7 Easy Ways to Update a Bathroom Without Remodeling


If your bathroom needs an update but your budget is sparse here are seven easy ways to update a bathroom without remodeling. Sometimes our hopes and dreams are bigger than our budgets and we have to wait on certain remodeling projects. I get it, been there and still there.

Everyone loves a brand new bathroom with all new bathroom tile and shiny fixtures, but sometimes you don’t have the budget for a full bathroom remodel or you living situation is not long term. Renovating a bathroom, for whatever reason, is not in your near future. Maybe you want to update the bathroom until you can find the budget or you need to sell and a bathroom update is necessary.

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bathtub with towel and artwork with vase of greenery

When our kitchen was remodeled we also remodeled all the bathrooms in our home except our primary bathroom. Mainly due to its sheer size. However, after seven years in our home we found ourselves needing to update our primary bathroom quickly due to a move. We were looking for bathroom ideas on a budget and things that could be incorporated quickly.

What Does it Cost to Remodel a Bathroom?

In short…it’s expensive. If you plan to gut the entire space and start again you will need to set aside a pretty good budget. Of course the bathroom size and the bathroom finishes you select play a large part in your overall bathroom budget.

A small bathroom renovation can set you back between $5,000-$7,500 while a large or primary bathroom remodel can cost you around $25,000-$50,000.

According to This Old House, homeowners have redone their bathrooms for $6,000, $4,000, $2,000, and even less than $1,000. According to HomeAdvisor, the average bathroom remodel costs around $10,911 as of April 2020. A high-end remodel for a large or master bathroom could run you $25,000 or more.

But what if you could make some updates to your bathroom without a full remodel? To tied you over while you save for the big remodel day? Here are some ideas.

blue painted cabinets in white bathroom

Should You Update a Bathroom?

If you do not have the budget for a complete bathroom renovation, and it will be a few years before you do; it is a good idea to do some inexpensive bathroom updates. Think long term however because some of your updates might be able to be carried over to your final bathroom remodel.

For example, we had these awful bulk heads that boxed in the entire space above the sinks. We knew these would go when we did a full remodel and by removing them it updated the space and then would already be done for a future remodel.

Light fixtures and accessories can be carried over into a full remodel down the road. Think long term even with your short term fixes.

Cheap DIY Bathroom Remodel Ideas

It’s easy to make an old bathroom look new(er) even if your budget is limited. Small touches can make a space feel and look so much better. Here are some ideas to incorporate.

1. Update a Bathroom with Fresh Paint

One of the first and easiest bathroom updates you can make is putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling. That alone can transform a space. Never underestimate the power of paint. Add color to update your bathroom and give it just what it needs to look new by using a pop of color or keeping it crisp and clean with a white or neutral pint.

white bathroom with blue painted cabinets
bathroom before picture - full

2. Update Bathroom Lighting

Changing the paint and lighting can make a huge improvement to your space. When we removed the bulk heads in the space we updated the lights but left them still as a recessed light as our bathroom didn’t actually need a full fixture above the sink.

bathtub with towel and artwork with vase of greenery

3. Paint Bathroom Cabinets

Think of paint for your bathroom cabinets as well. Painting bathroom cabinets did wonders for our space. Not only did I add a lovely white paint to the ceiling, walls and trim but the bathroom cabinets were transformed and made the space pop. Paint alone made a huge difference in this bathroom as you can see in the before and after picture below. Painting the walls and the cabinets alone did wonders.

Blue Painted Bathroom Cabinets

4. Update Bathroom Hardware

Changing cabinets knobs, replacing the shower head and towel racks can also update a space and be used in a future remodel. If you have the budget, change the faucets too and watch your space change greatly after just these three improvements. Carry these items into a future overhaul and you will be well on your way to a fully remodeled bathroom.

6. Clean the Grout or Paint the Tile

Fresh paint and clean grout can go a LONG way. Do not underestimate the power of giving the space a good deep cleaning.

The grout in our previous bathroom had become quite dingy and a good cleaning and sealing was necessary to make the space look fresh. Even with fresh paint and newly painted cabinets and hardware; the grout could not be left as is. You can do this yourself or have it done professionally. You can also paint your tile if it is quite ugly and achieve a great result.

5. Update Bathroom Decor

Adding new towel hook and bars, add plants and artwork, change the shower curtain and adding a new rug can make a huge different. Even a new soap jar can be a touch of new decor that brings life to the dated space.

In our current home in Tennessee, we plan to remodel our primary bathroom in the future but it’s not important now and not in bad shape. The house was built in 2011 so it’s not that old; it’s just not our style.

I painted, added a rug, a piece of art and some decor and greenery. For now, those are the updates this bathroom is getting and in a few years we will do a complete overhaul.

bathtub with towel and artwork with vase of greenery

7. Remove the Focus on the Old

The biggest eye sore in our previous bathroom was the very large, dated surround tile jet tub. While it is a great way to soak away your cares I wanted to remove it the first time I saw it. Removing it would be easy, but replacing it with a cheap alternative was a no go. Instead I tried to draw the focus away from the tub with fresh paint and new decor.

white bathroom with blue painted cabinets

Do the Bathroom Update Work Yourself

By doing the bathroom updates yourself you of course will save money, and because we aren’t talking a full on remodel, you should be able to make some of these updates on your own. Painting, cleaning grout, changing shower heads and light fixtures are basic DIY tasks that most people can do on their own.

bathtub with towel and artwork with vase of greenery

Final Thoughts on Updating Your Bathroom on a Budget

Updating your bathroom so you can enjoy it should be why you do it in the first place or if you need to update a space that you need to sell. We waited on our bathroom remodel in our Virginia home because we planned on doing a complete overhaul, but then we moved and needed to make some fast changes.

Update what you can and what have the money for. Maybe your tile is in good shape and you like it but you just need to change the vanity and the faucet. Perhaps some new paint, rug and decor is all you need. Do what works best for you. Hopefully these tips are helpful as you update or begin to think about updating this important and useful space in your home.

7 Easy Ways to Update a Bathroom Without Remodeling

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