The 13 Best Bathroom Makeovers Are All Luxe on a Budget

published Dec 18, 2023
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Bathroom with wood drawers, double sinks, and navy botanical wallpaper

In 2023, Apartment Therapy saw creative storage solutions, colorful additions, vintage beauty, and more in the world of bathroom renovations. Some spaces that were dated time capsules were infused with contemporary designs; others that started out as blank boxes were given more historic character. But all of AT editors’ favorites have this in common: personality, charm, and wow-worthy transformation.

Below, find the 13 best bathroom makeovers of 2023. Whether you’re planning a bathroom remodel of your own or you’re simply scrolling for inspiration, these renovations won’t disappoint. 

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1. This No-Demo Bathroom Redo Cost Under $300 but Looks So Luxe

Bathroom renovations can be incredibly daunting. A simple glance around the space might reveal a dozen or more imperfections that could be improved, and it starts to seem impossible very quickly. When Beth Finch (@ahouseformyplants) redid her bathroom, she proved that a seemingly overwhelming project can be DIY-and-done. 

With $300 and no need for any demo, Beth turned a perpetually dirty-looking room into a modern-yet-nostalgic creation. Using stick-on floor tiles, shower paint, and light colors, Beth achieved her goal of creating a peaceful bathroom. “If I had the budget to redo it any way that I wanted to right now, I don’t think that I would because I really love how this pulled together,” she says. “The stars and the light colors and the art make me feel nostalgic or like I’m in a museum.”

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2. The Best Part of This Low-Budget Bathroom Redo Is the $50 Vanity Transformation

Be it a tub, shower, sink, toilet, or something else, sometimes there’s one aspect of a bathroom that’s especially in need of some TLC to change the entire space. For Michelle McRae (@shellychicboutique), that was her bathroom vanity. According to her, the old one “looked awful,” but she knew she didn’t have to ditch the entire piece to improve it. 

Michelle’s solution was to sand and scrape the already-chipping paint off the vanity and replace it with a light wood tone. To add even more charm, she cut insets into the doors, then fitted those with cane webbing. The project helped her see her old vanity in a new light. “I honestly HATED the rounded sink until the moment I started taking photos at the end,” Michelle says. “I’d wanted to replace it, but it’s an odd size, and I didn’t want to pay $200-plus for an off-size sink for a vanity that may or may not even end up staying in the bathroom. In the end, I’m thrilled I cheaped out!”

Credit: Janette Smith
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3. A 25-Square-Foot Bathroom’s Redo Features a Smarter Layout and Bolder Design

Not enough space is a common complaint about bathrooms. Homeowner Janette Smith knew the struggle — her bathroom was just 25 square feet total. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of space but loves baths, Janette has the answer: Go small but tall. 
“Sourcing a very short-but-deep bath was crucial to the plan,” Janette explains of her small bathroom renovation. “And finding a corner toilet that also had a very shallow depth would allow the best use of space for this tiny room.” At the end of the project, she realized stores didn’t sell curtain rods compact enough for the tub, so she pulled out a bamboo hula hoop and made her own rounded curtain rod for one of the best DIY solutions of the year.

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4. This Early 2000s Bathroom’s Revamp Cost $5,500 — But Looks Way More Expensive

Bathrooms from the 2000s don’t have the greatest design reputation, thanks to clunky corner tubs, beige walls, and matching tan counters — the list goes on. Marissa Calderon (@marissacalhome), an experienced interior designer and DIYer, saw her bathroom as a huge eyesore and added it quickly to the to-redo list.

“This early-’00s bathroom was not only dated, but also basic builder-grade,” Marissa says. “The whole room was a strange yellow-y beige.” For $5,500, she created an entirely new space that felt vintage yet updated, European yet minimalist, and full of character but not over-the-top. Her best bathroom reno advice? Even the most seasoned of DIYers shouldn’t skip out on hiring a plumber.

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5. A $200 Bathroom Redo Ditches the Dingy but Keeps the Retro ’60s Vibes

When an entire bathroom feels outdated and uninspired, it can be daunting to even start a renovation. For Trina Huiziga (@midmodhotdog), the primary issue with her bathroom was that it was a combo of 1960s and 1980s design styles — it was an old space, and it looked it. “The bathroom was very dingy before,” Trina says. “The bathroom was filthy with caked-on grime on the floors and dirty walls.” Before starting, she identified her favorite details — the retro tiles, wood vanity, and globe lights — and worked off of those. 

Trina went for a darker paint color to embrace the moodiness of the windowless bathroom, deep-cleaned the existing vintage tiles, and added fresh hardware and details. “I love that the ‘after’ gives this old bathroom new life without changing its character or cool retro original elements,” Trina says. “It feels like we’re honoring our home by bringing it back to life.”

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6. Thanks to a $750 Redo, This Bathroom Feels “Like Being in the Rainforest”

Nadia Hassan’s (@projectinprogress) bathroom looked like a lot of other “befores” on this list: uninspired, bad lighting, and bare walls. “Every day I would get in there, use it, and think to myself, ‘I wish I could change the vanity color or have less harsh lights,’” she says. 

While she upgraded almost everything in the space — and for only $750 — one of Nadia’s most creative choices was a plant wall above the tub. A great way to add color and texture to the space, it perfectly complements the new black vanity, updated shower door, and decorative additions. “Taking a bath now feels like being in the rainforest,” Nadia says.

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7. A Bathroom’s Builder-Grade Tile Gets a $300 DIY Glow-Up

In bathrooms, tile is one of the main attention-getters because it takes up so much surface area — and that can be good or bad. Melissa Faulkner (@colourfulmelissahome) looked at the builder-grade tile in her bathroom and was constantly disappointed. “The ensuite before this makeover was very plain, boring, and dull,” she says. “It was a typical gray and white new-build bathroom, and it just didn’t show any of my personality.” 

Melissa decided to transform the space into a much better representation of who she was that finally made her happy. Using tile paint and peel-and-stick, she created a maximalist space that’s all about happy vibes.

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8. The Tile Is the Star of This 1970s Bathroom Renovation

Homeowner Carla Elliman took her 1970s U.K. bathroom and created one of the most dramatic transformations of the year. With a maroon bathtub, carpeted floors, and very dated wall tiles in the starting space, Carla knew she had her work cut out for her. She ultimately decided the tub wasn’t necessary for her and opted to scrap it, installing a stunning glass shower instead.

The carpet floors were replaced with mod black-and-white tiles, and the odd fixtures were swapped out for a simple and clean toilet and sink. “I really enjoyed the process of starting from scratch, mood boarding all my ideas, and playing with different schemes before settling on a final design,” Carla says of her dramatic transformation.

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9. A “Generic and Soulless Gray Bathroom Gets a Traditional Redo with Punch

Before its renovation, Leigha Iadonisi’s (@littlemainehouse) bathroom in her Colonial-style home could have been anywhere, in any home. It was a cookie-cutter space that didn’t show any personality. As a half-bath frequently used by guests, Leigha knew she wanted to prioritize this room and draw on her home’s character for inspiration. 

Leigha pulled off a beautiful renovation that gave the bathroom a historic feel without looking gaudy or stuffy. Taking inspiration from the home’s original toile wallpaper, she gave the walls a modernized toile and replaced the floors with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. “Don’t be afraid of wallpaper or going bold, especially in a small space,” Leigha advises others looking to do a half-bath renovation.

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10. An “Everything Was Brown” Bathroom Is Now a “Jewelry Box”

Courtney Equall’s (@girlandgrey) reasoning for redoing her upstairs bathroom wasn’t exactly luck. When she discovered a leak in the fiberglass shower surround, the then-unplanned renovation suddenly became a priority. The leak wasn’t the only issue, though: The bathroom’s style was lacking, with a look that was very wooden and brown. “There was also a streak of rust that stained the fiberglass that originated from the shower head and extended all the way to the floor,” Courtney says. “It was such a depressing space.” 

Throughout the renovation, Courtney didn’t completely abandon the woodsy theme, but she upgraded it to feel much more current and intentional. A long oval mirror above the vanity gave the space a mod feel, and a whimsical floral wallpaper brought everything together.

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11. A $500 Redo Restores a Blue-Tiled Bathroom to Its 1950s Glory Days

Some people would see Libby Paulsen (@libpaulsen) and Sandor Hizo’s wall-to-wall blue bathroom and think it needed a complete gut job. But this pair saw an opportunity to lean into the vintage gems that were already in the space. “We fell in love with this home’s 1950s bathroom, with its blue wall tile and uniquely shaped floor tile,” Libby says. 

On its own, each blue element was darling and pretty, so Libby wanted to help the combo look better together to truly honor the design. After a tedious process to save the arabesque floor tiles and a far-and-wide search for vintage blue fixtures that matched what was likely originally there, the room came together perfectly. The final touches were contrasting yellow towels and decor pieces, which added some kitsch.

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12. A $500 Redo Lets This Pink 1950s Bathroom’s Original Features Shine

Daniella Caruso’s (@casajanara) pink 1950s bathroom redo is another one that ditches dated but embraces vintage. The decades-old space, complete with a date stamped into the 1958 toilet lid, had potential but definitely needed a boost. Daniella wanted to keep and highlight the pink fixtures but make the bathroom feel less like a collection of various refreshes and more like a coherent space. 

As part of her upgrade, Daniella added DIY picture frame molding and teal paint. “I had a picture of what it could look like in my head and made a Pinterest board for reference,” she says. “Measuring it out was probably the most crucial step.” In the end, the room turned into a peaceful vintage oasis. A very unique double shower curtain brings the whole vision together.

Credit: Faith Durand
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13. A Family’s 70-Square-Foot Bathroom Now Fits a Shower and Tub

Sometimes, bathroom renovations need to be put on the back burner, and that’s OK. But after 10 years of waiting and saving, Faith Durand (who is Apartment Therapy Media’s Senior Vice President of Content) was ready to create the family bathroom of her dreams. Starting with an ill-constructed 70-square-foot bathroom full of brown and beige, she managed to create an incredibly bright, artful space that’s still strikingly simple.

The star of the show is the tile, which offers “a vivid dose of color,” Faith says. “The one window faces west, and it glows like firelight in the evening — I knew it could be the most enchanting place to take a bath!” Faith achieved the dreamy look with pink, purple, and orange-tone tiles strategically and beautifully spread throughout the room. Leaving the rest of the space white, save for a coordinated pink vanity and stool, helped the tile really shine.