Projects & Improvements

16 of the Best Bathroom Upgrades You Can Do for Less Than $100

published Jan 20, 2021
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When you think about your bathroom you’re most likely to think about how to clean it or how to organize it. Face it: In terms of decorating, living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens get all the glory. But bathrooms are a space in your home you’re guaranteed to use every single day, morning and night.

And sure, brushing your teeth and washing your face might not be the most exciting part of your routine — but that doesn’t mean that you should have to do these mundane tasks without gorgeous surroundings.

Of course, a full renovation is not always in the cards, but upgrading your bathroom doesn’t have to equal big dollar signs. You can show your highly trafficked space plenty of love without spending a fortune. Skeptical? Here are 16 bright ideas for upgrading your bathroom, all coming in at $100 or less.

1. Swap out the mirror (or give the old one a DIY makeover).

There’s a lot to love in this gorgeous redo from Jade and Anthony (@houseofchais) — the tile! The paper! The lights!

But one major highlight is the new gold arch-framed mirror, which makes the functional feature a practical work of art. Compared to it, the old black-framed rectangular one is a total snooze.

If you’re looking to reuse your mirror, try giving it a new life by embellishing the frame with paint, wood appliques, and other details.

Credit: Lula Poggi

2. Opt for a multi-purpose item such as a dual shelf-towel holder.

Choosing double-duty items is especially helpful in small bathrooms that are short on storage. In this chic Barcelona apartment, owner Anna installed a simple towel bar that also doubles as a small shelf for an oil diffuser and other bathroom accessories.

3. Corral countertop items with a lazy Susan.

If you are lucky enough to have extra counter space in your bathroom, then you know countertop clutter is a never-ending battle. By adding in a wooden lazy Susan, Angelica Winkler was able to showcase her countertop items in a chic and functional way.

“Practically speaking, it’s just a great way to collect and organize a bunch of self-care products that would otherwise just be scattered all over the bathroom,” Winkler says. “Now it feels like an intentional self-care zone.”

You can see Winkler’s rental bathroom transformation here (where she also makes a strong case for double shower curtains).

4. Add dividers for any vanity drawers.

Just because it’s hidden away in a drawer doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have its proper space. Investing in organizing trays for your bathroom drawers will go a long way to ensuring you’re using your space efficiently — like in this photo from NYC Neat Method’s Corrin McCoy (@nycneat_corrin). 

Insider tip: Use clear museum gel to keep the trays in place so they don’t slide around when you open and close your drawers.

5. Install wainscoting for texture.

This board and batten bathroom wall cost owners Nick and Brittany Buchs less than $100 to DIY, and it completely transformed the space. 

“I was inspired by so many talented DIYers and designers doing projects like this, but I had no idea if we could pull it off,” Brittany Buchs says. “But it turned out better than I ever imagined! It just adds so much character and dimension to our 1920s bungalow.”

6. Add a little wallpaper.

Wallpaper in your bathroom is a whole vibe, but it can be expensive. Instead of wallpapering full walls, install wainscoting on the bottom half of your walls and wallpaper on the top half, like Rebecca did in her bathroom. You can also fake the look of wallpaper by DIYing a painted pattern — the ultimate money-saver.

7. Create an accent wall or two.

Another way to make a big impact with wallpaper: Install it on just one or two walls. Here, Kate painted one wall and wallpapered the others to create a playful, yet not-overwhelmed-with-wallpaper space.

8. Bring in some plants.

Whether real or faux, plants take a bathroom from nice to spa-worthy. For a big impact, choose a big plant — like the low-maintenance snake plant in this space designed by Stuart Shanks of B^Space Architecture.
For best success, look for plants that thrive in bathrooms, which tend to be humid, low-light environments.

Credit: Lana Kenney

9. Make a little tile go a long way.

Just a couple square feet of a pretty tile — like the penny tile shown here — can make a plain bathroom look pricey. Install it behind the vanity for a statement-making backsplash. Not interested in grouting? Peel-and-stick options can help fake the look. Note that these options don’t remove cleanly from drywall, so if you’re looking for a rental-friendly option, try using finish nails to attach faux tin tile behind your vanity.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

10. Build towel storage.

Owner Shana Cohen’s perfectly cozy cottage features a smart storage solution that’s especially handy for small bathrooms or bathrooms without closets: open towel storage. This copper pipe rack is DIY-able with materials from the hardware store — copper pipes, t-joints, elbow joints, and a tube cutter to make the cuts.

Credit: Brit Arnesen

11. Swap existing hardware and lighting for something more stylish.

This is a simple upgrade that can make a world of difference. Most drawer pulls and towel racks can be easily unscrewed and replaced with something that better suits your style. If you’re a renter, save the old hardware so that you can take your new pieces with you when you leave.

12. Or spray paint your hardware

Like the style of your hardware but wish it was black instead of silver? Gold instead of white? If you like the look of your hardware but just wish it was a different color, try spray painting instead of purchasing new. Look for a paint that’s formulated for metal for the best results.

13. Add artwork in unexpected places.

Adding some artwork brings in a level of warmth to your bathroom, and it’s often an overlooked part of the bathroom decorating process. Laurel chose to warm up an already adorable bathroom by placing art not only in the traditional places (blank space above the toilet as well as leaning on the countertop), but also in unique places (underneath the sink) to add a quirky visual element.

14. DIY a spa-like tub and flooring.

While Christin has a very cute shower curtain (she makes them herself), her plain tub wasn’t measuring up. So for spa style, Christin decided to give the front of her tub a DIY slatted wood treatment. Christin sealed the wood so that it’s protected, and said the whole project cost about $20.

15. Invest in matching glass bottles.

Another idea from Christin is a super simple upgrade: invest in matching amber glass bottles for your soap, lotion, shampoo, and other toiletries. It can really up the chic factor without breaking the bank. Look for amber glass bottles to preserve the integrity of your products.

16. Give it a personal touch.

Finish up with a special something that makes your bathroom feel should as thoughtful as other rooms in your home. A rug in front of the sink works wonders — and you don’t have to stick just to bath mats, either. By squeezing a few lines of silicone caulk onto the bottom of your preferred rug, you can give it the same grippy power you’d find on a bath mat (just remember to let it dry before flipping the rug over so you don’t end up with a mess of silicone on your floor).

Finally, add a vase of flowers like Jordan did here. Fresh is lovely, but dried flowers are easy to DIY and will last a whole lot longer.