Home renovations can be incredibly expensive – that Carrera marble countertop is going to cost half my yearly salary? No thanks. Unfortunately, bathroom upgrades seem to be some of the worst culprits. Lighting, cabinets, and mirrors are the obvious choices for making your space feel more chic, but you can do a lot with some creativity and inexpensive alternatives.
We’ve rounded up our favorite cheap bathroom upgrades; most are rental-friendly, and all are guaranteed to make your space feel more spa-like and luxurious. If you’ve got a spare afternoon and a few bucks to spare, put “Bathroom Reno” on your calendar.
Every bathroom should have a couple of candles that smell great and look pretty. Place them along your bathtub, layer different heights on your countertop, or place them in a windowsill. If you’re going to have more than one, opt for unscented pillar candles to place alongside a scented candle in a pretty container.
Switch out hardware
Rental and builder-grade hardware is boring. You can buy cheap, pretty knobs and pulls from Amazon or World Market (hit up the sales section!), and instantly spruce up your space. If your current bathroom doesn’t have knobs and you’re not sure about drilling into your cabinets, use some Command Strips to attach the hardware; you can easily remove them with zero damage, or even switch them out seasonally!
Place a fresh bouquet on your counter
Bathrooms can start to feel stale if there isn’t anything green and living inside. Fresh flowers smell great, add greenery, and having a new bouquet every week feels like a luxury. Hit up your local thrift store for a pottery pitcher or decorative vase, and tap into your inner florist. If weekly flowers are too expensive, invest in some realistic-looking fake ones from your local craft store.
Buy a new shower curtain
The shower curtain is arguably the most noticeable piece when you walk into a bathroom – so it should be beautiful! If you’re going to be painting or adding new towels and rugs, pick your curtain first – and then use it as your color and pattern palette for the rest of your decor. For a more grown-up and luxurious look, buy a cotton curtain instead of plastic, and replace your current shower rod with a curved one to give the illusion of a bigger tub.
Lay Peel-and-Stick Flooring
Ah, linoleum. It’s the decor equivalent of mayonnaise. Can you use it? Sure, but is it really adding any flavor or value? No. This is where peel-and-stick flooring comes in. It can be placed right over linoleum, is easy to cut (just a regular box cutter will do), and most options are textured so it actually looks like wood. This is one of the more expensive upgrades, but if your bathroom is small, you’ll still come in under $50.
Make your own wallpaper
As long as you have wallpaper paste, you can turn almost any paper product into wallpaper; old book pages or wrapping paper with a pretty pattern make great wallpapers, and cost less than half of what the regular stuff goes for. If the rest of your color palette is muted, try a bold statement wall!
Get rid of the light shades on your vanity light
Light fixtures are an investment, but you can work with what you already have! Remove the shades from your current light fixtures and install old-fashioned Edison bulbs for a modern and industrial update. If your hardware doesn’t match the light fixture, grab a can of spray paint and match the color to your new knobs. It’s amazing how much of a difference some new lights and a fresh coat of paint can make!
Make your counter space feel like a spa
It’s time to remove the clutter of makeup products strewn around your counter; buy a pretty container or basket (one that isn’t see-through) to throw all of your makeup in and add a nice soap dish – the point here is to have form and function meet. If you’re never going to be hyper-organized with your toiletries, that’s ok! Work with that by investing in some storage that allows you to be cluttered without looking like it.
Hang up towels on a ladder
Search garage sales and thrift stores, and you’ll come across an old ladder! Use this to drape towels across for a cute display that’s also functional – just make sure you don’t layer up wet towels that could get mildewy. If you have lightweight, cotton towels, they’ll do best here. This decor item can also be used to hang things like dried lavender, or to drape magazines over if it’s a guest bathroom.
Place toiletries in cute containers
Even if items like Q-tips and cotton rounds won’t be on display, placing them in pretty jars will make your bathroom feel like a spa. Old-fashioned candy jars work great, and can be found in hoards at any Goodwill or thrift store. It’s also a great way to make guests feel like they can make themselves at home without digging through your cabinets!
Update countertops with contact paper
Amazon has a huge collection of high-quality contact papers that will instantly modernize that 1970’s countertop. Concrete or marble papers tend to look the most realistic, but solid colors like black are the most forgiving. Make sure you have a credit or gift card on hand to roll out the air bubbles that will inevitably sneak up as you’re laying the paper down, and ask a friend to help – this is a job for more than one person!
Spruce up with a fresh coat of paint
If your landlord is chill or you own your own place, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a bathroom. Dark statement walls are on-trend right now (even for small bathrooms!), and two-tone walls are a great way to add some dimension and texture. If you have mold spots on your current paint, make sure to scrub those away first!
Update your rugs
If you don’t like any of the fluffy bathroom rugs for sale, don’t be afraid to venture outside of the bathroom aisle. General home decor rugs have more patterns and colors to choose from, and you can still make them comfy by adding a memory foam piece underneath or layering them on top of a twine or jute rug.
What are your favorite cheap home upgrades? Have you tried any of these ideas? Let us know in the comments section – we’d love to see pictures!