Here's how to give your bathroom a budget-friendly luxury makeover
The results will blow you away
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Let’s say your master bathroom is grungy, but you have visions of a home spa. A bathroom makeover can pay off if you’re thinking of eventual resale, second only to a kitchen renovation. But, really, you should do it just to pamper yourself.
Like a kitchen reno, a bathroom remodel can be expensive. We spoke with Dianne Aucello of Edesia Kitchen & Bath Studio in Burlington, MA. She says that although it’s a smaller space, a professional bathroom update can be quite costly. “It’s going to start at $30,000,” Aucello says.
If that number makes you weak in the knees, it’s important to know what to expect so you can keep your priorities—and your wallet—in order. Your bathroom reno doesn't have to be so spendy. Maybe your old tub/shower combo can stay. Instead of buying new cabinets, you could paint the existing ones. If you’ve got mad skills, you can DIY as much as possible.
Here are some suggestions for your bathroom makeover with ideas to help you control costs.
1. The right paint
Painting the cabinets and walls in current colors can give your bath a big bang for the buck. White and blue both remain popular for painted cabinetry, and walnut works well if you're going for stain. Bathroom colors are trending warmer, with green playing a starring role. If you're afraid of color, it's fine to paint everything white with a subtle green undertone. Benjamin Moore Aura Simply White will do the trick, in a wipe-clean semi-gloss sheen.
2. Timeless tile
Aucello says that bathroom tile can cost thousands, but you already knew that. You can economize by using ever-classic subway tile and if you want fancier, more expensive tile, use it just for accent.
3. A quartz countertop that looks like marble
You may be dreaming of marble counters, but quartz is far more practical. Okay, it's not exactly cheap, but the surface looks so much like Carrara marble, and it won’t stain or chip. Buy a vanity with a quartz top. It's the ultimate low-maintenance counter.
4. Hardware with a new finish
Matte black is increasingly popular for both faucets and cabinet hardware. It’s not flashy but it adds elegance to the bathroom and can work with any style from contemporary to farmhouse. If you’ve embraced the mixed metals trend, matte black pairs well with shiny nickel, matte brass, and many other finishes.
5. Great lighting to add zhoosh
Lighting is the key to making any bathroom look better. A chandelier in the bathroom is sexy. Feel free to splurge on a nice one because it will make such a statement. Before you buy, make sure you have room to hang the chandelier at a height that makes sense. Some bathroom ceilings are too low for anything but flush-mount lighting.
6. A trim kit that elevates your bathtub
A trim kit includes hardware to change up the look of tub/shower controls. The valve lives inside the wall, and it is responsible for the actual control of the temperature, pressure, and volume of water, but you probably won't have to worry about it. The new finish the trim kit provides will make your bathroom look so much better. A couple of our editors have had good results using Symmons trim kits.
7. A good fan to exhaust the steam
A strong fan will make a huge difference in your enjoyment of your bathroom, and you definitely need one. The first time you get out of the shower and look in the mirror—with no fog!—is a revelation. Fans aren't pretty, but a white one blends with the ceiling color.
8. Luxurious showerheads for a spa experience
Aucello says that the high-end showers she designs usually have a hand-held component as well as a rainhead. Our favorite showerhead, the Hydroluxe 24 Function Ultra-Luxury brings the luxury for a remarkably low price. You won't need a plumber for most showerhead installs. Just unscrew the old showerhead, wrap some Teflon tape around the threads on your shower pipe, and then screw on the new head.
9. A retrofit bidet to keep you clean
The best toilet paper is no toilet paper. That sounds gross, but it is much more sustainable to use a bidet. You can spend less than $50 or more than $300 on a bidet attachment, depending on the features. One of our editors enjoys the warm spray from her BioBidet, and it doesn't require batteries or electricity.
10. This round mirror to reflect your new bathroom
If you're looking into an ugly old mirror every day, take it down and replace it with a beautiful round mirror in a metal frame. It won't set you back too much and trust us, it will make the entire bathroom look better.
11. Some smart tech
Okay, it’s not cheap, and you may not have the budget to bring truly awesome technology into this most intimate of spaces. In the future, though, you will want a voice-activated shower, a toilet that flushes and cleans itself, and soft lighting that turns on automatically. For now, maybe it’s enough to ask Alexa to tell you the weather before you get dressed.
Prices are accurate at time of publication but may change over time.