This Stuck-in-the-’80s Bathroom Transforms in Just 2 Weeks (For $1,100!)

published May 6, 2024
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It’s no secret that price can be an intimidating factor when it comes to bathroom renovations, where tile, trim, plumbing repairs, and rearranging the layout can be pricey. Luckily, you can take advantage of plenty of money-saving hacks to bring the cost of your bathroom reno down and still end up with a space you love.

Just ask DIYer Kristen French, who made her 1910s bathroom (last remodeled in the 1980s) feel new again. Kristen and her family started with a peeling ceiling, builder-grade finishings, and black and white tile that left them feeling uninspired.

“I had never really liked the black and white tile, but a full gut renovation was not in the budget, so I decided to work with it,” Kristen says. “I had been avoiding this room since we moved in because I didn’t know what to do with it. The tile made me feel trapped in a monotone color scheme. Eventually, I had remodeled every other room in the house, so it was time!”

Credit: Kristen French
Credit: Kristen French

Foam crown molding added drama.

A full gut renovation wasn’t in Kristen’s budget, but she managed to transform her bathroom without breaking the bank. The first step, although not a very glamorous one, was evening out the ceiling. Kristen scraped, sanded, spackled, and skimmed the bathroom ceiling and then added a bit of architectural interest with foam crown molding, which was “such a budget-friendly, user-friendly hack,” as Kristen puts it.

The foam pieces from Amazon cost her just $100. Although Kristen admits that adding crown molding to a “very crooked old house” wasn’t easy, she says that the high-density foam “was more forgiving than wood” would have been. “It’s not perfect, and I’m OK with that!” she adds.

Credit: Kristen French
Credit: Kristen French

Green paint “makes the black and white tile pop.”

Although Kristen initially wanted the bathroom’s black and white tile to go, in the end she’s glad she kept it. The tile took on a totally new look after Kristen swapped out the room’s drab gray paint with a lush green hue (Benjamin Moore’s Eucalyptus Leaf, to be exact) that extends all the way up to the crown molding and ceiling.

“The boldness of the green paint makes the black and white tile pop!” Kristen adds. “The bathroom has character I couldn’t have replicated with a full gut renovation.”

Credit: Kristen French
Credit: Kristen French

The vanity was $300, but looks way pricier.

The biggest splurge in the $1,100 bathroom redo was the new vanity, a $300 find from Amazon that’s a lookalike for a more expensive brand. Kristen also shouted out her new mirror cabinet, which “fit the footprint of the previous cabinet almost perfectly,” and her new lighting (Anthropologie’s vintage-inspired Eloise Vanity Sconce, which she scored for $250 using a discount). 

Kristen’s biggest piece of advice is as follows: Don’t be afraid to get your dream home renovation started. “Make a plan, and jump in!” she says. “I can’t believe it took me so long to tackle a room I hated so much. Once I started, the whole process only took about two weeks.”