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5 Budget-Friendly Small Bathroom Makeover Ideas

A small bathroom makeover is an easy way to add a ton of value to your home and is an instant mood booster. Some simple DIY projects could be all you need to revamp your bathroom. More follows on how to create your own beautiful bath for less.

how to do a bathroom makeover on a budget. Walnut stained vanity with blue vertical panelling

This is one of my many bathroom makeovers. The last bathroom update was full of colourful ideas. I had a bit more of a budget, but I saved quite a bit by doing the bathroom tile myself and painting my own wallpaper. Check out the wallpaper tutorial that will save you hundreds. 

The Small Bathroom BEFORE The Makeover

The Small Bathroom AFTER The Makeover

Dark Walnut vanity, polished nickel hardware, and vertical shiplap

Small Bathroom Makeover Tips

If you’re asking yourself ‘how can I update a bathroom cheaply?’ I have a few tried and tested tricks that are a bit softer on the pocketbook than starting from a completely blank slate for a small bathroom makeover. 

Bathroom Makeover from Designer Virginia Fynes with dark walnut vanity, polished nickel hardware, and vertical shiplap

1: Shop Discount Stores, Flea Markets, And Clearance Sections

If you’ve been around any time at all, you know I love a good thrift store find, stellar sale, and always head straight for the clearance section. While this tip isn’t rocket since as a way to save, I suggest you take an inventory of your needs (right down to the toilet bowl cleaner). Carry a list with you and when you’re out you’ll be able to easily reference what you need. Having a list in your phone with help with:

  1. not overspending on things you don’t truly need 
  2. you don’t forget the necessities 
  3. you can budget for your splurges when you find an area to save
Original landscape artwork from Virginia of Fynes designs. Beach artwork with a path to the water

2: Revive Your Outdated Vanity

The bathroom vanity is where the eye is instantly drawn to in the bathroom, so naturally, it is the focal point. However, if this is where you choose to spend it can easily eat up your budget. Alternatively, you can revive your outdated vanity by reimagining it. Providing it is structurally sound and meets your storage needs, a little paint job can go a long way. I pulled a page from Chris Loves Juila’s bathroom look and refinished my old dresser-made vanity by stripping and staining with Minwax Special Walnut

Bathroom transformation from top Interior designer Fynes Designs. Walnut vanity with polished nickel cup pulls

A fresh coat of paint or stain, plus new hardware can really elevate the entire look of your bathroom and save so much. I added polished nickel cup pulls to the otherwise drab vanity. I love the shine of polished nickel with a touch of warmth. 

Bathroom Makeover with dark Walnut vanity, polished nickel hardware, and vertical shiplap

3: Polish Your Fixtures and Add New Accessories

One thing I didn’t find room for in my budget was a new sink.  You might be surprised to learn that a good polish of your old fixtures can really bring it back to life. Bar Keepers Best Friend is such an incredible cleaner, you need to try it for yourself. This cleaner took my grungy, iron-stained sink to a glistening vessel sink you wouldn’t know wasn’t brand new. It also does wonders to clean the toilet and floor grout! 

Moen widespread faucet with a white vessel sink

Updating my old faucet to this Moen widespread unit was one of my splurge items for my bathroom makeover. I chose to use chrome rather than the desired polished nickel to save big. It actually makes a decent match with the cup pulls. 

4: Fake Vertical Panelling and Expensive Trim Work

The biggest bathroom makeover savings can come from milling your own panelling, shiplap, and trim work. This does require you to already own a few tools (like a table or track saw), likely if you’re a DIYer you have tools that can help achieve your bathroom makeover. Alternatively, some building supplies stores have a panel saw that you can pay a small fee to have items cut for you. This is an affordable way to get the look of vertical panelling or shiplap. 

Bathroom transformation from top Interior designer Fynes Designs. Walnut vanity, blue vertical paneling, pedestal plant stand

For this bathroom makeover, we cut 1/2″ MDF into  5″ wide by 60″ long. Then used a nickel to space the panels evenly. I had a leftover piece of architrave from a previous project to finish the top but you could easily cut MDF for this. You may notice I didn’t have quite enough trim to do the entire parameter so I chose to do one wall in panelling from the floor to ceiling. 

For the baseboard, I used a wider piece of MDF, then used a piece of inexpensive door stop trim to make it look finished. 

Bathroom makeover ideas from top interior design blog Fynes Designs

5: Shop your House For Home Decor

I love mixing things up in my home to give my decorations a fresh perspective. For this bathroom, I used a mirror that was in my basement bedroom. The vanity light fixture was gifted from Dainolite for my basement, but it fits this space well, so I’m reimagining it here.

Small Bathroom Makeover Ideas from Designer Virginia Fynes with blue vertical panelling

Switching up plant pots, like this one I borrowed from my bedroom, and the other from the dining room. 

Shopping your home doesn’t only have to be for decorations. Hands down the easiest way to redo a bathroom is with paint.  I used leftover Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray to create the new colour scheme by thinning it with white. 

Plant pedestal stand in a bathroom

How Long Does a Small Bathroom Remodel Take?

Let’s get something straight… a bathroom remodel, renovation and makeover are very different. Can you redo a bathroom in one day? Likely no. To get a realistic timeline for your bathroom you need to first decide what you’re willing to take on. Changing the plumbing layout is expensive, very time-consuming, and unless you have plumbing knowledge you will be at the mercy of someone else for a timeline. 

Dark Walnut vanity, polished nickel hardware, and vertical shiplap

A small bathroom makeover or refresh can take anywhere from one week to one month (I was the latter). Planning out all the details before you start so there are no product delays will help minimize the timeline.

Bathroom makeover ideas from top interior design blog Fynes Designs

How much does it cost to makeover a bathroom?

The cost of a bathroom makeover varies greatly from project to project. To give you an idea of how much it costs to redo your own bathroom, I have broken it down with the sources below:

Bathroom Makeover with dark Walnut vanity, polished nickel hardware, and vertical shiplap

If you’re still looking for inspiration for your space check out these two posts with many beautiful bathroom makeovers My Domaine and The Spruce.

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