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DIY remodeling on a budget: The bathroom

Much like when we remodel our kitchen, we watch our spending; remodeling your bathroom doesn’t have to strain your budget. With a little creativity and patience, you can handle quite a few remodeling tasks yourself to upgrade your bathroom. A full remodel may require professional help, but as long as you’re keeping the bones of your bathroom intact, you can finish a few of these projects.

Whether it’s upgrading fixtures or creating more storage, homeowners with some basic tools and a critical eye can revamp a bathroom and fall in love with the space all over again. In order to achieve an impressive bathroom remodel on a budget, here are a few things you can do.

Replace expensive materials with inexpensive options

Granite or marble may be the dream, but you can use a variety of other materials to help cut down on your budget. High-definition quartz can replace granite and look and feel just as luxe. Replace old tiles with laminate flooring to get the look and feel of wood with less hassle. Money Crashers says, “To save money, limit the amount of tile and focus on high-impact areas like the floor.”

Use source materials with imperfections to also help reduce the overall cost. Because bathroom counters are so small, that glaring imperfection could disappear with the sink basin and save you a ton. 

Expand your knowledge of common bathroom materials, laminate and quartz included, to help get the look you’re going for without having to splurge on expensive materials. When you add in your labor, you’re looking at some serious savings.

Install new faucets and hardware

This quick refresh is a great way to update your bathroom without going to extreme lengths. Upgrade your faucet with a timeless material and match the hardware on your bathroom cabinets. HGTV quoted designer Cassia Wyner on showerheads, “It’s worth getting a better model because it affects the flow and the finish—you want it to last,” Wyner says. “You don’t want chrome peeling off five years later.”

Extend the same hardware to your tub and shower to create a clean, uniform look, and choose the same metal finishes for things like towel holders, hooks, and other bathroom fixtures. This is the way for you to make a quick change with dramatic results.

Change out your vanity

If you have a small bathroom, changing a bulky vanity for a pedestal option or even a floating choice can draw the eye up and reduce visual clutter. Installing a vanity isn’t tough as long as you can carry your chosen vanity into your house.

If you have a larger bathroom, you could replace a longer vanity for two distinct areas — his and hers. You could find something that offers better storage for your purposes or change out colors entirely for a dramatic yet minimal white. 

A simple vanity change offers a high-impact option for your bathroom when paired with a change in hardware and fixtures. You can upgrade in a single weekend and change the entire look of your space without significant changes.

Add recessed shelving

If you have the space in your walls, you can add recessed shelving for more storage. The look of recessed shelving streamlines your bathroom and helps create storage without limiting your square footage.

Recessed footage goes between the studs in the walls, so you’ll need to be comfortable tearing out sections of the wall and rebuilding. Use a stud finder to locate your placement and make a small exploratory hole to ensure you aren’t interfering with electrical wiring or plumbing

You’ll need to build your shelving and attach it to the far wall, spackling over holes and adding in molding for a finished look. It’s a good project for someone who’s familiar with power tools and has a few projects under their belt.

Change out your toilet

You don’t need to call a plumber to change out an old toilet. If you can move it into your house, you can install it and save a bundle on labor costs. Upgrade the material, color, or even the entire design of your toilet, adding in modern features and comforts.

You can also upgrade to more eco-friendly options to reduce your overall environmental footprint. You could not only make better decisions for the environment but also your monthly utilities.

Renovations on a budget

Using your own labor is a great way to save on moderate renovations. You can lay flooring, change out your toilets and fixtures, and even build shelves or change your vanity with a little research and some power tools. HGTV showcases several before-and-after photos of bathrooms done under $5,000.

Consider your design aesthetic and the environment as you’re making your changes. Be flexible enough to branch out to materials or options you may not have considered before, including buying slightly-used fixtures and appliances. In some cases, you may be able to get options with imperfections or leftover materials that are within your budget.

The DIY approach can help you build a unique bathroom that considers your aesthetic and enables you to realize your vision. Use your skills and your research know-how to help you form a plan and refresh your bathroom without going over budget. You can have a bathroom you love with some patience, flexibility, and a little investment of your own labor.

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Deb Goncalves
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Deb's work has appeared on Moms, Babygaga, and WorldAtlas. When she's not working (that's hard to say about a Capricorn), she…
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