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How to Cheaply Modernize & Update Your Small Bathroom

Are you looking for easy DIY decor ideas to redo your old bathroom? By updating bathroom vanities, tubs, and countertops, you can really modernize your bathroom without spending a ton.

before and after bathroom makeover with arrow pointing.

We have redone a few bathrooms in our day. Now, we always try to figure out the most economical way to redo a bathroom. Even with our full primary bathroom remodel, we still kept some of the fixtures that were already there.

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Economical Small Bathroom Remodel

If you have been following along with our DIY home projects, then you know we are currently working on updating our children’s bathroom upstairs.

We have gotten a lot of questions about extra DIY projects we have done to update the space as cheaply as we could.

“Before” Bathroom

You can read all about how we painted the bathroom vanity grayish-blue and replaced the countertops (coming soon).

However, we just felt like we had more to add about how we remodel this space cheaply for our family. So here are a few more bathroom remodel or refresh ideas that you could try.

Items Purchased

For budget reasons, all of our home decor ideas are a mix of keeping what we already have and buying some new home items to go along.

premade marble counter sitting on floor in front of painted bathroom cabinet.

Here is our in-progress shot of getting out the counter supplies ready. Look for our tips on how to easily install and bathroom counter and sink soon!

Inexpensive bathroom supplies collage of paint, counter, faucet, handle and shelving used.

1. Pipe Fittings for Bathroom Shelving

2. Bathroom Vanity Paint in Charcoal Blue

3. Sink and Countertop – Trust me, this made our bathroom remodel and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality. We were nervous that this would look fake or not be sturdy enough. It was a great addition to add this countertop.

4. New Bathroom Vanity Hardware – Again, pleasantly surprised that we were able to find decent hardware on Amazon for a cheap price!

5. Kohler Faucet – At first my husband thought this was too square looking, but after we added it to the countertop, he changed his mind. I love the modern look and it can go with all different home decor styles.

Replace Or Redo Bathroom Accessories

When doing any DIY project, we always recommend trying to save, repurpose or upcycle the items you already have. However, sometimes you just need to start with new accessories.

Here are a few options to upgrade your bathroom mirror.

Option 1: Buy A New Mirror

Once we saw the cabinet, new counter, and sink, we knew the construction-grade mirror with those dreaded clips wasn’t going to cut it. We ended up purchasing a new framed mirror at AtHome to help complete the bathroom vanity look. 

Other Mirrors To Purchase

You may not have an Athome near you, but I have also found mirrors from Target and Amazon that I love (and that are reasonably priced).

I love gold accessories, however, we do not have any in our home. Therefore, I couldn’t get this fun-shaped mirror from Target. If you are thinking of gold accents, you may want to check this mirror out.

Also, this oval mirror from Amazon (an Amazon-choice product) seemed very intriguing as it had a modern rubber frame. If I wouldn’t have found our mirror at AtHome, I probably would have considered this mirror especially because this is mainly a children’s bathroom.

Option 2: Add A Frame To The Mirror You Already Have

We debated about adding our own frame to our bathroom mirror. We love the look from this home diy blogger. But since I was able to find a pretty inexpensive mirror, we decided we didn’t need to build our own mirror frame.

Replace Countertops With Premade Sink & Counter

“Before” Cabinets

white marbled counter on top of blue laminate countertops and oak bathroom cabinets.

Painting and keeping your existing bathroom cabinets is a great way to save money. Just be careful removing your existing counters.

yellow crow bar removing blue laminate counter and sink.

We found a sink and countertop that we felt was worth doing a DIY counter replacement.

bathroom cabinets painted blue with countertop and silver faucet.

Use Paint To Brighten Your Space & Cabinets

I am not one to say “ALWAYS” will, normally I say it may work for you, etc. However, it is a pretty true statement from all of our home painting experiences.

Painting is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to modernize your bathroom or any room. With a little elbow grease, you are able to transform your home.

As you noticed in the before picture, the walls were a light blue color and we repainted them using SW Grayish. The soft gray really worked well with the Charcoal Blue cabinets in this space.

before oak bathroom vanity with arrow pointing to after painted blue gray bathroom cabinets with new mirror.

Read More>>>If you still need some guidance about our cabinet painting process, we talk all about our cabinet painting method here.

Don’t Forget The Ceiling

One of those spaces that require a lot of elbow grease and one that is commonly forgotten is the ceiling. I know how much a bright white ceiling can really make a space feel new from when we added new drop ceiling tiles in our basement.

In addition to adding some new accessories, we repainted the whole bathroom (including the ceiling). If you have never painted your ceilings, you would be amazed at how much brighter it can make a space (especially a small space like our bathroom). 

White Painted ceilings vs. old ceiling.

Cons Of Painting The Ceiling

Now I will not lie, painting ceilings is a pain. However, it went fairly quickly due to the small space.

Tips For Painting

  • Paint the ceiling first so that I didn’t have to worry about trimming the ceiling with paint.
  • Use paint meant for ceilings. We used Sherwin Williams Eminence Ceiling Paint with a large roller and brush for trimming.
  • Consider using leftover paint from another project for small spaces.

I hate wasting paint. Since I had leftover paint from our basement makeover, I used that up for this space. 

Paint Bathroom Vanity Light Fixture

globe oak bathroom light fixture over construction grade mirror.

This bulb light fixture was so dated that I actually feel like the style may be coming back around. And since it had an oak wood base, I was able to paint it at the same time I did the vanity.

Step 1: Take out light bulbs.

Step 2: Use painter’s tape to tape out areas you don’t want to be painted.

yellow painter's tape on bathroom light fixture with primer.

Step 3: Use a deglosser to clean the wood. This helps the primer stick well.

Step 4: Use a primer. We normally just use a latex-based primer due to smell.

Step 5: Use latex enamel in the color of your choice. You may need to paint 2 or 3 coats.

painted bathroom light fixture with part of new mirror and gray walls.

Make sure you check for drips around the lips. We had a few under the light bulbs. You can always sand those down when they are dry with extra fine sandpaper and paint another layer.

We figured that we will see if we like the new and cheap updated light fixture. We could always purchase a new one later if it didn’t work out for us. But I have to say that I like the unique light fixture for my children. 

Read More>>>See about our painted bathroom vanity and other instructions on how to easily paint oak so it will last.

Add Bathroom Storage And Shelves

Remember I said that this bathroom vanity makeover caused a snowball effect? We had taken down an old bathroom cabinet that was above the toilet. I instantly was able to sell it in buy-sell-trade groups. 

We debated about painting it and putting it back up. But decided that something fresh would be better and started researching different bathroom shelving ideas.

small bathroom with organic mirror, painted cabinets and industrial shelf over toliet.

Instead, we added an industrial bathroom shelf and store-bought wire towel paper holder over the toliet. These flanges were used with reclaimed wood to complete our rustic shelf.

Practical Children’s Bathroom Idea

Use hooks on the opposite side and place them at the proper height for children. We just reused the hooks we had up previously but made it some they could reach them. Nothing fancy, but it totally functional.

brown towel hanging on bathroom hook half way up the wall.

“After” Budget-Friendly Makeover

And like always, this DIY bathroom project had me looking outside the bathroom and looking at our old oak banister. Check out how we were able to update & modernize our stairway using some of the same supplies we had out from this DIY project.

Behr charcoal blue painted cabinets with large hardware

Related Reading

small bathroom with painted cabinets, shelves and organic mirror.

Follow us on Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

I just love that anyone can do these inexpensive tips and tricks to update their bathroom.

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