Advice on updating a bathroom?

13 Replies

Hi everyone,

First off, I am not handy.  I would like to be handy, and I hope to become handy by simply doing and learning.  My long-term goal is to have a number of buy and holds, so I'm going to experiment with some basic work in my own primary residence as a way to learn with much less pressure.  My secondary goal is to also increase the value of our home, although we will not really see a major return on the money we put into it, so I would like to be as thrifty as possible.  So, what would you do to this bathroom to simply make it more appealing?   As a FYI, our house is a 4/2 and this is the secondary, upstairs bathroom.  Measurements are approximately 7 foot 6 x 5 foot 9.

Here are a few nice bathrooms that aren't too extravagant being as though its for a rental...



The first thing I would do is take a razor blade and clean up the glass and make all those lines straight and scrape the loose paint and repaint.  Probably change the sink to a pedestal style or a small cabinet.  Maybe cover that painted tile with wainscoting and a chair rail.  That's all just minor stuff that YouTube can teach you. 

What it really needs is for the front of the toilet to be further away from the tub imo... But I don't know how far you want to take this. 

You might have some lead in that paint so be aware.  Also you need a gfci outlet, it doesnt appear to be one, unless its protected upstream somewhere.  Get a gfci tester, they're cheap.  If its not protected its a 10 dollar part.

I would get rid of the sink as the #1 improvement.  I would like said above get something over the painted tile.

Blowout the storage cabinet and have it be a big closet with a bi fold door

As a new REI who also isn't handy but is trying to become handy (I'd like to get into both long term rentals and rehab-flips) I'm glad to see someone else who's in a similar position. You mention thriftiness so I think figuring out the exact cost you can afford compared to the additional value you're hoping to gain from updates is big. I'm new to all of this so take what I'm saying as a grain of salt!

Hope you're successful in any renovations you decide to make! Good luck!

I am personally about to install a corner commode in my small bathroom.  It should give some more room around the toilet.  A pedestal sink would definately do wonders.  definately some paint work.  A new window would also help and their reasonay priced.

1) Clean up the plaster and paint

2) New sink vanity with cabinet (hides the trash can) get rid of small table

3) Replace painted tile on walls

4) mount toilet paper holder on wall

5) Clean / scrape window glass

6) Hang decorative mirror over new vanity

7) install medicine cabinet in left wall if there is room

First thing I would do is replace the window.  Its single pane, even a vinyl would class it up, it enhances your value, cuts heating costs, etc., nice vanity if you have room, get rid of old white metal medicine chest in wall, put in nice wood one with lots of light, new flooring, maybe tile around tub.  Total materials well under a $1,000, labor varies a lot.  Of course new paint, not white.

Something not yet mentioned is that S trap under the sink; read about that here:

Here is instruction on a simple fix for that:

The replacement P trap will be concealed better by replacing that sink with a vanity IMO. 

I would remove everything (toilet, sink and vanity). Remove the window all together. Side in on the outside, wall in and insulate on the inside. Pull the floor to move the plumbing around. Install a tub/shower on the back wall under where he window was. Move the toilet on the other side where he shower used to be just off he sidewall of the cabinet. Vanity can be updated but will need to be narrow a depth. I would move the vanity a little further away from the door. 

You will need a plumber for rerouting the drain lines to make function correctly. Water lines take less knowledge but they need to be move somewhat as well. 

Construction Wood, drywall, paint, joint compound - $100

Vanity - $150

Shower tub - $400

Toilet - reuse

Luxury vinyl plank - $85

Light fixture above sink with bath accessories kit -$40

Should install a bath fan if you don't have one already -$100

Plumber $500

Outside siding repair will depend on current siding type. Brick would be more costly where as vinyl might be surprised simple as going in the garage rafters and grabbing the left overs ND splicing them in. 

On the real cheap side, paint goes a long way. Claw foot tubs are cool and all but a pain for everything else in my experience

Thanks for all of the great ideas everyone.  I think I'll start with the following:

  • Wainscot - this seems like a nice starter kit: ttp://
  • Either a pedestal sink or small vanity.
  • More decorative mirror with lights above.
  • Nicer set of towel hangers and toilet paper holder
  • Upgrade pipe trap and outlet
  • Build a couple small shelves for the wall to the left of the sink.
  • Clean up the plaster, window, paint

If I go the vanity route, am I OK with a cheap one like one of these?

Secondly, can I wainscot directly over the tile board that is there now, or should I remove it?  It's not real tile that's painted, it's some type of board that indented like it's tile.  

Thanks again for all the great ideas, I wish I could do them all especially replacing the window, the only problem then is I'd have to replace 17 more in the house!

Don't get the least expensive vanity. Get something that looks expensive. If you like white OK but wood looks better in coffee or java, then you can hang a decorative mirror to match.

See if you can find a solid wood vanity. I try to stay away from the engineered wood products like MDF for a number of reasons and I stay well away from the cheap MDF - it is not all created equal. Good luck, sounds like you've got some great ideas to get started.

I would tear out the fake tile before putting up the wainscoting. It will look better. Also, it may be cheaper to buy wainscoting panels and trim separately rather than a kit. It's very easy to do. It's also called bead board. In a bathroom I would use stainless steel brad nails on the wainscoting. Easier than galvanized and rust proof. Countersink the nails, and caulk the seams and gaps and nail holes with painters caulk (NOT bathroom caulk or silicon).

And a lighter blue on the wainscoting- that particular blue isn't very good with the brown on the floor.

A small cabinet will be much easier for you than a pedestal sink.

I love the linen closet and drawers. A door would look good on the shelves of that unit but then it might be a pain to close the main door every time you wanted to open it.

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