19 Budget–Smart Bath Updates
Put some wow in your washroom with these clever, affordable makeover ideas, starting at just $4
A crisp window dressing, like this Roman shade, makes a bath feel more finished and introduces color and pattern. Window film can provide privacy on the lower sash.
Similar to shown: Canopy Stripe in Kiwi/Sand Sunbrella Fabric, about $25 per yard; Ballard Designs
Free tutorial on making a Roman shade; Sew-Helpful
Gila window film, about $25 for a 4-by-6½-foot roll; The Home Depot
Make a cast-iron soaker a focal point by painting the outside a soothing hue, like this sage green.
Similar to shown: All Surface Enamel Oil Base in Bonsai Tint, about $23 per quart; Sherwin-Williams
Add a modern rectangular vessel sink to the mix—its clean lines provide a nice counterpoint to the curvy old-fashioned tub.
Similar to shown: Kingston Brass Pacifica Vitreous China Sink, about $167; Lowe's
Pair real wood in the bath with an undermount sink, as seen here, and a water-resistant urethane, acrylic, or tung-oil finish. Better yet, around a frequent-use basin, use a wood-look laminate. Continue either material up the wall as a cool take on a classic washbasin stand.
Try Formica in Auburn Maple, from about $14 per square foot, installed.
Forgo traditional molding and extend tile several inches up the wall to create an eye-catching border, like this basketweave.
Similar to shown: Crema Cappuccino Basketweave Marble Mosaic tile, about $13 per square foot; The Home Depot
Save money—or DIY time—by opting for a wall-mount medicine cabinet, which is easier to install than a recessed model.
Similar to shown: Zenith Medicine Cabinet, about $110; Wayfair.com
Cap subway-tile wainscot with a DIY decorative rail. The how-to: Top upside-down one-piece baseboard with rounded window-stool trim; add cove molding where the two meet.
Add a luxurious feel underfoot with mesh-backed marble tile featuring impressive 3-inch hexagons.
Similar to shown: Carrara White Hexagon Mosaic Tile, about $10 for a 0.92-square-foot sheet; Marble Online
Balance the rustic look of a wood-frame mirror and shelving with a delicate hanging light made of shells.
Similar to shown: Capiz pendant, about $70; Cost Plus World Market
Top an oft-ignored storage area—directly above the toilet—with shelves that are a cinch to DIY. Cut pine boards to size and stain them, and support with 1-inch cleats at both ends.
Similar to shown: 2×10 Douglas fir boards, about $8 per 8-foot length; The Home Depot
Minwax Gel Stain in Chestnut, about $18 per quart; at home centers
Install a sconce with an articulated arm above the medicine cabinet for a style boost. It's just as great at providing effective task lighting in the bath as it is at illuminating bookshelves.
Similar to shown: House of Troy Hyde Park sconce, about $206; Wayfair.com
Take a cue from designer spaces and match the material of your shade to your shower curtain. Lightweight cotton won't block light and is easy to launder. Just be sure to hang a waterproof liner behind the shower curtain.
Similar to shown: Porcelain Check by Michael Miller, about $10 per yard; Hawthorne Threads
Build a simple table like this one by mounting an edge-glued panel over 2×2 legs reinforced with corner braces. Finish with a cheery, coordinating shade of paint. Install a drop-in basin or a statement-making vessel sink, like this one—just plan the stand's height accordingly.
Similar color to shown: Aura Bath & Spa Paint in Crisp Morning Air, about $26 per quart; Benjamin Moore
Who says one of these beauties should only be rolled out for cocktail hour? Wheel it into the washroom for mobile towel and toiletry storage.
Similar to shown: Newbury Cart, starting at about $269; Restoration Hardware
Galvanized-steel buckets can do more than hold gardening tools or ice-cold drinks. Personalized with paint, they are the perfect catchall for kids' bath gear.
Similar to shown: Behrens 12-quart bucket, about $10; Lowe's
A problem-solver in the entryway, a coatrack can be a helpful addition to the bath for hanging wet towels. One with integrated storage is even handier—here, the umbrella stand holds a fresh supply down below.
For a similar solution, try a storage tower with shelves and hooks: three-tier tower shoe and coat rack, about $112; Overstock
A treasure found in Grandma's attic (or on Craigslist) can be an unexpected and elegant addition to the bath. Take this highboy: Deep drawers offer ample linen storage, while delicate legs keep the piece from feeling too heavy and overwhelming the room.