New bathroom cabinets with granite countertopsBathroom renovation and granite installation

Replacing your outdated vanity with a more modern-looking one can freshen up your bathroom. (Getty Images)

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.

[Read: 7 Kitchen Remodel Ideas on a Budget.]

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.

[See: The Best Time of Year for Every Home Improvement Project]

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.

[See: The Best Free Interior Design Apps]

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.


10 Interior Design Trends for 2020

It may be time to update your decor.

A marble beige painting and a sunburst golden mirror on a gray wall with molding in a stylish living room interior with a velvet, powder pink sofa and retro furniture

(Getty Images)

You may not be moving into a new house in 2020, but you can make your home feel new again by taking stock of each room and updating the design. You may want to make your living room more functional by finding a better furniture layout, brighten up a guest bedroom with new paint or go big with a full renovation of your kitchen for a more modern style. To make any design changes a success, however, you’ll want to know what styles will become more popular in 2020 and what fads are on their way out. Here are 10 interior design trends to consider in 2020.

Updated on Dec. 6, 2019: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Zen dens break up floor plans.

Zen dens break up floor plans.

Hygge, Zuhause, Entspannung, Muenchen, Bayern, Deutschland

(Getty Images)

Open floor plans may be here to stay, but many homeowners are interested in creating a room that lets you separate yourself from the goings-on in the rest of the house. For some people, open floor plans are "too open,” says Tim Bakke, publishing director of online home and design plan company The Plan Collection, based in Scarsdale, New York. “If you have the TV on in the living room, everyone in the kitchen and the dining room is hearing it and seeing it.” Bakke says separate, closed-off living spaces called “zen dens,” are ideal for reading a book or having a more private conversation, and he thinks they’ll gain popularity in the coming year. “It’s not splitting up the house, but you have someplace where you can kind of get away from it,” Bakke says.

Master suites expand.

Master suites expand.

(Getty Images)

As wellness gains emphasis, more homeowners are looking at spaces where they’ll most likely benefit. As a result, master bedrooms and bathrooms are getting more love. “Maybe a little bit of square footage is taken away from other parts of the house and put into the master suite,” Bakke says. Whether it’s to expand the bathroom and add a soaking tub or to make room for a sitting area in the bedroom, homeowners are considering their bedrooms as a space where they can spend more time beyond sleeping and getting ready for the day.

Inside and outside continue to blend.

Inside and outside continue to blend.

Friends having fun at dinner party in backyard.

(Getty Images)

Outdoor living has been gaining popularity over the last few years, and designers continue to see blurring the line between outdoor and indoor as a desire among homeowners. Gena Kirk, vice president of design for homebuilding company KB Home, based in Los Angeles, describes successful interpretations of the trend as “extending the great room into the backyard,” which not only makes entertaining easier, but also allows you to relax on comfortable seating on the patio when the weather is nice. For homes that experience colder seasons, a fire pit, outdoor fireplace or outdoor heaters allow for snuggling under a blanket while still enjoying the outdoor living space when the weather is chilly.

Organic elements are here to stay.

Organic elements are here to stay.

modern table scene restaurant urban style

(Getty Images)

Indoor plants have made a resurgence in recent years because they add life to a space. Meanwhile organic elements are expanding into furniture and decor as designers incorporate more natural wood tables, natural fiber rugs, coral, dried flowers and branches into decor. While these items are no longer living, they offer a connection to nature and the outdoors. Keep an eye out for sisal, jute or seagrass rugs, which can be found at major retailers like Home Depot, Ikea and Wayfair. While it’s easy to find faux coral tabletop decor, you need to read product descriptions carefully to find real coral for purchase.

Wallpaper and texture provide depth.

Wallpaper and texture provide depth.

Contemporary  lounge / living room with sofa and ornaments in front of large window with curtains

(Getty Images)

Rather than sticking to traditional eggshell wall finishes and basic cotton throw pillows, design experts are looking to patterns and textures to make rooms feel more dynamic and personal. Interior designers particularly encourage wallpaper in a half bathroom, where you can have a bit more fun without overwhelming the space. Wallpaper is making a comeback in other parts of the house as well. Barbara Kavovit, CEO and founder of Evergreen Construction in New York City, says wallpapering a room makes a great do-it-yourself project, requiring little skill – just the patience to do it right. You can also experiment with texture on walls, whether it means creating a faux stucco look with plaster and paint or incorporating upholstered panels or reclaimed wood.

Velvet becomes a staple.

Velvet becomes a staple.

Europe, UK, England, London, Belgravia: View Of Hand-Made Custom Fabric Couch With African Hardwood Flooring

(Getty Images)

Velvet is becoming a preferred furniture fabric over microfiber or leather, since it offers a soft texture that looks luxurious in bright, bold colors. Expect to see more bedding accessories and throw pillows in velvet, which can provide additional texture in a bedroom or living room. This trend isn’t just for winter, either – if it's the right color and paired with other textures and materials, velvet works in a room year-round. Light pink or mustard velvet pairs well with just about any color.

Blue is the color to incorporate.

Blue is the color to incorporate.

Modern interior of living room with armchairs on white flooring and dark blue wall

(Getty Images)

Both Pantone and paint company Sherwin Williams have announced that their colors of the year for 2020 are dark shades of blue: "classic blue" for Pantone and "naval" for Sherwin Williams. Dark and navy blues can serve as neutral colors for a room and pair well with lighter colors, bold jewel tones and even metallics for an art deco look. Lighter blues and greens are also popping up more in furniture, decor and paint palettes, which can make for a soft look or a bold statement in different combinations. As a wall color, navy creates a darker setting, leaving room to play around with lighter neutrals and pops of color in the decor. It can also be used as an accent in a lighter room.

Say goodbye to gray.

Say goodbye to gray.

London, England.

(Getty Images)

If you’ve been watching HGTV renovation shows or have toured homes at just about any point over the last decade, you know that gray has been the go-to neutral for walls, furniture and even home exteriors. But over the last couple of years, other neutrals have been threatening gray’s domination of the color market. “Those very cool grays – they’re dying. They’ve been dying. Everything’s starting to warm up,” Kirk says. Interior designers are seeing a return to shades of brown and beige, as well as navy, to offer a warmer palette. Don’t be afraid of looking outdated if you use gray in your color scheme for a room, but if your entire house is painted in the same gray shade, it’s time to add some variation.

Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.

Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.

Men connected charger to tablet computer after four digital devices already charging

(Getty Images)

If you’re still dedicating part of your kitchen to house the family desktop computer or it has its own designated room, rethink that space. With everyone using laptops, tablets and smart phones to browse the internet, do homework and pay bills, there’s no need to take up space with a bulky desktop that no one’s using. A family computer room can be converted into the "zen den" your house has been missing, a guest bedroom or another space your family would use more. But there’s still something you can do for the family electronics: “Phone, tablets – all those things need to be charged,” Bakke says. He recommends creating a charging station with enough outlets to plug in multiple devices, located in a common drop zone where people enter and exit the house like the mud room.

Minimalism moves over.

Minimalism moves over.

Living room with high ceilings and architectural featuresLiving room with high ceilings and architectural features

(Getty Images)

People still like clean lines, but these days designers are seeing more homeowners embrace eclectic decor styles, with modern vases and bowls as well as imperfect antiques that add variety. While a simplistic, uncluttered look is still popular, designers and homeowners now look to "incorporate focal points with an older piece," says Jim DiGiacomo, board member for Olde Good Things, an architectural salvage store based in New York City. Flea markets and antique stores are prime shopping targets. The opportunity to find one-of-a-kind pieces has expanded online as well, as eBay, Etsy and more specialized stores like Olde Good Things offer extensive online inventories, allowing you to find vintage prints, vases and even architectural gems like mantels, doors and ceiling tiles to incorporate in a room remodel or new home design.

Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2020 include:

Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2020 include:

Interior decor photographs of stylish luxury bohemian style home

(Getty Images)

  • Zen dens break up open floor plans.
  • Master suites expand.
  • Inside and outside continue to blend.
  • Organic elements are here to stay.
  • Wallpaper and texture provide depth.
  • Velvet becomes a staple.
  • Blue is the color to incorporate.
  • Say goodbye to gray.
  • Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.
  • Minimalism moves over.

Read More

Tags: real estate, housing, home improvements


Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

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 dthorsby@usnews.com.

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