Bathroom Renovation On A Budget: The $12,000 Challenge


Though your bathroom might be one of the smallest rooms in your home, it is often one of the most expensive to remodel. Unlike a bedroom, the bathroom has a lot of detail concentrated into one area. You need a lot of plumbing, electric, and specialty materials to be able to withstand water and steam, hardware and other fixtures at once.

A $12K budget is moderate for a bathroom renovation but usually not comprehensive. Despite this, you can still get a lot done within that price range. There are many ways you can reduce the price of your bathroom remodel from the get-go.

Keep The Original Layout

The best way to ensure that you keep a reasonable remodel cost is to keep the space’s original layout. If you want to change where the tub is or where the toilet stands, you’ll have to shift the plumbing and wiring underneath the floor, which is a much more comprehensive and complicated project. You might also decide to hire a bathroom contractor to help you with the process. Though it’s not impossible, it increases the cost, which is something you’ll want to stay mindful of.

Opt For Less Expensive Materials

Though you want quality materials in your bathroom, there is a way to achieve the look you want while not breaking the bank. Subway tile, for example, is a less expensive but very stylish and clean way to improve the walls around your bathtub. Penny tile is another great example of what you could put on the floor. Other great materials to consider are ceramic tile, wood, tile granite, or engineered stone. These will reduce the cost while not compromising the quality.

Reuse What You Have

If your tub is in great condition but just has a shoddy glass sliding door from 25 years ago, uninstall it and replace it with a curtain or a new sliding door. See if your toilet could be updated with a new seat or if your cabinets could be painted and new hardware installed. Perhaps you have a mirror somewhere in your home that could be placed into the bathroom as a stand-in vanity, or you’re somewhat handy and can create a simple wood table on which you can put a freestanding sink. The possibilities are endless here; they just require a bit of creative thinking.

What You Can Change

While a $12K budget might prohibit you from making any major demolition or restructuring happen, there’s still so much that you can change and see a pretty drastic upgrade in your bathroom altogether. Here’s what you’ll want to focus on.


As in any room, lighting is important, but this is especially true in the bathroom. Perhaps you invest in a gorgeous statement fixture for above your mirror or vanity or you opt for recess lighting above your bathtub to give it a luxurious feel. Keep in mind that the bathroom is usually a place that people need to be well-lit to do their makeup, get ready, and groom. Therefore, you can use that to your advantage and invest in something that makes the space pop. Updating the light fixture in your bathroom is an often overlooked detail of a remodel, but it’s an important one!

Cabinet Hardware

Even if you aren’t swapping out the entire cabinet, replacing out-of-date handles and knobs with new, sleek designs is a super-inexpensive way to give the space a completely new look. In addition, there are so many options for bathroom cabinetry that can fit within your budget. Because it’s generally a smaller piece, an economy cabinet can run you somewhere in the $100-$150 range, which you can then spruce up with hardware or other details. In other cases, you can repurpose any kind of table (perhaps with exposed shelves underneath) if you have someone come in and cut in and connect the plumbing for a sink.

Walls, Grout, Caulk

A telltale sign of an out-of-date bathroom is dirty, poorly laid grout or caulk. This is pretty inexpensive and it’s a real game-changer in the bathroom. Make sure that the spaces between your tiles and the tub, for example, are neatly and cleanly grouted and that everything else comes together seamlessly. Don’t forget to paint the walls, or if that’s not an option, consider a statement wallpaper or even tiling.

Details, Details, Details

After your basics are taken care of, the quality of your bathroom is going to come down to the design and the details. Decide what you want the look to be and accessorize accordingly. Think about adding a stylish towel rack, faucets, toilet paper holders, a new shower curtain. All of these are relatively inexpensive and change the look of space quickly.

Other ways you can remodel and update the room is by adding bathroom decor. You can easily update the bathroom design by adding candles, aroma diffusers, or even hang eucalyptus from the shower head.

Here Are Some Bathroom Ideas To Inspire:

This bathroom is unique, colorful, and completely achievable on a limited budget. To begin, choose an accent color that’s not often seen (perhaps pink, as in the example) and paint a major piece of the bathroom that color. If not the cabinets, then perhaps the walls, or even the tile. You want at least one part of the room to stand out on its own. Then add complementary but minimal features such as the ones below.

This bathroom is chic and updated yet involves very consistent and particular features, metals, and colors. Largely black and white, the major focal point of the space is both the pattern in the tile as well as the gold hardware. This is achievable even on a limited budget.

[tc-product id=”uowbrvxy”]

This faucet fits within the color scheme while still being minimalistic and streamlined.

[tc-product id=”vzifgslc”]

Just as important as the faucet are the shower head and nozzle, even if you don’t see them as frequently. Try to get a pair that matches other metals in the bathroom, such as this gold option.

[tc-product id=”ajdmsjyi”]

Finally, look for contemporary accessories to place on a glass and gold shelf. One of the main elements that pulls a bathroom like this together is that the materials are consistent. Remember that this applies all the way down to even the smallest details.

Is there an outdated bathroom in your home that needs a makeover? Are you interested in remodeling the tiny bathroom downstairs that guests use? Consider what needs to be updated or replaced, like the medicine cabinet, the shower tile or floor tile, and what you can design to make it feel more put-together, like adding decor to a bathroom wall.

No matter if you’re doing a bathroom renovation for a small bathroom, a guest bathroom, or a master bathroom, you should put some TLC into the remodeling project. Whatever you plan for your remodel, make sure to budget for your preferences and needs.