12 Inexpensive Fixes That can Transform Your Bathroom (and Increase Your Home's Value)

Revamping your bathroom doesn’t have to break the bank.
Updated April 3, 2023
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Wet room tiling in progress

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With prices rising on everything from gas to groceries, you’re probably not keen on spending more than you need to right now. While you’re right to find ways to fight inflation by saving more, you don’t have to put off around-the-house projects indefinitely.

There are plenty of affordable ways to update your home. Bathroom renovations in particular are still doable on the tightest of budgets. Here are a few low-cost ways to spruce up your bathroom.

Slap on a fresh coat of paint

koldunova/Adobe woman paints in white the entrance to the bathroom

Giving the bathroom a paint job is a surefire way to breathe new life into the space. You can go the tried-and-true route and stick to one solid color, or opt for a bold approach, with geometric shapes or an ombré effect.

Think about the overall mood and aesthetic you’re looking for, and don’t be afraid to get creative here. Your only limit is your imagination.

Paint the ceiling

galaganov/Adobe man with a roller in his hands paints the ceiling

Paint isn’t just for bathroom walls. Do the unexpected by adding a splash of color to the ceiling.

It’s possible to approach an artistic ceiling in a few ways. For example, extending the wall color across the ceiling would ensconce the bathroom in vibrancy (or coziness, depending on the shade you choose).

Or perhaps leave the walls bare, painting just the ceiling for a canopied effect.

Use wallpaper to add some razzle-dazzle

Jodie Johnson/Adobe Contemporary bathroom with yellow patterned wallpaper

Who says you have to stop at paint when you can go all out with wallpaper? Cover the entire bathroom, or choose one wall to be the focal point.

With the advent of peel-and-stick wallpaper, this bathroom transformation is simpler and more affordable than it used to be. It’s also less permanent: if you change your mind later, you can swap out patterns relatively easily.

Update flooring with peel-and-stick tile

Benjamin Clapp/Adobe removing backing from peel and stick vinyl flooring tiles

Wallpaper isn't the only thing to make use of peel-and-stick technology. Peel-and-stick tile gives you the appearance of brand-new flooring without nearly as much labor and at a fraction of the cost.

Like peel-and-stick wallpaper, this type of tile is both easy to apply and remove. Look for water-resistant varieties so you won’t have to worry about drips or splashes damaging your gorgeous floor.

Switch fixtures

Photographee.eu/Adobe black and white bathroom

No bathroom redo is complete without the right hardware. For a quick fix that makes a big difference, swap out door knobs and drawer pulls.

You might go for brushed gold fixtures to complement a modern glam aesthetic, or maybe you’ll opt for burnished bronze to achieve a classic, vintage feel. To really pull it all together, update your towel racks and toilet paper holder.

Brighten up grout

Hoda Bogdan/Adobe  handyman fixing and applying ceramic tiles on bathroom walls

Old, discolored grout can make even the most elegant of bathrooms look dingy. Cleaning grout does take a little elbow grease, but it’s well worth the effort.

Mix together baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap. Then, use an old toothbrush to apply the paste and scrub away grout stains. It may also be helpful to have some spare grout on hand before you begin. That way, if you notice any loose tiles or chips in the existing grout, you can fix it right then and there.

Reapply caulk around the shower

Anton Mikhmel/Adobe Man hands applying silicone sealant with caulking gun

Just like the grout between your tiles, the caulk around the tub and shower needs to be freshened up after a while. But this is just as much for functional and hygienic reasons as anything else.

Caulk creates a waterproof seal, and when that seal is broken, mold and mildew can develop. Redoing caulking will not only add some sparkle to your shower, but it will also help protect the bathroom from water damage.

Give the vanity a makeover

Michael/Adobe 3d modern contemporary chic beige bathroom

The vanity is the centerpiece of the bathroom, and a vanity that’s outlived its glory days can throw off your entire renovation. You don’t need to replace the whole thing, though.

If the finish on the vanity is showing signs of wear and tear or if it just looks dated, sand off the existing varnish. Then, either apply a new stain or prime and paint the vanity to really make it pop.

Get intentional about decor

Vera/Adobe Terry towels and bathroom accessories composition in interior

Whether you’re renovating for fun or to make your home more attractive to buyers, cohesive decor is certain to turn a ho-hum bathroom into a humdinger.

For an upscale, luxurious look, tuck those mismatched towels into the linen closet and swap out your branded shampoo bottles. Display color-coordinated towels instead, and use matching soap dispensers for hair care products and hand soap.

Elevate the shower curtain

Alexandr Bognat/Adobe Blank white closed shower curtain mockup

Let’s be real here: Those tension shower curtain rods aren’t doing our bathrooms any favors. Ditch your basic shower rod, and use a ceiling-mounted curtain track in its place. This fix will add both height and class to your bathroom.

If you’re not a fan of curtain tracks, try a wraparound curtain rod instead. Rotate the curtain rod and attach the wall mounts to the shower ceiling for a unique look with a dramatic effect.

DIY your own tub surround

Наталия Кузина/Adobe woman sits in bathtub in the middle of the room

Do you love the look of a drop-in bathtub but can’t imagine shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for one of your own? Why not make one yourself?

Now, this update does require a bit of skill, and a trip to the hardware store. Depending on your desired look, you’ll need wainscoting, beadboard, shiplap, or tile. Measure your space before shopping and have materials cut to fit at the hardware store.

You can also ask if they have a tool rental program. That way, you can finish the installation without buying new tools of your own.

Upgrade storage

Wichit S/Adobe Bathroom items

A cluttered, disorganized lavatory will take away from all the hard work you put into the renovation. Browse thrift shops or online marketplaces for affordable — but good-quality — storage solutions, or make better use of what you already have.

Rather than haphazardly tossing stuff into drawers or cabinets, for example, use organizers and decorative trays to neatly arrange sundries. This will give the bathroom that polished, refined feel that’s at the heart of your renovation.

Bottom line

Hoda Bogdan/Adobe Construction details with handyman or worker adding mosaic ceramic tiles

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to transform your bathroom. Instead, eliminate some of your money stress by opting for lower-cost fixes.

Still, these updates aren’t free. It could be time to find a great way to make extra money — such as a side hustle — so you won’t have to finance your project. Just make sure to stick to budget-friendly upgrades that give you the feel of a brand-new bathroom without the expense of one.

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Author Details

Sarah Sheehan Sarah Sheehan is a writer, educator, and analyst who focuses on the impact of health, gender, and geography on financial equity. Her ultimate goal? To live beyond the confines of chasing the next dollar — and to teach everyone else how to do the same.

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