Staying on Budget

Redoing a bath on a tight budget usually means sticking to cosmetic changes and leaving the major fixtures and walls where they are. While that approach won't gain you extra closet space or a whirlpool tub with a view, cosmetic changes can be very powerful. Simply redoing window treatments, wallcoverings, tile and paint will revitalize the room. Continue the transformation by replacing faucets, drawer pulls and other hardware, such as towel bars. And don't forget the little touches. Crisp, clean lines of white grout and a fresh, even bead of caulk around the tub make quite a difference, especially in a small bath. Be creative when faced with a problem. For instance, rather than buying a new tub, have it relined, and then put the difference into another part of the job, such as top-quality lighting fixtures. Recycle what you can. Patrick and Lynnette Camus salvaged tiles from their old bath. It took some extra work, but the results speak for themselves. This approach has its limits. For example, restoring a faded finish on old plumbing fittings — not a task for the amateur — can cost more than purchasing a new lav set. Of course, some purchases are necessary. A low-flow toilet, a watersaving showerhead and a more powerful, quieter ventilation fan are requirements that are worth the cost. Working within a small budget requires some sweat equity. Painting and papering can be managed by just about everyone, and it's not hard to replace a toilet or swap a sink if necessary. Of course, calling in a pro is always a good idea when structural changes are on the menu or there's complicated electrical or plumbing work to be done.
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