Low-Cost Ways to Make Your Bathroom More Spa-Like
Before: Beige and Blah
Stylist, author, and TV host Emily Henderson is known for achieving modern eclectic style on a budget, so before you even set eyes on the “after” to this very beige bathroom, you know it has to be two things: fresh and affordable. As a last-minute add-on to a multi-room makeover Henderson was working on, the bathroom transformation couldn’t involve any major renovations. Luckily, quick fixes, such as paint and new storage, can help brighten a space and make it more functional in just a few days. If you’d like to turn your bathroom into a relaxing oasis, but you aren’t ready to start ripping out tiles, this project will inspire you to work with (and around) what you have.
After: A Sunny Retreat
By painting the walls white, the formerly dingy space feels instantly brighter. Henderson says that white can be a smart option for smaller spaces because it bounces light around the room. “The bathroom had the original pink tile on the floors, so rather than bring another color into the small space, we kept it simple and bright,” Henderson explains. Don't hide the outdated elements you can’t fix. Instead, Henderson suggests letting them influence your design scheme. “If there is a color or item in your bathroom that you can't necessarily change, then incorporating it in other areas throughout the bathroom will help it feel more meaningful and intentional,” she says. To complement the vintage pink tile in this room, Henderson chose wall art and towels with touches of pink.
And a clutter-free bathroom is a relaxed bathroom. Find organizers that make it easy to keep the room tidy. When choosing shelving and organizers in the bathroom, Henderson recommends considering both your storage needs and the space you’re working with. “In our case, we needed to keep the space open and bright, which is why we opted for this glass storage unit, which allowed light to pass through it,” she says. If you have a lot of bottles, lotions, and products in your bathroom, she advises hiding them inside a closed storage bin. Whereas if you just need to stash pretty linens and towels, opt for open shelving or a glass cabinet like the one Henderson used.
Shop the Room
Marbled Wake Art Print Looking at a soothing image of waves rolling in while lounging in the bathtub is sure to make anyone feel more zen. Turn on an ocean soundtrack for maximum relaxation.
To buy: From $86; minted.com.
Threshold Coral Finial Bath Towel
A pretty coral color and finial pattern infuses some fun into a plain bathroom. “You use your towel every single day, so if you can splurge on something high-quality and beautiful, it will look good for a while,” Henderson says.
To buy: $13; target.com.
Glass Apothecary Tower
This steel-and-glass cabinet not only holds practical items, such as towels and toiletries, but it also doubles as a display case for beautiful knick-knacks.
To buy: $190; target.com.
Before: In Need of a Refresh
When Elsie Larson from the blog A Beautiful Mess decided to update her guest bathroom, she wanted to create a space worthy of showing off to visitors. While most guest bathrooms aren’t used very often, this one is located on the ground floor of Larson’s home, so visitors are likely to see it. During her home inspection, Larson learned that the room had a rotted subfloor, which made updating the flooring not only an aesthetic choice, but also a safety concern. A new floor and wall tiles were some of the more labor-intensive changes to the space, but the finished room is also full of cosmetic updates that can be tackled in a weekend.
After: Rose Gold Perfection
While the new tiles help make this space feel more modern, it’s the little touches, such as gold hardware and a swipe of pink paint, that make this space really stylish. To cut costs, Larson decided to keep the original vanity, but she gave it a paint makeover. “A full bathroom renovation is always more expensive than you think it's going to be. If you can paint it, try that first!” she advises. At first, Elsie painted the vanity black, but she then realized that the high-contrast piece wasn’t giving her the serene spa look she wanted. “I am one of those people who struggles with clutter, and low-contrast rooms can be a bit more forgiving for those messy days,” she explains. Lesson learned: A low-contrast, soothing color palette may make a dated and cluttered room look deceptively fresh and tidy.
Shop the Room
The “champagne bronze” finish on this sleek faucet is a warm golden hue that matches perfectly with the drawer pulls and sconces. And how well does it work? Larson loved this faucet so much, she added one to both her husband’s coffee bar and her kitchen sink.
To buy: $272; amazon.com.
House Plants Print
Plant life is a must in any spa-inspired bathroom—but what do you do if you’re terrible at keeping them alive? Invest in a plant-filled print that’s guaranteed to never wilt.
To buy: $15; etsy.com/shop/wildhartpaper.
Tolson Single Towel Bar
A towel bar likely isn’t the first thing you think to splurge on, but this sophisticated gold option is as much a statement piece as it is a place to hang your towel.
To buy: $79; rejuvenation.com.
Before: Boring and Builder-Grade
When Shelley Westerman of the blog Crazy Wonderful wanted to customize her builder-grade bathroom, she knew a complete remodel wasn’t in the cards. Luckily, everything in the room was functional and relatively new, but run-of-the-mill tile choices and standard fixtures didn’t lend the space much character. To personalize the room without spending a ton of money, Westerman decided to keep most of the original elements intact. Instead of a complete overhaul, she simply spruced up the space with tiny DIY touches and patterned textiles. By introducing just a few handmade pieces, she was able to balance the humdrum, mass-produced look of a builder-grade bathroom.
After: A Peaceful Retreat
The most eye-catching change to the space is undoubtedly the DIY shiplap Westerman constructed from inexpensive plywood boards. This of-the-moment wall treatment gives a nod to nautical style and lends the space character. To keep costs low, she found ways to re-work the pieces that were already in the room. “Mirrors are expensive, and I could have easily spent double the cost of the makeover on a mirror alone. Instead, I reused the builder-grade mirror by attaching it to plywood and framing it with cheap 1-by-2's that I stained gray,” she says. And believe it or not, that subtle patterned shower curtain was formerly a flat sheet. After attaching fringe to the edge and setting grommets at the top, the sheet got a second life as a shower curtain. Thanks to Westerman’s creative mini makeovers, the total cost for the room transformation comes to a little over $100. And her final (frugal) finishing touch for a spa-like bathroom: “Flowers are great, but I don't think they're necessary. You can get the same feeling by adding fresh clippings from your own yard, and it's free!”
Shop the Room
Nate Berkus Sheet Set
The patterns on this sheet set are too cute to hide under the covers. Instead, Westerman repurposed the flat sheet as a shower curtain by adding grommets to the top.
To buy: From $29; target.com.
Turkish Cotton Hand Towels
“Swap out old terry cloth hand towels for fresh Turkish cotton hand towels,” Westerman recommends. It’s a quick fix that makes an immediate difference, and stocking up with a set of eight lets you rotate in a fresh one when the others are in the wash.
To buy: $35 for eight; amazon.com.
Delta Windemere Two-Handle Faucet
If your bathroom faucet has seen better days, replacing it with this $66 classic chrome option is an easy upgrade.
To buy: $66; amazon.com.
Before: A Beige Slate
Before Courtney Fernan from the blog A Thoughtful Place made over her powder room, it was clean and functional, but beige walls left it feeling a little drab. To wake up the space, Fernan decided the beige had to go and art had to be hung up. If you’re in a similar situation with a bathroom that’s functional but doesn’t match your decor style, take your time revamping the space. This room took about four months to complete, with small tweaks made over time. In the end, all of the tiny changes added up to a surprisingly dramatic result.
After: Pop of Pattern
The floral print on the upper half of the wall is actually removable wallpaper from Tempaper. While you might expect such a bold pattern to make a small space feel overwhelming, the soothing blue color helps keep the calm. “With beadboard on half of our walls, we were able to go a little bit bolder on the upper half of the bathroom. If you are wallpapering an entire room, you may want to consider a calmer pattern,” Fernan explains. And her other tricks for decorating a bathroom that’s tranquil, but not boring? “Without question, fresh greens, a beautiful soap dispenser, and a crisp white towel will always create a spa-like atmosphere,” she says.
Shop the Room
Elevate the style in a humdrum bathroom with this marble-and-wood look-a-like of Fernan’s minimalist stone shelf. This petite ledge is the perfect spot for perching a plant or storing pretty hand towels.
To buy: From $78; anthropologie.com.
Branches Mystery Blue Tempaper
Wallpaper that’s easy to remove on move-out day or when you have a change of heart was designed with renters and commitment-phobic decorators in mind. Be brave and go for a print you wouldn’t normally try.
To buy: $98; tempaper.com.
Maison Lavender Hand Lotion
Small details make all the difference when your aim is a spa-inspired powder room. This scented lotion in a glass pump is much prettier than your standard plastic dispenser.
To buy: $10; worldmarket.com.