Pick a Pattern
Hanging wallpaper can be an expensive undertaking. Not only is the paper costly, sometimes the walls need to be professionally prepped prior to application. To lower your costs, consider covering less space. Often you need pattern on only a single wall to achieve the look. Also, since wallpaper is typically sold in standard widths and by the roll, it's possible to comparison shop numerous retailers for the best price. (Many suppliers can help you calculate how many rolls you need if you provide the wall dimensions.)
Self-adhesive paper that is designed for high-moisture areas is best for the room, and easiest to apply.
Pro tip: Really on a budget? Spread out the pattern and use a painted stencil or vinyl stickers that mimic a repeated pattern.
Cost: Wallpaper starts around $30 per roll but can be as much as $300 (confirm with the retailer how many square feet each roll covers). Vinyl stickers run about $10 per sticker.
Frame Your Mirror
Every bathroom deserves a beautiful mirror. It will create a larger sense of space, and reflect light into the room, making it appear brighter. Yet often homes include builder-grade mirrors that are plain and lack a frame. You can upgrade such a mirror fairly easily by creating a frame around it to give it a custom look. Or take your existing frame and spray paint it for a pop of color.
Pro tip: If your bathroom lacks space, consider replacing your existing mirror with a wall-mounted medicine cabinet.
Cost: Use primed molding trim from the hardware store, which will be able to cut it to size. Trim is sold by the linear foot; expect to pay around $20 for an 8-foot long piece.
Add More Lighting
A bathroom loses its functionality when it lacks quality lighting (and you lose your ability to gauge what you really look like). For the best results, you'll want lighting overhead and on either side of the mirror. Make sure the fixtures are using the correct bulbs. If you choose to upgrade your fixtures, consider chandeliers and pendants, which can add elegance to a bathroom, particularly if your ceiling is tall. Just make sure any new fixtures are bathroom approved, and properly installed by an electrician who understands the correct UL listing for lights being installed in a wet zone.
Pro tip: the best light for the bathroom is a cool, bright white or daylight bulb with a high color rendering index (CRI). This type of bulb will most accurately reflect natural daylight.
Cost: Pendants and sconces can range from $50 to $500 and higher. Be sure to factor in the cost of hiring an electrician.
Freshen the Hardware
Bathroom fixtures including hooks, handles, faucets and soap dispensers can be quickly and easily replaced and will give the space an updated feel. Most bathrooms look their best when all of the metals match in color and finish. Thus the sink faucet should generally coordinate with the shower and bathtub faucets; cabinet pulls, hooks, shelving brackets and towel racks also should have a similar style. What doesn't need to perfectly coordinate: bathroom door knobs, which should generally match the door knobs of nearby rooms.
Consider hanging new fixtures such as shallow shelving or towel racks or bars to make the space more functional.
Pro tip: most fixtures are sold in coordinating families, which are ideal if you don't have time to shop around or the desire to play interior designer.
Cost: Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a new sink faucet or a shower faucet. New cabinet pulls run from about $4 to $10 per item.
Brighten Your Surfaces
Time and limescale damage the glow of your sink, shower, toilet or tub. Return the items close to their original brightness by using an over-the-counter product to remove accumulated calcium or rust deposits from ceramic surfaces. Look for a cleaning solution, like this product from Lowe’s , that specifically targets calcium, lime and rust.
If you are looking to replace the tile in your bathroom and consider yourself fairly handy, try adding a glass mosaic tile on a backsplash to create an accent.
Pro tip: If elbow grease isn’t brightening your toilet, consider replacing the toilet with a newer model. If it was made before 1990, a new low-water use toilet may lower your water bill.
Cost: A cleaning product to remove built-up calcium deposits runs about $10 per gallon. A new toilet starts at around $100.
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