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A bright, well-lit bathroom with window, sconces, tub, shower, toilet, mirror, and large bathroom vanity with storage.

12 Cheap Bathroom Remodel Ideas for Small Bathrooms

Originally contributed by Stacey Nash • last updated 1/9/2021

Bathroom renovations are known for their high costs, even if the bathroom is small. But, if your budget is smaller than your bathroom, we’ve got some cheap bathroom remodel ideas for small bathrooms that will save your sanity (and a few dollar signs). Remodels don’t have to be complicated to make the bathroom look bigger, give you more storage, and make a tiny bathroom feel like a spa.

1. Don’t Underestimate The Power of Paint

A fresh coat of paint can take a bathroom from ‘blah’ to beautiful. Depending on the type of paint you get (and you should get one that’s mildew resistant), you’ll only shell out $35 to $50 for a can that could potentially cover an entire small bathroom. 

However, make sure to measure and estimate the square footage of the walls so you have enough paint. If two cans of paint are out of your budget, consider painting an accent wall behind the vanity or mirror to add depth to the space.

2. Make It Light And Bright

Light colors make small spaces look bigger, airier, and more open. The classic white bathroom is the perfect example. However, if you find white a little too cold and institutional, consider pastels with warm tones to push those walls out but keep the bathroom cozy and inviting. 

...except when you like it dark and moody. Light and bright isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule. If you love dark colors, go with your gut, and stick to your favorites. You can still expand small spaces with dark colors by going all the way with them, like from floor to ceiling. A single color like black or navy, if used everywhere, keeps the eye moving and makes the bathroom feel bigger than it is. 

3. Upsize Your Mirror

A builder grade mirror says boring (and cheap). Upsize your mirror to make the bathroom feel more luxurious and open. You can fill the entire space above the sink with a mirror in some small bathrooms. If you want to add a little sophistication and luxe, look for a framed model that adds a custom feel. Go dramatic, and cover an entire wall with mirrors. But remember exactly what you’ll be staring at in those mirrors. Be strategic in the placement 

4. Update Lighting

Lighting can be expensive. We know. But, small bathrooms don’t have many light fixtures. Usually, it’s vanity lighting, ambient light, and that’s it. Changing one or both can drastically alter how the bathroom looks and even functions. Increase the lighting around the vanity or add mood with sconces. Get rid of the dreaded half globe light and replace it with something more adventurous. New light fixtures add decorative depth and personality to the bathroom.

5. Decorate With Existing Artwork

This is more of an idea for a powder room than a bathroom because artwork could get water damage near a shower or bathtub. However, that little powder room you don’t know what to do with, cover the powder room walls with the artwork you’ve had stashed in your closet. Photos or prints flowing up the walls makes the room feel taller and far more interesting. 

If your house isn’t overflowing with unhung art, get creative. Cut photos out of your favorite wildlife magazines, frame candid family shots, or make your own drawings/paintings. Save money on frames by shopping garage or clearance sales. You can always paint them to match or go eclectic with different frame styles. 

6. Curtains For Old Curtains

A worn-out shower curtain does nothing but bring the whole bathroom down. Spruce it up with a new shower curtain that’s light and bright, just like the walls. You can be creative with their placement, too. Of course, cover the bathtub or shower. But, if you have a little extra space, use a shower curtain to separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom or fully surround the tub to give the bathroom some old-world charm. 

Simple, light, bright colors keep that open feeling. However, don’t skip out on your personality. If you love a tie-dye curtain, go for it. Make sure that a bright, loud pattern is the focal point of the room, so the eyes aren’t overstimulated in such a tiny space. 

7. Think Deep (Storage)

Storage is always an issue in small spaces. When it’s time to upgrade the vanity or add corner storage, think deep. Deep vanities and shelving make more room for towels, toiletries, and all the other bathroom necessities. They don’t have to be enormous to add extra storage space. 

8. Float It

Floating shelves add storage space but let the eyes keep moving, so the room feels large and airy. There are shelf designs in all styles. Go modern with a sleek, metallic white, or jump into a modern farmhouse with a rustic whitewash. Those shelves give you space to store towels, soaps, hand cream, cotton balls, and everything else, yet manage to not make it feel like the walls are caving in on you. That’s a win-win. 

9. Take On The Vertical

It’s sad how underutilized vertical space is everywhere in the house, but especially in the bathroom. Remember those floating shelves? Why not take them to the ceiling? Vertical storage actually makes the room feel taller and more expansive if it’s done right. Multiple floating shelves extending up one wall can expand storage and give the bathroom a one-of-a-kind look. 

10. Replace Hardware And Fixtures

A new vanity might not be in the budget, but new hardware for your existing vanity certainly could be. Change outdated knobs and pulls with something fun and new. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could repaint the vanity for a completely new look at half the cost of replacing the whole thing. 

You could also upgrade the sink and faucet for a quick facelift. That one change could make an 80s bathroom feel back in line with the times. 

11. Keep The Tub, But Give It New Life

Bathtubs get yellowed, chipped, and nicked. Instead of replacing the bathtub (it’s pricey), try refinishing it. You’ll have to use some sweat equity to get the look you want, but it’s often a great solution until you can afford a new bathtub. A bathtub refinish isn’t the easiest or cheapest DIY project, but if your tub needs some serious work, and you’re not ready to shell out a couple thousand on a new one, refinishing might be your best bet. 

12. Use Imitation Materials

Stone tile looks ah-mazing, but it’s also ex-pensive. Today’s ceramic and vinyl tiles mimic the real thing with surprising accuracy. Ceramic will still cost you a pretty penny but less than natural stone. Vinyl is incredibly affordable, attractive, and comes in tiles or planks to make the illusion more realistic. Laminate countertops and faux stone backsplashes are more options for high-end looks at prices that don’t require a blood donation to afford. 

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