An inviting, relaxing bathroom provides a welcome retreat in your own home. Unfortunately, bathroom renovations can be expensive undertakings. With some clever tips and affordable changes, you can give your bathroom an updated, high-end look without breaking the bank. Here are 15 cheap and easy ways to makeover your bathroom.

Update the Lighting

Lighting has a major impact on the ambiance and functionality of any room. Poor lighting in a bathroom can create a cold, cave-like feel. Updating the lighting is an easy fix that instantly modernizes the space.

  • Replace outdated fluorescent ceiling fixtures with new LED fixtures that provide bright, natural-looking light. LEDs use minimal energy and last for years.
  • Add stylish wall sconces on each side of the mirror for task lighting. This makes grooming and applying makeup much easier.
  • Install a dimmer switch so you can adjust the mood with softer lighting in the evenings.
  • Swap out an old ceiling fan with a new model featuring integrated lights to add both illumination and air circulation.

Refresh the Walls and Ceiling

Over time, bathroom walls and ceilings can become dingy and discolored from moisture, mildew, and everyday wear-and-tear. Giving them a fresh coat of paint does wonders for brightening up the space.

  • Use 100% acrylic latex paint formulated especially for bathrooms. It resists mildew growth on moisture-prone surfaces.
  • Opt for light, cool hues like airy light blue, soothing seafoam green, or icy gray. This makes small bathrooms appear more open and spacious.
  • Paint the ceiling bright white to maximize the feeling of height.
  • Add a bold, contrasting accent wall in a dark, dramatic color. This creates visual interest in a neutral bathroom.

Update the Cabinets and Vanity

Dated cabinets and vanities can make a bathroom seem old and dingy. Freshen them up with easy facelifts and new hardware.

  • Give wood cabinets a modern matte black, sleek white, or light gray stain.
  • Use adhesive contact paper to cover melamine cabinets in stone, marble, or wood looks.
  • Replace old handles and knobs with new brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze hardware.
  • Paint the walls inside medicine cabinets a bright white to maximize visibility.
  • Add rustic open shelving over the toilet for folded towels and decorative objects.

Switch Out the Faucets and Fixtures

Even builder-grade faucets and fixtures can get a high-end look with simple and affordable swaps. This makes a bathroom feel luxurious.

  • Replace dated faucets with new widespread or centerset styles in brushed nickel, chrome, or matte black.
  • Upgrade to a waterfall, rectangular vessel, or wall-mount faucet for contemporary style.
  • Change out the toilet seat for a sleek bidet seat that includes a heated washing wand.
  • Switch the bath and shower fixtures like spouts, handles, and showerheads to match the new faucets.
  • Add a stylish oversized rain showerhead for a spa-like relaxation.

Incorporate Natural Textures and Materials

Natural textures add warmth and elegance with handcrafted, earthy vibes. Incorporate terracotta, linen, jute, marble, and wood surfaces for a cozy spa aesthetic.

  • Use neutral ceramic, porcelain, or marble mosaic tiles for the floors, walls, tub surround.
  • Add bamboo organizers and baskets for neatly storing toiletries.
  • Mount a large round jute or sisal rug next to the bathtub as a natural foot mat.
  • Dress up windows with soft linen curtains or wood blinds.
  • Display green leafy plants like snakes, ivy, ferns and orchids for an at-home oasis.

Add Pops of Color and Pattern

Vibrant accents, colorful prints, and expressive wallpaper turn up the visual interest. Go bold without overdoing it by limiting patterns to just one or two feature areas.

  • Use graphic black-and-white graphic floor tiles laid out in a geometric or herringbone design.
  • Install a tropical leafy green or bright abstract shower curtain.
  • Pick turquoise, sunny yellow, or coral hand towels for a cheerful color pop.
  • Add a patterned runner rug to define a dressing area or add softness underfoot.
  • Apply removable wallpaper inside a medicine cabinet or on one focal wall.

Display Fresh Flowers and Plants

A few fresh flowers and potted plants make a bathroom feel like a soothing oasis. They instantly add life, texture, green foliage and natural scent to the air.

  • Place a vase of fresh-cut blooms like peonies, roses or daisies on the vanity.
  • Hang a wall-mounted vanity planter box near the bathtub and fill it with trailing ivy or ferns.
  • Put a pair of matching ceramic planters on the floor flanking the toilet. Opt for palms, orchids or succulents.
  • Add a freestanding tubside planter pedestal to hold a statement plant like a snake plant or bird of paradise.
  • Install a self-watering vertical wall garden for a living green accent.

Incorporate Mirrored Surfaces

Mirrored surfaces instantly double the sense of space and light in a bathroom. They create depth and the illusion of more room.

  • Hang a large rectangular mirror above the vanity to expand the look.
  • Use mirrored cabinet doors to increase lighting and enlarge the appearance.
  • Install a mirrored backsplash with lighting behind the sink.
  • Add freestanding cheval-style mirrors to double the decorative impact of plants.
  • Position a leaner floor mirror in a corner to add spaciousness.

Upgrade the Countertops

The countertops take up a significant portion of the vanity area, so upgrading them makes a major impact. Natural stone and ceramic materials create a clean, sophisticated look.

  • Marble, granite, and quartz countertops elevate the luxury level.
  • Soapstone, sandstone, and limestone offer more budget-friendly natural options.
  • Concrete, ceramic, porcelain, and glass tile work well too.
  • Seek out remnant pieces of slab materials from suppliers. These offer deep discounts.
  • Use marble contact paper for quick facelifts on laminate vanities.

Add Specialty Lighting Features

Unique lighting elements not only illuminate the bathroom, but they add visual flair and create ambiance. Look for waterproof fixtures to place in shower niches, above jetted tubs, or along the vanity.

  • Add LED strip lighting under cabinets or the vanity for a soft glow.
  • Install sconces alongside the mirror for ideal visibility during grooming.
  • Put accent lights inside the shower or an overhead rainfall showerhead with illumination.
  • Place flameless flickering faux candles around the tub for a spa vibe.
  • Use rope lights coiled inside wall shelves or cabinets for gentle accent lighting.

Repurpose and Upcycle Items

Give tired furnishings and fixtures new life with easy DIY makeovers. Sand and restain, repaint, reupholster, or distress to transform the style.

  • Turn a dated oak medicine cabinet into a rustic chalkboard organizer after sanding and staining.
  • Reupholster a round lidded stool to make it a pouf for extra seating.
  • Paint and distress a flea market dresser to use as a trendy bathroom vanity.
  • Vinyl wrap the existing counter and give it a new solid surface look.
  • Wallpaper the inside of glass shelves for a pop of color and texture.

Add Special Details

It’s the little details that take a basic bathroom makeover to the next level. Have fun dressing up the space with these special finishing touches.

  • Incorporate natural elements like driftwood, sea glass, shells, and pebbles as design accents.
  • Install a space-saving sliding barn door at the entrance for vintage-chic style.
  • Use rope wrapped around jars and bottles to create textured décor and storage.
  • Stencil inspirational quotes, plant names, or geometric shapes onto ceramic tiles as ornamentation.
  • Display collected antique mirrors, windows, and shutters for shabby chic flair.

DIY Small Bathroom Makeover Ideas

Many homeowners want to upgrade their small, cramped bathrooms but have limited remodeling budgets. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable DIY projects that make a small bathroom feel fresh and spacious. Here are some top easy makeover ideas:

Replace the vanity – Install a streamlined floating vanity or slender pedestal sink to save space. Update the faucet and paint the vanity a light, bright hue.

Update the tub/shower area – Replace the shower curtain with a space-saving curved shower rod and clear vinyl liner. Update the showerhead and install a simple subway tile backsplash.

Paint the walls and ceiling – Use light blue, green, or gray to create the illusion of a larger area. Paint the ceiling bright white and add a mirror for more light reflection.

Organize better – Declutter and add shelves, over-the-door racks, standing storage towers, and wall-mounted dispensers for toiletries and linens.

Change the flooring – Cover up old floors with peel-and-stick vinyl tiles, roll-out sheet flooring, or budget-friendly mosaic sheets in white and light colors.

Add new lighting – Increase light with an overhead fixture, recessed lights and sconces around the mirror. Under-cabinet lights also add brightness.

Update the details – Freshen up with new shower curtain, bath mat, towels, soap dispensers, trash bin, artwork, and greenery.

Small bathrooms can take on a clean, fresh new look with some budget-savvy mini makeovers and space-saving solutions. Focusing on light colors, decluttering, and better organization helps maximize the appeal. With a little creativity, you can transform your small bathroom into a relaxing oasis.

FAQs About Bathroom Makeovers

What are the easiest ways to update a bathroom on a budget?

Some of the quickest and most affordable ways to update a bathroom include painting the walls, replacing fixtures like faucets and light fixtures, updating hardware like cabinet knobs and handles, replacing the shower curtain and accessories, and decluttering/better organizing toiletries and towels.

How much does it cost to remodel a small bathroom?

Remodeling a small 5×7 bathroom can range from $4,000-$15,000 depending on factors like layout changes, the materials used, whether plumbing is relocated, etc. Simple cosmetic updates tend to range from $700-$2,000.

Should I remodel or renovate my bathroom?

It depends on your goals. A remodel involves fully gutting and reconstructing the bathroom layout and systems. This is ideal for dramatically changing the footprint or function. A renovation involves surface-level updates like fixtures, finishes, paint, and accessories to refresh the look without major construction.

What paint finish should be used in bathrooms?

A satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss paint should be used in bathrooms. These finishes are more resistant to moisture and can be easily wiped down. Flat paint absorbs moisture and is difficult to clean. Special bathroom paint formulated with mildew resistant ingredients is ideal.

What flooring works best in a bathroom remodel?

Water-resistant materials like luxury vinyl plank, ceramic and porcelain tile, and solid surface floors work best for bathroom flooring. Other good options include linoleum, quartz composite, and solid hardwoods treated for moisture resistance like teak. Regular carpet should be avoided.

Should I get permits for bathroom renovation?

Yes, if you’re doing major construction like moving plumbing, electrical, or walls, permits are typically required. Building codes regulate bathroom construction for safety reasons. Always check with your local permitting office to determine if a permit is mandatory before starting a bathroom remodel.


A dream bathroom doesn’t have to break the bank. With some strategic low-cost updates, you can give your bathroom an entirely fresh look and feel. Focus on changes that make the space look lighter, brighter and more tranquil. Upgrade the lighting, refresh the walls and cabinetry, replace old fixtures, add pops of color and plants, and incorporate natural spa-like materials. Use your creativity and you’ll be amazed at the transformation you can achieve. A little bathroom makeover can go a long way in increasing the enjoyment of your home and providing a rejuvenating place to start and end your day.