Five fresh ideas to freshen up the bathroom

It's one of the most important and intimate rooms in your entire home. It can make a big first impression on visitors and be instrumental in helping you feel clean and refreshed. But it can also quickly turn into an eyesore due to clutter, dirt, mold and outdated components.

So maybe it's time to give a little TLC to your bathroom.

But a major redo in this space certainly isn't quick or cheap; According to HomeAdvisor, in fact, the typical budget range for such a project is $5,911 to $13,384, with high-end remodels ringing in at $22,000 or more.

The good news is that, for just a few hundred dollars or even less, you can give your bath or powder room a fast facelift that can add a smile to your face and value to your home.

“We spend a lot of time in the bathroom — it's one of the first areas we're in in the morning and the last at night, so why not make it beautiful?” asks Gala Magriñá, owner of Gala Magriñá Design in Long Island City, New York.

Lauren Tolles, interior designer and owner of Birmingham, Michigan-based home design/build firm Maison Birmingham, says it pays to invest in your bathroom because it accounts for around 10 percent of your home's value.

“Whether you're getting ready to sell your home or planning to stay for years, a simple bathroom refresh every few years makes sense. Trends in colors and hardware change, so doing some quick updates keeps things looking modern,” says Tolles.

To liven up your bathroom on a budget, try these five DIY strategies:

1) Repaint

“Nothing updates a room quite like a fresh coat of paint on the walls or cabinets,” Tolles says. “Keep the wall tones neutral and add subtle pops of color with linens and accessories. And if your bathroom has dated cabinetry, consider painting the cabinets, too — just make sure you sand and prime appropriately.” While you're at it, spread that brush and roller around the ceiling and wood trim as well. “You'd be surprised at how this can brighten a room,” says Larry Greene, president of Case Design/Remodeling Indianapolis.

2) Declutter and organize

Get rid of unnecessary hampers, storage containers and loose items littered about. “Beautify your shelves and counters by unboxing daily supplies like Q-tips and cotton balls and placing them in clear, pretty containers,” says Annie Draddy, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby in New York City. “Try stealing some storage tricks from the kitchen like using a Lazy Susan in the corner and plastic pantry bins in your cabinets for nail polish, sunscreen and travel toiletries. If you like to keep extra towels and items out of the closet, use pretty baskets or catchall containers that are attractive when on display.”

3) Modernize the hardware

Consider replacing your sink and shower faucets, towel bar and cabinet knobs or pulls, and choose a consistent new finish (brushed brass and white are currently hot). “These make a noticeable update to a bathroom and are relatively straightforward to switch out. Try to pick the same style, but in an updated model or new finish,” says Greene, who notes that some manufacturers even have matching hardware kits.

4) Upgrade your lighting

“The right amount of lighting is important to help illuminate personal grooming and makeup application, and newer light fixtures will update the room's look,” says Greene. Replace over-the-mirror lighting, fluorescents and old fixtures with sconces, pendants and fixtures flush to the wall that harmonize with your other hardware.

5) Replace your mirror, towels and bath mat.

“Try a beautiful pivot mirror instead of the standard frameless mirror glued to the wall, which will instantly dress up your bathroom in a very classic fashion,” Tolles says.

Additionally, try cleaning the grout between your tiles, adding new hanging art and countertop decor to the room, and installing a new shower curtain and toilet seat.

Be prepared to hire the pros for a significant renovation if your bathroom has been through 10 to 15 years of wear and tear, if your plumbing is giving you problems or if you notice visible water damage or cracked tiles, suggests Christian Lacroix, owner of Handyman Connection in McKinney, Texas.

“The good news is that do-it-yourself makeovers can completely refresh the room for very minimal cost and are usually needed only every three to five years,” Lacroix says.

Add touches of elegance and drama, such as candles, to turn a bathroom into your own personal sanctuaryInterior and photo by Gala Magriñá Design Courtesy of Gala Magriñá Design
Over-the-mirror lighting, or bath bars, are rarely flattering for anyone. Instead, try installing sconces 60-68 inches off the floor on either side of a mirror for better lighting and a more sophisticated look.
The San Jose bathroom uses a boldly painted blue alcove around the toilet for a pop of color in a master bath composed of muted whites and greens. Courtesy of Case San Jose
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