If you're not ready to spend the big bucks for a total bath renovation, what's the next best thing? Improving what you have, and letting the little things make a difference.
Here's how our home editor remade her own bath, adding style, some much-needed storage and a few indulgences, all for under $900 (bubble bath included)! Her easy, cost-saving ideas will work for you, too.
Our basics for a budget bath makeover:
-- Play up the positives; minimize the negatives.
-- Work around existing fixtures.
-- Update fittings.
-- Hide the clutter.
-- Find a way to pamper yourself.
Pluses for this bath before its redo: It's roomy and has a window, a separate shower stall and tub, and a large vanity cabinet. Negatives: Orange-stained oak woodwork that limits wall color choices, a nondescript single-lever faucet, a dated light fixture, and a sheet mirror covering one wall.
Milk-chocolate-brown walls add warmth to the formerly all-white bath. Far less expensive than patterned wallpaper, the paint creates visual calm and contrast. A collection of old mirrors also gives a warm, personal touch to the walls. White paint covers the oak woodwork and matches the existing fixtures.
A decorative picture frame placed in front of the large wall mirror lends the vanity area a more intimate look without the expense of removing the mirror. Other inexpensive improvements include Victorian-style faucets, cup-style drawer pulls and a chrome light fixture.
The existing wide single-sink countertop allowed space for two new storage cabinets (under $200 each) to flank the basin. The glass-door cabinets provide pretty display storage of bath products.
You'll get a spa feel by adding indulgent (but inexpensive) extras to your bathtub. Outfit the tub with a bath tray to prop a book or support a beverage or snack. Line the tub surround with numerous scented candles for relaxing aromatherapy. Adding a terry-cloth neck roll will promote long, leisurely soaks. And for on-the-spot massages, install a pulsating showerhead.
Keep a group of soothing bubble baths, bath oils and lotions near the tub to add to your pampering routine. You can transfer them to matching apothecary bottles to create a less cluttered effect.
A repainted $75 floor cabinet from a flea market provides room to hide and organize bath clutter. And because it's a free-standing piece, it adds to the room's new, more personal style.
Furniture pieces in a bath also make it look less antiseptic. Here, a wire chair holds towels within easy reach of the tub.
Accessories complete this bath's transformation. White 3-inch wood blinds control privacy or let in the sun. Simple curios in glass, white porcelain and silver keep the new look classic. And displayed collections of prized seashells, like the old mirrors on the wall, make it personal.