat. Have some fun coordinating all of the other little touches like toothbrush holders, soap dispensers, a new mirror, and whatever else is on your countertop to give your bathroom an instant new look.