For such a small space relative to the rest of your home, the bathroom is a place you may spend a lot of time. Aside from the necessary breaks, you also shower there when getting ready for work or might soak in the tub after a long day. And getting ready for a night out can easily add another 30 minutes to your normal bathroom time.
Why not make all that time spent in the bathroom a little more enjoyable with a remodel that not only makes the bathroom look more sleek and modern, but also helps improve its functionality?
A bathroom remodel is a goal project for many homeowners – and it’s often considered a room that could make or break a home sale when the property is on the market. But with plumbing, tile and electrical wiring to consider, a lot of complexity is packed into a small space. As a result, the price tag on a bathroom renovation can get out of hand quickly.
According to the 2019 Houzz & Home survey, the cost to remodel a bathroom continues to rise. The median price for homeowners remodeling a master bath in 2018 was $8,000, up more than 14% from 2017, when the median cost was $7,000. For a guest or secondary bathroom remodel, the cost for homeowners rose to $3,500 in 2018, up 17% from 2017, when the median cost was $3,000.
If you’re looking to overhaul your entire bathroom, however, the price rises fast. The Houzz survey reports that in 2018 the median cost for a major master bathroom remodel, including new vanity, countertops and toilet, was $17,000 for a bathroom over 100 square feet and $10,000 for a bathroom under 100 square feet.
For many homeowners, a bathroom renovation that big just isn’t an option. Fortunately, there are smaller projects you can take on that can help make your bathroom feel new again without draining your savings.
Here are seven ways you can renovate your bathroom on a budget:
- Change the toilet.
- Freshen up the vanity.
- Find the newest fixtures.
- Take on a tile project.
- Reface an old tub.
- Update the lighting.
- Focus on plumbing.
Change the Toilet
You may call it the throne, but have you given some thought to how well your toilet meets your needs or how it looks in your bathroom? An older or cheap model may not be tall enough for you, it may have lost its crisp white look or may even be a dated pink or blue color you just can't look at anymore.
Replacing a toilet requires little skill and can be taken on as a DIY project, says Chip Wade, a master carpenter best known for his roles on HGTV shows like “Ellen’s Design Challenge” and “Curb Appeal: The Block,” and a consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance. To get through the steps without issue, he recommends looking at more than one online source or enlisting the help of a friend who has replaced a toilet before.
Anticipated cost: You can purchase a toilet through any big-box home improvement store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. They range in price from less than $100 to more than $300, depending on flush options and bowl shapes that can increase comfort level.
Freshen Up the Vanity
Another focal point in any bathroom is the sink and vanity area, and it’s also a spot that can look dated quickly as trends go in and out of style. Upgrading from a single to double vanity is a popular option, but that change can easily take your project beyond your budget.
To avoid major plumbing changes that can drive up the cost of your project, explore your options to simply replace what you have with a more modern-looking vanity. Leneiva Head, owner of Welcome Home Realty, a real estate management company in Nashville, Tennessee, recommends heading to the big-box stores to see what vanity options could give your bathroom new life. “About $300 will get you a really pretty vanity,” she says.
For an even less invasive project, try breathing some new life into the vanity area by replacing the mirror. “Take that one long mirror that everybody has and get two shorter mirrors,” Head says. Or frame out your mirror with a pop of color or rustic wood to match your desired look.
Anticipated cost: A vanity without the sink is available at Home Depot for as low as $89. For a new sink included, the price begins around $300 and reaches beyond $1,500. Framed or double mirrors are also available at standard home improvement stores, but they can also be found through Ikea and Wayfair starting at around $60 and up.
Find the Newest Fixtures
If replacing a tub, shower or bathroom sink is outside your budget, you can still make each feature look new again by updating the faucets, knobs and handles. These fixtures are often inexpensive and serve as an easy DIY project with no real plumbing skills required.
To best update the fixtures, Head recommends going with what’s currently in style, whether it’s a dark brown faucet, rain shower head or detachable shower head. “When people see the fixtures in the shower, they forget about the shower itself,” she says.
Anticipated cost: These fixtures are easily found at home improvement stores. A variety of sink faucets are available for between $40 and $90 at Ace Hardware, while shower faucet sets that include a tub faucet, shower head and handle cost $90 to $120. Detachable shower heads cost between $15 and $35 at Ace Hardware.
Take on a Tile Project
New tile is often a go-to project for homeowners looking to update their bathrooms. While you may be willing to give tiling a try yourself, others hire a professional to ensure the individual pieces are laid evenly and properly secured to the wall or floor.
Anticipated cost: HomeAdvisor reports that the cost for a professional to install tile in your bathroom is, on average, $2,000 for a 90-square-foot space. Even if you want the expertise of a professional placing the new tile, you may be able to save by demolishing any existing tile on your own.
Reface an Old Tub
Taking out your 1980s bathtub and replacing it with a chic, freestanding soaker tub is a pricey project that requires a lot of additional work to move drains, replace tile and maybe even remove walls to create space. Head recommends an alternative: “Tubs are expensive to replace, but you can actually have that repaired and refaced,” Head says.
Refinishing tile in a shower is also far more budget-friendly than replacing the shower. Since it involves the shower pan, or base of the shower, Wade says it's not a good DIY project because details involving slope and angles determine whether the drain functions properly. This project also must meet municipal code, so it's better suited for a professional.
“Unless you’ve seen it done and seen it done multiple times,” Wade says, “it’s not something you learn as you go.”
Anticipated cost: The typical range to refinish a bathtub is between $329 and $596, according to HomeAdvisor. The home improvement information site also reports the cost to refinish ceramic tile is $1,075, on average.
Update the Lighting
Chances are, the lighting in your bathroom could use an upgrade. Especially if the top of your vanity mirror is lined with large, round bulbs – which Head notes are reminiscent of a dressing room – you have many options to bring newer, better lighting into the space.
Head recommends installing a monorail-style light, which still includes multiple bulbs but is connected on a solid strip for a single-light look. You can go even more modern with a light bar that doesn’t require bulbs.
“When you change your lighting style and type, you change the whole room,” Head says.
Anticipated cost: A monorail-style light that conceals the bulbs is available online at a variety of prices and styles, starting at $68 on Overstock.com and climbing to $250 through Shades of Light. A bulb-less light bar begins at $48 and reaches beyond $480, depending on price, size and style.
Focus on Plumbing
Especially if you live in a house that’s a century old or more, your budget may be best spent on some of the less-visible features that can make showering, cleaning up and using the bathroom far more enjoyable.
For the sake of updating plumbing, prepare to spend the majority of your money on the labor costs of a licensed plumber. But with new plumbing that has neither the wear and tear or interior buildup of antique pipes, you’ll experience fewer backups and maybe even see better distribution of hot and cold water.
The drain system “is not something I recommend messing around with too much,” Wade says, noting you’re more likely to come up against detailed code specifications about slope, fall, operators and other details that, if done incorrectly, won’t function as they should and could cause problems.
Anticipated cost: HomeAdvisor reports a plumber costs, on average, between $45 and $200 per hour. Expect additional materials costs if you’re replacing any pipes or drains.
It may be time to update your decor.
An October 2018 report from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University projected that remodeling spending is expected to grow to more than $350 billion in the third quarter of 2019. While it’s certainly an increase from the $331 billion of remodeling spending during the same period in 2018, the expectation shows a slowing in growth compared to recent years. Whether you’re renovating your home for yourself, updating your home to sell or looking to spice up a living space that you rent, you’ll see some new trends entering the interior design field this year – and others easing out of the spotlight. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Updated on March 8, 2019: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.Trends are getting a longer shelf life.
Trends are getting a longer shelf life.
An interior design trend, by definition, is the temporary popularity of a style, pattern, color or approach to decor. But as the cost of homes continues to climb and the cost of renovating spikes as well, trends are sticking around longer, explains Anna Starmer, U.K.-based author of “Love Color: Choosing Colors to Live With” and founder of color and trend forecasting company Luminary Colour. “The interesting thing about trends right now is that they are slowing down,” she wrote in an email. “A colour family is popular for longer than (one) season. This is down to many factors, but one of the main reasons is that people are living real lives – they do not have enough time to redecorate every (six) months.”Well-being comes into play.
Well-being comes into play.
The Danish concept of Hygge – being cozy and content – has been popular in the U.S. for a couple of years, particularly in the cold winter months when people bundle up to stay warm. But Starmer suggests that the current social or political mood is also encouraging people to make their home a comfortable safe haven of sorts: “(I)t is no surprise that in recent times of uncertainties in the world, we are all starting to favour comforting shades and warming colours in the home.” That extends to softer textures in furniture, pillows and blankets, rich scents like pumpkin or citrus and a setup that encourages relaxing.Design in all spaces and sizes.
Design in all spaces and sizes.
Whether you’re still holding onto your dream of a tiny home or you simply can’t afford a bigger apartment, interior design is trending toward emphasizing conscious design in all spaces – not just the palatial homes of the wealthy. For example, Pottery Barn launched its small space collection, PB Apartment, in early 2018 to cater to customers who have less space to deck out. You’re also likely to see a growing number of companies offer furnishings and design aesthetics that serve more than one purpose and can be used in a variety of rooms.Don't be afraid to be bold.
Don't be afraid to be bold.
Everyone’s comfort level is different, but those who are willing should feel free to embrace a bold, eclectic look at home in the coming year. HGTV star and interior designer Taniya Nayak says to go for bright accent colors, such as jewel tones and colors that contrast – think blue and orange – and don’t be afraid to layer. “I love doing paint techniques, and I love wall coverings too, but some people are really petrified of wall coverings,” says Nayak, who partners with FrogTape painter’s tape. When in doubt, make your statement by adding color with different types of wall decor (not all photos and prints), painting an accent wall or layering throw blankets and pillows in bright, contrasting colors to create a new focal point in the room.Shades of green will pop up everywhere.
Shades of green will pop up everywhere.
Expect interior designs to pull more inspiration from nature in the coming year, bringing lively green into the foreground. Starmer is predicting different shades of green to be more visible not just in interior design, but in fashion as well. However, she warns that you should keep texture and light in mind any time you select a color for a space. “A shade of emerald may look fabulous on a velvet-covered chair but hideous on the wall of a bathroom,” she says.Neutrals are warming up.
Neutrals are warming up.
Gray, stark white and the gray-beige combo color “greige” have been go-to neutrals for a few years. But Starmer says neutral shades in the home are going to warm up as people look to evoke the feeling of more natural settings in the home. “Neutral and natural colours now need to be soft and warm like a favourite cashmere sweater – or the colour of a baby deer,” Starmer says. Capturing these neutrals with natural items like wood, real stones and ceramic pieces help “counteract our very unnatural lifestyles,” she says.Floors are getting more natural.
Floors are getting more natural.
In 2018, dark wood floors have been on the decline, according to Lee Crowder, design gallery and model branding manager for Darling Homes, a subsidiary of homebuilder Taylor Morrison Inc., based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Looking forward to 2019, wood floors should continue to stay on the lighter side, but many manufacturers are noting that a matte finish is gaining popularity, which makes the floor look more natural. Recycled and engineered wood remain a more sustainable alternative to the typical wood floor, and manufacturers are even increasing the variety of tile or vinyl floors that convincingly look like real wood.Mixed metals are officially a look.
Mixed metals are officially a look.
Finding the perfect match to existing hardware in your bathroom or kitchen can be difficult, which is part of the reason why mixed metals started trending to begin with. But now it’s not just about convenience. With the right balance, you can bring multiple metals into a room and create a rich, glamorous look. Nayak notes that metals don’t have to be restricted to fixtures, lamps and coffee table legs; opt for metallic paint colors and incorporate geometric shapes on the walls to tie metals into other parts of the room.Trends are catering to comfort levels.
Trends are catering to comfort levels.
Some of the looks Nayak expects to see more in the coming year vary widely, from soft, romantic pastels and textured palettes to bolder jewel tones and metals. Rather than focusing on one widely accepted trend, you have the opportunity to embrace what works for you and keep it more unique than in years past. How do you know which trend to embrace? Look at your closet. “Whatever your wardrobe says about you is very much how you should approach your design,” Nayak says. If you’re big on patterns and bright colors, the eclectic trend can make your house feel like home again. If you’re a solids-and-neutrals kind of person, working in more of a natural look at home can provide the update you want and need.Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Interior design trends that will be big this year include:
- Longevity of trendy pieces, colors and patterns.
- Comforting shades and warming colors.
- More furnishing options for smaller spaces.
- Bold accent colors.
- Shades of green on walls, furniture and in fashion.
- Warmer neutral colors with less focus on gray.
- Lighter wood floor finishes for a more natural look.
- Mixed metals to make replacing kitchen or bathroom fixtures easier.
- Focus on comfort in design choices.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devon Thorsby | June 5, 2019
Homeowners should not fret, as long as they're prepared for the possibility of a downturn.