Cheap Remodeled Bathroom Tips

Do you hate your bathroom? It is one of those rooms that is easy to loathe. Unlike other rooms where you can change and move the furniture, the nature of bathroom furnishings is that they are pretty much stationary, and fairly permanent. Why previous owners of a house would choose terrible tile, terrible fixtures, and a terrible vanity is often a subject of discussion when moving into a new house. "How did they look at orange and brown porcelain tile and think it would look good with an avocado green tub?" we might ask. "Where did they even find the ridiculously small, rusty medicine cabinet?" we might ponder. "Who told them that gold wallpaper and globe vanity lights were still in style?" we might say.

The only tile is on the floor. Walls are painted white. (photo: wollwerth/

In situations where you are suffering from somebody else's bad bathroom decor choices, you should know that for less than $1000 you can redo your bathroom. No, you can't tile the entire room in expensive stone. No, you might not even be able to buy a new tub. But you darn well will be able to refinish your tub, retile part of the floor, or replace ugly lighting. You might be able to replace an ugly vanity, too.

First, prioritize the level of ugliness of your bathroom. I know that sounds funny, and it is a little bit funny, but you must do it. Is the color scheme the worst aspect of your bathroom? Is is the lighting or the fixtures? For instance, my bathroom has horrible pink tile that was not installed by a New York City tile contractor but rather by some unlicensed rando who left grout all over the walls, an ugly pink tub, and a super old, gross shower door. However, the vanity and medicine cabinet are plain white and relatively new. Although I don't love the vanity and medicine cabinet, they are not as offensive as the tile, tub, and shower door. With a limited budget, I would prioritize tile, refinishing the tub, and replacing the shower door. Later on, down the road, I would install a more distinctive vanity and medicine cabinet.

Next, you'll estimate the cost of replacing the ugliest elements of your bathroom. Say you have brown porcelain tile surrounding the shower, and half way up the walls. You've deemed that it needs to go because it offends you the most. You are going to get an estimate from a tile contractor for replacing the ugly tile with the most simple, least expensive good looking tile you can find. Think white subway tile. Then again, I would tile every single bathroom in the world with white subway tile because it looks so clean, and it can go with with modern or traditional fixtures.

Say the walls are painted a nice, normal, boring shade of white, and the tile is some decent neutral color, but the vanity, mirror, and lights are straight out of the previous owner's attempt at 1989 glam.  You will prioritize replacing them. You'll deal with the inoffensive but maybe not great tile later on, when you have saved up for it.

And now a public service message: A lot of home bloggers doll up their ugly bathrooms by covering the ugly bathroom in "decor". That is a grievously ill-advised tactic. At this point in the article you might be thinking, "You are telling me to spend $1000. I was looking for cheap tips for decor! Like rugs! Like art!" The worst possible thing you could do to an ugly bathroom is to gussy it up with more stuff. Here is what it will look like: An ugly bathroom covered in stuff. While a white linen shower curtain and plain white towels might improve the look of an ugly bathroom until you are able to do your $1000 remodel (by all means invest in them), please do not add art, nick-knacks, fancy toilet seats, or anything other than a couple of house plants to your bathroom. It is a waste of money. You will throw the nick-knacks away one day. You will replace the fancy toilet seat. You will wish that you had saved the money to buy a new vanity.

Remember that an inoffensive, simple, clean bathroom will impress buyers more than a bathroom that expresses the personal style. The best, most cost effective bathroom remodeling you can make is to go plain white and classic. Express your personal style with distinctive drawer pulls and knobs, but stick to plain white fixtures, which are cheaper anyway. If you need to get colorful, do it with paint instead of tile. You will reap the benefits of a faster home sale.

Chaya Kurtz writes for

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