No one wants to be stuck preparing for a big day in an outdated bathroom, but not all homeowners can afford full remodels. The good news is, there’s plenty of middle ground between ripping out and replacing every fixture and living with a bathroom that feels like a time machine. Read on to find out about some of the most affordable ways to give an old bathroom new life without spending a small fortune.
Take a DIY Approach
Hiring a bathroom designer is expensive. While most homeowners are willing to foot the bill for professional help with full remodels, those who are trying to find more affordable options are also in luck. There are plenty of DIY guides for making minor improvements without professional help. Get started by doing some research. Check out ideas for a vanity backsplash, read up on how to replace aging wallpaper, or flip through some home remodeling magazines for additional ideas.
Seal Wood Floors
It’s surprisingly common to find older bathrooms that still feature hardwood floors instead of more waterproof materials. Ripping out an old floor and replacing it with tile or another more appropriate option costs a fortune, so homeowners working on strict budgets may be stuck with that wood floor. They can make the best of an admittedly less-than-ideal situation by sealing the floor using a protective finish.
Refinish Aging Bathtubs
Most problems with bathtubs and showers are cosmetic, not structural. Replacing these large fixtures is expensive, but refinishing an old tub is an affordable option that can be performed at home with the right equipment and supplies. Bathtub refinishing is a much more cost-effective and long-term solution than tub and shower liners, so it’s worth the effort.
Replace Old Fixtures
Replacing fixtures is a great way to give new life to a vanity. Handy homeowners may be able to remove the old faucets and install new ones themselves, but even hiring a plumber to do this work is cheaper than replacing the entire sink. Just make sure that the fixtures will be compatible with the sink’s current plumbing configuration. While high-quality faucets and other fixtures are surprisingly affordable, moving the plumbing lines around will require professional help and be expensive.
Update Light Fixtures
The right lighting can make all the difference in any bathroom. Updating aging fixtures is one upgrade that can pay for itself over time. Older fixtures use incandescent bulbs that create a harsh glow. Replacing them with high-quality LED fixtures will breathe some new life into the entire room while simultaneously saving homeowners some money on their monthly bills.
Embrace Mixed-Material Walls and Flooring
Combining textures is in right now, and that’s good news for homeowners who want to remodel for less. Instead of replacing an entire floor, for example, some people are now choosing to keep the older materials in place but add tile surrounding tubs, sinks, or other features. This mix-and-match flooring technique is just as effective on walls. Adding just a small amount of tile to an otherwise boring wall can brighten things up and add some extra visual interest. Plus, well-placed tile is a great way to protect aging bathrooms against mold and mildew.
Ditch the Wallpaper
It’s surprising how many old bathrooms still feature their original wallpaper. Even if it’s in good shape, now’s the time to consider ditching the wallpaper and replacing it with a new coat of paint. Those who want to get adventurous can try two-tone walls separated by lines of tile or trim, or they can opt for bold, monochromatic paint jobs that perfectly complement the bathroom’s fixtures or decorations. The end result will be a bathroom that feels thoroughly modern even with its older fixtures.
Cover Minor Wall Imperfections
Are the walls of the bathroom looking less than their best? If there are minor imperfections that can’t be resolved with a new coat of paint alone, don’t despair. Wainscot is water-resistant, easy to install, and eliminates the need for patching minor holes and dents in drywall. Plus, it will protect the walls from further damage.
Add or Replace Accessories
Unlike large fixtures such as tubs and sinks, bathroom accessories are very affordable, even when purchased new. Try updating the towel racks, shower curtain rod, and toilet paper holder to match the bathroom’s new decor, or add a new linen cabinet to hide clutter. Replacing accessories is an affordable way to modernize just about any aging bathroom, especially when combined with one or more of the other DIY projects described above.
Incorporate Some Color
Don’t want to go too bold with the wall coloring? That’s just fine, but it’s still a good idea to incorporate some splashes of color here and there. It could be something as simple as adding a colorful shower curtain and a matching trash can, but homeowners can also get more creative. Try buying heat-resistant paint to spruce up a radiator in an older bathroom with steam heat or installing some new paintings on the walls. Even a small splash of color can brighten up an otherwise boring room.
Stick to a Theme
The tips above run the gamut when it comes to style. Don’t go overboard mixing and matching. Try to find a theme or style and stick with it. Homeowners who want to modernize their bathrooms tend to choose minimalist color schemes with a few accents, while those who want to keep things traditional prefer natural materials like wood. It’s fine to do some mixing and matching, but try to make sure any new fixtures, wall decorations, or accessories match the overarching theme.
Homeowners working on a tight budget don’t need to change everything at once. It’s more sensible to invest money in high-quality fixtures and accessories even if it means putting off additional changes until the next paycheck. As long as DIY designers have an idea of what kind of look, they’re going for in the long run, everything will come together over time without driving the family into debt.