Tips and Advice

10 tips to makeover your bathroom on a budget

Consider these 10 essential tips if you want to makeover your bathroom for under $10,000

There are a few reasons why you might give your bathroom a facelift. Maybe a big reno will cost too much and you simply want a short-term fix, or perhaps you need to give it a spruce up for sale because it’s looking a little worn and by sprinkling some funds you can make it feel new again – without ripping it out and starting again.

1 Layout

The one thing you won’t be able to do is change the layout. Moving the location of the bath, the toilet and/or sink are all majors. They require a plumber to cap off, reconfigure and reconnect fixtures, as well as a builder to make-good any damage to the walls and floor. It’s a can of worms you don’t want to open.

2 Anything tiled

The most affordable way to integrate tiling into a reno is to DIY it – and the one place you really shouldn’t DIY it is your bathroom, with the exception of a small splashback area behind your vanity. If a tiled shower features heavily on your wish list, you’ll need to sacrifice improvements to the other big ticket items in your bathroom to stretch your budget to it – and that’s only if it can be done without a building consent because that will gobble up around $3000-$5000 in fees alone.

3 Toilet

You might be surprised at the difference a new toilet makes. Maybe not to your bathroom aesthetic, unless your current one is very old and cracked, or plastic and yellowed; but certainly to your comfort. You’ll need to make sure the cistern and trap are the same as the existing ones for an easy switchover – your plumber can confirm.

4 Additional plumbing

Speaking of consent triggers, installing additional plumbing is one of them. So for the same reasons, if you had dreams of separating the shower from over your bath, this can only be done if you’re getting rid of one of those items – usually the bath. Some showers trigger a consent, so even if you are saying goodbye to your bath, the type of shower you can install without the council’s approval might not be quite what you had in mind.

5 Tapware

Changing all of your old ’80s chrome tapware for brushed nickel or brass is an easy way to bring it into the 21st century. There are plenty of affordable tapware options available these days, so long as everything is the same size as existing, all you need to do is buy it and hire a plumber to swap it all over for you. If budget allows, make sure you do the toilet roll holder, robe hooks, vanity hardware and pop-wastes as well, so everything ties in.

6 Vanity

If you only had $10,000 to spend, you could easily spend 30-50 percent on a new vanity, not including the plumber’s bill. It may well be worth it depending on the state of your current one but there are other options. If the condition is fine, but the colour is naff, then consider painting it – yes, even the sink. YouTube is your friend for this one. You could also pick up an old timber sideboard from Marketplace, give it a sand and an oil, pair it with a surface mount basin, and hire a plumber to swap over the plumbing for you. My key piece of advice for the latter is to make sure it’s solid. Anything MDF that isn’t made for a wet area will be Weet-Bix in no time. The plumbing will probably be your biggest cost with this facelift.

7 Lighting

While additional lighting might be out of reach unless you have a sparky friend who is generous with their time and trade pricing, the best option for sprucing up your lighting is to replace the existing fittings. Just make sure they’re IP44+ to ensure they’re rated for bathrooms and wet areas.

If you don’t currently have wall sconces on either side of your mirror, there is a little hack that doesn’t require an electrician to run any cabling. Buy your wall sconces of choice, screw them to the wall, then search for and buy ‘USB rechargeable light bulbs’. They screw in just like any ordinary bulb, but are battery powered – just make sure you buy the ones that come with a remote so you can control them.

8 Floor finishes

No matter what your existing floors are, there’s probably going to be a paint- or plaster-related solution to give them a new lease on life. If you have timber floors, sand them back and paint them white. As for tiles, give them a scuff and paint or render them in a neutral colour. With bathrooms being such small areas, this is something you could do in a weekend.

9 Wall finishes

For any walls that are currently painted, a fresh coat or three will do wonders for brightening the space up – and yes, I do recommend white or something else light as you need to see what you’re doing when you apply your make-up in the morning.

10 Finishing touches

Don’t underestimate the impact of decor on a bathroom. A couple of candles, some bougie towels, a stool by your bath and some house plants can really help to elevate even the grungiest of bathrooms.

You may not be able to do all of these items, or even need to – so choose the ones that will have the biggest impact for your bathroom, and consider DIYing as much as you can to keep the cost down. Bear in mind that if you choose all the plumbing-related ones, then you can expect your plumbing bill to eat up a good chunk of your budget, so get a quote first. Do be aware that the plumber might get started and recommend a full replacement of your pipework if it’s deteriorated and at risk of bursting – and if you do that, you won’t have as much to spend on anywhere else.

Words by: Jen Jones

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