Top Tips for Affordable Small Bathroom Makeovers

Even for the avid do-it-yourselfers who have a vision for everything, starting a remodeling project can be daunting. The good news is affordable small bathroom makeovers are much easier than you think. By following some basic project planning methods and breaking down each task into small, easy-to-do tasks your bathroom can get a fresh, modern, and sleek re-design in no time!

Draft the blueprint

The most important aspect of any remodel or project plan is to make sure you know your limits and exactly what to expect. Drafting a blueprint does not mean going to an architect (unless you want one imposing bathroom project), but it means planning ahead.

The first aspect of your blueprint is making note of the space you have to work with. In affordable small bathroom makeovers space can run out rather quickly and it will be important to ensure your project maximizes the space as best as possible. Whether you do this step on a napkin or in a professional software suite like AutoCAD is up to you. All that’s important is that you take some rudimentary measurements of the space and plan it out on paper or digitally. Start by getting a tape measure and measuring the length of each wall and even the height of the floor to the ceiling. You may want to also include major appliances that can help or hinder your project. For example, in a small bathroom the toilet likely takes up a lot of space (relatively speaking) so it may be important to note where the toilet is and what its dimensions are.

Once you’ve plotted out the space in your blueprint the fun then begins! It’s time to start thinking about how the space can be transformed into your vision. If you need some inspiration on project ideas don’t worry, keep reading below for some ideas! This step in the planning process is also very important because it may protect you and your project in the event that you damage something in the project process. Some homeowners insurance will actually cover damage caused by home projects if something goes wrong. For example, if you decide the backsplash behind the tub should be changed to a different tile you will need to rip down the old stuff. However, this comes at the risk of breaking into the drywall and hitting a water pipe. If that were to happen, a well-laid-out blueprint and project plan could be the documentation you need to file an insurance claim and receive coverage.

Clearing the space

After you’ve planned out your space and how it’s going to change it’s time to clear the space out. In most affordable small bathroom makeovers it’s often cheaper to gut the entire bathroom and start from scratch. But, where will all of that material go? Some project planners use roll off dumpsters as temporary storage for their projects. These dumpsters can be rented by the day and typically sit in your driveway for easy pickup when your project is done. You may also want to think about PPE (personal protective equipment) like eye protection, clothes that cover your skin, and even a respirator if you’ll be tearing down drywall or working with installation.

Clean House

It’s also a good idea to consider not just clearing but also cleaning the space. Since you’re most likely removing a lot of material this is a great time to do a deep cleaning of the space you normally cannot or do not address. For example, even if you rip out your bathtub, you likely are not changing the water piping configuration. So it may be a good idea to do some drain cleaning while you are in the space. This is also a good time to think about the underlying structure of the space and make sure all materials look healthy and are clean. If you’re tearing down any drywall it will be important to ensure all of the studs (wood that holds your house up) look healthy and are not moldy or rotting.


While you’re thinking about walls, it may be a good time to also have a trained electrician rewire your small bathroom. If you plan on updating appliances like a new ceiling fan to clear shower mist or mood lighting you may want to consider the new electrical needs/load of your new devices. At the same time, even if you don’t plan on updating applicants that need more electricity it is still a good idea to make sure the space is up-to-code and done with modern safety in mind. There’s no better time to rewire something than when the drywall is done anyway. Having an electrician do some rewiring can also save money in the long run by avoiding potential safety issues and if an electrician does work after the project is done, that would likely include tearing down your project and re-doing it. You’ll also benefit from an electrician doing everything according to code, so if you ever need a home inspection done you can be sure it was all done correctly the first time around. It’s a little pricier up front, but investment value and longevity are the keys to affordable small bathroom makeovers.


A good flow of air in your bathroom is perhaps one of the most critical components. Since bathrooms naturally are damp places it will be important to promote a healthy flow of air to keep mold and bacteria at bay. You’ll also want to ensure if you’re tearing into any material that you have good ventilation and a respirator to keep your lungs healthy and free of any particles! When choosing a ceiling van or ventilation there are many choices out there. The good news is you can prioritize the features you want in a ceiling van. For instance, how important is noise to you? Do you want a ceiling fan that is almost unnoticeable because of how quiet it is? If so be prepared to spend more of your budget on a higher-end fan. At the same time, a less costly fan may be louder but also produce a better volume of air displacement. You’ll also want to consider what power and type of fan will work with your project. Some fans offer mood lightning, and Bluetooth speaker options, and some fans will displace more air than others. Whatever you choose, it’s important to avoid costly mistakes and potential HVAC repairs, so consider hiring a professional to ensure your bathroom is properly ventilated.

Resurfacing and Fixtures

Another part of your affordable small bathroom makeovers should include new surfaces and fixtures. Perhaps one of the most common surface changes people like to make is the backsplash in the shower/tub area. Perhaps the best way to decide on what material/surface to go for is to visit a home improvement store and see the material for yourself. This is also a great time to add a splash of color to the materials so think about the overall aesthetic you want. You can also use the new materials to complement or reinforce your overall design.

Some of the most popular shower backsplash materials are wood, tile, glass, granite, and pebbles. Each will of course have different pros and cons and offer different aesthetics according to your overall project goals. Also, keep in mind that if using wood it will be treated to be mostly waterproof for a certain period of time, but it will require upkeep and maintenance more so than any other type of bathroom material.

Another aspect to think about is fixtures. Whether purely for decoration or for something functional you’ll want to be creative with your space. For example, wood slat shelving has become quite popular because of its modern sleek look. You can also extenuate your design with functional appliances like using an overhead lighting source that will provide an extra area of design focus but also important mood lighting.

Along with lighting, you’ll also want to consider how that lighting interacts and plays with the overall material of the bathroom. For example, does it make sense for your design to pair warm mostly yellow lighting with a white background with green plants? Only you can decide!

Repair What You Love

Perhaps the most affordable projects are the ones where we repair or repurpose old things into new ones. Projects like affordable small bathroom makeovers can be made even more affordable by focusing on reusing old materials. Take for instance stainless steel, this material is tried and true in bathroom settings and with proper maintenance will likely last longer than anything in your bathroom. Stainless steel repair is also easy to do with self-healing adhesives. You can also resurface stainless steel to give it a bright new look in your bathroom. You could also consider buying bathtub refinishers for bathtubs that need to be cleaned up or are starting to look old.

Glass and Mirrors

One of the best ways to open up a small bathroom or make it feel bigger than it actually is can be done using glass. Start off with your mirror and consider a larger mirror over the sink. Some of the most spacious bathrooms have large unframed mirrors. You can also want to consider adding a custom glass shower door to open up the space between your shower and the rest of the bathroom. There is a wide variety of glass options from normal glass to stained or frosted glass that offers more privacy for your bathroom shower door. Either way, using glass will give your bathroom a much more polished look while keeping the space open and inviting.

Quality Adjustments

Aside from replacing materials or tearing old things out, sometimes affordable small bathroom makeovers should also include adjustments to pre-existing infrastructure. One of the biggest and best areas to focus on is water quality. Since you’re already thinking about your shower space you may want to also think about the quality of water you’re using too. Depending on your location and your local city’s water supply, untreated water can actually cause damage to your skin, hair, nails, and even eyes as well as the appliances that you run water through. A simple and cheap place to start is with a home test kit for water hardness. The more ‘hard’ your water the more minerals are in it. Generally, soft water is better for humans and appliances and the softer the water the more smooth your skin will feel when stepping out of the shower and washing your face. Having soft water will also ensure that your pipes and appliances last longer since there will be fewer mineral deposits that build up over time. The good news it softening your water is also cheap and easy to do with water softeners.

Luxury and Dreams

Once you’ve come to a concrete understanding of your space, what its limitations are and what you want to do with it, it’s time to reflect on your overall goal. Some may aim for a sense of the increased quality of living or luxury while others may have aimed for a more functional space. If you have money left over in the budget this last step can be a great place to splurge or rework your ideas. One of the most popular ‘luxuries’ in affordable small bathroom makeovers is bidets. Other small but meaningful improvements may also make a big difference like the style of bathroom mat you use or even the type of towels you choose to display.

Wrapping Up

Whatever design choices you end up making it’s always best to have a tangible and easily understandable plan in place. To keep things affordable make sure to have a basic blueprint of the space to understand its limitations. It’s also important to plan out what your goals are, and how things will fit into their new spaces, and be sure to do maintenance and work as needed. Even though you may feel like it’s a bargain to rewire something on your own, it could actually end up costing you a lot more in the long run if done incorrectly.

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