A boring bathroom is wasted opportunity. But you can turn the smallest room in your home into a place you love with these 12 easy but effective bathroom updates under $100. Some require some DIY chops, but others are just a matter of shopping wisely. They’ll help take your bathroom from mundane to marvelous, no matter your budget.
1. Update your hardware.
Hardware is the jewelry of any room. Twist off your old cabinet and drawer knobs and replace them with new ones in a different finish, such as classic satin nickel or the trendy oil-rubbed brass seen in this Riverbank Rentals apartment in New York City. You can find knobs ranging from $2 to $5 or a value pack with 10 knobs for about $20.
Total estimated cost: $15–$20
2. Install an in-shower shelf.
Keep toiletries handy in a stylish way by installing a corner shelf. Look for one with adjustable shelves or baskets, like this functional multi-caddy. Go for a corner shelf that stays in place with a tension rod so you can skip the installation tools and someday take it with you to your next home.
Total estimated cost: $25
3. Frame your mirror.
Replacing a mirror is pricey. Instead, use molding or a lightweight and affordable MDF (medium density fiberboard) baseboard, adhesive, and a little bit of time to give it a classy frame—and to show off your DIY prowess. Check out how these silver frames make an impact at the Madrone apartments in Austin, Texas.
Total estimated cost: $25–$50
4. Save souvenirs for wall art.
Turn mementos from trips—photos, postcards, seashells—into a wall installation. Add a frame or shadow box to your pretty vacation memories and you’ll feel like you’re on a mini getaway every time you step into the loo.
Total estimated cost: $10
5. Make your vanity a focal point.
Your landlord might not approve of you ripping out the old vanity, but with permission, he or she just may appreciate you giving it a makeover. You can give a rundown vanity an instant update with chalk paint, a trendy and simple option.
Total estimated cost: $30
6. Sub out the shower curtain.
Replace the old vinyl curtain with a clean, crisp woven waffle texture or a design that fits your style, from a burst of blooms in a floral pattern to a classy pattern like the one above in the Park Chelsea community in Washington, D.C. It’s so easy, and as the focal point of your bathroom, a great shower curtain makes all the difference.
Total estimated cost: $40–$50
7. Squeeze in storage.
Improve the look and function of your bathroom by corralling clutter with creative storage. There are plenty of ways to do it.
- Add a shelf above your toilet or towel rack. You can use a wood or metal shelf, or even this option with both wood and metal for a warm, rustic look.
- Floating shelves are affordable and available in a variety of lengths and depths. Place a floating shelf above a door frame for discrete, efficient storage. It’s a great place to store things that you want out of your way, but also handy when you need them.
- Over-the-door hooks can hold more than towels and robes. Hang creative basket storage for a chic place to hide clutter.
Total estimated cost: $40
8. Make mats do double duty.
You won’t need the landlord’s approval to change out your bathmats, so get ones that make your bathroom look and feel better. Shop for colors and patterns that cheer you up (like this vibrant rug in Bell Glenridge apartments in Sandy Springs, Georgia) and feel super soft underfoot. You can even find memory foam mats for a luxurious step out of the shower.
Total estimated cost: $30–$50
Before you break out the brushes, make sure to get your landlord’s permission. Once you have the OK, pick light, airy colors, like whites, grays or calming blues, to make the bathroom feel bigger and cleaner.
To save money, just paint an accent wall. Choose a semi-gloss finish for mildew control, and don’t forget the trim. Touching it up can make a huge difference.
Total estimated cost: $75–$100
10. Add texture.
Texture is a design must. Woven baskets, wood trays and stone soap dispensers infuse dimension into your space when you accessorize. Resin and rattan elements, such as a toothbrush holder or wastebasket can help modernize the space.
Total estimated cost: $20–$30
11. Pop in a plant.
Bathrooms can be starved for sunlight, but a realistic fake plant on a vanity or shelf can add life where nothing will grow. Great bathroom choices include tiny preserved boxwoods, faux potted grass and succulents—just like the green cuties above in 2900 on First Apartments in Seattle, Washington. Whatever your preference, a plant or two can instantly freshen up your bathroom.
Total estimated cost: $10–$30
12. Use a tiny table.
Small bathrooms in rental units often lack linen closets or space for storing towels and other supplies. But you may have just enough space to add a tiny table or ceramic garden stool near the tub or shower. You’ll have a decorative element that’s also functional.
Total estimated cost: $40–$70
Originally published February 15, 2016; updated December 7, 2017.
How have you updated your bathroom? Share your ideas in the comments!