It usually starts the same, you watch a bathroom makeover on Home and Garden TV, seeing how the designers
and homeowners pick the freshest fixtures, funkiest paints, coolest extras. In the end they have the most
beautiful bathroom ever seen. Then they show the price tag of $40,000. WOW. This is when you slouch back into your chair, thinking that you will never be able to afford to renovate your 1970’s Avocado Green bathroom.
I have been remodeling bathrooms for over 17 years and some of the most impressive bathroom makeovers have been small on budget but big on ideas. If the plumbing under your floor is in good condition, usually your plumber can give you an idea, then usually there is no need to remove the flooring. This is one of the biggest costs in a remodel, removing the floor and installing a new one, which usually will be ceramic tile. Don’t let any contractor talk you into removing your floor or gutting your bathroom if it does not need to be done. Many times you will find or cause more problems then you were willing to deal with.
Once you have come to the conclusion that the walls and floor can stay, you have already saved a great deal of money. Now here are some ideas as you work through your list of what you want to accomplish in your bathroom.
1. The main fixture is the toilet, in today’s world we just rip them out and put in a prettier model. Well that is not always the smartest idea. The plumbing in many older homes was designed to work with the larger flush toilets, so removing the original toilet may cause some problems. Most older toilets can be rebuilt by a qualified plumber. The original models usually fit the character of a bathroom, so installing a new, shiney one may not look right. But if updating the room look is where you are headed, then purchasing a new toilet does not have to be costly. Almost all toilets work the same, just the look is different, so pick an economic model that has a good name behind it. White is always cheapest. By rebuilding your toilet or purchasing an affordable one will save you hundreds of dollars.
2. When purchasing faucets I would suggest getting a model that is all metal, the less plastic parts the better, this will save you money in repairs down the road. The finish on faucets is what really raises the price, so it is almost always more cost effective to get chrome finish, it goes with a lot of colors and lasts long, many of the newer finishes do not last. The faucets for the tub can be replaced without removing the walls, replacing the faucet will give a whole new look without changing the tub. Matching the tub and vanity faucets will add a nice touch to the look of the room without having to spend much. Buying chrome faucets in an affordable model will save many hundreds.
3. I am not a big fan of wall paper, but if one can do it themselves it will add a touch of class for maybe $100 – $200. Paint is often overlooked in any redo, many think it is a quick and cheap covering, but if it not done right will have to be re-done again, in many cases in a short period of time. So this tip is pick a good paint, prep the walls correctly and don’t skimp with the paint. Also DO NOT be afraid to use color, many will say stay neutral, but from my experience the most stunning redos are those splashed with color. You will be already be painting your room so you should make it count.
4. Purchase a good quality vanity, not the flashiest and biggest. By getting a cabinet that will last you have already saved money, I have replaced cheap vanities within a year because people did not have foresight.
5. Changing the electrical components, switches, covers, lights, etc will always make a huge impact on the room. You do not have to re-wire the bathroom if it is not needed, just change out the dated fixtures, which with all the options available today, you can get ones that will match any style. Don’t go and get the most expensive, just get fixtures that will match and this in itself will add to the redo.
6. The most important aspect I believe in any room, especially the bathroom, is the accent pieces. Get a nice mirror, towel bars, pictures, whatever. You do not even have to buy them, they may already be in your home, this cheap tip will always add to your room. I am the person who does the construction end of the project, but it is usually the one that adds the flavor at the end that will make the biggest difference.
The one thing that should be taken away from here is that by not spending the big money and using your creative side, with a little foresight, will save you thousands of dollars. With some research and time spent making sure the style is right you will come out with a beautiful bathroom, minus the $40,000 spent.