7 Budget-Savvy Bathroom Makeover Tips
Total Bathroom Makeover
By Sarah Gray Miller
Just how bad was my master bath? Since I couldn't bear to snap a single "before" photo, you'll have to take my word about the powder-blue tile floor and walls, matching azure toilet, and double-wide stall shower with gold-flecked plastic doors. In fact, the awfulness of it all made saving up for a massive renovation unthinkable. Instead, I chose the expedient, inexpensive route, leaving the basic floor plan (i.e. plumbing lines) intact and scouring secondhand shops for steals. The finished room—my favorite in our upstate New York home—confirms what I've long held true, that pinching pennies often yields the most personal results.
Tip 1: Color—in every sense of the word—comes fromone-of-a-kind finds. The real room-changers: a funky $200 neon liquor-store sign and a horse rug, nabbed for $10 at Lincoln Auctions in Coxsackie, New York. The other vintage treasures, from stools to artwork, set me back no more than $50 a pop at local antiques stores.
Tip 2: A chandelier lends delightfully unnecessary opulence.
Sure, a standard light would serve the required purpose, but this over-the-top Brocade Home pendant positively sparkles. (Chandelier, $699; brocadehome.com)
Tip 3: Splurge on the small stuff.
This tub cost only $200 at Kingston, New York's old-fixture emporium Zaborski's. To upgrade it, I forked over around $300 for new chrome supply lines and a European-style hand shower. Worth every cent, these details function like a stunning pair of shoes, elevating the whole outfit. (Zaborski's, 845-338-6465. Supply lines, $58.87 for two; hand shower, $256.24; lowes.com)
Tip 4: Warm things up with wood.
My single biggest investment? Hiring a carpenter to rip out the room's sea of blue tile and install whitewashed pine flooring and wainscoting. The payoff? A clean, but far from clinical, backdrop for the quirky scores that followed.
I used Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White on both the walls and the floor.
Tip 5: Salvaged treasures bestow instant age.
This hollow-core door was replaced with this distressed looker, just $20 at Bottle Shop Antiques in Millbrook, New York, the tenor of the space changed, from cheap and flimsy to solid and storied. (Bottle Shop Antiques, 845-677-3638)
Tip 6: The perfect platform for a sink:
This sideboard—a $70 flea-market bargain I painted pale green—morphed into a washbasin with the addition of a porcelain bowl from Lowe's and a wall-mount faucet by American Standard. The buffet also provides scads of storage, allowing me to forgo a medicine cabinet in favor of a casually propped ogee mirror. (Paint, Valspar Meadow Breeze, $28.98 per gallon; sink, $157.59; lowes.com. American Standard faucet, $205.58; vintagetub.com)
Tip 7: Decant! Decant! Decant! Even the lowliest bath salts go upmarket when transferred to pretty apothecary bottles. My old jars hail from the Coxsackie Antique Center; the new ones are Pottery Barn. (Coxsackie Antique Center; coxsackie.com. Glass canisters, from $19; potterybarn.com)
Also, my go-to shop for little luxuries, like the shaving stand on the counter: Rural Residence in Hudson, New York. (ruralresidence.com)