Do you have a not-so-good, definitely bad, perhaps even an ugly bathroom? One so bad that it needs a total makeover, but you don't think you have the money to do it? What if I told you that even for a major bathroom remodel, you don't have to spend a fortune to bring it into the current decade? In fact, all you need is $500. We replaced, repaired, or rejuvenated everything that was in our old 1980's bathroom and brought it into the modern age for under $500. We'll show you how to do it, too.
Vanity Base $30-100
Usually, the vanity in any bathroom is the central piece in the room. That's why it's important to determine what to do with it during your remodel. In most cases, all that needs to be done is to give it a new coat of paint, but if it's too old or rotting, you'll have to replace it. Vanities are very expensive, so look for a good used vanity or consider whether a smaller vanity will work. If you're able to get away with painting it, go dark to stay modern and hide the outdated look. Black is a great vanity color and it goes well with many themes. It also helps to hide any of the old scroll work often found in older vanities that you may not wish to highlight.
Shiny New Hardware $2-3 each
If your hardware is old and brassy looking or covered in paint, it's best to get new modern hardware that will match your towel bars and other fixtures. This adds up fast, so if you're finding yourself over budget anywhere you can try to clean and remove the paint off the hardware if you think it will match. However, if you do replace it, be sure to bring a hinge with you when shopping so that you can match it up as many old hinges fit the cabinets in odd angles that are often not easy to find.
New Countertop $20-75
You can find a brand new countertop for as little as $20 at a home improvement store and it's really worth it to make that bathroom remodel look fantastic and new. Countertops are inexpensive in most cases, especially if you stay away from the popular (and yes, beautiful) granite and stone pieces. Many stores have a few miscut pieces they will even sell for super cheap and they will usually precut the hole for the sink if you ask them to.
Updated Sink and Faucet $30-75
In most cases, you'll also need to replace the sink. Be sure to check whether the sink is oval or circular before you head to the store and measure the cutout for the new countertop. Even if you don't have to replace the sink, replacing your faucet and handles will make a very big difference.
Beautiful Backsplash $15-25
The old and cheap way of adding a backsplash to a countertop in a kitchen or bathroom was to simply put a piece of the laminate topping of the countertop along the back of the counter. Yes, it matches, but it also looks cheap. To remove it you'll have to probably grind it off thanks to all the glue used to get it to stick, but it's worth it. Add in its place a mosaic tile backsplash. It's a sure way to make that bathroom look as if a professional just remodeled the space, and yet it's very easy to do. Mosaic tile for this purpose comes on a sheet of thin plastic or paper. Cut it in half with scissors, and then spread the adhesive and stick it to the wall. Spread on the grout and it's done!
If your toilet is ten years old or older, consider replacing it. The newer ones are more eco-friendly and just a lot better looking, too. For under a hundred bucks the throne in the room can once again shine.
Bathtub or Shower Doors $190-200
This is where your final costs can rise significantly, but your bathroom will beam in appreciation. Shower doors, and even tub shower doors, can drive the cost up in any bathroom remodel job, but replacing them is a necessary thing to do if you want this bathroom to look new (and be new). Old track doors hold water and grow mold. Replacing them with new doors that drain in a way that you won't have that issue will keep your bathroom looking newer for longer. These doors are relatively easy to install yourself and make a tremendous difference when updated.
Modern Lighting $50-90
The second place you'll end up spending a lot of your budget on is lighting. Keep the color tone in line with whatever color and style you've picked for your towel bars, faucets, hinges, and handles. To find a better deal you can try Craigslist, where some people sell used light fixtures for great prices. Don't be tempted to keep the old lighting—it may be a budget biter to go with new, but it's going to be worth it in the end.
Really want to change a room? Update the flooring. If the bathroom already has tile and it's not some funky pink or horrible 1980's blue, all it may need is to be re-grouted. However, if it's too ugly or broken to keep, don't consider replacing it with more tile as you'll quickly run out of money in your budget. Instead, use vinyl or consider a water-resistant laminate wood floor.
As any DIYer knows, paint can make just about any room fresh and bright again. If you've gone for a darker color on the vanity to try to blur out the old look, go with a lighter color on your walls. Use a semi-gloss so that it's easy to wipe down. In some bathrooms, especially larger ones, wainscotting is also something that would really add to the overall look and is inexpensive.